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—As North Dakota lawmakers approach the 2017 session's halfway point, major budget bills are approaching a floor vote. The House Appropriations Committee approved budgets for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Public Instruction Thursday, Feb. 16. State legislators are working with reduced tax revenue due to a slower economy this session, creating tighter budgets for the next two-year funding cycle.
BISMARCK — The Senate Human Services Committee gave its blessing to an amended version of the contentious medical marijuana implementation bill Thursday, Feb. 16. The committee gave a "do pass" recommendation late Thursday afternoon to Senate Bill 2344, the legislation that amends the initiated measure legalizing marijuana for medical purposes that North Dakota voters approved in November's election.
BISMARCK—Stressing the dangers of spring flooding and the need to avoid environmental damage, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ordered the mandatory evacuation of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters Wednesday, Feb. 15.
BISMARCK — Seeking to attract a wider pool of candidates for government jobs, the North Dakota Senate passed legislation to make job applicants' records confidential until finalists are named Wednesday, Feb. 15.
BISMARCK—With constituents worried about quickly clearing snow from roads, a North Dakota lawmaker made an unsuccessful attempt to keep several highway maintenance shops open Tuesday, Feb. 14.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House approved a bill to require people participating in an employment plan under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to go through addiction screening. House Bill 1308, introduced by Rep. Daniel Johnston, R-Kathryn, passed Tuesday, Feb. 14, by a vote of 77-12. Employment plan participants who are identified as being "at-risk for an addiction" would be referred to a treatment service.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House defeated a bill Monday, Feb. 13, that would have allowed drivers who injured or killed somebody who was intentionally blocking traffic to avoid liability. House Bill 1203 was introduced in reaction to the monthslong protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline. Some of the demonstrations have taken place on roads, and primary bill sponsor Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, said the legislation moves responsibility to the "initiating party." "I think it shows that we're willing to stand up for the citizens of this state," Kempenich said.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House Transportation Committee opened up debate Thursday, Feb. 9 on a bill to change the state's distracted driving laws. House Minority Leader Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, introduced a bill that says a driver "may not engage in an activity that requires the use of the operator's sight unless that activity involves operating or using the whole motor vehicle or built-in accessory." A driver would be able to use a voice-operated device, navigational system or an electronic device to obtain emergency assistance or report a crime under Mock's bill.
BISMARCK—An official representing the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota said a bill under consideration at the state Legislature is motivated by an unfounded concern about "Sharia law" making its way into the state's court system. But the bill's primary sponsor said House Bill 1425 isn't targeting any religion and is simply meant to assure the state's courts adhere to U.S. and North Dakota law.
BISMARCK — Linda Kersten called marijuana a "miracle." The Newburg, N.D., resident recalled how her adult daughter struggled with treatments for colon cancer that caused aches, pains and extreme nausea. But almost immediately after smoking marijuana, she felt well enough to take a walk around the block.