Jack Dura / Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK — North Dakota House members never met as a full body in the 2019 legislative session, and 85 senators and representatives missed at least one day of the 76-day period but still were paid. Pay to lawmakers with excused absences totaled about $56,000, according to figures The Bismarck Tribune requested from the Legislative Council, the Legislature’s nonpartisan agency of fiscal and legal experts. North Dakota's Legislature meets for up to 80 days every two years.
BISMARCK — North Dakota's next two-year budget cycle begins Monday, July 1, but weeks of work remain to close the books on the last two years. "We have to tie up the ends," said state Treasurer Kelly Schmidt, whose office will receive reports and balance accounts throughout the next two months. "There's a lot of nuts and bolts things that happen here." Several transfers will roll through state funds in July. Chief among them are earnings from the Legacy Fund, North Dakota's voter-approved oil tax savings account, which holds about $6.2 billion.
BISMARCK — A committee that considers budget requests between North Dakota's legislative sessions has rejected a proposed transfer that would impact the state's poet laureate program and which one top lawmaker called "as wrong as you can get."
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers who make budget decisions between legislative sessions will consider a spending transfer that would eliminate the state's poet laureate program. The 42-member Budget Section will meet Wednesday, June 26, for its first business after the 2019 legislative session adjourned. Among its budget requests is one from the North Dakota Council on the Arts to transfer $10,000 in grant money that provides for the poet laureate program to increase a temporary administrative employee's weekly hours.
BISMARCK — Members of the North Dakota Petroleum Council trade group and state officials unveiled a uniform oilfield safety orientation program Thursday, June 20 that they lauded for its collaborative development and time-saving for workers. Council President Ron Ness said 50 oil companies worked on standards for the One Basin-One Way curriculum over the last 18 months. The program aims to save time for oilfield contractors who often sit through multiple, redundant safety trainings on workplace hazards in a year.
Few people have apparently sought to vacate convictions for refusing warrantless DUI blood tests in the year since a North Dakota Supreme Court opinion offered an open but narrow door.
BISMARCK — How North Dakota counties go about their current budgeting remains a key question as they plan to form "human service zones" for sharing social services. County commissioners, auditors, social services directors and board members from all 53 counties met at the state Capitol in Bismarck on Tuesday, June 11, to discuss zone planning. A bill from the 2019 legislative session reorganized the state's 47 county social service districts into as many as 19 state-funded "human service zones" yet to be outlined.
MEDORA — Bill Sorensen knows his happy place. "This place got its teeth into me," the former Bismarck mayor and longtime performer said, sitting in the front row of the Burning Hills Amphitheatre as stage preparations wound down Thursday evening, May 30, at the Badlands venue. Sorensen, 69, is beginning his last season as co-host of the Medora Musical. But it's not curtains for his performing career; he'll still appear in the Medora Gospel Brunch, Christmas tour and Old Town Hall Theater performances.
BISMARCK — North Dakota's Board of University and School Lands is set to decide on an oil company's request for a leasing extension that the state land commissioner said may set precedent, if granted. Marathon Oil Company has had four leases to about 470 mineral acres in Dunn County since May 2013. The Badlands-area tracts north of Killdeer have proven difficult to develop for a variety of reasons, such as rough terrain and locating a drill pad. Marathon Oil has spent more than $4 million related to the tracts, according to Land Board documents.
BISMARCK — One shard remains of the so-called "trespass bill" that sought to ease issues over hunting access on private land. Though the bill failed on North Dakota lawmakers' last day in session, a twin of its study remained intact in the budget for the Information Technology Department. Lawmakers will take up the required study likely beginning this summer, looking at issues related to land access for recommendations before the 2021 legislative session.