Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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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.
BISMARCK -- A lack of resources in North Dakota's courts has led to a system of "conveyor-belt justice" where hearings are often run by script and concluded in less than five minutes, Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle said Wednesday as he called on lawmakers to approve more judges and court staff. VandeWalle, delivering his State of the Judiciary Address to a joint session of the Legislature, said the court caseload has increased dramatically in the past decade, particularly in oil-impacted counties. The judicial branch is asking the Legislature to fund four additional judge
BISMARCK -- Thousands of additional North Dakotans could see their property tax information posted online if state lawmakers pass a bill that's scheduled for its first hearing Wednesday. The North Dakota Association of Counties is opposing the bipartisan bill, which would require all of the state's counties to make property tax information available online, citing the potential cost to local taxpayers. Currently, only 23 of the state's 53 counties have parcel-by-parcel property tax information available on the Internet, either through the county's official website or through a vendor,