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 — North Dakota lawmakers rejected just a handful of proposed studies Wednesday, May 31, as a legislative committee set the stage for their work during the interim period between regular sessions. Legislative Management, a committee of North Dakota lawmakers, met at the state Capitol for the first time since ending the 2017 regular session a month ago. Lawmakers slashed general fund spending by nearly a third this year due to reduced tax revenue.
BISMARCK—North Dakota officials aren't actively fundraising for a workforce recruitment advertising campaign launched a few years ago. Sara Otte Coleman, the tourism division director at the state Department of Commerce, said because the state Legislature didn't put money toward the "Find the Good Life in North Dakota" campaign this year, the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation didn't continue raising funds. But she said there are existing funds to keep the campaign active. "It's going to continue to be a priority," she said.
BISMARCK—State officials approved a short-term extension for the North Dakota Department of Trust Lands commissioner's appointment Thursday, May 25, but also decided to open up applications for the position. Lance Gaebe, whose term was up at the end of June before Thursday's action by the Board of University of School Lands, said he intends to reapply for the position. He said there hasn't been a formal performance review on his position since he took the job in 2010. "It's a way of doing a performance evaluation in the context of applying for the opening," he said.
BISMARCK—Charley Johnson was watching a Twins baseball game recently when he saw a couple of North Dakota tourism ads featuring the actor and Minot native Josh Duhamel. "I'm thinking, 'That's fabulous,'" said Johnson, president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau. "That's a huge boost for us."
BISMARCK—A 17-member committee of North Dakota lawmakers will meet Wednesday, May 31, at the state Capitol to set the course for their work leading up to the 2019 session. At the meeting, the Legislative Management committee will assign topics for interim committees to study. A list provided by Legislative Council staff shows the committee has 49 optional studies, ranging from transportation funding, legal notice requirements, refugee resettlement and others, plus an extra five studies that are required.
BISMARCK—An attorney and a state lawmaker questioned a brief filed by the North Dakota attorney general's office this week in a mineral ownership dispute, citing the passage of a new state law that sought clarification on such issues. The Board of University and School Lands, which manages state-owned minerals and school trust lands, met in a closed-door meeting Thursday, May 25, for almost 90 minutes to discuss several court cases, including a mineral ownership dispute slated for arguments before the North Dakota Supreme Court next month.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota state auditor said Wednesday, May 24, there are no plans for a performance audit of the state's oil and gas regulator after a Bismarck attorney alleged the office improperly deleted thousands of emails.
BISMARCK — The Trump administration scaled back proposed cuts to a drug control policy office Tuesday, May 23, that some warned would hamper efforts to address a growing opioid crisis. The administration released President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget Tuesday, which boosts military spending but includes cuts to programs such as Medicaid. Overall, it seeks a $3.6 trillion spending cut over the next decade.
BISMARCK — A member of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's Cabinet was among the 173 state employees who have applied for a buyout in recent weeks, the state's budget office said Tuesday, May 23. Ten state agencies offered employee buyouts a few weeks before legislators set the final budgets for the 2017-19 biennium in late April. A draft letter provided by the governor's office at the time said the agencies anticipated workforce cuts to balance the budget.
BISMARCK — The state of North Dakota paid three current and former employees $72,200 combined after criminal charges against them were dismissed last year, documents show. The charges stemmed from the drowning of a 5-year-old girl in Velva, N.D., in 2015. The operating license for the child care facility looking after the girl had expired a week before she drowned, according to authorities. The state officials were charged with criminal conspiracy and with public servant refusing to perform duty, both misdemeanors. The charges were dismissed in August.