Politics & Government

ND Chamber: Too easy to initiate measures?

Aug 20, 2012

The president of the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce says it might be too easy to get an initiated measure on the ballot in North Dakota.

"It's nice to have the will of the people to be able to get something on the ballot," said Andy Peterson. "But we're starting to believe, given all the measures that are coming up, we maybe need to look at making it a little more difficult to get something on the ballot."

Peterson says California, for example, got itself into a lot of trouble because of ballot measure after ballot measure.

Stenehjem asking for more BCI agents

Aug 20, 2012

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says he will be asking the next Legislature for more Bureau of Criminal Investigation agents.

"Our BCI agents are over-streched," said Stenehjem. "The population has increased. You know what's happening in western North Dakota. They are working day and night, and I worry about them burning out."

Stenehjem said the agents are dealing with increased gang activity – as well as organized crime moving into North Dakota.

State Hospital, correctional center work together

Aug 17, 2012

At the time, it was a very controversial decision – to build a new prison facility on the grounds of the state hospital in Jamestown.

But retiring state Human Services director Carol Olson says it has worked out well.

Olson says when the James River Correctional Center was proposed, her department sat down with groups like the Mental Health Association, who were concerned about the mixing of the traditional state hospital patients with people sentenced to prison.

Good and bad in youth risk behavior report

Aug 16, 2012

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says while there is good news in the latest state youth behavior risk survey – there are some disturbing findings.

Stenehjem reviewed the findings with the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee – as part of a report on substance abuse and treatment. He told the Committee the survey showed reductions in tobacco and alcohol use among students 18 and younger.

'Synthetic' drugs a growing problem in ND

Aug 16, 2012

An epidemic.

That’s how Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem describes the growing use of synthetic drugs – such as fake marijuana and fake LSD. Stenehjem told the Legislature’s interim Judiciary Committee the law passed in the 2011 session has given law enforcement a tool to crack down on synthetic marijuana – and he says he’ll be asking for a similar law for the so-called “bath salts” – which people are ingesting.

Olson retiring from ND Human Services

Aug 13, 2012

Carol Olson has been the director of the North Dakota Department of Human Services since 1997.

"I'm the longest serving director of human services in the nation -- so far," said Olson.

In 1997, she was Governor Ed Schafer’s chief of staff. Olson says there were some problems in the Department, and she was asked to take over.  She says she didn’t expect to serve for 15 years. But now, after 15 years, Olson is retiring. 

Group pushes animal cruelty initiative

Aug 8, 2012

A group of animal protection advocates has turned in more than 25-thousand signatures on a petition to strengthen the state’s animal cruelty law.

The proposal would make animal cruelty a class “C” felony, which has a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a five-thousand dollar fine. Current state law makes animal cruelty a misdemeanor, with a maximum one year in prison.

Conservation amendment may be on Nov. ballot

Aug 6, 2012
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group calling itself “North Dakotansfor Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage” has filed signatures to put a Constitutional amendment on the November ballot

The measure would set aside five percent of oil tax collections into a fund for land, water and wildlife conservation in North Dakota. But as Prairie Public’s Dave Thompson reports, the measure has its detractors.

Jesse Bckers of Valley City is a member of the sponsoring committee. He works for Pheasants Forever.

Smoking ban could be headed to the Nov. ballot

Aug 2, 2012
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Supporters of a law to ban smoking in all public places in North Dakota say they have more than enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

Smoke Free ND turned in petitions with more than 21.000 signatures to the Secretary of State. The group needs just over 13,000 valid signatures to get in on the November ballot.

Chancellor's plans to expand staff meeting resistance

Jul 30, 2012

The new Chancellor of the North Dakota University System is facing some resistance to his plan to add 30 staffers to the system office.

Ham Shrirvani says many of the new staff would be compliance officers – to help make sure the campuses are following policy.

"Whatever policy we put together, it has to be monitored," Shirvani told the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee. "That's the reason we need compliance officers in the Chancellor's office. Establishing a policy is one thing -- monitoring it is something else."