Bills! Bills! Bills!

Here’s a political update

Spring is upon us, and with some new weather comes some new bills being passed and new ideas still in the works. From minimum wage to marijuana, there are changes coming to North Dakota.

Minimum wage

Minimum wage is a big conversation amongst students ranging high school to college aged.

As reported by the Forum, the North Dakota Senate has some big news that could impact those making the minimum wage in North Dakota, which has stood at $7.25 for over a decade.

Well, now the power is out of local control. Cities in North Dakota are prevented from raising their minimum wage above the state mandate. Though this bill has been sent to Gov. Doug Burgum for signature, there is still a debate. The main argument is this seems like a local issue rather than a statewide one, with some saying this is an overstep on the authority of cities.

Housing incentive

Along with the passing on minimum wage restriction, there is a debate in the air on the Housing Incentive Fund.

According to what has been reported by the Forum, the fund was created in 2011 to help retain service workers with rent that could be considered too high because of the oil boom.

There is a debate amongst lawmakers to put in $10 million versus $40 million. Currently, there is an allowance of $10 million.

North Dakota housing authorities have commented on this topic, saying that an additional $40 million could create 800 more housing units within the next couple years.

This bill is pending a committee vote in the House.


Another pending bill reported by the Forum involves social services and reorganizing them into multi-county zones.

Senate bill 2124 implements the plan for up to 19 multi-county “human service zones.” This bill moves away from property taxes funding social services.

The spark of this conversation started with the acknowledgement that with social services being statewide, not all needs were being met equally. By moving into zones, there is a hope for consistency. Each county would be potentially getting their own board.

Chris Jones, an executive director for the Department of Human Services, said this could be the start of DHS and property tax reform.


The biggest discussion in the North Dakota House and Senate was about marijuana use and guidelines. According to the Forum, there has been two major developments in bills passed just recently.

On March 25, 2019 the Senate passed a bill that opens the door to hemp production in the state.

Hemp was taken off the United States Drug Enforcement Agency’s list and has been distinguished from marijuana. The result of this is hemp being placed under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture.

House Bill 1349 keeps the state and federal definitions set, and now has established a program for the regulation of production. With the bill being passed unanimously between House and Senate, the bill is off to Gov. Burgum for signature.

Medicine or drug?

The second major bill development is the 13 new medical conditions added to the list that open eligibility for medical marijuana. A few of these new conditions are: anxiety disorders, migraines and autism.

North Dakota House lawmakers agreed to expand this medical marijuana law with a vote of 89-4.

Other conditions to be added are: anorexia, bulimia, Tourette syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, neuropathy, opioid use disorder, opioid withdrawal and rheumatoid arthritis.

Rep. Matt Ruby said that all of these conditions have been listed in reference to conditions already approved in other states, the Forum reported. 

The North Dakota House, Senate and Gov. Burgum have some new ideas for North Dakota. To find out more or to keep updated on these bills, North Dakota’s Legislative Branch has a website with a bill tracking system and tabs for news.

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