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News Roundtable 2023, Good News and What's Ahead; All of Us Strangers

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Key highlights of the journalists roundtable include:

Legislative Changes: Dave Thompson discussed the North Dakota Supreme Court's ruling against the legislature's practice of using a catch-all bill at session's end, which will change future legislative processes.

Summit Carbon Solutions Pipeline: Amy Dalrymple highlighted the controversial pipeline project, noting the Public Service Commission's (PSC) rejection of a permit and ongoing debates about safety and local ordinances.

Murder Cases in Central North Dakota: Amy Wobbema brought attention to three high-profile murder cases in Eddy and Foster County, including the nationally noted case of Kaylor Ellingson.

Political Reporting and Speculations: The panel discussed Governor Doug Burgum's presidential campaign, his performance in debates, and speculation about his political future.

Ray Holmberg's Legal Troubles: A discussion on the serious federal charges against retired Republican state senator Ray Holmberg, with a focus on the ongoing legal process and media coverage.

Tax Relief and Community Concerns: The panelists spoke about North Dakota's tax relief measures, including property tax credits and income tax relief, and concerns about funding local services if property taxes are eliminated.

Healthcare-Related Lawsuits: Amy Dalrymple mentioned ongoing lawsuits challenging North Dakota’s laws on abortion and gender-affirming care for minors.

Childcare Crisis: Amy Wobbema leads a discussion on the critical childcare shortage in North Dakota and community efforts to address it, including innovative solutions in New Rockford and Watford City.

Redistricting Issues: Dave Thompson talked about the ongoing redistricting challenges in North Dakota and potential legislative actions.

Good News Stories: Each journalist shared positive news, including a new skate park in Standing Rock, a successful local sports figure, and promising economic developments in Mercer County.

Looking Forward to 2024: The discussion concluded with reflections on whether North Dakota is in a better place now than a year ago and anticipation for upcoming stories, particularly in politics and local issues.

And, Matt Olene stops by for his weekly movie review.

Journalists Roundtable Transcription:

Main Street

Welcome to Main Street during this first week of 2024. I'm Craig Blumenshine and today we have our monthly Journalists Roundtable. We're going to go around the state and talk with different journalists and ask them to review the year 2023 for us.

Maybe understand what their best stories or their top stories of the year were. And I'm going to ask them the question later on is whether they believe North Dakota is in a better place today than it was a year ago. Joining me now to discuss the recent news and the news of the past year, Dave Thompson.

He's our news director here at Prairie Public. Dave, welcome back to Main Street.

Dave Thompson

Thank you, Craig. Glad to be here.

Main Street

Amy Dalrymple, she's the editor-in-chief of the North Dakota Monitor is with us. Amy, welcome.

Amy Dalrymple

Thank you. Happy to be here.

Main Street

And Amy Wobbema, the owner of the new Rockford Transcript and Foster County Independent is also with us. Amy W., welcome to Main Street.

Amy Wobbema

Thank you for having me. Happy New Year.

Main Street

And certainly Happy New Year to you all as well. And let's start with, I think, what might be an interesting question. And I think we may get differing answers.

What do each of you believe was North Dakota's top news story of the year? Dave, let me start with you.

Dave Thompson

I've been thinking a lot about that. And given the fact that I do a lot of state government coverage, one of the things I thought was maybe the story of the year was the legislature being told that they can't have this catch-all bill at the end of a legislative session where the OMB, the Office of Management of the Budget Bill, becomes basically the kitchen sink bill. They throw everything they did that didn't either get passed, didn't get enough votes, and then they pass it and say, good.

But the Supreme Court, the state Supreme Court, has ruled that that violates the non-germane rule. There's a non-germane rule. You cannot have subjects that are not germane to the subject of the bill.

So I think that's going to change the way the legislature is going to act from here on out. They're going to have to do a lot more individual bills. And especially toward the end of the session, if they want to get something accomplished, they're going to have to introduce a separate bill instead of putting it into the OMB bill.

Main Street

Amy D., what might your top story be?

Amy Dalrymple

Yeah, well, I think the Summit Carbon Solutions Pipeline has been a big story all year and, of course, will continue to be in 2024. That's the project that would transport carbon dioxide from ethanol plants for permanent storage in western North Dakota. And it's brought a lot of opposition from landowners and also the city of Bismarck and some other counties have raised concerns about the safety and the ordinances.

