Plain Talk: Sports betting, school administration bloat, and a conflict of interest


MINOT, N.D. — Should sports betting be legal in North Dakota?

Should a lawmaker who works for a company that also has a huge health insurance contract with the state also be on a board that approves the contract?

And is it a good idea to require that some small school districts share superintendents?

We talk about all those issues on this episode of Plain Talk

Rep. Matt Ruby, a Republican from Minot, talks about the superintendent issue. It’s his bill that would require districts with low enrollments to share superintendents. He says that the small districts make up just 40% of total K-12 enrollment, but are paying 90% of the superintendent’s salaries. In this interview, he responds to some of the common criticisms of the bill.

Also. Rep. Greg Stemen, a Republican from Fargo, talks about his proposal to legalize sports wagering in the state. He says he’d like North Dakotans to weigh on this one way or another — his resolution would lead to a statewide vote — at which point the Legislature can, if voters approve, work on implementing it.

Stemen also responds to criticisms he received from Sen. Kyle Davison, another Fargo Republican, over his appointment to the PERS Board. Stemen works for Sanford Health, which also has a contract to provide health insurance to tens of thousands of state employees that’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The PERS Board oversees that contract. Stemen says he’s talked to Davison about his concerns, and would recuse himself from any vote concerning Sanford, but has confidence he can serve public employees, and his constituents, well on the board.

Finally, co-host Ben Hanson and I discuss the debate over an income tax proposal that would eliminate the tax for most North Dakotans. Is it a good idea? Or just a handout to the wealthy?

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