Politics & Government

F-M Diversion Authority to seek new MN DNR permit

Feb 21, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority plans to file a new permit application to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the proposed diversion project next month.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney told the Legislature’s interim Water Topics Committee – the application will be filed March 9th.

"The reason we want to get the permit application in is it takes three to six months to get it approved," Mahoney said in an interview after the meeting. "DNR wants us to move forward. We think it's a good sign."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A former Grand Forks Democratic lawmaker is now a candidate for state Tax Commissioner.

Kylie Overson is the current chair of the Democratic NPL Party. If she gets the nomination, she would be running against GOP incumbent Ryan Rauschenberger.

Overson told reporters the Legislature has mis-managed state spending, turning a strong surplus into a deficit, and blaming local governments for what she called a broken promise to local property taxpayers.

Legislative leaders questioning ITD changes

Feb 20, 2018

Legislative leaders are asking for clarification and more information from the state’s Information Technology Department on changes either underway or in the works for ITD.

BHE staff rep: 'Don't cut jobs in favor of raises'

Feb 17, 2018

After a year of no salary increases, the state Board of Higher Education is considering allowing the college and university presidents to give raises – if they have the money from tuition, room and board, and savings.

Because the 2017 Legislature did not give state employees a general raise – due to budget constraints – the Board adopted a policy for fiscal 2018 that no raises will be given to higher education employees. However, the Board will be asked to change that policy for fiscal 2019.

But there was a word of caution from the staff representative to the Board.  

Fargo planner: Renaissance zone works for his city

Feb 17, 2018
City of Fargo

Fargo’s city planning director said the city’s Renaissance Zone project has been good for not only developing its downtown, but for the rest of the city taxpayers as well.

The city’s “RZ” program is designed to help develop downtown properties with a five year property tax exemption and a state income tax exemption.

A Legislative interim committee is studying the program.

Fargo city planning director Jim Gilmour said the program has helped Fargo in two ways. First, he says it has helped lower property taxes for all of Fargo.

Cramer to run for US Senate, Campbell for US House

Feb 17, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota's lone US House member, Rep.Kevin Cramer (R-ND),  has now made it “official” – he’s a candidate for the US Senate seat, now held by Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.

Cramer kicked off his campaign with a Friday night rally in Bismarck. In his stump speech, Cramer said the political balance of the Senate, and as he put it – “the soul of our nation,” are at stake.

"We have a razor thin 51-49 majority in the Senate," Cramer told supporters. "One vote could determine whether President Trump or Chuck Schumer chooses the next Supreme Court justice."

It's income tax season

Feb 15, 2018

Income tax season is underway.

And North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said if you are to receive a tax refund, you’ll notice it will be coming back a little slower than it used to. The reason:

"It's because we're (the tax department) so focused on fraud detection," Rauschenberger said. "The department stopped about $2 million in fraudulent refunds over the last couple of years, and more than 1,400 fraud cases."

Consultant: Retail moving back into historic downtowns

Feb 13, 2018
Governor's Office

One of the keynote speakers at the Main Street Summit – being held in Bismarck – said more and more retailers are abandoning shopping malls – and looking to relocate into downtowns.

Robert Gibbs is with the Gibbs Planning Group. He said malls across the country are either closing or trying to adapt to changing shopping patterns. Gibbs said in 10 years, the prediction is 25 to 30 percent of the nation's shopping malls will close.

Gibbs said as retail moves back to downtowns, cities do have some problems to overcome. One is parking.

'Main Street' Presenter: Big isn't necessarily better

Feb 13, 2018
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

One of the keynote speakers at the Main Street Summit – being held in Bismarck – thinks cities need to rethink whether they want to keep chasing big projects, like big box stores.

Charles Marohn is with “Strong Towns.” He told reporters that – for the last 40 years or so, cities have been building “large things.”

"Our public investments have tended to be very large," Marohn said. "They're designed to be a catalyst for other things. We build it, and then they come."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

More than 700 people are attending the Governor’s first-ever Main Street ND Summit, being held in Bismarck.

The conference is designed for community leaders, to give them tools to make their cities vibrant, so they can attract new people.

"We're competing against every other state for 21st century talent," Gov. Doug Burgum told reporters at the Summit. "It's not enough any more just to have jobs available."

Burgum said the state needs to have communities available that are attractive and livable.