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—New voter identification requirements passed the North Dakota House Thursday, Feb. 2. For voters who don't have a proper ID, the bill does away with the affidavit option that was available during November's election in favor of a ballot that is set aside and excluded from the count until the voter's eligibility is confirmed, said Rep. Scott Louser, R-Minot. He called it a "voter integrity bill." House Bill 1369, introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson and other Republican lawmakers, passed on a 74-16 vote Thursday.
BISMARCK — Describing herself as a longtime "silent" supporter of gay rights, Kim Riedlinger Wassim decided she couldn't sit on the sidelines any longer. She told North Dakota lawmakers her son, a valedictorian at a Bismarck high school and now a student at Georgetown University, is afraid of returning to his home state because he fears he may face discrimination. North Dakota needs educated young people to return to boost the state's economy, she said, and a change in state law would help prompt them to do so.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House voted by the thinnest of margins Tuesday, Jan. 31, to allow retailers to open on Sunday mornings. The 48-46 vote was a reversal of the House's vote Monday, when it rejected a repeal of North Dakota's Sunday closing law. That statute makes it a Class B misdemeanor to operate a business that's open to the public before noon Sunday, although exceptions exist for restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other businesses. Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, asked the House to reconsider the previous day's vote.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota House committee voted against a bill to increase the state's minimum wage Tuesday, Jan. 31, rejecting arguments that such a bump was necessary to boost earnings.
BISMARCK—Arguments over local control and property tax relief clashed in a North Dakota legislative committee hearing Monday, Jan. 30. At issue was a bill, introduced by Republican lawmakers, to limit dollar increases in property tax levies to 3 percent annually, with some exceptions. Voters would need to approve larger increases. Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, argued local control ultimately rests with the taxpayers.
BISMARCK—North Dakota lawmakers are again considering changes to the state's voter identification requirements, an issue that has landed the state in federal court over previous laws passed by the Legislature. House Bill 1369 would help preserve the integrity of the state's elections, House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, said in testimony to the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee Friday, Jan. 27.
BISMARCK—A bill that lays out medical marijuana regulations was introduced in the North Dakota Senate Friday, Jan. 27. The legislation was introduced as a delayed bill because Monday was the deadline for senators to introduce proposals. "They want to get it right," said Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden, the chairman of the Delayed Bills Committee. "This is a big deal."
BISMARCK—With Second Amendment rights and public safety concerns at the forefront, North Dakota lawmakers heard testimony on a group of gun bills Thursday, Jan. 26. Perhaps the most contentious piece of legislation heard Thursday was the so-called "constitutional carry" bill, introduced by Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck. That bill would make it legal for people who are at least 21 years old to carry a concealed firearm without a permit in North Dakota, as long as the carrier is not otherwise prohibited to do so by law.
BISMARCK — In an effort to better inform citizens of major events and battle misinformation, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and other state leaders unveiled a new website Wednesday, Jan. 25. NDResponse.gov will provide information during events that have a "significant impact on the public and involve multi-agency responses," Burgum said in a news conference at the state Capitol. As of Wednesday afternoon, it showcased information on the monthslong protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline and potential spring flooding.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House shot down two bills to update election equipment Tuesday, Jan. 24. House Bill 1123, which would have appropriated $9 million from the general fund to replace equipment such as ballot scanners across the state, failed on a 12-78 vote. Immediately afterward, House Bill 1122, which would have spent $3 million for electronic poll books across the state, failed on a 17-72 vote.