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 — North Dakota lawmakers are grinding through a final batch of bills before hitting a mid-session break. Legislators have until Friday, Feb. 22, to pass bills to the opposite chamber for consideration, a deadline known as "crossover." Facing a heavy workload, House lawmakers have been holding extended floor sessions in recent days, arriving for a 7:30 a.m. session Friday. House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, hoped his chamber could wrap up its work Thursday afternoon.
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers raised a few thousand dollars to surprise a beloved Capitol parking lot attendant with a new car Friday, Feb. 15. In a meeting at the Capitol, lawmakers handed over the keys for a used sedan to Mark Johnstone, who's working his third session of helping legislators into their spaces and escorting them across icy parking lot surfaces. Lawmakers said they've grown close to Johnstone, who's often one of the first people they'll encounter when arriving to work on frigid mornings.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House approved a plan to use earnings from the voter-approved Legacy Fund to replace state income taxes Thursday, Feb. 14, a week after Gov. Doug Burgum criticized the idea as bad policy. The 61-31 vote sends the House Bill 1530, backed by Republican Rep. Craig Headland, who chairs the House Finance and Taxation Committee, to the Senate for consideration.
BISMARCK — A bill proposed in the North Dakota Legislature by a Richland County lawmaker is "clearly a backhanded attempt" to stop the Fargo-Moorhead Diversion, a spokesman for the group planning the massive flood control project said Thursday, Feb. 14.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Senate leaders unveiled a proposal expanding the State Board of Higher Education by three members Wednesday, Feb. 13, a move taken one day after the House rejected Gov. Doug Burgum's bid to split the system into two panels. Republican and Democratic leaders plan to introduce a resolution asking voters in 2020 to amend the state's constitution to increase the higher education board's membership to 11, said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, who shared a copy of the resolution with reporters Wednesday.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House passed a pair of bills allowing for sealing criminal records for DUIs and other offenses Wednesday, Feb. 13, in what lawmakers pitched as an effort to give offenders a second chance in society. House Bill 1256 would allow offenders to petition a court to seal their record after staying out of trouble for a few years. The bill's primary sponsor, Fargo Republican Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, said she intended for the bill not to apply to non-violent and non-sexual offenses.
BISMARCK — A North Dakota Senate committee has advanced a bill implementing the state's new constitutional ethics rules. The special committee, which was formed to consider legislation codifying Measure 1, amended a Democratic bill that was backed by the ballot measure's supporters before giving it a "do pass" recommendation Tuesday, Feb. 12. It will be considered by the Senate's budget-writing committee before a final vote in that chamber.
BISMARCK — North Dakota utility regulators have proposed eliminating rules that prevent energy facilities from being built on "prime and unique farmland" after debating whether a proposed solar farm in Cass County would fall under the regulations.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota House lawmakers approved a bill prohibiting law enforcement from using checkpoints to catch drunk drivers Tuesday, Feb. 12. House Bill 1442 would require police to have "reasonable suspicion" for halting a driver, according to its primary sponsor, Bismarck Republican Rep. Rick Becker. He argued checkpoints are an ineffective tool for catching violators. The bill does not apply to inspections or safety checkpoints for commercial motor vehicles. The bill passed in a 79-14 vote and now moves to the Senate for consideration.
BISMARCK — North Dakota House lawmakers rejected a proposed update to the state's breastfeeding law Tuesday, Feb. 12. House Bill 1330 failed in a 61-32 vote. It would have removed language requiring women to breastfeed in a "discreet and modest manner" and would have made it an infraction to prohibit women from breastfeeding, a violation that would have carried a maximum $1,000 fine.