ND Senate Kills Bill for Higher Education Ballot Measure - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

ND Senate Kills Bill for Higher Education Ballot Measure

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Chancellor Ham Shirvani Chancellor Ham Shirvani
Bismarck, ND -

After an hour long debate on problems with the current Higher Education structure, senators kill a bill that could make any changes...

Higher Education has been in the cross fire the entire legislative session.

Lawmakers have confronted rumors of an extravagant office for the Chancellor, proposed setting aside money to buyout the chancellor and questioned allegations about fraud in the University System office.

But as Donnell Preskey reports, the Senate was one vote short of sending a possible solution to the voters.

It appears very few North Dakota legislators are happy with the way North Dakota's college and Universities are managed.

Park River Senator Joe Miller says, "we have serious problems, we have had many fiascos in last couple years."

But changing the system is beyond their control.

That's where House Concurrent Resolution 3047 came into play. It would have allowed voters to decide the future of Higher Ed. As first introduced, it proposed to eliminate the board of Higher Education and allow the Governor to appoint a director. The Senate changed the measure to get rid of a Chancellor and instead have a three person, full time, commission. Much like the PSC.

Senator David Hogue of Minot says, "the part time volunteer board structure does not work, it's an overwhelming task. there are many demands placed on that leadership."

Senators who oppose the measure say the legislature should stop interfering in Higher Ed. They say allowing the issue to go to voters may send the wrong message to North Dakotan's.

Crosby Senator John Andrist says, "I think we should let them work out their problems, this will be perceived as meddling and taking sides as we have always done."

"Allowing the people to vote will send a message to us one way or the other. If they vote no, leave it as it is, it's a message to the legislature that maybe you shouldn't meddle as much. If they vote yes, they are ready for a change," says Senator Tony Grindberg of Fargo.

Supporters say the measure has never been intended to insult the work of current Chancellor Ham Shirvani or the eight member board.

Grindberg says, "the current leadership model has serious problems, serious problems."

"No matter what we do here, we will be back, critiquing commission, too much too soon, too little too late," says Senator Larry Robinson.

There has been conflict this entire legislative session between lawmakers, the University System and the Chancellor. But in the end... by one vote, the Senate decides to back off.>>

Earlier this session, money to buy out the chancellor's contract was added to a different bill.

That has since been removed.

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