Jack Dura / Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK -- Lonnie Bertsch has an analogy for cable median barriers. "It'll slice just like a cheese grater," said the executive director of American Bikers Aiming Toward Education in North Dakota. After a risk analysis of the interstate highway system, the North Dakota Department of Transportation plans to install cable median barriers along interstate roadways in Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks this summer. Construction costs $6 million, with 90 percent federal funding, 10 percent state. Further construction is set for Fargo and Mandan in 2020 and 2021.
BISMARCK - Negotiating a conviction requirement may be one of the tougher parts of North Dakota lawmakers' reform of civil asset forfeiture. The House Judiciary Committee gave an 11-3 "do-pass" recommendation Wednesday night, Feb. 13, to House Bill 1286 after 80 minutes of discussion. The bill brought by Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, seeks to eliminate the "perverse incentive" of "policing for profit." Property involved in criminal activity is subject to forfeiture.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House unanimously approved a bill on Wednesday, Feb. 13, aimed at improving victim and treatment services related to juvenile sexual assault. The House approved House Bill 1520, introduced by Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, in a 92-0 vote. The legislation is dubbed "Natalee's Bill" for a 4-year-old girl whose parents sought reform after their experience in the juvenile justice system following her sexual assault.
BISMARCK — By a slim margin, members of the North Dakota House defeated a bill on Tuesday, Feb. 12, for a pilot project on hedging oil and gas tax revenue. Rep. Keith Kempenich, R-Bowman, had introduced House Bill 1186, amended to the pilot project and sent from the House Finance and Taxation Committee with a 7-6 vote for "do not pass." He urged passage for "some predictability" for oil. Kempenich also emphasized that the bill would set up an advisory committee for the 2019-20 interim to oversee the pilot project.
BISMARCK -- Steve Bakken, Bismarck's mayor, takes it as a compliment that a North Dakota legislator praised him as "sort of a redneck" during a House floor session last week. "I wear it as a badge of honor," Bakken said. During floor debate Friday, Feb. 8, on House Bill 1463, which would allow collective bargaining for police and professional firefighters, Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, outlined his talks with Fargo and Bismarck firefighters, who he said differed in their abilities to speak with upper management.
BISMARCK -- Those associated with North Dakota's juvenile justice system are optimistic about the 2019 legislative session. Several bills offer closer looks at services affecting children. "I think kids in this session seem to have a lot of momentum," said Cory Pedersen, director of juvenile court for North Dakota's South Central Judicial District, which includes Burleigh and Morton counties. Juvenile services in North Dakota have taken some hits in recent years. The 2017 session cut 20 percent of juvenile court staff and closed the Bottineau juvenile office.
BISMARCK — Members of the North Dakota House voted down a bill to allow collective bargaining for police and professional firefighters with city administrations Friday, Feb. 8. The chamber voted 64-23 against House Bill 1463, introduced by Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo.
BISMARCK - North Dakota lawmakers heard passionate and even tearful testimony on Thursday, Feb. 7, in opposition to a bill that would tighten the state's cottage foods law. Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden, told the Senate Agriculture Committee that Senate Bill 2269 seeks "consistency and conformity" since a rule-making process brought nothing forth after cottage food proponents clashed with the state Department of Health following 2017 legislation that expanded direct sales of mostly home baked and canned items.
BISMARCK - The North Dakota Senate unanimously passed a bill on Thursday that seeks a uniform approach to cybersecurity for public entities. The state Information Technology Department requested Senate Bill 2110. The Senate Political Subdivisions Committee amended language in the bill for ITD to only "advise and oversee" cybersecurity strategy for all executive state agencies, cities, counties, school districts, higher education institutions "or other political subdivisions."
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House gave its approval on Wednesday, Feb. 6, for some friendly competition: a contest for a new state logo offering $9,500 as first prize. House Bill 1457 passed 78-14. Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, introduced the bill, which would direct the state Department of Commerce to administer a contest for a new design. Nelson has criticized the recently introduced "Be Legendary" design and how it was developed — with no opportunity for artists or graphic designers to participate.