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 North Dakota Senate agreed to impose new fees on owners of electric and hybrid vehicles Tuesday, Jan. 29, a move proponents pitched as a way to balance the scales with traditional gas guzzlers that pay for road projects through fuel taxes. The 26-19 vote sends Senate Bill 2061 to the House. It would impose an annual “road use fee” of $110 for electric vehicles and $50 for hybrids.
BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Department of Health said Tuesday, Jan. 29, that it is accepting medical marijuana dispensary applications for proposed operations in the Devils Lake, Dickinson, Jamestown and Minot regions. The four regions represent the third and final open application period for dispensaries. Applications will be accepted until 3 p.m., Feb. 26, and a $5,000 nonrefundable application fee is required.
BISMARCK — A North Dakota Senate committee scrutinized two bills requiring drug tests for school board members and school employees Tuesday, Jan. 29, proposals that critics warned would be costly, unnecessary and unconstitutional. West Fargo Republican Sen. David Clemens, the chief backer of the bill requiring random drug tests for public school employees, said it was meant as a “safeguard to eliminate drugs from our schools.” He said his work on the Senate Human Services Committee has exposed him to substance abuse issues among the state’s youth.
BISMARCK — The head of a state-funded gambling addiction program implored North Dakota lawmakers to set aside money for treatment and prevention if they follow a national trend and expand betting options to sporting events Monday, Jan. 28. The House Judiciary Committee considered two nearly identical bills allowing charitable gaming organizations to offer sports betting Monday, the first time lawmakers debated the legislation since the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for states to legalize athletic gambling last year.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House easily passed a contentious bill requiring physicians to inform women that they could reverse drug-induced abortions, Monday, Jan. 28, a claim opponents have said isn’t supported by science. The 73-16 vote sends House Bill 1336 to the Senate. Supporters said it would give women more information about having an abortion and their options if they change their mind, but opponents maintain it would intrude upon the doctor-patient relationship.
BISMARCK -- Heidi Heitkamp has joined the board of a Washington, D.C.-based think tank named after former U.S. Sen. John McCain, the organization announced Monday, Jan. 28. Heitkamp, a former Democratic senator from North Dakota, will serve on the board of Arizona State University's McCain Institute, which was founded in 2012 as a nonpartisan organization aimed at "advancing character-driven leadership and civic engagement in the U.S. and abroad." Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Republican senator, is the institute's chairwoman.
BISMARCK — A North Dakota Democratic lawmaker wants to remove what she described as outdated language from the state’s breastfeeding law. Fargo Rep. Gretchen Dobervich is the primary sponsor of House Bill 1330, which removes the requirement that women breastfeed in a "discreet and modest manner" in public. It would also make it an infraction to prohibit somebody from breastfeeding, punishable by up to a $1,000 fine.
BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Senate defeated legislation banning discrimination based on sexual orientation Friday, Jan. 25, again turning down efforts to add LGBT protections to state law. Senate Bill 2303 failed in a 20-27 vote. Grand Forks Democratic Sen. JoNell Bakke, the bill's primary sponsor, said it was meant to focus on prohibiting discrimination in housing and employment. The House will consider another similar bill that doesn't cover gender identity. That bill hasn't yet been scheduled for a hearing.
BISMARCK — The head of North Dakota’s state-owned bank said Thursday, Jan. 24, that legislation offering interest-free loans to federal employees affected by the partial government shutdown raises "significant" constitutional concerns, but he offered another option to address workers’ financial stress.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Senate will consider a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation Friday, Jan. 25, after a legislative panel declined to back the legislation. The Senate Judiciary Committee again gave Senate Bill 2303 a “do not pass” recommendation in a 5-1 vote Thursday, one day after its supporters packed a Capitol hearing room and urged lawmakers to add LGBT protections to state law. The Republican-led Legislature has defeated anti-discrimination bills several times in recent sessions.