So that's going to continue to unfold. One of the reasons it stands out to me is that the PSC did reject a permit, which is a pretty rare decision for the PSC to make. But now they are considering a reroute and some changes for that project.

Main Street

Dave, you've had some thoughts about this project as well.

Dave Thompson

Absolutely. It's been something that I think is still to unfold because the PSC has held that hearing about whether or not the PSC as a state agency can override local ordinances in Emmons and Burleigh counties. Still waiting for the decision on that.

And it is the first of the year, so we'll find out. And I think this is going to stretch into 2024, probably into the middle of 2024. And it's part of a bigger discussion.

The bigger discussion is about carbon capture and what is the future of carbon capture, especially when North Dakota seems to have the geology for carbon capture. The other thing about carbon capture is the Project Tundra has been eligible now for a $300-plus million federal grant in order to make sure that the project will do what it says it's going to do, and that's capture carbon dioxide from a coal-fired plant.

Main Street

So this is a story that will be with us maybe for a year or two in the future. Could very well be. Amy Wobbema, what's your top story of the year?

And I should maybe qualify what you may tell us here because you are interested in more local things, I would anticipate. What's on your mind?

Amy Wobbema

Well, it's not just local. What I'm thinking about right now is when we went back through the stories, there was a lot of attention on central North Dakota over this past year, and that included a trip to rural Foster County by New York Times reporters because we have been in the midst of three murder cases between my two counties that I cover, Eddy and Foster County, the most prominent case being the death of Kaylor Ellingson, the Gray City teenager who was killed by Shannon Brant run over with his vehicle after a street dance in McHenry in the fall of 2022.

And so that was something that made national news when he was first charged with murder. And then in 2023, that case made its way through the courts, and his charges were reduced, Shannon Brant, from murder to manslaughter, and then he took a plea deal in the case to lesser his time. And so that was the first.

The second was in February of 2023 in which we had a child care provider in the community of Carrington who had an infant die in her care, and she was charged with murder in February. And she will be in trial the end of January here in Foster County. And the third one was in Eddy County in the small town of Cheyenne which has about 100 people.

A young man was killed, was gunned down in a bar by the authorities say, Nicholas Poitras, who then led our local authorities and statewide authorities on a three-day manhunt, and he was hiding in rural Eddy County in rural residences. And so I think about that from the perspective of all of those cases that just a little bit of fact that in the year 2008, North Dakota only had four homicide deaths the entire year across the entire state. And here in Eddy and Foster County in 2023, we were in the midst of three murder cases alone.

That's staggering to me, and I'm really hopeful that 2024 is a bit quieter.

Main Street

What was the New York Times take on these incidences of murder in a place where it's so unlikely?

Amy Wobbema

Well, the big story, as some of you may remember, with Kaylor Ellingson and Shannon Brandt was that at one point it was reported that the altercation between the two of them started in the bar and it was politically motivated, and that Shannon Brandt believed that Kaylor Ellingson was a conservative, crazy person, and that that was the purpose for his death, and that it was done intentionally. And, of course, the facts in the case did not bear out that way, but it became a national story about someone with Democrat leanings supposedly killing someone conservative. So it was very political when it came to the New York Times and as the New York Times reported on it.

So I think that was very interesting. And in the political times that we're living in, these are the kinds of things that get latched onto, even when they happen in a, you know, McHenry, probably, I don't know what their population is, but it's less than 100.

Main Street

Amy D. or Dave, any comments on those particular stories?

Dave Thompson

I'm going to jump in here because the initial reporting was politically motivated, but apparently it was attributed to a highway patrolman who said, no, no, I did not say that, or he did not say that to me. There's a lot of things that have been really interesting about that case, and, of course, it's modified because, and it's magnified because of social media and certain media organizations like the sensational aspect of it, and it is what it is, and that's the interesting story about it.

Main Street

Let's move on. Of course, our governor, Doug Burgum, ran for president this year. He's no longer in the race.

What are your all takeaways relative to his campaign, what he brought to the table, and how he was received nationally?

Dave Thompson

I think it's kind of interesting that he did launch this campaign, and he apparently had some momentum, he thought, going in, but if you watched the debates, and really I have a real concern about how the debates were handled, he didn't get very much of a chance to speak. Of course, you've got a lot of very big personalities on that stage, with the biggest one, the biggest personality offstage and not participating, but as they're all fighting to gain some recognition, I mean, Burgum, who tried to stick to issues a lot more than personalities, he kind of got short in the stick in my estimation.

