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 heads of the North Dakota Legislature's tax committees expressed little interest this week in adjusting to federal tax law changes that are expected to cut into state revenues. In what Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said was the most comprehensive breakdown of the new law's effects, his office estimated the state would lose $4.9 million in the current two-year budget cycle, which ends in mid-2019, and nearly $28.9 million in the 2019-21 biennium. That would represent about a 3.6 percent drop in income tax collections for a full two-year budget cycle.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Supreme Court upheld disciplinary action taken against a self-described "brawler" Bismarck attorney and candidate for the state's highest court this week. In an opinion issued Tuesday, March 20, justices affirmed a disciplinary board decision to admonish Robert Bolinske Sr. for alleging members of the judiciary had worked to hide public records. He made the allegations against then-Justice Dale Sandstrom and his wife, South Central District Judge Gail Hagerty, who filed a complaint in October 2016.
BISMARCK—As North Dakota Republicans work to unseat Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp this year, they selected a new chairman Tuesday, March 20, who came within inches of defeating her six years ago. Former Congressman Rick Berg will start as the GOP chairman immediately after a vote of the party's state committee Tuesday afternoon, said Vice Chairman Jim Poolman. Poolman served as interim chairman after state Sen. Kelly Armstrong stepped down from the party leadership role to run for Congress. Berg didn't face any challengers for the post, Poolman said.
BISMARCK -- Fresh off a defeat at the North Dakota Democratic-NPL convention, former state Rep. Ben Hanson broadcast his support for the party’s endorsed candidate in the U.S. House race Tuesday, March 20. Hanson endorsed Grand Forks attorney Mac Schneider, the former minority leader in the state Senate. Saturday, he didn’t immediately rule out a primary election challenge after losing the three-way endorsement contest.
BISMARCK—A proposed update to the North Dakota Legislature's workplace harassment policy needs some tweaks, state lawmakers said Monday, March 19. Members of the Legislative Procedure and Arrangements Committee, which includes leaders from both parties, got their first look at the new policy during a meeting at the state Capitol. It was drafted after a flood of sexual misconduct accusations against political, media and entertainment figures elsewhere in recent months.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Supreme Court justices probed attorneys for Gov. Doug Burgum and the state Legislature Monday, March 19, as a historic legal struggle between two branches of government reached the third.
GRAND FORKS—North Dakota Democrats attending their state convention here described former Vice President Joe Biden as a "down to earth" politician after he rallied party faithfuls to re-elect Sen. Heidi Heitkamp Saturday, March 17. Biden's speech helped boost some Democratic enthusiasm ahead of the convention as the party seeks to defend its only statewide officeholder and win seats elsewhere. Mary Rennich, a delegate from Bismarck, heard Biden speak during a luncheon that was closed to the press prior to his keynote speech at the Alerus Center.
GRAND FORKS—North Dakota Democrats endorsed Grand Forks attorney Mac Schneider as their candidate for the U.S. House at their state convention Saturday, March 17, at the Alerus Center. Schneider is a former state senator who was minority leader when he lost his re-election bid in 2016. He bested former state Rep. Ben Hanson and sitting state Sen. John Grabinger for the Democratic nod.
Buying a home for the first time can be an overwhelming experience, but experts in the field say there are some things prospective homebuyers can do to ease those headaches. Roseann Lund, senior vice president of mortgage lending at Gate City Bank, said first-time homebuyers should get prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage. That helps ensure that "we're looking at homes that are in the right price range for what they can do so they don't fall in love with something that's not attainable," said Becky Aadnes, a real estate agent at Alliance Real Estate in Bismarck.
Homeownership seems out of reach for Amy Kielmeyer. Saddled with about $80,000 in student debt, the University of North Dakota lecturer rents an apartment in East Grand Forks, Minn. Absent a boost in income, she doesn't foresee being able to afford a home of her own. "When I really sit down and think about it, if nothing were to change and I would just continue where I'm at right now, I don't think I would ever be able to own a house," Kielmeyer said. "At this point I just sort of stopped even thinking about it."