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 — Efforts to decriminalize marijuana offenses aren’t dead in the North Dakota Legislature, with the chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Committee backing a measure to reduce penalties for possessing a small amount of the drug. Sen. Diane Larson, R-Bismarck, has drafted a bill amendment lowering penalties for possessing a half-ounce or less of marijuana for the first time to a noncriminal offense with a $500 fine. That’s currently a Class B misdemeanor.
BISMARCK — When North Dakota lawmakers voted to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in early 1975, Art Link was the state’s governor, Jaws was still months away from hitting theaters and Jimmy Hoffa’s whereabouts were still known.
BISMARCK — North Dakota lawmakers considered another proposal to add hurdles to the process allowing citizens to amend the state constitution Wednesday, Feb. 27. House Concurrent Resolution 3010 would raise the threshold for passing initiated constitutional amendments at the ballot box to 60 percent instead of a majority. As a proposed constitutional amendment itself, the resolution would seek voter approval in 2020.
BISMARCK — North Dakota senators wrapped a bow on the first half of the 2019 legislative session Wednesday, Feb. 20, as their colleagues across the hall considered a final batch of bills before a mid-session break. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, lauded his chamber’s smooth entrance into the crossover break, after which each chamber will consider bills passed by the House. “I’m really pleased with the caucuses. They’ve worked together well,” he told reporters after adjourning Wednesday morning.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House defeated a pair of bills legalizing sports gambling Wednesday, Feb. 20, nearly a year after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door to the legislation. One bill would have limited bets on professional sports while the other would have included collegiate events.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House killed a bill Wednesday, Feb. 20, seeking to put the entire state under Central Standard Time. Lawmakers defeated House Bill 1486 in an 81-11 vote. Currently, 11 southwestern counties are in the Mountain time zone, which is one hour behind Central time. That region of North Dakota has observed Mountain time since 1883 , though some counties have moved to Central time over the years.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Senate unanimously approved a bill Tuesday, Feb. 19, implementing the new anti-corruption language voters added to the state constitution in November. The bill stems from Measure 1, which imposed bans on lobbyist gifts to public officials, added financial transparency requirements and created a new ethics commission that could investigate malfeasance. Ballot measure backers have supported the Senate bill, introduced by Fargo Democratic Sen. Tim Mathern, but opposed a separate House measure that hasn't yet come up for a vote.
BISMARCK — North Dakota House lawmakers voted Tuesday, Feb. 19, to create a new, more stringent class of concealed carry firearms licenses that would allow permit holders to pack heat at public gatherings. House Bill 1206 would allow North Dakota residents to obtain a Class 1 “exempt” license with annual training that’s equivalent to what police and private security officers go through, according to its chief backer, Mandan Republican Rep. Todd Porter.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House rejected a bipartisan bill allowing judges to issue protection orders temporarily preventing people deemed dangerous from possessing guns Tuesday, Feb. 19.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota senators approved a resolution Monday, Feb. 18, asking the state's voters to give the Legislature input on initiated constitutional amendments. Senate Concurrent Resolution 4001 seeks to send voter-approved changes to the state constitution to the Legislature. If lawmakers approve, the amendment would be enacted. But if legislators reject the proposal, voters could override their decision.