Main Street

Either of the Amys have comments about Governor Burgum's run?

Amy Dalrymple

Well, now I guess people are speculating about what this means for his future, whether he's going to run for another term as governor, and whether he's going to make another run in four years, potentially, for president. So I think it's going to be something that we're going to continue to watch.

Main Street

Let's move along. Ray Holmberg, a retired Republican state senator from North Dakota, was charged with serious federal offenses. Amy Dee, you've done some reporting about that.

Let me start with you. What is that story now, and will it be going forward?

Amy Dalrymple

Yeah, well, that story certainly came to light in 2023, and I would have to give credit to April Baumgarten at the Forum for doing some of the leading reporting on that story. Of course, it's been reported that he was indicted with traveling to Prague to have sex with minors, and also that he's been indicted with receiving child pornography images. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges, and he's set to go on trial in April.

And so I think this story is one that's going to just keep trickling out. I think we're going to get more details each time there's a hearing, and then eventually, if it does go to trial, I think that's when we'll learn a lot more information.

Dave Thompson

I completely agree with Amy Dalrymple on this one because this is a story that has not come to a conclusion yet. It's still based on a lot of allegations. We haven't seen evidence yet, but then again, it is still in the investigation stage, so we'll find out what happens, what the evidence is going to show.

But I think once they start doing some court hearings on it, I think we're going to learn more, and we're going to have a clearer picture of what may or may not have happened. And I really come back to, yes, and it really makes you think about someone who is charged with a crime, innocent until proven guilty, and there has been not proof yet. There's been some speculation.

There's been some allegations, and there's been some reporting, and I agree that some of the reporting has been very good on this, but still there are a lot of unanswered questions.

Main Street

Amy, is this a story that folks are talking about in New Rockford, or is it more of a wait-and-see type of story now?

Amy Wobbema

I know I've been following it. When it first made headlines, I was certainly paying attention, and when I saw it on the list, I thought, well, I haven't heard anything about that recently. And so I'll tag on to Dave's comments.

That is something that we have to constantly remind our readers is innocent until proven guilty, and in fact it's something that gets tagged on to the end of every single story we write about anyone accused of any crime or any infraction in our coverage area. And that's the thing. I think that in this case, there's a lot more to see, and we have to remind people let's let it get through the courts, let's let the evidence stand on its own, and then we can have a conversation about once we know, guilty or innocent.

But definitely it's something that's been discussed in the communities and is a story to watch.

Main Street

Let's move along. Tax relief and taxes, I think, in our state have been on everyone's mind this year, and I think that you all have a different perspective about different impacts of property tax or sales tax or income tax. Let's just have a general conversation, and I'll visit with you about it first, Dave.

What are the issues relative to tax relief, and what can people anticipate the debate to be in the future?

Dave Thompson

What is interesting, I remember how it all kind of unfolded, that there was a thought among a lot of people that property tax is the real issue here because property taxes keep going up, and it's based on valuations and what local governments need and things like that. And the legislature did give some relief in this credit that you have to apply for, and, of course, you can apply starting after the first of the year, and that's kind of interesting. But there's still a strong, I'm going to say a strong local contingent who wanted income tax relief, and they got some income tax relief, and that's going to help everybody, I think.

But watch the property tax thing because at the same time you've got this potential issue that could go to the ballot that would eliminate property taxes. So that bears watching, too.

Main Street

There was some hope that this would be handled in the special session, and that didn't come to fruition. Dave, why was that?

Dave Thompson

I think that the special session had a lot of things on their mind, and basically they wanted to basically hold the special session to the parts of the OMB bill that we talked about earlier, getting them out and into separate bills and get them passed that way. Amy Dahlringpol, what about taxes? What are you hearing?

Amy Dalrymple

Yeah, well, I think Dave's right that a lot of people are focused on property tax. There was a tax credit that was approved that people will start to feel the impact of soon. There is a $500 property tax credit that people can claim, and we're actually working on a story right now to let people know how to pursue that.

So please check out our reporting on that to let you know how you can apply for it. As far as the special session, the governor did want lawmakers to consider extending that income tax relief to more people, and so he was very disappointed that they didn't take up that issue. They probably could have, but it would have extended the length of that special session, and they opted not to do that.

Main Street

Amy, what's on your citizens' mind relative to taxes?

