Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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BISMARCK — Legislation aimed at making sure victims of a recent train-school bus crash near Larimore are properly compensated for liability claims was defeated Tuesday in the Senate by a 21-25 vote. As amended, Senate Bill 2316 would have created a state grant program with up to $2 million to settle claims against political subdivisions such as the Larimore Public School District. The current $500,000 liability limit under state law also would have been lifted for claims stemming from occurrences on Jan.
BISMARCK — The lead sponsor of a bill that would require the state of North Dakota to study the upstream impacts of the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion submitted an amended version Tuesday designed to shrink the study's cost. Sen. Larry Luick, R-Fairmount, offered an amendment to Senate Bill 2076 to replace the previous wording in its entirety. The Senate Appropriations Committee heard the amendment and referred the bill to a subcommittee. Luick said the study as proposed in his original bill had an estimated cost of $50,000 to $80,000.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Democrats and Republicans traded barbs Tuesday as House budgeters prepared to take up one of the most anticipated bills of the session Wednesday, the $1.1 billion "surge" funding bill to give oil-impacted counties a head start on the upcoming construction season. Democratic chamber leaders held a press conference to highlight reported frustration from officials in oil country to a letter sent last week by House Appropriations Committee chairman Rep.
BISMARCK — House lawmakers defeated a bill Monday that would have imposed a $500 fine on repeat violators of North Dakota's open records and open meetings laws, but a West Fargo lawmaker put public bodies on notice that the proposal could return. House Bill 1435 failed 21-72 after receiving a unanimous do-not-pass recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee. Rep.
BISMARCK — A House committee gave a unanimous thumbs-up Friday to what members said is a "landmark" bill that will strengthen North Dakota's regulation of oil and saltwater gathering pipelines and help to clean up past spills. House Bill 1358 combines parts of four other bills and was crafted with input from the Northwest Landowners Association, the oil industry, state agencies and lawmakers from both sides, officials said. "This will be one of the landmark pieces of legislation coming out of the 2015 Legislature," Rep.
BISMARCK — House lawmakers will get their first shot Wednesday at the $1.1 billion "surge" funding bill, and officials in some oil-impacted counties that would benefit most from the money aren't taking kindly to a letter seeking specifics on their tax situations and planned construction projects. "We've had a lot of blowback on that," House Majority Leader Al Carlson said Friday. The letter was sent by Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood. He chairs the House Appropriations Committee, which is set to take up Senate Bill 2103 at 9:30 a.m.
BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Senate confirmed Kevin Melicher to the State Board of Higher Education on Thursday, going against the recommendation of a Senate committee that voted 3-2 Monday to reject the Fargo optometrist's appointment. The Senate voted 27-18 to confirm Melicher, who has served on the board temporarily since June after being appointed to a four-year term by Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Twenty-four votes were needed to confirm Melicher, a former president of the Fargo School Board.
BISMARCK -- Separating the North Dakota Industrial Commission's duties to promote and regulate oil and gas development would end an "unseemly" dual role but also have "enormous" unintended consequences that could put the state at a competitive disadvantage, lawmakers heard in competing testimony Thursday. Democrats started calling for the split last year, citing the state's response to oil spills such as the 2013 pipeline leak that tainted a wheat field near Tioga with an estimated 20,600 barrels of oil, the largest oil spill in history on U.S.
BISMARCK -- Landowners and Democratic lawmakers urged a committee Thursday to support a bill that would require performance audits of two state agencies with leading regulatory roles for oil and gas development in North Dakota. House Bill 1259 would require performance audits within the next two years of the state Department of Mineral Resources' Oil and Gas Division and the state Department of Health as it relates to enforcement of oil and gas development and oilfield waste rules. House Minority Leader Kenton Onstad, D-Parshall, who is sponsoring the bill with three Democrats and
BISMARCK -- A bill that would require monitoring devices on new oil and saltwater pipelines in North Dakota received a proposed amendment Thursday that would remove the mandate and put the decision in the hands of the state Industrial Commission. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, introduced the bipartisan bill in the wake of a pipeline rupture this month that spilled nearly 3 million gallons of saltwater near Blacktail Creek north of Williston, the biggest saltwater spill of the current oil boom.