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 — 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.
BISMARCK — Republican leaders in the North Dakota Legislature say they've taken off the table a proposal to have state employees pay 5 percent of their health insurance premiums, but Gov. Doug Burgum hopes it will be part of ongoing budget discussions. The decision comes as lawmakers continue to shape agency budgets for the upcoming two-year budget cycle. Legislators are working with reduced tax revenue due to slouching farm and oil commodity prices.
BISMARCK—North Dakota senators shot down a bill Tuesday, Feb. 7, that would have exempted North Dakota from daylight saving time and made the entire state fall under Central time. Currently, a portion of southwestern North Dakota falls under the Mountain time zone, while the rest of the state is in the Central time zone. Senate Bill 2167 failed on a 11-33 vote after no discussion.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota Senate committee voted against a bill that officials representing North Dakota prosecutors and defense attorneys said Monday, Feb. 6 would justify the use of deadly force against people committing minor property crimes. But the West Fargo lawmaker who proposed the legislation said it would only allow property owners to use deadly force if they're in fear of serious injury or death.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House voted down a $2 increase in the state's hourly minimum wage Monday, Feb. 6. House Bill 1263 would have increased the state's minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.25 an hour starting in 2018 with annual adjustments for cost of living increases beginning a year after that. Primary sponsor Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, said costs for things such as rent have gone up in recent years without a boost in the minimum wage.
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.