Breaking: ND Legislature sues Gov. Burgum

Dec 8, 2017
Prairie Public file

The North Dakota Legislature has now filed suit against Governor Doug Burgum over some of his line-item vetoes.

Burgum used that line-item power to change parts of various spending bills. Lawmakers argue Burgum deleted words of phrases in budget bills that change their intent – and they say by doing that, Burgum went beyond his powers.

In a statement, Burgum said, “It’s disappointing to see scarce taxpayer dollars being spent on a costly lawsuit over something that’s already been addressed in an Attorney General’s opinion.”

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Under new rules adopted by the state Industrial Commission, oil companies will have to give royalty owners more details on deductions taken from their royalty checks.

Royalty owners have complained about trying to get answers from the oil companies on why some deductions are taken from their royalty payments.

North Dakota Mineral Resources assistant director Bruce Hicks said the rule will provide clarity and transparency.

Blizzard conditions begin the week for eastern N.D.

Dec 4, 2017

After seeing rain in eastern and central North Dakota much of the morning, National Weather Service officials say the precipitation is changing over to snow. Meteorologist Pete Speicher says the new moisture is part of an incoming weather system expected to create blizzard-like conditions for parts of the listening area…

"...this afternoon the winds are really going to jump up. By 3 p.m., about the time schools will be getting out, we're looking for 45 to 55 mile-per-hour gusts. The will blow any new snow around creating reduced visibilities."

A new Minneapolis-based firm has begun working on infrastructure to focus on non-GMO and organic crops.

"Demand has outpaced the investment in the infrastructure," said Pipeline Foods chief executive Erick Jackson.

Jackson said his company is planning to invest between $300 million and $500 million on facilities, specifically focused on non-GMO and organic crops.

"The big guys don't look at this space yet as something very interesting," Jackson said. "Yet, it's gotten too big for all the little guys in it."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The president of the Bank of North Dakota is hoping more people will take advantage of a program designed to help families save for college.

It’s called “College SAVE.”  Bank president Eric Hardmeyer said anyone can contribute to a College SAVE account, and that contributed money is non-taxable.

Hardmeyer told the Board of Higher Education it could help reduce student loan debt.

Paul Vogel, Fargo

Paul Vogel of Fargo is looking for the public's help to find the culprit who cut down a huge Colorado blue spruce at his family farmstead last week.

He's offering a $300 reward for solving vandalism to the 20 foot high tree someone took for a Christmas tree.

For Vogel, the tree has special meaning.

"It's a beautiful tree,' Vogel said. "I was shocked the tree was gone."

Vogel said all that's left is a stump and some low branches.

"Thirty years ago, my dad and I planted it," Vogel said. "My heart just sunk."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Board of Higher Education is on-record, asking to have representation on the Governor’s Task Force on Higher Education Governance.

That task force will begin its meetings in December.

"There needs to be some connection from the Board to this group, so they understand what is already being done (on governance)," said Board member Dr. Casey Ryan. "The task force may have a lot of ideas, but may not realize that 'Hey, this has been going on for 10 years.'"

Ryan said there has to be some representation -- either ex-officio or as voting members.

BHE Chairman -- 'Let due process play out'

Dec 1, 2017
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state Board of Higher Education held a closed door session to discuss a complaint and possible legal action filed by a fired vice-Chancellor of the North Dakota University System.

The Board met at Bismarck State College.

After Lisa Feldner was fired, she filed a complaint with the state Labor Department, complaining of discrimination. In a the 17-page complaint, Feldner alleged among other things that Chancellor Mark Hagerott valued the comments and opinions of the male staffers in the Central Office over the female staffers. Hagerott has denied the allegations.

New rules proposed by the North Dakota Public Service Commission would change the required lighting on wind towers.

The lights are required for aircraft safety.

Many of the older wind farms use blinking red lights. Some people have complained that those lights remain on even when there are no airplanes in the area. But PSC Chairman Randy Christmann said there are newer technologies for those lighting systems. 

One is “aircraft detection lighting.”

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Members of the North Dakota Public Service Commission say they will be giving some more scrutiny to utilities that have a “transmission facility cost rider” on their monthly bills.

The PSC approved an added $1.02 on an Otter Tail Power Company customer’s monthly bill. The Commission is considering a less than $1 per month charge for transmission costs on MDU electric bills.

Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said the costs of transmission are significant. And she says the PSC will be taking a harder look at these kinds of riders.