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 top-budget writer in the North Dakota House predicted Monday, Jan. 7, that lawmakers will adopt “fairly conservative” tax revenue projections as they begin crafting budgets for the upcoming two-year budget cycle.
BISMARCK — North Dakota legislators, law enforcement officers and safety advocates reopened a familiar debate over whether to tighten enforcement of the state's seat belt law Friday, Jan. 4.
BISMARCK — Gov. Doug Burgum’s announcement that his office would display the flags of North Dakota’s five tribal nations was one of the more warmly received parts of his State of the State address Thursday, Jan. 3. It was also somewhat of a spur-of-the-moment declaration that wasn't included in his prepared remarks provided to reporters.
BISMARCK — Gov. Doug Burgum said North Dakota should avoid a “scarcity mindset” and embrace its status as a provider of energy, food and technology during his State of the State address Thursday, Jan. 3, the first day of the 2019 legislative session. “Today, the state of the state is that we stand at the cusp of a new era in North Dakota’s history,” he told the packed state House chambers. “And by harnessing the courage to dare greatly, we will cultivate a prosperous future for generations to come.”
BISMARCK — North Dakota police officers would be able to pull over drivers for failing to wear a seat belt under a bill introduced in the state Legislature. Republican Sen. Curt Kreun of Grand Forks cited the human and financial toll of vehicle crashes as his motivation for introducing the bill. He said his father was a state trooper in Minnesota who once said that he “never unbuckled a dead person in 23 years.”
BISMARCK — North Dakota legislative leaders expressed skepticism over a request for an extra $300 million in state funds for the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project ahead of the start of the session Thursday, Jan. 3. Diversion planners accepted a higher price tag for the massive project a month ago, increasing the cost to $2.75 billion. An updated funding plan seeks $300 million more from the state of North Dakota on top of the $570 million already committed.
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers will arrive in Bismarck this week on more solid financial footing than they did two years ago, but Republicans who control the levers of state government are signaling a conservative spending approach. The 2019 legislative session will begin Thursday, Jan. 3, amid indications that the state’s budget has rebounded from sharp declines in tax revenue a few years ago. Lawmakers slashed general fund spending by 28 percent during the 2017 session, and Republican Gov. Doug Burgum maintained his call for caution earlier this year.
BISMARCK — As farmers and ranchers struggled with historically dry conditions in western North Dakota last year, Gov. Doug Burgum listened to their concerns during a packed town hall meeting in Golden Valley. Kim Entze, a rancher in the area, credited the first-term Republican for easing restrictions on hauling hay and said he was “impressed” by Burgum’s attention to their plight. “If it wouldn’t have been for him, I think a lot of guys wouldn’t have been able to make it through,” he said.
BISMARCK — Kevin Cramer recently quipped that he’ll have a relatively smooth transition into his new job representing North Dakota in the U.S. Senate for one major reason: He at least knows his way around Washington, D.C. “I actually know the rooms in the building,” the Republican congressman said. “I know where the restrooms are. I know where the train is.”
BISMARCK — Owners of electric and hybrid vehicles in North Dakota would pay an annual fee to make up for lost gas tax revenue under a bill crafted by a Grand Forks lawmaker. Republican state Sen. Curt Kreun said his proposal would help balance the scales between owners of traditional gas guzzlers who help fund road improvements by paying fuel taxes and drivers of more environmentally friendly vehicles who use those same roads. Under his bill, electric vehicle owners would face an annual $248 “road use fee” and hybrid drivers would see a $71 annual bill.