A recap of what’s happening on the government level in North Dakota right now
Road funding in North Dakota
According to KFYRTV, North Dakota state staff at the Transportation Department have been voicing more and more concern for the funding of the state’s roads. For every gallon of gas, someone in North Dakota pays, about 23 cents goes to the state in taxes which hasn’t increased in almost 15 years. According to Steve Salwei, the Transportation Programs director, most of the construction that people see being done on the roads is actually just preventative maintenance work, but they will soon run out of resources that are necessary to keep up roads in North Dakota. Many are suggesting a raise in the tax on gas that would go to the state of North Dakota as opposed to the federal government, but are afraid of upsetting or scaring citizens with a high increase. During last year’s legislative season, there were some lawmakers who attempted to increase the tax by around four to seven cents per gallon, but both attempts failed.
Legalizing Marijuana in North Dakota
Many lawmakers for North Dakota have avoided and withheld from investigating what legalizing marijuana would do for the state in the past. For those who have been more unenthusiastic on bills that would introduce medical marijuana to the state, they no longer have a choice as two presentations will be introduced at the Judiciary Committee meeting at the State Capitol discussing how to present this topic in the ballot box. The Jamestown Sun reported that David Owen, who failed last year to gain initiative on legalization, is attempting again for 2020. Owen is looking to acknowledge concerns and hesitations towards legalizing marijuana. Owen also expressed his concerns about lawmakers going into the presentations with open minds by saying, “Do I realistically think they are going to take this with an unbiased and fair account. Quite frankly, no I don’t.” Despite that opinion, Owen is still going to pursue legalizing marijuana in order to help North Dakota flourish more.
Jurisdiction of New Ethics Committee Already Under Scrutiny
North Dakota voters created a council made up of five different members that compose the new unit. According to the Bismarck Tribute, the council’s responsibilities consist of creating rules in relation to transparency, corruption, elections and lobbying. Many politicians and commissioners were approved of this committee hoping that it will help make their jobs and actions easier and more clear. The new ethics committee is currently trying to figure out where their office will be and staff who will help run the office though they have yet to get any cases on which need ruling. Despite that, their authority is already coming into question with Chairman Ron Goodman bringing up if they will be able to make rulings on how lawmakers use social media, investigating “oil spills” and “Any kind of ethical question.” This new Ethics Commissions main responsibility is to inquire and explore certain complaints regarding any “poor behavior” within legislatures.
Tribal Flags To Be Displayed at the State Capitol
There have been previous attempts in trying to get North Dakota’s five tribal nation’s flags to be permanently displayed in the state Capitol, but all previous attempts have failed. The Jamestown Sun reported after Governor Doug Burgum made an announcement, that all of the tribal flags will be displayed at his office, making another go at getting tribal flags to be represented as a part of the state at the Capitol. Many have praised Burgum for his inclusion of the tribal flags. When he announced the flags were being placed outside his office, the news was received with a standing ovation. There is hope that the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Spirit Lake Nation, Standing Rock Sioux and Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa flags will join the U.S and North Dakota state flags.