N.D. lawmakers discuss fake ID bill

BISMARCK – North Dakota lawmakers want to crack down on the more than 2,300 college students in the state who have used fake IDs.

On Monday, legislators discussed Senate Bill 2133 that says businesses can seize an ID if they think it’s fake. They then must report it to law enforcement within 24 hours.

Bill sponsor Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, said there isn’t one action or law that can solve alcohol abuse.

“We can, however, do things to chip away and reduce the problem,” he said. “We can reduce the incidence of underage drinking (and) binge drinking – because, essentially, if someone is underage and gets into the bar, they’re going to make, in their estimation, the best use of their time while they’re there.”

Also covered under the bill would be the illegal use of an underage sibling using an older sibling’s ID, Flakoll said.

There are countless sources online for minors to buy fake IDs, which range in price from $50 to $200, Flakoll said.

“So, when you have a $200 ID that’s a fake one, by taking it off the street you really limit their wanting to keep doing that over and over and over again,” he said.

The hospitality and retail associations, higher education officials and law enforcement voiced support for the bill during Monday’s hearing.

A 2008 survey of North Dakota college students found 6.6 percent – or more than 2,300 students – admitted to using a fake ID to obtain alcohol, said Jane Vangsness Frisch of the North Dakota Higher Education Consortium for Substance Abuse Prevention.

“Although we know this is not the majority of our students that are engaging in this illegal behavior, it is a critical mass of our young people and is concerning,” she said.

In submitted testimony, North Dakota State University Police Chief Bill Vandal said he’s received many phone calls over the years from concerned parents about the use and availability of fake IDs.

One minor successfully purchasing alcohol with a fake ID usually means many of the student’s minor friends now have access to alcohol, he said.

Current server training instructs servers to only keep the fake ID if the person abandons it or willingly surrenders it, Vandal said. The proposed bill would empower servers and retailers to seize the ID and notify law enforcement, he said.

Rudie Martinson of the North Dakota Hospitality Association said the industry suppports the bill.

“We in the industry have no interest in selling alcohol to people that aren’t legally qualified to buy it,” he said. “And so this bill puts a tool in our toolbox to prevent that, that we as an industry would very much like to have.”

One parent at the hearing said he is concerned his son would have his valid ID taken away. Myron Blumhagen of Drake said his son is about to turn 21, but looks young.

“If he goes into any establishment and tries to buy alcohol and they confiscate his ID and he can’t get it back for 24 hours and he’s going to drive home, he’s going to be driving home without a valid driver’s license,” Blumhagen said.

Lawmakers discussed several possible amendments to the bill – including one that would include tobacco – but did not take any action.

Senate committees finalized

The Senate has compiled its list of committee assignments for the 2011 Legislature.

Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, will serve as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  Sen. Layton Freborg, R-Underwood, will chair Education. Sen. Dwight Cook, R-Mandan, will chair Finance and Taxation.

Sen. Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden, will chair Industry, Business and Labor. Sen. Dave Nething, R-Jamestown, will chair Judiciary. Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, will chair Human Services.

Sen. Dick Dever, R-Bismarck, will chair Government and Veterans Affairs. Sen. Stan Lyson, R-Williston, will chair Natural Resources. Sen. John Andrist, R-Crosby, will chair Political Subdivisions.

Sen. Gary Lee, R-Casselton, will chair Transportation, and Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, will chair Agriculture.

Lawmakers discuss physician shortage, remedial education

BISMARCK—North Dakota is projected to be short about 210 physicians by 2025, state lawmakers were told Wednesday.

As a result, the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences will ask the Legislature for more money this coming session to address the problem.

School officials presented a list of recommendations to lawmakers on the interim Higher Education Committee.

The school would like to add 16 additional medical student slots per year, 30 additional health sciences students and 17 additional residency slots.

Officials also would like a new health sciences building and want to create a geriatrics training program. Another recommendation is offering a master of public health degree in conjunction with North Dakota State University.

David Molmen, chairman of the medical school’s advisory council, said the state’s aging population and associated medical needs mean there has to be larger medical classes to meet demand.

Students who attend medical school in North Dakota and complete their residency in the state are more likely to stay in the state to practice, said Joshua Wynne, dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“It’s essential to retain more of our own, to try to get as many of our students to train in North Dakota and stay in North Dakota,” he said.

A new health sciences building is No. 5 on the North Dakota University System’s 2011-13 list of major capital project priorities. The building is estimated to cost $28.9 million. Additional funding would be needed to grow the school’s programs.

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, asked how many students are now turned away from the school each year. Wynne said there are five applicants for every one student accepted.

He said the school could increase class size by 16 medical students and still maintain the high level of students graduating now. There is also “substantial interest” from health care systems to expand residency opportunities, he said.

The proposals will be discussed further during the legislative session.

In other business, lawmakers approved a bill draft to research remedial education in the state. About 30 percent of North Dakota students entering college need remedial education, Sen. David Nething, R-Jamestown, said.

If approved, the study would look at where students needing remedial education graduate from, as well as the causes for it. The research would include a review of efforts to reduce the number of remedial education students at colleges.

The study would also look at the alignment of elementary and high school curriculum and textbooks with college admissions standards. A report would then be prepared for the 2013 Legislature.

