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BISMARCK -- Three conservation groups that helped craft the state's Outdoor Heritage Fund may not have any input into where the funding goes. House lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2242 on Tuesday with an amendment that removes Ducks Unlimited of North Dakota, the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust and the North Dakota chapter of Pheasants Forever from the 12-person advisory board created to give advice to the Industrial Commission, which will allocate funding through the heritage fund.
BISMARCK - Sen. Larry Luick said Tuesday the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project is too big for North Dakota to commit to without federal help. That's why the Republican from Fairmount, who represents District 25 south of Fargo, offered a floor amendment Tuesday that would require the Red River flood control project to receive federal funding before it can move forward -- an amendment that effectively stops the diversion in its tracks.
BISMARCK -- The sponsor of the Outdoor Heritage Fund bill, which was signed into law Wednesday, is on his third attempt to remove three conservation groups from the fund's advisory board -- groups that originally helped craft the idea. Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, said two of the groups tried to kill the bill while it was in committee and believes they are now trying to put together a campaign to put a different version of the fund on the 2014 ballot to put it in the state constitution. "They need to pick a side. They are either all on board or get to do their own thing," he said.
BISMARCK -- Senate lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that would provide $714 million in property tax relief while increasing state aid to school districts. Senators unanimously passed House Bill 1319, which would provide an average of $60 for every $10,000 in house value, Sen. Tim Flakoll said, equating to about $600 for a house valued at $100,000. At the same time, taxpayers and school districts would pay less toward education, as the bill provides $8,810 per student unit in 2014 and $9,092 in 2015.
BISMARCK -- The state will commit to its $450 million share of the Fargo-Moorhead area Red River diversion project if the Legislature agrees to amendments that were put into the State Water Commission budget Thursday. The Senate Appropriations Committee removed an amendment to House Bill 1020 that capped state funding for the flood control project at $325 million instead of the $450 million requested by the Diversion Authority. The amendment that was removed, proposed by Rep.
BISMARCK -- Penalties for drunk driving may soon be ramped up. The Senate on Wednesday unanimously passed House Bill 1302, which significantly enhances the penalties, provides funding for education on the effects of binge drinking and incentivizes sobriety, said Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson. The bill will go to the House, which would have to agree to the Senate's changes before heading to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature. But the bill's sponsor, Rep. Kim Koppelman, said it will be sent to a conference committee to hash out the changes.
BISMARCK -- Sen. Dwight Cook said Tuesday that some funding was stripped out of a bill to help cities deal with effects of the oil boom, in part to get those cities to justify why they need the extra funding. "There are many needs around the state, we need to make sure we have responsibility when we distribute this funding," the Republican from Mandan said.
BISMARCK -- An estimated 20,500 North Dakotans will receive health insurance once Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs a bill passed Tuesday. Senate lawmakers voted 33-14 to pass House Bill 1362, which expands Medicaid coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, passed by Congress in 2010.
BISMARCK -- A treating doctor's opinion about an injury may be thrown out by Workforce Safety and Insurance under a bill passed by the House on Friday. Senate Bill 2298 gives WSI the final say on how to handle a workers' compensation claim. The intention of the bill completely flipped since it was drafted to strengthen the treating doctor's opinion. Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, said if WSI doesn't agree to a treating doctor's opinion, there already are steps it can take to discard the opinion. But Rep. Bill Amerman, D-Forman, said the bill will remove those steps.
BISMARCK -- A state lawmaker called members of the State Board of Higher Education and University System office before a House committee Friday to ask questions about what he believes has been a behind-the-scenes effort to discredit Chancellor Hamid Shirvani. "There's some very disturbing communications taking place behind the scenes in an effort to discredit the person who was hired to head up the University System," Rep.