Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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BISMARCK -- Contentious orders approved by North Dakota regulators to curb natural gas flaring and make Bakken crude oil safer for transport would be dragged back through a lengthy rulemaking process or become void under a bill sponsored by nine Republican lawmakers. A separate bill filed this week would also expand the state Industrial Commission's makeup from three members to five, adding the state tax commissioner and Public Service Commission chairperson to the panel now consisting of the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner. A spokesman for Gov.
BISMARCK -- Legislation that would provide state funding to expand early childhood education in North Dakota drew plenty of support during its first hearing Tuesday, but leaders of two education groups also said they want to ensure it's not a gateway to vouchers for private schools. The $6 million in Senate Bill 2151 would cover about half the cost of pre-kindergarten education for an estimated 6,000 children through annual grants of $1,000 per student starting in the 2016-17 school year, said the bill's lead sponsor, Sen.
BISMARCK -- Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner says "the integrity of the Senate is on the line" in upcoming confirmation hearings for State Board of Higher Education President Kirsten Diederich and another board member, after a string of controversies within the North Dakota University System. Wardner, R-Dickinson, said Diederich and board member Kevin Melicher, both of Fargo, will face more in-depth questioning than board appointees have in the past, and the hearings will be more high-profile. "It's never been an issue, but all of a sudden it's become an issue.
BISMARCK -- University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley testified against a bill Monday that would require the school to wait another two-and-a-half years before getting a new athletic nickname as a replacement to the "Fighting Sioux." "We can't continue to be a 'fighting question mark' or designated as something else. We have to move on," Kelley told the House Education Committee.
BISMARCK -- Competing proposals to fast-track more than $800 million for infrastructure projects in the Oil Patch and non-oil producing areas will get their first shake in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Friday, one of several hearings on hot-button issues scheduled next week. Both bills aim to give local governments a head start in bidding roadwork, housing and other projects for the 2015 construction season. Senate Bill 2103, the "surge" funding bill introduced by Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, carries a price tag of $845 million, while Gov.
Proposed bill would allow elected officials to legally carry guns in public buildings with carry conceal permits. BISMARCK — North Dakota elected officials could legally pack heat in the state Capitol and other public buildings if lawmakers approve a bill sponsored by a dozen Republicans. Under current state law, someone who possesses a firearm or dangerous weapon at a public gathering or in a publicly owned or operated building is guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
BISMARCK --; Technology designed to ease traffic jams in California could find a new testing ground on North Dakota's vast stretches of highway if state lawmakers approve a bill heard Friday that would set rules for testing self-driving vehicles.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota's top oil regulator told lawmakers crafting the state's budget Thursday that lower crude prices are spelling gloom but not doom for the nation's second-leading oil producer. Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said many things about the Bakken oil play haven't changed.
BISMARCK -- Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, called it "somewhat of a foregone conclusion." Republican Sen. Lonnie Laffen, also from Grand Forks, said it's "a done deal." North Dakota lawmakers say they fully expect depressed oil prices to trigger a tax exemption Feb. 1 for newly drilled oil wells.
BISMARCK -- Gerald VandeWalle, the farm boy from Noonan who rose to become the longest-serving chief justice of North Dakota's Supreme Court, humbly accepted the state's highest honor on Wednesday. VandeWalle was visibly moved after Gov. Jack Dalrymple declared him the 41st recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, saying, "My heart is full, my mind is racing." "It's great. I still can't believe it.