Amy Wobbema

Well, I will say that there's a lot of conversation out there statewide, even in our rural communities. Eliminating the property tax is a very big idea, and I think there are a lot of questions surrounding it, particularly when you talk to local officials in these counties, and they're concerned that if that ever did happen, if this ballot initiative would get through and it would pass, what that looks like for funding local government. Because in these rural communities, I sit through all the hearings and the budget periods where they talk about what they want to do to keep things as low as they can and at the same time fund all the mandates, if you will, that are put on local government on an annual basis and every time there's a legislative session.

And I just think there's a lot of uncertainty on that side about, so who's going to pay for the schools and who's going to pay for the county government and the city services and those kinds of things if the property tax is eliminated? I don't think anyone has particularly come up with a good answer to that. And so I mean, I think definitely we're watching, and it's sort of one of these tentative things.

And it reminds some of them of social services, me, and how now that's all state funded, and all of those employees are not county employees, but yet they're part of those that are all paid for by the state. And I think there's a lot of, you know, there's talk particularly amongst county officials that, you know, that maybe wasn't the greatest idea and it's not working the greatest. And so, you know, if we eliminate the property taxes, that's what's going to happen to some of these other services as well.

Main Street

The tax question will be debated for sure coming up. Instead of looking forward to 2024 news.

We're reviewing the top stories of 2023 in our monthly review and news roundtable with Amy Dalrymple. She's the editor in chief of the North Dakota Monitor. With Amy Wobbema, she's the owner of the new Rockford transcript and Foster County Independent. And Dave Thompson, he's our news director right here at Prairie Public. Let's move on.

There have been several health care-related lawsuits. Laws addressing abortion and gender-affirming care for minors have been challenged in two separate lawsuits. Amy D., what's your reporting about this?

Amy Dalrymple

Yes, both of these lawsuits are ongoing. Just before Christmas, there was arguments in the abortion lawsuit. In that case, some doctors and an abortion clinic are challenging that law and specifically seeking a preliminary injunction on the health care exception in the law that they argue is too vague to enforce.

And so right now, a judge is considering those arguments and will make a ruling here in the near future. And then separately, there's also a challenge of the state legislature's ban on gender-affirming care for minors. And there are families who are challenging that law, arguing that it infringes on parents' rights to make health care decisions.

In that case also, we'll be in court again later this month for some more arguments.

Main Street

Do we anticipate more legislative work relative to these LGBTQ issues on a more conservative, I guess, perspective here in the coming session that is now more than a year away, Dave?

Dave Thompson

It's possible, but we'll have to see how this unfolds in the courts because that's going to probably inform what legislators can and cannot do. It'll be interesting. Amy talked about later this month there's going to be a hearing on that.

What the court is going to decide on that particular issue is going to be really, really something to watch because it may say to legislators, maybe you can do this or maybe you can't.

Main Street

We have just about two and a half, three more minutes left in our first segment here. We'll visit more after the news break. An issue that has been on my mind is the vote that occurred relative to the Fargo Dome and then the vote that occurred relative to the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, the Fargo Dome, of course, here in Fargo.

The Fargo Dome vote failed. It was an expansion to, I guess, essentially conference facilities was a significant part of that. The Alerus Center vote, it passed.

Does that tell us anything about the progressiveness, the looking forwardness of the two communities? Have we learned anything at all from those two votes or am I reading maybe a little more into, I guess, my outlook about those two outcomes?

Dave Thompson

Take a look at the two votes and you take a look at the Alaris Center in Grand Forks. That's the big place where people congregate and it's a big convention hosting place as well. Those who wanted the Fargo Dome expansion said, yeah, really what the city should not have done is tear down their civic center downtown.

They should have put the convention center there. So there's that in the background as well. I was talking to the person from the CVB in Fargo, Moorhead, and he said, you know, that was a mistake we made as a city is putting everything at the Fargo Dome because if you're going to have boutique hotels downtown, you're going to have to bus people to a convention center.

Is that a good idea? Well, that's one of the issues I think there. Second, the vote happened just right before Christmas, which is probably not a good time to do that as people are thinking about Christmas shopping and things like that.

So I don't know if it really tells us or gives us a bigger picture of what might be happening in both cities.

Main Street

One thing that struck me, and I'm wondering if it struck you all, is there were under 8,000 votes cast in total in the Fargo election, 3,500 votes in the Alera Center, the Grand Forks election, which is an amazingly small number in my eyes. Has that been a concern of leaders?

