John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.
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BISMARCK—North Dakota officials aren't actively fundraising for a workforce recruitment advertising campaign launched a few years ago. Sara Otte Coleman, the tourism division director at the state Department of Commerce, said because the state Legislature didn't put money toward the "Find the Good Life in North Dakota" campaign this year, the North Dakota Economic Development Foundation didn't continue raising funds. But she said there are existing funds to keep the campaign active. "It's going to continue to be a priority," she said.
BISMARCK—Charley Johnson was watching a Twins baseball game recently when he saw a couple of North Dakota tourism ads featuring the actor and Minot native Josh Duhamel. "I'm thinking, 'That's fabulous,'" said Johnson, president and CEO of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau. "That's a huge boost for us."
BISMARCK—A 17-member committee of North Dakota lawmakers will meet Wednesday, May 31, at the state Capitol to set the course for their work leading up to the 2019 session. At the meeting, the Legislative Management committee will assign topics for interim committees to study. A list provided by Legislative Council staff shows the committee has 49 optional studies, ranging from transportation funding, legal notice requirements, refugee resettlement and others, plus an extra five studies that are required.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota state auditor said Wednesday, May 24, there are no plans for a performance audit of the state's oil and gas regulator after a Bismarck attorney alleged the office improperly deleted thousands of emails.
BISMARCK — The Trump administration scaled back proposed cuts to a drug control policy office Tuesday, May 23, that some warned would hamper efforts to address a growing opioid crisis. The administration released President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget Tuesday, which boosts military spending but includes cuts to programs such as Medicaid. Overall, it seeks a $3.6 trillion spending cut over the next decade.
BISMARCK — A member of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum's Cabinet was among the 173 state employees who have applied for a buyout in recent weeks, the state's budget office said Tuesday, May 23. Ten state agencies offered employee buyouts a few weeks before legislators set the final budgets for the 2017-19 biennium in late April. A draft letter provided by the governor's office at the time said the agencies anticipated workforce cuts to balance the budget.
BISMARCK—Officials in the state's largest counties are predicting property tax increases under changes enacted during the most recent legislative session. But Gov. Doug Burgum said the state is boosting funds for property tax relief and argued the ultimate responsibility for the tax rests with local governments. The North Dakota Legislature this year eliminated the 12 percent property tax credit and instead implemented a two-year pilot program for the state takeover of county social services costs, suspending county authority to levy 20 mills for those programs.
BISMARCK—A North Dakota regulator expects a decision on the final state permit for a wind farm northeast of Valley City to come by the end of the summer. The Public Service Commission already issued a siting permit to Glacier Ridge Wind Farm, LLC for the first phase of the Barnes County project last year. The commission is now notifying the public on the opportunity to seek a hearing on the second phase, which would include 35 planned wind turbines. In total, the 300.15-megawatt project includes 87 planned turbines, according to documents posted on the PSC website.
BISMARCK—An impending vacancy on the North Dakota Supreme Court has attracted 11 applicants, including three judges, the court announced Monday, May 15. The vacancy will be created when Justice Carol Kapsner resigns on July 31. The applicants are: • Reid Brady, Fargo • Grady Crooks, Haughton, La. • Charles DeMakis, Minot • Judge James Hill, Mandan • Judge Jon Jensen, Grand Forks • Sophie Morgan, Bismarck • Janilyn Murtha, Dickinson • Matthew Olson, Minot • Judge Robin Schmidt, Watford City
BISMARCK—A lawsuit against the North Dakota Department of Health brought by a former employee was dismissed late last year after the two sides reached a $90,000 settlement. Ranae Kunz, a former autopsy assistant who was fired after complaining about sexual harassment in the workplace, sued the department in April 2016. In the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in North Dakota, she alleged the department unlawfully retaliated against her, causing a loss of income, mental anguish, emotional distress and other damages in excess of $75,000.