Jack Dura / Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK — How involved the state should be in helping sustain small-town North Dakota grocery stores is an early question in a legislative study of rural food distribution. State lawmakers on the interim Commerce Committee heard initial testimony on the study Monday, Aug. 12. A prior study by rural service cooperatives, grocery stores and food charities tied the decline of rural grocery stores to low sales volumes and difficulty in attracting certain suppliers and competing with larger stores in urban areas. So-called "food deserts" result when grocery stores close.
BISMARCK — North Dakota State Auditor Josh Gallion released audit results Tuesday, Aug. 6, that found the information technology arm of the North Dakota University System didn't seek formal bidding for several contracts totaling about $3.2 million. The audit covered July 2016 to June 2018. Gallion said the noncompliant contracts, mostly for software, essentially were renewed after they ended without required rebidding or without university system officials spelling out reasoning for "sole source" purchases.
BISMARCK — Mike Nathe sees funeral homes as an unsung hero for indigent burials. "Somebody has to step up and help these unclaimed, indigent cases, so I think that speaks very loudly and proudly about the industry that I'm in," the Bismarck Funeral Home director and Republican state representative said.
BISMARCK — Petitions for two proposed referendums in 2020 might be sunk, one of them perhaps partly due to conflicting deadline information from the state. Dickinson electrician Riley Kuntz is leading three referendum efforts on items passed in North Dakota's 2019 legislative session. The proposals seek to repeal a restriction limiting the state auditor in launching certain audits, a budget provision for a proposed Theodore Roosevelt presidential library and a bill shielding lawmakers' communications with state employees from open records.
BISMARCK — Morton County Auditor Dawn Rhone is looking forward to new election equipment. "Thankfully we haven't had a lot of problems with ours as some counties have, but it's reassuring that we don't have to worry about the equipment at this point anymore," she said. North Dakota lawmakers in their 2019 legislative session budgeted $8.2 million to meet $3 million in federal funds for the new election equipment statewide to replace 15-year-old machines.
BISMARCK — Three petitions seeking to repeal laws from the 2019 legislative session are due in coming days to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger. Dickinson electrician Riley Kuntz is leading the efforts to place referendums on the June 2020 primary ballot. They would target new laws related to a restriction limiting the state auditor on launching certain audits, a budget provision creating an endowment fund for a proposed Theodore Roosevelt presidential library and a bill passed to shield lawmakers' communications with state employees from open records.
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.