Local Stories

'Coffee with Cramer' confrontation

May 12, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A town hall meeting in Mandan with Congressman Kevin Cramer turned confrontational  Thursday afternoon – leading to a brief physical altercation between two audience members.

It began just after a woman told an emotional story about her young daughter having health problems and numerous medical procedures. She was concerned that the bill designed to replace the Affordable Care act wouldn't help her situation out. Then a man – who had been verbally confronting Cramer about the health care bill and tax cuts – took out his wallet, grabbed some cash and stuck it in Cramer’s chest.

Shelved wind farm could be soon under construction

May 11, 2017

A wind farm project that has been on the shelf for several years may soon be built.

The Merricourt Wind Power Project was to be built near Ashley, in McIntosh County. The Public Service Commission had given the project siting approval in 2008. However, it was never built.

But now, the developer has filed a new siting application – and the PSC has scheduled a hearing on it.

Commissioners said some of the proposed wind power projects couldn’t find anyone to buy the power, so they weren’t built.

Courtesy Julie Fedorchak

Cenex is proposing to replace part of a refined fuels pipeline that runs from its Laurel, Montana refinery to Fargo.

The portion to be replaced runs from Sidney, Montana to Minot. It would be upgraded from 8 inch to 10 inch diameter pipeline – at a cost of $160 million. The pipeline carries gasoline and diesel fuel.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said this portion of the pipeline would be re-routed – so it would run from north of Sidney and north of Williston to Minot – crossing the Missouri River in Montana.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Bismarck-based MDU Resources Group had a good year in 2016 – and its President and CEO believes 2017 will be strong as well.

In 2016, MDU’s construction business – which includes Knife River Construction – earned just under $137 million, while its energy businesses brought in nearly $93 million.

President and CEO David Goodin told the MDU annual stockholders meeting in Bismarck -- MDU Resources Group has focused on its two business platforms – the regulated energy delivery business and construction.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum will soon start working on a strategic plan for the state of North Dakota.

Burgum said that plan will be formulated with his cabinet.

"We're going to be heading into an off-site planning session soon to work on a strategic plan for the state," Burgum told Prairie Public in an interview.

Wind farm warning light change

May 4, 2017
Courtesy Julie Fedorchak

The Public Service Commission has drafted new rules dealing with lights on wind towers.

Right now, most of the towers have blinking red lights – that are on all night. They’re there to keep aircraft away – but neighbors have complained about them. The new rules say new towers have to have “light mitigation technology” – which only turns the lights on when aircraft are in the area.

Burgum vetoes much of the PERS bill

May 4, 2017
Governor's office

Compromise on self-insurance reached

Apr 26, 2017
ND Legislature

House and Senate leaders have reached a compromise over whether the state should set up a self-funded health insurance plan for state employees.

The House wanted such a plan, but the Senate balked.

The compromise proposal sets up a separate committee to study the health insurance plan over the next two years – and that committee will come up with proposals to present to the Public Employees Retirement System board. That board would have the final say on which contract to accept.

ND Legislature

A bill for a state take-over of county social service funding is now on its way to Governor Burgum.

Under it, the state will assume all the costs of social service programs now funded at the county level. It eliminates the 20 mill levy for social services.

"What it (the 12 percent) was put in place for is as a holder, until the state could figure out a way to take over county social services," said Sen. Dwight Cook (R-Mandan), chairman if the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee.

ND Legislature

The Legislature has set the stage for collecting state sales taxes from Internet retailers.

Sen. Dwight Cook (R-Mandan) introduced a bill to set up what he calls an “economic nexus” – that would allow North Dakota to start collecting those sales taxes – if Congress passes a bill to allow it, or if the US Supreme Court overturns its earlier ruling against that collection.

"In the case 'Quill v. North Dakota, the high court ruled states couldn't require Internet retilers to collect state sales tax," Cook said. "What we're doing here is creating an economic nexus."

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News from NPR

Gunfire erupted between Philippine security forces and militants in Marawi City in the mid-afternoon Tuesday. By the time the sun had set on the small southern city, President Rodrigo Duterte had declared martial law in the region and vowed to end his diplomatic trip to Moscow early.

One day after a bombing claimed at least 22 lives at a concert venue in Manchester, England, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced the U.K. is raising its terror threat level. The move declared Tuesday evening means members of the British military will be deployed throughout the country to supplement its police forces.

When the Trump administration previewed its budget last March, it called it the "hard power" budget. The latest details show that it greatly increases spending on defense, veterans and homeland security, and slashes funding for major social safety net programs such as Medicaid and SNAP (also known as food stamps).

Top officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn't even try to act enthusiastic as they unveiled details of their agency's proposed 2018 budget, which includes drastic cuts in spending. "We're going to do the best we can," said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. "It's my job to implement that plan."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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