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 — A bipartisan group of North Dakota lawmakers, police chiefs and education officials unveiled legislation Tuesday, Jan. 15, allowing officers to seize firearms from people deemed dangerous, a proposal that could face some pushback in the gun-friendly Legislature.
BISMARCK -- Republican leaders in the North Dakota Legislature have introduced legislation to implement the new anti-corruption measure voters inserted into the state constitution. House Bill 1521, introduced by House Majority Leader Chet Pollert and Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, outlines a process for filing ethics complaints against public officials, includes exceptions to the prohibition against lobbyist gifts and budgets $100,000 to new ethics commission.
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers again wrestled with the state’s medical marijuana law Monday, Jan. 14, amid some frustration that the drug isn’t yet available to patients almost two years after the state enacted the voter-approved statute. Fargo Democratic Rep. Pam Anderson, an early medical marijuana proponent, pushed a bill adding several conditions that would qualify for the drug’s use, including autism, anxiety disorder and Tourette syndrome. She said the proposed additions were driven by constituent requests.
BISMARCK -- The chairman of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL will step down, the party said Monday, Jan. 14. Warren Larson told fellow Democrats over the weekend he wouldn't run for a full two-year term as chairman, according to a news release. In June, he took over the job from Kylie Oversen, who resigned during her unsuccessful bid for state tax commissioner last year. Larson previously served as the party's vice chairman from 2015 to 2018. The party didn't announce a succession plan Monday.
BISMARCK — North Dakota legislators concluded their first full week of the 2019 session Friday, Jan. 11, after launching initial budget discussions and holding hearings on a variety of policy changes. North Dakota lawmakers had introduced 608 bills and resolutions as of Thursday, but Legislative Council Director John Bjornson expected plenty more to flow in as lawmakers approach deadlines.
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers are poised to consider bills allowing concealed weapon permit holders to pack heat in public buildings, legalizing so-called “bump stocks” that speed up a gun’s rate of fire and creating an “armed first responder program” in schools. A round of gun legislation is scheduled to be heard in a House committee Thursday, Jan. 17. Already a conservative state with relatively high rates of firearm ownership, North Dakota is “becoming more gun-friendly,” according to Sebastian Ertelt, R-Lisbon, the primary sponsor of a few gun bills this session.
BISMARCK — A North Dakota Republican lawmaker is pushing a bill requiring the state Highway Patrol to disclose the costs of protecting the governor. Rep. Bill Devlin of Finley said Friday, Jan. 11, lawmakers have been “frustrated” by a lack of financial disclosure and said his bill would help guide budgetary decisions. “I don’t want to jeopardize security. All I want to know is after the fact what it cost,” said Devlin, a former newspaper publisher. “To me, it’s an open government thing.”
BISMARCK — Opponents of a proposal to alter the process for amending the North Dakota constitution hammered the idea as an effort to undermine the will of the voters Thursday, Jan. 10. As introduced, the proposal would require constitutional amendments approved by North Dakota voters to gain support from the Legislature in the following two sessions. Its primary sponsor, Minot Republican Sen. David Hogue, offered an amendment Thursday that would allow voters to override the Legislature if it rejected the voters' decision.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called funding the Fargo-Moorhead diversion a “no-brainer” and a “bargain” for the state Thursday, Jan. 10, as the flood control project’s backers seek an extra $300 million from the Legislature. The Republican governor testified before a legislative committee Thursday, representing just the second time he’s done so since taking office in late 2016. He pitched funding for the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Wednesday.
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers set revenue figures that will guide their budget-writing actions during the first weeks of the 2019 session Wednesday, Jan. 9, with less optimistic oil and gas tax predictions than Gov. Doug Burgum used in his proposed spending plan. The forecast, approved unanimously by both the House and Senate appropriations committees, assumes a $42.50 per barrel North Dakota oil price for the 2019-21 biennium, lower than both the executive forecast and figures from IHS Markit, a firm lawmakers hired to provide a second opinion on state revenues.