Local Stories

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Xcel Energy’s North Dakota electric customers could be getting some money back, in the form of a one-time bill credit.

The reason: Xcel made too much money in 2017.

Public Service Commissioner Brian Kroshus said it's close to $3 million.

"It would equate to approximately $13.70 for the average customer," Kroshus said.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said this is the first time since she’s been a member of the PSC that there has been an "earnings refund."

Minnesota company considers tariffs and options

Jul 10, 2018

Officials with the electronic components distributor, “Digi-Key” are reviewing President Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on items imported from China and Europe to see what impacts the tariffs could have. Reporter Todd McDonald has details...

Gallion: 'Silos' provide some accountability

Jul 9, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

State auditor Josh Gallion is raising concerns about one of Gov. Doug Burgum’s initiatives in “reinventing government.”

Burgum has talked about getting rid of “silos” in state government, and has also discussed state government working more as “one.”

Gallion raised the concern during a recent Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee meeting.

"I believe when used properly, silos create a small degree of separation, which can be used as an internal control," Gallion told the Committee. "It promotes transparency and accountability."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Supporters of an initiated measure to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota have submitted petitions to the Secretary of State to get the measure on the November ballot.

The group needs 13,452 valid signatures. The group submitted petitions with around 18,700 signatures.

"We did something that I don't think a lot of people thought was possible," said "Legalize ND" chairman David Owen. "Not only did we do it, we exceeded it."

Owen said his group received a lot of positive responses from those who signed.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group calling itself “North Dakotans for Citizen Voting” has submitted petitions to get a Constitutional measure on the November ballot.

Supporters say it will strengthen the state’s Constitution on who is eligible to vote in any North Dakota election, laying out that only state residents can vote.

"While the Century Code does state that you have to be a citizen and a North Dakota resident, the Constitution is ambiguous," said group chairman Gary Emineth.

North Dakota counties – and cities with municipal courts – are getting billed for upgrades to the state’s crime victim notification system that are needed after voters passed a victim rights constitutional amendment.

That amendment – called “Marsy’s Law” – was approved by voters in 2016.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem asked the 2017 Legislature for $815,000 over two years to make changes to the system, called “SAVIN” – which stands for  Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification.

The new West Fargo school superintendent is no stranger to the district.

Beth Slette has been with the district 24 years. She has been a teacher, coordinator, assistant principal, principal, director of assessments and as an assistant superintendent.

Slette said she’s seen a lot of growth over the years.

"Our growth is 500-600 students every year," Slette said in an interview.

Last year alone, the district hired 5 additional kindergarten teachers – along with a number of other staff.

Two loan programs through the Bank of North Dakota, designed to assist livestock producers affected by last year’s drought, are being extended.

The Breeding Stock Rebuilding program and the Feed Cost program were created after parts of the state suffered very dry conditions, and some ranchers had to sell off part or all of their herds. Both were implemented in late summer 2017.

Bank of North Dakota president Eric Hardmeyer said few loans were made last year in either program, as ranchers waited to see what was going to happen in 2018.

Two loan programs through the Bank of North Dakota, designed to assist livestock producers affected by last year’s drought, are being extended.

The Breeding Stock Rebuilding program and the Feed Cost program were created after parts of the state suffered very dry conditions, and some ranchers had to sell off part or all of their herds. Both were implemented in late summer 2017.

Bank of North Dakota president Eric Hardmeyer said few loans were made last year in either program, as ranchers waited to see what was going to happen in 2018.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An interim Legislative committee is looking at three bill drafts designed to bring the Public Employees Retirement System back to being fully funded.

It’s been a multi-year fix for the system.

The bills would increase both employee and employer contributions, would temporarily reduce the “retirement multiplier” from 2 percent to 1.75 percent for new hires until the fund is at 100 percent funding, and would reallocate the 1.14 percent employer contribution to the retiree health insurance credit fund to the general pool of funds.

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News from NPR

Most teens today own a smartphone and go online every day, and about a quarter of them use the internet "almost constantly," according to a 2015 report by the Pew Research Center.

Now a study published Tuesday in JAMA suggests that such frequent use of digital media by adolescents might increase their odds of developing symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Japan and the European Union have signed a massive trade deal that creates an open trade zone for more than 600 million people. The EU and Japan account for approximately one-third of GDP worldwide.

The deal has been in the works for years, but the parties reached an agreement in principle several months after President Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade deal with Japan and 10 other nations.

CTE has been part of the national lexicon in the U.S. since the 2015 movie Concussion dramatized the discovery of this degenerative brain disease.

Robert Kagan is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of the forthcoming book The Jungle Grows Back: America and Our Imperiled World.

Usain Bolt, the track star who retired last year as the world's fastest man, is poised to hold a six-week trial with a pro soccer team in Australia and could earn a contract if all goes well, the team says. A deal could fulfill Bolt's long-held dream of playing pro soccer – but it's also being met with skepticism.

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Main Street

"The Synthetic Age" ~ Rural Brain Gain ~ StoryCorps with Victor Schwahn

Monday, July 16 – Philosophy professor Christopher James Preston at the University of Montana has written a book titled "The Synthetic Age Outdesigning Evolution, Resurrecting Species, and Reengineering Our World." He visits with Sarah Aaronson, host of “The Write Question,” a show from Montana Public Radio featuring authors from the western United States. ~~~ “Brain drain” is the scourge of communities that watch young people grow up, go off and never return. Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer...

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