Politics & Government | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Politics & Government

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission is asking the courts to make it the trustee in an insolvency case for a roving grain buyer and grain warehouse license holder.

Hunter Hanson has a roving grain buyer business, as Midwest Grain Trading of Devils Lake, as well as two elevators at Tunbridge and Rohrville. The PSC began the action after receiving complaints from producers.

The PSC has filed actions in both Burleigh County District Court and the Pierce County District Court to be named as trustee.

ND Water Commission

In the state Water Commission budget, there is a $75 million line of credit to build a water treatment plant for the Northwest Area Water Supply System.

NAWS will take water from Lake Sakakawea to Minot and other areas of northwestern North Dakota.

State Water Commission engineer Garland Erbele said the plant is to be built at Max.

"That plant will be owned by the (Federal) Bureau of Reclamation," Erbele said. "They will reimburse us for the construction costs, but we have to 'upfront' the money."

'Operation Prairie Dog" will start in the House

Dec 19, 2018

“Operation Prairie Dog” will start in the House.

That’s the bill to provide a new revenue source for local infrastructure projects across the state. It will create a new “bucket” for oil tax money.

It was the brainchild of a number of Republican legislators, led by Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). But Wardner said the House will get the first look at the proposal.

"I know there's probably more people that have concerns about it over in the House," Wardner said. "They're probably going to be using the first half to work on it."

AARP outlines Legislative priorities

Dec 17, 2018

AARP North Dakota is outlining its priorities for the 2019 Legislative session.

One big issue is taxation of Social Security benefits. North Dakota is one of only 13 states that tax Social Security benefits. And the state is one of four states that tax it at the full level the federal government does.

"We think the state should take a look at repealing that Social Security tax," said AARP state director Josh Askvig.

Askvig said this could help folks who are receiving a modest amount of Social Security benefits.

(Note: Story will be updated with action of the Board of Higher Education.)

The University of North Dakota wants to see if it can tap into a “revolving loan fund” set up for cities, counties and other political subdivisions to help pay for roads, curbs, gutters and similar improvements.

That loan fund is through the Bank of North Dakota.

"Of course, universities are not political subdivisions," UND Vice-President for Finance and Operations Jed Shivers told a subcommittee of the Board of Higher Education.

'Operation Prairie Dog' in motion at the Capitol

Dec 6, 2018

“Operation Prairie Dog” is underway.

That’s the nickname for a proposal to create new “buckets” for oil tax money to fund infrastructure projects outside of the oil patch. It would affect cities, counties, airports and townships.

The bill has been now introduced in the House.

"We wanted to start in the House for a couple of different reasons," said the bill's main sponsor, Rep. Mike Nathe (R-Bismarck). "We think it might be the heavier lift of the two chambers, just because we have a bigger body (than the Senate)."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Democratic Legislators are rolling out their priority list for the 2019 session.

Those priorities include more funding for schools, certain social programs, and for state employees. Their plan is to raise state employee pay by $300 a month in the first year of the biennium, and 3 percent across-the-board in the second year.

Sen. Tim Mathern (D-Farg0) told reporters state government is competing with a number of private sector jobs now available in North Dakota.

The Legislature’s Employee Benefits Committee has decided against recommending three bills that would change the state’s retirement system, and require state employees to pay part of their insurance coverage for family members.

North Dakota House Democrats have elected Fargo Rep. Josh Boschee as Minority Leader.

Boschee replaces Grand Forks Rep. Corey Mock, who did not seek re-election to that post.

House Democrats chose Fargo Rep. Karla Rose Hanson as assistant Minority Leader, and Fargo Rep. Gretchen Dobervich as caucus chair.

Boschee said while the Democratic caucus is small, it hopes to be able to make some progress on its issues, focusing on – as he put it – taking care of the citizens of North Dakota.

The Governor’s Prevention Advisory Council on Drugs and Alcohol wants to see more “early intervention” programs for school age children.

"One of the top concerns we hear at schools is behavioral health," said Pam Sagness, director of behavioral health regulation for the state department of Human Services, and a member of the Council. "So, how can we invest in the early intervention services, so we are building children who are resilient, and can bounce back when difficult things happen?"