Dave Thompson

I have been hearing a little bit of that, saying maybe they have to rethink things and schedule them in different times where people are not distracted by other things going on.

Main Street

All right, let's wrap up our first session here in our monthly news roundtable. We're pleased to be joined by Amy Dahlrimple. She's the editor-in-chief of the North Dakota Monitor.

Amy Wobbema, she is the owner of the New Rockford Transcript and Foster County Independent, and Dave Thompson, he's our news director right here at Prairie Public. We'll have more discussion about the year that was in news and maybe lead it off in our next segment with some good news that happened in North Dakota. That's coming up after this.

Stay with us.

Main Street

Welcome back to Main Street on Prairie Public. I'm Craig Blumenshine, enjoying our monthly conversation, our news roundtable with journalists from around the state. Today we have Amy Dalrymple.

She's the editor-in-chief of the North Dakota Monitor. Amy Wobbema, she's the owner of the new Rockford Transcript and Foster County Independent. And Dave Thompson, he's the news director right here at Prairie Public.

All right, I was hoping this would be an easy question, not sure that it was, but what is some good news that each of you got to share to either your readers or your listeners this year? Amy Dalrymple, let me start with you.

Amy Dalrymple

Yeah, thanks for the opportunity. The North Dakota Monitor just launched in December, so I had to go back a little bit further to think about a good story. When I was with the Bismarck Tribune this summer, we covered a really cool story at Standing Rock.

The Pearl Jam bassist, Jeff Amant, came to North Dakota to build a skate park for the community and along with some other organizations that he was connected with. It was a $250,000 skate park, and that also had some support from Nike that built some basketball courts for the community. And it was just a really fun story to get to cover.

The foundation or the nonprofit that is involved, they had built many skate parks in Montana, and this was the first one constructed in North Dakota.

Main Street

I actually got to drive by that. I think it was in late June is when the park was dedicated, and we were driving south. We ended up, because of family issues and new twins that were coming our way, having to turn and go east, and we actually drove right by that skate park, and I thought it was really cool, and it is a great story that happened this year in North Dakota.

All right, Amy W., what do you have on your plate as a good story that happened here this year?

Amy Wobbema

Well, I will start by saying that it was a little difficult because 2023 was a really hard news year, probably had the most hard news in our local headlines that I've seen in my eight years of publishing, but we got to end the year on a high note here in our local area, and so I wanna give a shout out to Bridger Anderson, Carrington Cowboy, a steer wrestler who competed in the NFR in Vegas in December.

So all of our local communities were tuned in for 10 straight days to watch him steer wrestle on the national and the worldwide stage. He won two rounds, and he won $120,000 in cash, and really made our local communities proud. So kudos, Bridger Anderson, and for giving us the opportunity to give some positive news in the newspaper.

Main Street

Isn't that a great role of sports, though, really, especially local sports, to give us that feel-good things that we often need?

Amy Wobbema

Yes, absolutely, an escape from reality. And that's, I mean, that's the best way I can explain it.

Main Street

And congratulations to him, for sure. Dave, what was some good news that you got to share with our listeners this year?

Dave Thompson

Well, I must make a point, because often a good news story has a really interesting character. And to me, it was the economic development director up in Mercer County, when they announced that the taconite mine is going to be sending stuff that's going to be made to build batteries for cars, that they're going to build a plant in Mercer County. That, coupled with the idea that these rare earth minerals are being found in coal deposits, actually makes a very good story, because it may mean that the U.S. could, and I'm going to underline the word could, be independent from having to get these rare earth minerals from overseas. And it's interesting, talking to this economic development director, he was very, very excited about what it might mean for the cities of Beulah and Hazen or Mercer County as a whole. So those are the kind of uplifting stories that are kind of neat. Now, this is the one for 23.

May I tell you about one I'm working on for 24? Good news is always welcome, Dave. And this one is about the Lake Sturgeon getting back to the Red River of the North.

And it is a Minnesota, North Dakota, and Manitoba story about how they worked with tribes in Minnesota to get the sturgeon replaced in the Red River system, the tributaries, and how it really has blossomed. And at Pembina, there's been a lot of sightings of Lake Sturgeon. So this is going to be a fun story.

