Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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BISMARCK – North Dakota’s first new license plate in more than 20 years will soon hit the streets. The state Department of Transportation announced that it began issuing the new “Sunrise” license plate Thursday. Department Director Grant Levi stressed that the new flat plate will be distributed to vehicle owners through the regular license plate renewal process.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Ed Schafer has been named University of North Dakota's interim president. Current President Robert Kelley will retire in January, at which time Schafer, a former North Dakota governor, will take over until a permanent replacement is found.
BISMARCK – The committee steering the design of a new official residence for North Dakota’s governor reaffirmed its preference for a one-story design over a pair of two-story schemes on Monday, while also agreeing to live within the $5 million cost limit set by state lawmakers. Members voted 4-3 last month to give top ranking to a design that consists of a one-story private residence facing Fourth Street connected to a two-story public space facing the Capitol mall.
BISMARCK – The North Dakota Libertarian Party has endorsed candidates for statewide offices and elected a new party chairman, but it still needs a candidate to capture at least 5 percent of the vote in the 2016 governor’s race so they don’t have to collect signatures to maintain their ballot status. The 50-plus party members who attended the statewide convention Saturday at the Baymont Inn in Mandan endorsed:
BISMARCK – Top North Dakota lawmakers from both parties say nearly $100,000 in retention bonuses awarded by Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple to five members of his staff were excessive and will spur the Legislature to review the recruitment and retention bonus program in 2017. State employees also are bristling at the bonuses, feeling that their work is just as important as that done by the governor’s office and that the bonus system is “badly warped,” a union official said Friday.
BISMARCK – North Dakota utility regulators on Wednesday approved a natural gas rate increase for customers of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. that is smaller than what the company originally proposed but still spreads out the costs in a way that drew objections from AARP North Dakota.
BISMARCK – Libertarian Party members will descend on Mandan on Saturday to give early endorsements for the 2016 elections with hopes of maintaining the status they achieved last year in becoming the third recognized political party in North Dakota. North Dakota party chairman Roland Riemers of Grand Forks said he expects between 50 and 150 people to attend the combined statewide convention of the North Dakota and South Dakota Libertarian parties from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Baymont Inn.
BISMARCK – Former North Dakota agriculture commissioner Sarah Vogel said Tuesday she is in the early stages of exploring a run for governor next year, becoming the first Democrat to publicly acknowledge a possible gubernatorial bid. “I am in the thinking about it stage,” Vogel said in a phone interview.
BISMARCK – Josh Gallion of Bismarck officially jumped into the race for state auditor on Tuesday, and the accounting manager for the state Public Service Commission already has the backing of one Republican officeholder in his bid for the GOP nomination. Current State Auditor Robert R. Peterson, who will retire at the end of his term next year after 20 years in the office, said he recruited Gallion to run. “I think he’s a perfect fit,” he said.
BISMARCK – Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple is defending nearly $100,000 in retention bonuses paid to five staffers in his office in June, after a top Democratic lawmaker said it “raises a red flag” and warrants a closer look at the program. The $99,824 paid out June 1 was the first time a governor has used the bonus program since it started in 1999, said Ken Purdy, director of the state’s Human Resource Management Services.