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 sprinting toward their mid-session break this week with several big-ticket items left to consider. The House and Senate each held two floor sessions Tuesday, Feb. 21 and plan to do the same Wednesday. Legislators are working through the last bills before the crossover break, after which each chamber will consider bills approved by lawmakers across the hall.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House considered a handful of gun bills Tuesday, Feb. 21, to relax state laws related to firearms. With little discussion, the House passed legislation allowing qualified people to carry a concealed firearm without a permit and to create a "first armed responder in schools" pilot program. Legislators also approved tweaks to state law governing concealed weapons in churches.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota Senate Committee tweaked legislation Tuesday, Feb. 21, that put a two-year moratorium on new wind energy development, but an opponent argued the amendment did not improve the bill.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota House easily passed legislation calling for a study of refugee resettlement in the state Monday, Feb. 20, but not before a testy exchange on the floor. Rep. Pamela Anderson, D-Fargo, said she didn't want to see state resources spent on a "mean-spirited study." Rep. Mary Schneider, D-Fargo, read an email asking her to vote against the legislation because it tries to hide racism and religious discrimination behind a "guise of rationalism and data."
BISMARCK — North Dakota House lawmakers voted against increased penalties for adults who supply minors with alcohol Tuesday, Feb. 14. House Bill 1422, introduced by Rep. Chuck Damschen, R-Hampden, would have made it a Class C felony for someone who's at least 21 years old to knowingly deliver alcohol to someone who's underage. Currently, it's a Class A misdemeanor. The bill failed on a 10-80 vote. Senate rejects redistricting commission study
BISMARCK—As North Dakota lawmakers approach the 2017 session's halfway point, major budget bills are approaching a floor vote. The House Appropriations Committee approved budgets for the Department of Human Services and the Department of Public Instruction Thursday, Feb. 16. State legislators are working with reduced tax revenue due to a slower economy this session, creating tighter budgets for the next two-year funding cycle.
BISMARCK — The state treasurer will remain in the North Dakota Constitution, House lawmakers decided Friday, Feb. 17. The House defeated two resolutions Friday related to the change that proponents said would make state government more efficient in lean budget times. One resolution would have allowed North Dakotans to vote in 2018 on whether to remove the treasurer as a constitutional officer and the other would have studied transferring that office's duties to other agencies.
BISMARCK — The Senate Human Services Committee gave its blessing to an amended version of the contentious medical marijuana implementation bill Thursday, Feb. 16. The committee gave a "do pass" recommendation late Thursday afternoon to Senate Bill 2344, the legislation that amends the initiated measure legalizing marijuana for medical purposes that North Dakota voters approved in November's election.
BISMARCK—Stressing the dangers of spring flooding and the need to avoid environmental damage, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ordered the mandatory evacuation of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters Wednesday, Feb. 15.
BISMARCK — Seeking to attract a wider pool of candidates for government jobs, the North Dakota Senate passed legislation to make job applicants' records confidential until finalists are named Wednesday, Feb. 15.