North Dakota Capitol notebook: Burgum to seek changes to higher ed resolution

The North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Photo illustration by Troy Becker
The North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Photo illustration by Troy Becker

BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said Thursday, Feb. 21, he'll continue to advocate splitting the state's higher education governance structure into two boards during the second half of the legislative session despite an early setback in the state House.

Senate leaders have introduced a resolution asking voters to amend the state constitution to expand the current State Board of Higher Education from eight members to 11, along with term limit changes and other tweaks.

Burgum said Thursday he would push for the resolution to be amended to a two-board proposal. He convened a task force that recommended three boards last year, but a bill outlining that change was amended with the Republican governor's support before it easily failed in the House.

The rejected bill would have put the state's two research universities under one panel and the nine other institutions under another.

"I am excited that there's a recognition that the 1938 model we have ... needs to change," Burgum said in an interview. "I think a two-board, mission-focused (structure) at the ballot box has got a better chance of passing than the incrementalism of the one board."

Unlike bills that change state law, resolutions don't go to the governor's desk for his signature or veto. If passed by the Legislature, voters would have the final say on the higher education proposal in 2020.

Fargo rep still pushing data privacy

A Fargo lawmaker isn’t giving up his quest to add consumer data privacy protections to state law this session.

The state House voted Tuesday to study personal data issues during the interim session before the 2021 session. It represented a watered-down version of a bill Republican Rep. Jim Kasper championed allowing consumers to request tech giants to delete and stop collecting their data.

A House committee amended the bill into a study, prompting Kasper to declare that “tech companies got to” his fellow lawmakers. The committee chairman previously said lawmakers hadn’t had a chance to adequately vet the bill.

Kasper said Wednesday he plans to pursue his previous proposal when the bill moves to the Senate after a mid-session break.

Senate defeats election results publishing bill in redo

The North Dakota Senate defeated a bill removing the requirement that county auditors publish election results in the newspaper Wednesday after passing the bill the day before.

Senate Bill 2062, introduced by Minot Republican Sen. David Hogue, would have allowed counties to instead publish the results on their official website. Proponents called the move a cost-saving maneuver to do away with an "antiquated" statute, but Lehr Republican Sen. Robert Erbele said the weekly newspapers in his district are a "very important part of my constituent base."

The bill failed in a 25-20 redo vote Wednesday.

House passes bill prohibiting local minimum wage hikes

North Dakota House lawmakers voted to block local governments from enacting a higher minimum wage than the state's Tuesday.

House Bill 1193 sailed to the Senate in a 73-20 vote. Proponents argued higher minimum wages have negative economic consequences, while critics said the state shouldn't meddle in local government decisions.

North Dakota's minimum wage of $7.25 per hour matches the federal rate.