Fargo man convicted of threatening Heitkamp

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A Fargo man was found guilty of threatening a United States Senator after a four day trial by a federal jury.

56 year old Kevin Lee Olson of Fargo was convicted of Threatening Interstate Communications by sending a threatening email to North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp on December 22 of last year. Olson's email to Heitkamp stated "It's (sic) seems the only consideration one gets these days is when one becomes a criminal. I guess I should find you, you (expletive), and shoot you in your red head!"

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Chancellor of the North Dakota University System floated an idea to get state Board of Higher Education members more involved in the evaluation of the college presidents.

That’s normally been the Chancellor’s job.

Chancellor Mark Hagerott told the Board’s Governance Committee – the evaluations are now going to be done in tiers, starting with the two year schools. Hagerott suggested Board members be assigned to one of the tiers – two year schools, four-year schools and the research universities. He said getting more Board involvement is not a new idea.

ND Agriculture Dept.

2017 will be remembered in North Dakota’s agriculture community for the drought.

North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said the drought hit cattle producers especially hard.

"Because of the lack of feed and forage, and having to go out and purchase more and more hay, having to find pasture further away -- it was daunting," Goehring said.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Health Department has been holding a series of public hearings around North Dakota on the new rules for medical marijuana.

Voters in 2016 approved the use of medical marijuana. But the 2017 Legislature rewrote the measure to bring it into compliance with other state laws. Now, a package of administrative rules has been written to cover it.

A total of six public hearings are being held around the state. Written comments on the new rules must be received by December 26th.

Interim committee studying wind power siting

Dec 14, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

An interim Legislative committee has begun a study of wind power in North Dakota – looking at wind farm siting laws and rules, as well as rules for decommissioning wind farms when they’re no longer used.

"The process of siting wind projects has gotten more and more controversial, as we see more farms developing," Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak told the interim Natural Resources Committee. "We've also gotten better at it."

But Fedorchak told the Committee she's open to find more improvements.

Mn. Lt. Gov. Smith tagged as Franken replacement

Dec 13, 2017

Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith has been named as Minnesota’s newest U-S Senator. Prairie Public Reporter Todd McDonald has details...

The president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council said he welcomes the US Geological Survey’s plans to conduct a comprehensive, broad-based resource estimate for the Williston Basin.

Ron Ness said when the USGS did a similar study in 2013, the estimate of recoverable oil at that time from the Bakken and Three Forks formations more than doubled, from 3.6 billion barrels to 7.4 billion barrels.

FM Diversion sees possible resolutions

Dec 12, 2017

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney says he’s encouraged by the actions of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Flood Diversion Task Force. The group – which included the Governors of North Dakota and Minnesota -- wrapped up a series of meetings aimed at moving the F-M Diversion project forward. Mayor Mahoney says the project is in a much better place than it was 6-weeks ago…

"...I believe they had six or seven parameters that were placed out there today. And we got consensus on all but about two of them. And those two, I think, we can work with the D.N.R. to get solutions."

Prairie Public file

In North Dakota, we’re seeing a trend toward fewer polling places.

"That's been a trend since the 1950s," said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum. "Even in 1980, we had over 1200 polling places. In 2016, we had just over 400."

Silrum said a big reason for that has been the rising costs of elections.

"Not only do you have poll workers that must be in every polling location,  you also have voting machines," Silrum said. "You also have assistive voting technology for people with disabilities to vote privately and independently."

Prairie Public file

A representative of the budget consulting firm the North Dakota Legislature’s Revenue Advisory Committee hired said his firm is ready to advise Legislative leaders on  how global economic trends could impact state revenues.

The Committee hired IHS Markit to help the Legislature have its own set of budget numbers.

The state Office of Management and Budget is continuing to use Moody’s Analytics for the executive budget forecast. Some Legislators have been critical of Moody’s for missing the mark in its forecasts.