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.
- Member for
- 6 years 5 months
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.
BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Public Service Commission chose its newest member to chair the three-member panel Wednesday, Dec. 19. Brian Kroshus will begin chairing the utility regulatory agency for two years starting Jan. 1. He will succeed Randy Christmann, who will remain on the all-Republican commission alongside Julie Fedorchak. "There's been a strong tradition of leadership at the commission," Kroshus said. "(I have) big shoes to fill, but I look forward to working with a very talented staff and doing my part to continue in that tradition."
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers are taking another crack at undoing the state's ban on Sunday morning shopping. State Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, R-Fargo, said Wednesday, Dec. 19, she's introducing legislation to repeal most of the Sunday closing law, allowing retailers to choose whether to open their doors that morning. “The basic idea is to put the decision-making power back in the hands of the business owner,” she said. “We’re basically taking the government out of the decision-making process.”
BISMARCK — North Dakota utility regulators are split over whether a rule preventing energy projects from being built on prime farmland should apply to a large solar project proposed in Cass County. The three-member, all-Republican Public Service Commission examined the Harmony Solar Project during a work session with staff Monday, Dec. 17. The $320 million project, proposed by Minneapolis-based Geronimo Energy, would be built in Harmony Township west of Fargo.
BISMARCK — A panel forwarded six candidates for two seats on North Dakota's higher education board to Gov. Doug Burgum Monday, Dec. 17. The five-member nominating committee technically selected candidates for three slots on the State Board of Higher Education, but one of them is for an abbreviated term opened up by Greg Stemen's resignation in September. The committee picked the same set of three names for the shortened term and the four-year term set to begin in July: