Governor, First Lady participate in White House meetings on criminal justice and prison reform
Gov. Doug Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Burgum participated in White House meetings on criminal justice reform and prison reform and a celebration of the First Step Act, which President Trump signed into law last year to increase the likelihood of successful prisoner reentry.
Monday's strategy session on criminal justice reform included opening remarks from Attorney General William Barr. Gov. Burgum moderated a panel on modernizing prison services, while the first lady attended a panel highlighting how prison reform can improve the lives of incarcerated women.
“North Dakota is increasingly being recognized as a leader in criminal justice and prison reform, thanks to proactive steps being taken through our Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCR) under the leadership of Leann Bertsch, as well as justice reinvestment initiatives by our state Legislature and efforts by our behavioral health officials and the First Lady to promote recovery and eliminate the shame and stigma of the disease of addiction,” Gov. Burgum said.
The governor and first lady also attended a reception with President Trump to celebrate the First Step Act, which provides improved opportunities for inmates to engage in educational coursework and vocational training and establishes pilot mentorship programs. The act also allows prisoners to reduce their time in prison by completing evidence‑based recidivism reduction programs to earn time credits to apply toward pre-release custody or supervised release.
As part of efforts to help formerly incarcerated individuals reenter the workforce, Burgum recently signed House Bill 1282, which prevents certain public entities from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal past until they’re selected for an interview. The governor also recently signed HB 1183, which repeals minimum mandatory sentences for various drug crimes.
Sanford helps kick off the 15th Capitol Classic
Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford joined the Elected Officials team for Monday's Capitol Classic, a longtime fundraiser for Special Olympics North Dakota.
"I want to express my gratitude to everyone for being here and contributing," Sanford said. "Thanks to the Special Olympics volunteers who dedicate their time to such a worthy cause, and of course thanks to the Special Olympics athletes, the reason why we’re all here today."
In addition to raising money for the organization, the Capitol Classic celebrated North Dakota's great success in the Special Olympics. During last month’s Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi, Jan Moser of Mandan earned three medals in bowling – silver medals in both team and singles play and a gold in doubles.
Bill sponsors, supporters join Governor to mark repeal of Sunday morning shopping ban
Sponsors and supporters of legislation to repeal North Dakota’s ban on Sunday morning shopping joined Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday for a ceremonial bill signing.
Burgum signed House Bill 1097 after House members approved it in January and the Senate passed it in March. The change in law is effective Aug. 1.
“This legislation supports freedom, fairness and local control,” Burgum said. “We trust retailers to decide when it’s best to open or not open their businesses, and we trust families and consumers to determine how best to spend their time.”
Repealing the Sunday morning shopping restriction will allow Main Street businesses to compete on a more level playing field with online retailers and bordering states, the governor said. Giving retailers the choice to join the grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants that already operate on Sunday mornings also will create a fairer business environment, he said.
“North Dakota is filled with people who treasure their close-knit communities, faith traditions and quality family time, and together we will continue to cherish the values that contribute to our state having the best quality of life in the nation,” Burgum said.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Shannon Roers Jones and co-sponsored by Reps. Thomas Beadle, Brandy Pyle, Scott Louser, Mike Nathe and Rick Becker and Sens. Ray Holmberg, Judy Lee, Scott Meyer, Nicole Poolman and Kyle Davison.
National Guard resources deployed to aid flood fights; Emergency Commission approves funding
The North Dakota National Guard and North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (DES) have deployed resources to Cass County and the city of LaMoure to assist in flood fighting efforts.
At Cass County’s request, the National Guard is providing a quick response force of up to 10 soldiers, as well as trucks for hauling sandbags and a light mobility tactical vehicle for evacuation and rescue, to respond to emergency calls if needed from April 6-14. The DES has supplied Hesco barriers and sandbags to LaMoure to help deal with flooding from the James River as needed.
The assistance comes after Gov. Burgum declared a statewide flood emergency on March 27 and toured flooded areas along the Yellowstone River in McKenzie County. The State Emergency Operations Center continues to work with local officials on assessing and responding to flood conditions as the spring melt progresses and river levels rise.
The state Emergency Commission voted Friday to release $300,000 in contingency funds to cover immediate costs incurred by the National Guard, DES and other states agencies in response to this year’s flooding.
N.D. one of 13 states working with NGA to strengthen impaired driving policies
North Dakota is one of 13 states participating in a National Governors Association (NGA) project to strengthen policy approaches needed to address driving under the influence of alcohol, opioids, other drugs and combinations of those substances.
The state will receive NGA technical assistance starting with a two-day summit in May in Columbus, Ohio, and continuing with ongoing technical assistance, information and support from staff at NGA Solutions: The Center for Best Practices.
State officials will receive technical assistance from NGA staff and state and national experts about evidence-based safety policies and practices to prevent and respond to impaired driving. North Dakota Highway Patrol Maj. Tom Iverson and North Dakota Department of Transportation Safety Division Director Karin Mongeon will participate in the summit.
The project is funded through a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Selected states are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
Now Hiring: Growing North Dakota's Workforce
For the first time in recorded history, there are more jobs available in the United States than people seeking jobs. For North Dakota, the No. 1 barrier to economic growth is a workforce shortage. Michelle Kommer, Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, joins Gov. Burgum on the latest episode of Work Worth Doing to discuss how North Dakota is addressing its workforce challenge.
The episode also discusses the greater economic ecosystem in North Dakota and the Commerce Department's role in it, particularly in industries such as advanced manufacturing, technology, energy, value-added agriculture and tourism.
All episodes of are available to stream at the Governor's Office website.