North Dakota governor names new labor commissioner

May 16, 2013
North Dakota governor names new labor commissioner

North Dakota's incoming labor commissioner Bonnie Storbakken, right, greets Tony Weiler, the current Labor Commissioner after she was introduced by Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Thursday, May 16, 2013 in Bismarck. Weiler will be leaving the position to become director of the State Bar Association of North Dakota. Storbakken will start on May 27th. 9AP Photo/The Tribune, Tom Stromme)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) -- Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Thursday appointed Bismarck attorney Bonnie Storbakken as North Dakota's next labor commissioner.

Storbakken replaces Tony Weiler, who has accepted the position of executive director of the State Bar Association of North Dakota after being the labor commissioner since September 2010.

Storbakken said she was "honored and humbled."

"I am looking forward to serving in the governor's cabinet and I'm excited to serve the people of North Dakota," she said in a statement.

Storbakken will lead a state agency with 12 staff members and a two-year budget of just less than $2 million. The state Labor Department establishes and enforces rules relating to wages and working conditions of state workers. The department also enforces the North Dakota Human Rights Act and the North Dakota Housing Discrimination Act.

"Bonnie brings to this important position broad legal experience and extensive expertise in mediation services, which will serve as a strong foundation as she works to protect the rights of North Dakota citizens," Dalrymple said in a statement.

Storbakken has owned and operated Storbakken Law & Mediation since 2007. She has specialized in several areas of law and has provided professional mediation services to help parties resolve conflicts outside of the court process.

Storbakken is a former staff attorney at the State Bar Association, where she was active in the group's work to enhance the state's availability of free and reduced legal services for low-income residents. She is a graduate of the University of North Dakota law school and lives in Bismarck with her husband, David Straley, and their three children.

The Legislature earlier this year approved a change to the Labor Department's name to also reflect its work in the area of human rights. As of Aug. 1, the agency will become the North Dakota Department of Labor and Human Rights.