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 Senate leaders unveiled a proposal expanding the State Board of Higher Education by three members Wednesday, Feb. 13, a move taken one day after the House rejected Gov. Doug Burgum's bid to split the system into two panels. Republican and Democratic leaders plan to introduce a resolution asking voters in 2020 to amend the state's constitution to increase the higher education board's membership to 11, said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, who shared a copy of the resolution with reporters Wednesday.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House passed a pair of bills allowing for sealing criminal records for DUIs and other offenses Wednesday, Feb. 13, in what lawmakers pitched as an effort to give offenders a second chance in society. House Bill 1256 would allow offenders to petition a court to seal their record after staying out of trouble for a few years. The bill's primary sponsor, Fargo Republican Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, said she intended for the bill not to apply to non-violent and non-sexual offenses.
BISMARCK — A North Dakota Senate committee has advanced a bill implementing the state's new constitutional ethics rules. The special committee, which was formed to consider legislation codifying Measure 1, amended a Democratic bill that was backed by the ballot measure's supporters before giving it a "do pass" recommendation Tuesday, Feb. 12. It will be considered by the Senate's budget-writing committee before a final vote in that chamber.
BISMARCK — North Dakota utility regulators have proposed eliminating rules that prevent energy facilities from being built on "prime and unique farmland" after debating whether a proposed solar farm in Cass County would fall under the regulations.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota House lawmakers approved a bill prohibiting law enforcement from using checkpoints to catch drunk drivers Tuesday, Feb. 12. House Bill 1442 would require police to have "reasonable suspicion" for halting a driver, according to its primary sponsor, Bismarck Republican Rep. Rick Becker. He argued checkpoints are an ineffective tool for catching violators. The bill does not apply to inspections or safety checkpoints for commercial motor vehicles. The bill passed in a 79-14 vote and now moves to the Senate for consideration.
BISMARCK — North Dakota House lawmakers rejected a proposed update to the state's breastfeeding law Tuesday, Feb. 12. House Bill 1330 failed in a 61-32 vote. It would have removed language requiring women to breastfeed in a "discreet and modest manner" and would have made it an infraction to prohibit women from breastfeeding, a violation that would have carried a maximum $1,000 fine.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House overwhelmingly defeated a bill outlining a new higher education governance structure Tuesday, Feb. 12, in a rebuke to a task force formed by Gov. Doug Burgum that recommended drastic changes to the existing model. House Bill 1500 failed in a 74-19 vote. The legislation was contingent on voters approving a constitutional amendment that had not yet been introduced in the Legislature.
BISMARCK — A Fargo lawmaker said he was surprised and unhappy to see his data privacy bill watered down to a legislative study Tuesday, Feb. 12.
BISMARCK — A North Dakota House committee reopened a longstanding debate over banning discrimination based on sexual orientation Monday, Feb. 11, with some LGBT advocates raising objections over the exclusion of transgender people from the proposed protections. House Bill 1441, championed by Fargo Republican Rep. Mary Johnson, largely mirrors failed legislation from 2017. But it doesn’t include gender identity in the definition of sexual orientation, attracting opposition from the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, which has supported past efforts.
BISMARCK — Breastfeeding advocates urged North Dakota lawmakers to update what they described as a subjective state law that lacks any deterrents for improperly preventing moms from feeding their child Monday, Feb. 11. House Bill 1330 would remove requirements that women breastfeed in a “discreet and modest manner” while in public, language that bill proponents said is up to each person's interpretation. It would also make it an infraction, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine, to prohibit women from breastfeeding.