Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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BISMARCK -- Child care facilities will be able to take on more children, and families will be in a better position to afford child care with a bill passed Tuesday. The Legislature sent Gov. Jack Dalrymple House Bill 1422, which bumps up the state's cap on the number of children a provider can watch at one time. It also provides financial incentives, with $1 million in grants for the recruitment, training and retention of child care workers to meet demand. An additional $300,000 will create two new positions, one on each side of the state, to help with the training.
BISMARCK -- The Legislature's promise to provide tax relief for North Dakota residents still hangs in the balance during the session's final days, and large tax cut packages have yet to be passed. Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, chairman of the Senate Finance and Tax Committee, has said throughout the session that the Legislature will provide $1 billion in tax relief, and points to four remaining bills that total over that mark. Gov.
BISMARCK -- The North Dakota judicial system will have three new district court judges once Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs off on the budget for the state's judicial branch. House lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2002 Monday morning 87-4 with the Senate unanimously passing it Friday. Two judges will be placed in the Northwest District and the other in the East Central District. Chief Justice Gerald Vandewalle asked lawmakers for the three new judges to help handle the large increase in court cases that have come largely, in part, from the increase in population due to the oil boom.
BISMARCK -- With three families who have lost loved ones in the past year standing behind him, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed a law Monday he says a clear message: "Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is a very serious offense and will not be tolerated." Tom Deutscher said many more are now going to benefit from the new laws, which his family has lobbied for all session.
BISMARCK -- After two failed attempts, House lawmakers passed a bill to fund the Tobacco Prevention and Control Advisory Committee. Senate Bill 2024 was defeated by one vote Thursday, and an attempt to reconsider it later did not garner enough support. The bill was considered again Friday, and it passed 68-23. Lawmakers said they voted against the bill originally to help send a message to the committee that some don't agree with how the committee is spending its money and handling its prevention efforts.
BISMARCK -- President Barack Obama, pledging to fight state efforts to ban abortion practices, said Friday that North Dakota's most recent law prohibiting abortions as early as six weeks after conception is one attempt "to turn back the clock for policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century." He pointed out during his speech to Planned Parenthood in Washington that 42 states have introduced laws to limit or ban abortion that would "severely limit access to a woman's right to choose." Rep.
BISMARCK -- The internal auditor for the North Dakota University System said Chancellor Hamid Shirvani did not violate any policies or commit fraud in testimony before a House committee, but adds that Shirvani's presentation could have been construed as misleading. A University System staff member accused Shirvani of trying to make the graduation and retention rates at the University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University look bad by using inappropriate comparison schools as he provided an update March 18 to the House Appropriations Committee. The accuser, Linda Baeza Porter, inte
BISMARCK -- House lawmakers shot down two attempts Thursday to fund the Tobacco Prevention and Control Advisory Committee. Senate Bill 2024 was defeated by one vote, and an attempt to reconsider it later did not garner enough support. The committee was created with the passage of Measure 5 in 2008 to develop policies and programs to reduce tobacco use and keep kids from starting to use tobacco. Since it is in the state constitution, the Legislature has to provide funding for its operations. Lawmakers say they will, but don't know when or how.
BISMARCK -- The state's top attorney said the Legislature's proposal to increase penalties and curb drunken driving "is going to be tough." "I think people who are out drinking and thinking of driving will soon come to recognize this is a serious statute," Wayne Stenehjem said Wednesday. House Bill 1302, sponsored by Rep. Kim Koppelman, R-West Fargo, would ramp up the penalties for driving under the influence, add incentives to stay through mandatory participation in the 24/7 Sobriety Program and put funding into educational programs on the effects of drinking, among other provisions.
BISMARCK -- A 80-12 House vote Wednesday morning sent Gov. Jack Dalrymple a bill that would create harsher penalties against people who willfully neglect, abuse, abandon or are otherwise cruel to animals. The legislation, Senate Bill 2211, cleared the Senate on Tuesday by a 43-3 vote. The bill creates four distinct definitions for each possible offense, with penalties increasing as the offense becomes more severe. The only concern voiced Wednesday was over the bill's requirement that an animal owner provide necessary medical attention. Rep.