- Associated Press - Saturday, January 31, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Education standards, medical marijuana, oil taxes: The North Dakota Legislature is expected to consider those and other measures this week as the session marches into February.

COMMON CORE

The House Education Committee is slated to hear testimony Monday on a bill that would require North Dakota to scrub Common Core education standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, is pushing the legislation.

Common Core outlines what skills students in kindergarten through 12th grade should learn to be ready for college and careers upon graduation, replacing standards that varied state-to-state.

North Dakota adopted Common Core standards in 2011 and began to fully implement them during the current school year. Assessments based on the new standards will start for all students this spring.

Common Core has been adopted in dozens of other states. Kasper and other critics contend Common Core represents a federal takeover of education.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

A freshman lawmaker from Fargo is pushing for the legalization of medicinal marijuana in North Dakota, and Democratic Rep. Pam Anderson’s bill has bipartisan support.

Anderson says she introduced the legislation at the request of one of her constituents who suffers from chronic pain. She says the 64-year-old man gets sick from taking prescription drugs for pain.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says 23 states have laws allowing medical marijuana. Anderson says people are becoming more accepting of allowing the use of medical marijuana but she’s not too sure about the state Legislature.

OIL TAX TRIGGER

A tax cut that will cost the state about $160,000 in lost revenue for each well drilled is slated to begin on Sunday.

The extraction tax exemption is an incentive to keep companies drilling new wells when they might otherwise go idle. That trigger needs to average $55 a barrel for a month but is due to expire this summer.

North Dakota sweet crude was fetching about $45 a barrel late last week and was well below the trigger through most of January.

The tax is one of two that will give the North Dakota oil industry a big tax break when crude prices nosedive. State law also forgives a 6.5 percent extraction tax if the five-month average price of a barrel of oil slips below $52.58 a barrel, based on prices for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark.

The North Dakota tax commissioner is slated to address the price triggers on Monday at the state Capitol.


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