The bill will now go forward to the 2011 Legislature for approval.

N.D. seeks to improve state for young people

BISMARCK—North Dakota teens and college students should see the benefits of a long list of recommendations aimed at making the state more attractive to them.

The North Dakota Youth Council released a 15-page report Monday with its recommendations for how the state can make improvements in job opportunities, entertainment, health and education.

Some of the report’s top ideas include:

• Sustaining the ACT ND scholarship program, which provides students with up to $1,500 per academic year to attend a North Dakota college.

• Creating a “Virtual High School for Scholars” to offer online dual credit and advanced placement opportunities to meet the demand of students who desire a higher level of achievement.

• Improving academic advising in both high school and college.

• Creating one central website for internships, scholarships and other resources for young people.

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, who assisted the council, praised the young people involved with creating the report.

“They were an exceptional group of students,” he said. “There was no doubt in my mind that they would come up with a number of initiatives that would help solve some problems in North Dakota.”

The North Dakota Youth Council was created in 2009 to identify issues and provide recommendations pertinent to North Dakota residents younger than 25.

The group consists of Lt. Gov. Jack Dalrymple, 16 young people ranging from ages 17-24 and four state lawmakers.

The council worked to give state lawmakers a new perspective of what’s important to young people, said member Vance Zacharias of Kathryn, N.D.

“It’s been a great new experience working with so many different people and just getting the views from across the state on what’s important and finding out what other youths’ views are,” said Zacharias, a North Dakota State University freshman.

Council member Calli Thorne, 23, of Watford City, N.D., also said it was fun to meet with other young people and discuss issues facing North Dakota.

She helped develop recommendations under the job opportunities category and wants to see an internship and scholarship website created.

“I think that will be very beneficial if that goes through,” she said.

Dalrymple said the group’s suggestions are realistic and create a call to action to continue to build on opportunities for young people.

The report will be provided to the governor, Legislature and various state agencies, communities and entities, such as the State Board of Higher Education, for consideration.

The entities involved in the various recommendations will be asked to respond, and Dalrymple expects to see legislation from the report.

“I believe that these things are going to have an impact,” he said. “We would not have been able to get to the bottom of some of those issues without some of this direct input.”

The problem of youth retention in the state is complex, said Shawn Affolter of Mandan, N.D., a council member and NDSU student body vice president.

Council members didn’t find a “magic bullet,” but hope their recommendations can bring positive change, he said.

“I’m honored to be a part of it,” Affolter said.

The entire report and list of recommendations can be found at www.youthforward.com.

Today’s story 1

BISMARCK – The North Dakota University System will ask lawmakers for $108 million this coming legislative session to fund a dozen major capital project priorities at the state’s campuses.

But some lawmakers Monday questioned how much support there would be for the wish list.

Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs Laura Glatt presented the interim Higher Education Committee with the list of projects. These include:

$17.6 million for a joint North Dakota University System/University of North Dakota information technology facility.

$10.8 million for the Rhoades Science Center addition and renovation at Valley City State University.

$8.2 million for the Old Main renovation at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton.

$28.9 million for a health sciences facility addition for UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

$12.5 million for an Energy & Environmental Research Center office and lab addition in Grand Forks.

Glatt said the state’s colleges and universities were asked to rank their priorities, which were also analyzed by the university system.

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, said he thinks there would be little Senate support for the projects if the same list had campus names and communities deleted, thereby neutralizing legislators’ loyalties to certain schools.

“It lacks vision and inspiration to take us to the next level,” he said of the list.

Flakoll said some of the projects are good, but he wanted to see more projects that would help generate new wealth and business and diversify the economy.

He asked to see objective information of how the priorities’ rankings were created.

Glatt said there “isn’t a lot of glamour” on the list, but the projects help with health and safety issues.

Chancellor Bill Goetz defended the projects, saying the Rhoades Science Center facility is “terrible” and “not conducive to quality learning.” The health science facility is part of a major initiative that the university system and the medical school are undergoing, he said.

The Rhoades Science Center dates to the 1960s and isn’t built for what’s needed today in science and technology, said Trudy Collins, vice president for business affairs at Valley City State University. The ceiling heights are also too low to allow proper ventilation, she said.

Rep. Mark Dosch, R-Bismarck, said there isn’t economic justification for the projects or a cost-benefit analysis.

“If we’re going to spend $10 million, what’s our return on this?” he said, adding he wanted to know things like how many students would benefit.

Dosch said one of the frustrations with higher education is the continuous spending.

“We just keep building and building and building. We’re not maintaining what we’ve got,” he said. “When does this stop, and how much money can we spend? I think we have a duty and a responsibility to the taxpayers.”

Dosch requested a summary of how much money has been allocated for construction the past three legislative sessions and the total amount of deferred maintenance.

Sen. Larry Robinson, D-Valley City, said legislators should visit the campuses to see for themselves the condition of the requested projects. He said he knows projects like the Rhoades Science Center and Old Main need renovation.

Goetz said sustainability is as much of a concern for the university system as it is for lawmakers.

“The stewardship of the North Dakota taxpayer dollar is really very, very important and critical,” he said.

Glatt said the university system will go through each of the projects and provide more cost-benefit information to legislators during the legislative session.