Politics & Government

The state Tax Department is trying to hire sales tax auditors in Dickinson and Minot.

But so far, the Department hasn’t had a lot of luck.

"Part of it is wages," said Tax Commissioner Cory Fong. "In some cases, we're competing with other state agencies that can offer more money.  We're also competing with the private sector."

Fong also said cost-of-living is an issue. He said housing shortages in the two cities has become a major issue."

"You almost have to look for people who already have a place to live," Fong said. "That limits your pool, you know."

PERS to seek continuation of recovery program

Jul 17, 2012

The head of North Dakota’s Public Employees Retirement System says the 2013 Legislature will be asked to implement the second half of a pension recovery plan.

Sparb Collins says the 2008 downturn in the financial markets meant that 30 years out, the system would be out of money. Collins says PERS  proposed a recovery plan to the 2011 Legislature.

All eyes, ears on the US Senate race in ND? Maybe

Jul 17, 2012

The ads are airing – the pollsters are polling – and the pundits are practicing punditry. But are people paying attention?

Mark  Springer is a political science professor at Bismarck’s Universityof Mary. He says while there are a lot of ads airing, especially in the Senate race between Rick Berg and Heidi Heitkamp, there’s a lot more to come – especially after Labor Day.

EU Ambassador Visits North Dakota

Jun 21, 2012

The European Union Ambassador to the United States is spending some time in North Dakota as he tries to learn more about the U-S – outside the Washington DC belt-way...

"North Dakota is a very important state with a booming economy, I'd like to know why. I'd like to understand better."

João Vale De Almeida says the trip will include visits to the North Dakota Trade Office, North Dakota State University, and with leaders in Fargo, Bismarck -- and Lisbon…

"Because I was born and raised in Lisbon -- Lisbon, Portugal. And I want to meet Lisbon, North Dakota."

PSC mulling lawsuit response

Jun 21, 2012

The Public Service Commission is working on its response to two lawsuits brought by environmental groups. More from Prairie Public's Dave Thompson.

The Dakota Resource Council has sued Commission members – saying those elected commissioners should be disqualified from regulating companies from which they have taken campaign contributions. The DRC and Sierra Club have also sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to force the feds to take over North Dakota’s coal reclamation program, for the same reason.

Administrative law judge tapped for PSC

Jun 21, 2012

An administrative law judge has been named to the North Dakota Public Service Commission. As Prairie Public's Dave Thompson reports, Gov. Jack Dalrymple appointed Bonny Fetch to serve out the rest of Tony Clark’s term.

Clark resigned last week to join the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Clark was up for re-election this year, but decided not to seek another term.

Fetch has been a state employee for 40 years, and has been with the Office of Administrative Hearings since it was established in 1991. Fetch says she has been an ALJ for several PSC cases.

The Legislature’s Budget Section has given Secretary of  State Al Jaeger the go-ahead to hire three more people – to help keep up with the workload in his office. That story from Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson.

Because of the state’s robust economy – and the oil boom – business registrations have dramatically increased. Jaeger says to catch up with the processing, he cut back on the number of hours the office would be open to the general public to six hours a day. And some Budget Section members questioned that decision.

How Norway saves oil tax revenues

Jun 18, 2012

North Dakota is setting aside some of its oil tax collections into a fund for the future.

It’s called the “Legacy fund.” Thirty percent of oil tax collections go into that fund. It cannot be touched until 2017, when interest income on the fund could be spent by two-thirds vote of each hose of the North Dakota Legislature.

The country of Norway has a fund for the future as well. As Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson reports, the Norwegian fund is set up differently.

Mr. Clark goes to Washington

Jun 15, 2012
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Effective today (6-15-12), North Dakota has a seat on the five-member Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

As Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson reports, Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark says goodbye to North Dakota– and hello to Washington, DC.

PSC: No authority over electric service to casino

Jun 15, 2012

The Public Service Commission has dismissed a complaint by North Central Electric Cooperative against Otter Tail Power Company. As Prairie Public's Dave Thompson reports, the PSC says it doesn’t have jurisdiction.

The issue in question is service to a casino complex in Belcourt. It’s on trust land in the TurtleMountainreservation. The tribal government signed a 10-year contract with Otter Tail to provide power to the Sky Dancer Hotel and Casino. North Central Cooperative had served the original casino building.