General News

Some state lawmakers are looking at potential financial help for cities and counties who have spent a lot of money on snow removal this winter.

"We're just being pro-active here," said Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford). "We want to make sure all opportunities while we're in session are made available to counties, cities and townships because of the intense winter we've had."

Heckaman said the snowplows have faced a lot of issues with the heavy snows some areas of North Dakota have received.

Senate rejects income tax buydown measure

3 hours ago

The North Dakota Senate has rejected a measure that would have taken half the earnings from the state’s Legacy Fund to reduce income tax rates.

The sponsor – Rep. Craig Headland (R-Montpelier), the chairman of the House Finance and Taxation Committee – said the intent is to eventually eliminate the state income tax.

The measure passed the House 61 to 31.

But Sen. Jessica Unruh (R-Hazen) told her Senate colleagues North Dakota already has a very low state income tax rate.

The North Dakota House has rejected a bill to set aside $45 million from the earnings of the Legacy Fund for research at NDSU and UND.

Originally, the two campuses has asked for $100 million over the next two years.

The House Appropriations Committee recommended a “no” vote on the measure. But Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) urged the House to pass the measure.

"We have two great universities that are involved in research in the state 0f North Dakota," Kasper said. "They have one thing in common -- they're woefully underfunded."

The House has overwhelmingly passed a bill that changes how oil taxes are split with the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold.

Current state law says the tax is spilt 50-50. But the bill – which was the result of an interim study, chaired by Gov. Doug Burgum – would change that – so that on trust lands, the Tribe would keep 80 percent of oil taxes collected there, and on fee lands, the state would get 80 percent.

Supporters said this gives the oil industry some certainty in terms of taxation policy – and they believe it will result in more activity on the reservation.

'Operation Prairie Dog' signed into law

19 hours ago
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

To paraphrase William Shakespeare: “Cry ‘have it,’ and let loose the ‘prairie-dogs’ of infrastructure.”

Gov. Doug Burgum has signed into law the so-called “Prairie Dog” infrastructure bill.

"It will provide $250 million to help cities, counties and townships in North Dakota non-oil producing areas to pay for their infrastructure needs," Burgum said at a Capitol signing ceremony.

The bill creates a new “bucket” for oil tax revenues. And the fund is permanent.

The money won’t be available until 2023.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a “field oversight hearing” at United Tribes in Bismarck Wednesday.

The hearing concerned law enforcement, and stopping dangerous drugs from entering Indian Country.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven chairs the Indian Affairs Committee. He said the committee heard from tribal chairmen and law enforcement.

Blue law repeal passes Senate, headed to Gov. Burgum

Mar 19, 2019

On a 25 to 22 vote, the North Dakota Senate has voted to repeal the rest of the state’s blue law.

This means retailers can be open before noon on Sundays.

Two years ago, the Senate voted down the bill.

Sen. Shawn Vedaa (R-Velva) urged a "no" vote.

"If passed, this will probably allow the largest retailer in the state to throw away their keys," Vedaa said. "They open on every holiday. They require a lot of their employees to work those holidays.  Vote 'red,' and maybe someone will be able to worship on Sunday."

City, county, state and federal leaders came together in Fargo today to sign a new partnership agreement to move forward on Plan B of the Red River Diversion Project.

Fargo Mayor declares emergency ahead of spring flood

Mar 18, 2019
D. Webster

The Mayor of Fargo has declared an emergency ahead of this spring's flood fight.

The Senate has passed a bill prohibiting cities and counties from establishing their own “living wage” requirement for businesses.

Sen. Randy Burckhard (R-Minot) said cities in other states have set their own minimum wage requirements that are higher than the federal or state minimums. Burckhard said what has happened in those cities should be a warning to North Dakota.

"Mandated higher minimum wages usually results in layoffs, less hours worked and more automation," Burkhard said.

Opponents of the bill said this is a decision that belongs at the local level.