John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.
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BISMARCK — Republican leaders in the North Dakota Legislature say they've taken off the table a proposal to have state employees pay 5 percent of their health insurance premiums, but Gov. Doug Burgum hopes it will be part of ongoing budget discussions. The decision comes as lawmakers continue to shape agency budgets for the upcoming two-year budget cycle. Legislators are working with reduced tax revenue due to slouching farm and oil commodity prices.
BISMARCK—North Dakota senators shot down a bill Tuesday, Feb. 7, that would have exempted North Dakota from daylight saving time and made the entire state fall under Central time. Currently, a portion of southwestern North Dakota falls under the Mountain time zone, while the rest of the state is in the Central time zone. Senate Bill 2167 failed on a 11-33 vote after no discussion.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota Senate committee voted against a bill that officials representing North Dakota prosecutors and defense attorneys said Monday, Feb. 6 would justify the use of deadly force against people committing minor property crimes. But the West Fargo lawmaker who proposed the legislation said it would only allow property owners to use deadly force if they're in fear of serious injury or death.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House voted down a $2 increase in the state's hourly minimum wage Monday, Feb. 6. House Bill 1263 would have increased the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.25 an hour starting in 2018 with annual adjustments for cost of living increases beginning a year after that. Primary sponsor Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, said costs for things such as rent have gone up in recent years without a boost in the minimum wage.
BISMARCK — All but one member of the North Dakota House voted against a controversial long-term care provider assessment Friday, Feb. 3. House Bill 1130 was introduced after pleas from nursing homes that were seeking a "last resort" funding solution in the face of state budget cuts. It would have charged an assessment to nursing homes, who would have passed along the cost to residents.
BISMARCK -- A controversial North Dakota bill that would have allowed local governments to seek -- and the governor to issue -- a moratorium on refugee resettlement was amended into a study Friday, Feb. 3, a move that was welcomed by the head of the state’s resettlement agency.
BISMARCK—Phil Riely remembers Watford City as a town where everyone knew each other. "When you've got a town of 1,400 people, you know everybody," he said. "You know everybody by their vehicle." But that small-town atmosphere changed after the recent oil boom. The sudden rush of activity that transformed the western North Dakota city into a bustling hub brought thousands of new residents into town and strained basic services. It was around the time the boom started to hit the McKenzie County seat that Brent Sanford became its mayor.
BISMARCK—New voter identification requirements passed the North Dakota House Thursday, Feb. 2. For voters who don't have a proper ID, the bill does away with the affidavit option that was available during November's election in favor of a ballot that is set aside and excluded from the count until the voter's eligibility is confirmed, said Rep. Scott Louser, R-Minot. He called it a "voter integrity bill." House Bill 1369, introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson and other Republican lawmakers, passed on a 74-16 vote Thursday.
BISMARCK — Describing herself as a longtime "silent" supporter of gay rights, Kim Riedlinger Wassim decided she couldn't sit on the sidelines any longer. She told North Dakota lawmakers her son, a valedictorian at a Bismarck high school and now a student at Georgetown University, is afraid of returning to his home state because he fears he may face discrimination. North Dakota needs educated young people to return to boost the state's economy, she said, and a change in state law would help prompt them to do so.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House voted by the thinnest of margins Tuesday, Jan. 31, to allow retailers to open on Sunday mornings. The 48-46 vote was a reversal of the House's vote Monday, when it rejected a repeal of North Dakota's Sunday closing law. That statute makes it a Class B misdemeanor to operate a business that's open to the public before noon Sunday, although exceptions exist for restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other businesses. Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, asked the House to reconsider the previous day's vote.