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Rep. Michael Howe (R-West Fargo) talks about the overall feel of the 2021 Legislature, as well aspending bills, K-12 funding, federal COVID relief money, and a potential special session.

179 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths confirmed

16 hours ago

The state health department has confirmed three more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,478.

 

The patients were a man in his 70s from Burleigh County, a woman in her 70s from

Cass County, and a man in his 90s from Mercer County. 

 

Deaths are reported to the state health department by facilities or by official death record, and can take up to ten days to be confirmed. 

 

A bill to require public grade school and high school athletes to compete in sports according to their birth gender is now on its way to Governor Burgum’s desk.

The measure – worked out in a conference committee – includes a study of the issue.

The conference committee’s version of HB 1298 had passed the House earlier this week.

Sen. JoNell Bakke (D-Grand Forks) said this is a measure to address a problem that doesn’t exist.

By a single vote, the Senate has approved merging the state Health Department with the Department of Human Services.

As amended in the Senate, HB 1247 calls for a gradual merger, aided by an outside consultant. That consultant would be paid for through the use of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Senator Judy Lee (R-West Fargo), the chair of  the Senate Human Services Committee, told the Senate this measure would not result in immediate job cuts.

March airline passenger boardings surge

22 hours ago
File photo

North Dakota’s commercial airports saw a surge in demand during March.

"We saw about 72,000 passengers in March 2021," said North Dakota Aeronautics Commission director Kyle Wanner. "That's about 22,000 more than in February."

Wanner said that’s the kind of trajectory he’d hoped to see as summer travel season approaches.

"People want to begin traveling again," Wanner said. "They want to see family, they want to take a vacation, and they obviously want to do that in a safe way as well."

ND COVID-19: 1 death, 168 new cases

Apr 15, 2021

The state health department has confirmed one more death related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,475.

 

The patient was a woman in her 90s from Stark County.

 

Deaths are reported to the state health department by facilities or by official death record, and can take up to ten days to be confirmed. 

 

House passes re-worked 'transgender sports' bill

Apr 15, 2021

The House has passed an amended version of a bill that would require grade-school and high-school athletes to compete in sports according to their birth gender.

That’s how the House originally passed HB 1298. The Senate made it into a study. But in conference committee, the House language was added back, and the study was kept.

Rep. Kathy Skroch (R-Lidgerwood) was on that conference committee – and she urged the House to pass it.

"This is a bill in good form, and which is important in protecting female athletes of North Dakota," Skroch said.

File photo

The state Senate has approved a bill calling for a five year tax holiday for coal fired power plants.

The coal conversion facilities taxes would be affected, Instead, coal plants would have to pay a lignite research tax.

Sen. Jordan Kannianen (R-Stanley) said it will make the coal plants more competitive on the daily wholesale electricity markets.

Upgrading rural Internet

Apr 15, 2021
Public Service Commission

A number of rural telecommunications companies have applied for – and received – federal funds to help upgrade Internet service in underserved areas.

The program is called “R-DOF" -- "Rural Digital Opportunity Fund."

"It's a federal government program that helps provide broadband service to some of these poorly-served areas," said Public Service Commissioner Randy Christmann.

Christmann said it requires the companies to offer at least one gigabit service.

"In some cases, those folks don't have adequate telephone service," Christmann said.

1 death, 177 new COVID-19 cases

Apr 14, 2021

The state health department has confirmed one more death related to COVID-19, bringing the statewide death toll to 1,474.

 

The patient was a man in his 70s from Golden Valley County.

 

Deaths are reported to the state health department by facilities or by official death record, and can take up to ten days to be confirmed. 

 

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News from NPR

Fetal tissue is uniquely valuable to medical researchers - useful for developing treatments and better understanding diseases like HIV, Parkinson's, and COVID-19.

But many anti-abortion rights groups oppose it on moral or religious grounds.

Now, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says he's reversing several restrictions on fetal tissue research put in place during the Trump administration.

All federal prison inmates will have the opportunity to receive a vaccine by mid-May, according to the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Michael Carvajal.

Vaccines have already been made available to all federal prison staff, he said, speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing Thursday.

More than 40,000 people incarcerated in federal prisons have received both doses of the vaccine, the bureau says, which is about a third of the people in BOP custody. Nearly 18,000 federal prison staff have been fully vaccinated.

Liberty University is suing former president Jerry Falwell Jr. for millions of dollars, accusing him of withholding damaging personal information from school officials while negotiating a lucrative employment agreement for himself, among other allegations.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

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Main Street

Strengthen ND ~ News Chat ~ Review: Hillbilly Elegy

Friday, April 16, 2021 - Difficult race relations go back to the very founding of this country. For many, there is still work to be done. The Minot-based non-profit Strengthen ND is hosting Working in Indian Country, a virtual series to support relationship building, understanding, and equitable working relationships in Native and non-Native communities. We speak with Strengthen ND’s Executive Director Megan Laudenschlager and series facilitator Larry Keown who wrote the book, Working In Indian Country: Building Successful Business Relationships with American Indian Tribes. ~~~ News director Dave Thompson is here for our weekly news chat. ~~~ Matt Olien reviews “Hillbilly Elegy.”

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