Jack Dura / Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers have yet to act on Gov. Doug Burgum's proposal for a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library at Medora, seeing a coming revenue forecast as key for the session's second half. Burgum has proposed using $50 million in Legacy Fund earnings with $100 million in private donations to build the facility at the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park's South Unit. In January, he gave testimony to the Education and Environment Division of the House Appropriations Committee, urging support for his proposal.
BISMARCK -- Lonnie Bertsch has an analogy for cable median barriers. "It'll slice just like a cheese grater," said the executive director of American Bikers Aiming Toward Education in North Dakota. After a risk analysis of the interstate highway system, the North Dakota Department of Transportation plans to install cable median barriers along interstate roadways in Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks this summer. Construction costs $6 million, with 90 percent federal funding, 10 percent state. Further construction is set for Fargo and Mandan in 2020 and 2021.
BISMARCK - Negotiating a conviction requirement may be one of the tougher parts of North Dakota lawmakers' reform of civil asset forfeiture. The House Judiciary Committee gave an 11-3 "do-pass" recommendation Wednesday night, Feb. 13, to House Bill 1286 after 80 minutes of discussion. The bill brought by Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, seeks to eliminate the "perverse incentive" of "policing for profit." Property involved in criminal activity is subject to forfeiture.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House unanimously approved a bill on Wednesday, Feb. 13, aimed at improving victim and treatment services related to juvenile sexual assault. The House approved House Bill 1520, introduced by Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, in a 92-0 vote. The legislation is dubbed "Natalee's Bill" for a 4-year-old girl whose parents sought reform after their experience in the juvenile justice system following her sexual assault.
BISMARCK — By a slim margin, members of the North Dakota House defeated a bill on Tuesday, Feb. 12, for a pilot project on hedging oil and gas tax revenue. Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, had introduced House Bill 1186, amended to the pilot project and sent from the House Finance and Taxation Committee with a 7-6 vote for "do not pass." He urged passage for "some predictability" for oil. Kempenich also emphasized that the bill would set up an advisory committee for the 2019-20 interim to oversee the pilot project.
BISMARCK -- Steve Bakken, Bismarck's mayor, takes it as a compliment that a North Dakota legislator praised him as "sort of a redneck" during a House floor session last week. "I wear it as a badge of honor," Bakken said. During floor debate Friday, Feb. 8, on House Bill 1463, which would allow collective bargaining for police and professional firefighters, Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, outlined his talks with Fargo and Bismarck firefighters, who he said differed in their abilities to speak with upper management.
BISMARCK — A Bismarck lawmaker has drawn criticism for a Facebook post making light of a comparison between government programs and prison rape. Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, shared a meme to his campaign's Facebook page which depicts two pairs of feet in a shower — one labeled "Citizen" in front of another labeled "Government" — and a bar of soap stamped "'free' stuff." "OMG! HAHAHAHAHA" Becker wrote in the post Saturday morning, Feb. 9.
BISMARCK -- Those associated with North Dakota's juvenile justice system are optimistic about the 2019 legislative session. Several bills offer closer looks at services affecting children. "I think kids in this session seem to have a lot of momentum," said Cory Pedersen, director of juvenile court for North Dakota's South Central Judicial District, which includes Burleigh and Morton counties. Juvenile services in North Dakota have taken some hits in recent years. The 2017 session cut 20 percent of juvenile court staff and closed the Bottineau juvenile office.
BISMARCK — Members of the North Dakota House voted down a bill to allow collective bargaining for police and professional firefighters with city administrations Friday, Feb. 8. The chamber voted 64-23 against House Bill 1463, introduced by Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo.
BISMARCK - North Dakota lawmakers heard passionate and even tearful testimony on Thursday, Feb. 7, in opposition to a bill that would tighten the state's cottage foods law. Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden, told the Senate Agriculture Committee that Senate Bill 2269 seeks "consistency and conformity" since a rule-making process brought nothing forth after cottage food proponents clashed with the state Department of Health following 2017 legislation that expanded direct sales of mostly home baked and canned items.