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General News

The Legislator who offered the amendment concerning whether the state Auditor had to ask for permission from a Legislative committee to conduct certain audits says it was never about putting constraints on the Auditor.

Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks) said the Legislative Council is now looking at next steps.

The director of transition planning services for the state’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation said DOCR had hoped it wouldn’t have to activate is “prioritization plan” for housing women inmates.

But Steven Hall said right now, there’s literally no room for new female inmates.

"Warriors of the North" get new Commander

Jun 28, 2019
T.McDonald / Prairie Public

There are some changes going on at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Prairie Public reporter Todd McDonald says base leaders say the changes will raise the profile of the base…

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says a portion of the state Auditor’s budget requiring permission of the Legislature’s Audit and Fiscal Review Committee before the Auditor does certain kinds of audits is ‘likely unconstitutional.”

In a formal opinion, requested by State Auditor Josh Gallion, Stenehjem says the language diminishes the Auditor’s independence, and entrusts an “inherently executive power” in the Legislative branch. He said if a court were to rule, it would likely find it to be a violation of the separation of powers doctrine.

UND presidential search begins

Jun 28, 2019

An 11-member committee has been named as the search committee for a new UND president.

Board of Higher Education member Casey Ryan will chair the committee. Ryan said a Request for Proposals will be drafted for a consultant to help in the process, and the committee will be working on a job description for the president.

"We will have a line that says, 'Preference will be given to UND-or-North Dakota relationships," Ryan told the Board. "We feel that's very important to what UND and the Grand Forks and overall UND community need."

For NDSCS: An 'action plan,' with Chancellor oversight

Jun 28, 2019
North Dakota University System

The state Board of Higher Education has voted to accept an “action plan” proposed by the North Dakota College of Science at Wahpeton to respond to a “performance audit” -- but also said Chancellor Mark Hagerott would oversee the implementation of the action plan.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A committee to choose the five members of the new Ethics Commission has narrowed the number of candidates to 17.

Gov. Doug Burgum, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) and Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman (D-New Rockford) make up the committee.  At one point, the committee had hoped to have the five members named by July First – but they all say they have more work to do in checking references and researching the candidates.

"We need people who are deliberative, and ready to take on a tough job," Heckaman said. "They themselves should be ethical."

PSC says 'goodbye' to grain elevator regulation

Jun 27, 2019
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The end of an era that dates back to statehood.

At the end of the week, grain inspection and licensing authority moves from the Public Service Commission to the state Agriculture Department. That’s because of action by the 2019 Legislature.

"I think the Commission has done a great job with that program for more than a century," said Commissioner Julie Fedorchak. "I, personally, for the last 6 years, have been proud to be associated with it, and to be working on behalf of both the licensees and the producers."

A long way from zero.

Two years ago, state Legislators had to spend down the state’s budget stabilization fund – to balance the budget, during a state revenue downturn.

Now, thanks to an improved state economy, and robust state tax collections, that fund is being replenished.

"The most current estimate, through the end of May, would be about $450 million," said state Office of Management and Budget director Joe Morrissette. "About $150 million more than what was assumed in the March, 2019 Legislative forecast."

North Dakota University System

The state Board of Higher Education will decide whether the North Dakota State College of Science needs “temporary system oversight” of some of the campus management functions.

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