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 — The North Dakota Senate narrowly agreed to tighten the state's enforcement of its seat belt laws Tuesday, Jan. 22, one day after the bill failed in a tie vote. Senate Bill 2060 overcame arguments in favor of preserving personal freedoms and passed in a 24-23 vote, and it now moves to the House. Grand Forks Republican Sen. Scott Meyer, who was absent during Monday's debate, asked his colleagues to reconsider their decision. Meyer said he wore a seat belt when he crashed about 20 years ago while helping his dad during harvest.
BISMARCK — Abortion opponents urged North Dakota lawmakers to require physicians to inform women that it's possible to reverse a drug-induced procedure Monday, Jan. 21, a claim that the head of the state’s sole abortion clinic said isn't backed by science.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota senators defeated a bill tightening enforcement of seat belt use in a tie vote Monday, Jan. 21. A bill allowing police officers to pull over unbuckled drivers in most vehicles failed in a 23-23 vote, with a bill cosponsor being the only lawmaker absent.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota lawmakers would meet in regular session more frequently under proposals introduced in the state Legislature. Lawmakers currently meet during odd-numbered years, but some argue moving to annual sessions would allow them to be more responsive on budget and policy matters. The state constitution limits lawmakers to 80 days in regular session every two years.
BISMARCK — A bill introduced in the North Dakota Legislature would impose an extra $1 annual fee on all vehicle registrations to pay for new volunteer emergency responder license plates approved by voters in November. Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden, crafted the “compromise” ballot measure implementation bill with input from stakeholders. He said Friday, Jan. 18, that it establishes rules and a funding source for the proposal, which sought to provide free personalized plates that would serve as an entrance pass for state parks and a “thank-you note” to the volunteers.
BISMARCK — A fight over new ethics rules lept from the ballot box to the North Dakota state Capitol hallways Friday, Jan. 18, as Measure 1 supporters called for the defeat of an implementation bill introduced by Republican leadership. In a news release, North Dakotans for Public Integrity said House Bill 1521 restricts transparency, imposes “almost meaningless penalties” and provides inadequate funding for a new ethics commission. The group successfully pushed for new anti-corruption language to be inserted into the state constitution in November.
BISMARCK — A renewed effort to repeal North Dakota's ban on Sunday morning shopping cleared its first major hurdle Thursday, Jan. 17, as House lawmakers agreed to ditch what some called an outdated and unfair law. Legislators passed House Bill 1097 in a 56-35 vote Thursday afternoon. Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, R-Fargo, is the bill's primary sponsor. Proponents have argued that businesses should be allowed to decide when to open their doors, while others have opposed the legislation for religious reasons.
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers are making another push to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation with a pair of scaled-back proposals meant to be more palatable to the Republican-controlled Legislature. Rep. Mary Johnson, R-Fargo, introduced a bipartisan bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment and public accommodations or services. State law already prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin and other factors.
BISMARCK — People who fraudulently claim their dog is a service animal could face a $100 fine under a bill considered by a North Dakota legislative committee Wednesday, Jan. 16. House Bill 1259, introduced by a group of Republican lawmakers led by Jamestown Rep. Bernie Satrom, would make it an infraction to falsely claim that a pet is a service animal in an attempt to "gain admission to a public place" or obtain housing. Satrom said his bill is meant to deter what he said were increasingly common abuses of service animal ownership to "gain special access and accommodations."
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers had introduced 869 bills and resolutions as of Monday, Jan. 14, the most in 10 years, according to a memo sent to reporters. Monday marked the deadline for House lawmakers to introduce bills. As of that deadline in 2017, 727 bills and resolutions were introduced in the Legislature. This year marked the most active Legislature since 2009, when lawmakers introduced 913 bills and resolutions at this point of the session, according to the Legislative Council memo.