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—Ten North Dakota state agencies are offering buyouts to their employees due to continued budget cuts. A letter sent by participating agency heads Tuesday, April 4, announcing the "voluntary separation incentive program" cites a $1.5 billion revenue shortfall in the current two-year funding cycle that has already prompted budget cuts and workforce reductions.
BISMARCK — House lawmakers narrowly defeated a bill that some considered a major expansion of gambling in North Dakota Tuesday, April 4. Senate Bill 2221, which allowed for wagering on historic horse racing, failed in a 45-46 vote after passing the Senate last month. Rep. Lawrence Klemin, R-Bismarck, said bettors would wager on "reruns" of horse races, while another lawmaker compared the concept to a slot machine.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House voted to allow elected officials to carry guns at public gatherings as long as they maintain firearm proficiency and are licensed to carry a concealed weapon.
BISMARCK—Gov. Doug Burgum has chosen a state parks official in Montana to lead the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department. Burgum announced Tuesday, April 4 that Melissa Baker, assistant administrator and chief of operations for Montana State Parks, will be the director of North Dakota's parks department. She will begin her new role April 24, according to a news release. Baker's appointment fills out Burgum's Cabinet, his spokesman Mike Nowatzki said.
BISMARCK—North Dakota senators approved changes to the state's voter identification laws Monday, April 3. The bill, introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, requires voters to provide an identification issued by the state Department of Transportation or tribal government. It also includes options for those living in "special circumstances." If the information on the ID isn't current, it could be supplemented with a current utility bill, bank statement or paycheck.
BISMARCK—A bill creating a new state department is on its way to Gov. Doug Burgum. The North Dakota Senate gave its final stamp of approval to Senate Bill 2327, which separates the Environmental Health Section of the state Department of Health into a new Cabinet-level agency, the Department of Environmental Quality. The bill was introduced by Sen. Jessica Unruh, R-Beulah. The Senate passed it in a 31-16 vote Monday, April 3, after agreeing to changes made by the House.
BISMARCK—Restrictions on smoking marijuana for medical purposes would be loosened under legislation approved by a North Dakota House committee. The rewrite of North Dakota's new medical marijuana law took another step toward passage Monday, April 3, as the House Human Services Committee approved changes to Senate Bill 2344. It's now on its way to the House floor, where it will need the support of two-thirds of lawmakers because it amends a recent initiated measure.
BISMARCK—Gov. Doug Burgum signed a bill this week shielding applicants for public jobs in North Dakota, legislation that has been decried by the state's news organizations. The new law makes any records that could identify an applicant for a job with a "public entity" confidential until at least three finalists are designated. A public entity is required to designate three or more finalists if it receives applications from three or more qualified applicants. Burgum signed the bill Thursday, March 30, his spokesman Mike Nowatzki said.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota House committee rejected what one lawmaker called a "glorified moratorium" on new wind energy projects Friday March, 31, but instead proposed tweaks to how the state's utility regulator evaluates projects.
BISMARCK — North Dakota senators defeated a bill seeking to protect the state from the application of foreign laws Friday, March 31, with some lawmakers calling it unnecessary and an "insult" to judges who swear to uphold the Constitution. Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, urged lawmakers to support the bill as a "preemptive" measure. She said it would help affirm constitutional rights, including religious freedoms.