Main Street

My advice to all of you is please, please, keep bringing us some good news every now and then. We'll look forward to it. A couple of stories that started in 2023 are going to be with us.

And some of these stories actually started earlier that I want you to comment about. Childcare first. North Dakota faces a critical childcare crisis.

That is well known. What is, what are the communities, your citizens doing to address that childcare crisis? And what also is more that needs to be done?

Amy Wobbema

Here in Foster and Eddy County, yeah, it's definitely been a challenge for several years. A good news story that actually happened in late 2022, or that started in late 2022 was that New Rockford, the city of New Rockford, and the economic development organization here, the New Rockford Area Betterment Corporation, they partnered with a local provider who was in her home, and they made the local, it's called the Brown Memorial Auditorium. So it's a local auditorium.

It was a Works Progress Administration project when it was originally built. And it's a community facility. And they turned that, a big portion of that building into a childcare facility.

And this individual is now leasing it and is completely full, filling a childcare need in the community. So great public-private partnership there. And it's great to see that evolve.

They just renewed the lease this past fall. So we know they're gonna be around for at least another year. And they seem to be doing really well.

In Foster County, they got a little, some relief as well in 2022 with the addition of another childcare center. And so I think things are, they're easing up a little bit, but the big challenge is, making these projects cashflow and making sure that they can continue to operate and that they have the workforce that they need, the providers to take care of these kids. I think it'll be interesting to see how these new centers, what that future looks like for them.

Main Street

It's often couched as a community development and an economic development issue. Amy Dalrymple, any reporting on the childcare issues that face North Dakota?

Amy Dalrymple

Yeah, well, as you recall, the state did approve a plan last year to try to address access and affordability. And so there are a lot of ongoing efforts, I think, to address this. I think anecdotally, I'm still hearing in Bismarck that people are still on waiting lists.

And so I think this is a challenge that's gonna take a while to overcome. And I think Amy Wobbema is correct that the workforce, finding the workers to fill these jobs is a big part of it. And so I think it'll be a story that will continue to follow for the next year, for sure.

Main Street

Any legislative work that needs still to be done relative to childcare, Dave?

Dave Thompson

Yes, as a matter of fact, there is an interim committee that is looking at the issue and further, what do they need to do to take it to the next level to make sure there is adequate childcare, affordable childcare available in all corners of the state. And I just want to say anecdotally that a couple of legislators say what the state should really do is look at what Watford City has done with childcare. They treat childcare as a utility.

And there is city support that goes into it along with state support and along with private support. So that's probably where we're headed.

Main Street

Very interesting concept, for sure. North Dakota still has some work to do relative to redistricting, and that will be a story in 2024. I'm guessing that each of you might have comments about that.

Dave, I'll start with you first.

Dave Thompson

Yeah, this has been interesting because the judge has said that if you, and he put a December 22nd deadline on it, says if you don't come up with something in a special session, I'm going to impose this. Well, that didn't happen. The 22nd deadline has passed.

There is a lawsuit challenging it based on an Eighth Circuit Court ruling, and it was, I believe it was a four to one ruling, saying that private entities can't bring these actions under the Voting Rights Act. It has to be a government. So that's one of the things they're hanging their hat on.

But yet, at this time, there's a lot of discussion on it. There's an interim committee that has already started working on a number of different plans to make sure that they have met the idea that Native American populations should not be thinned out in terms of their influence to have their own legislators.

Main Street

Amy D. or Amy W., any comments about the redistricting, I guess, issues that are still in front of the legislature and the state?

Amy Dalrymple

Yeah, well, we're just kind of waiting for the next action from the judge. And so depending on when this airs, there might be even more news that develops. I think depending on what happens, we could see impacts to this upcoming year's elections and so I think people are just real anxious to kind of see what the next step is.

Main Street

Go around the table here. Amy Dahlgren, we'll start with you first. What story is gonna occupy the most of your time in the coming year, do you think?

Amy Dalrymple

Well, I think just the election and issues related to the election, including redistricting like we just talked about and all the other races. And I think the measures in particular, if additional measures get added to the ballot, those will be definitely topics that we'll be spending a lot of time reporting on this year.

Main Street

Amy Wobbema?

Amy Wobbema

Well, we have two murder trials in front of us and so I know end of January with Patricia Wick and in February with Nicholas Poitra, at least the first part of the year will be extensively taken up with those two cases, but also definitely going into the election. We had our auditor in Eddy County resign and so there will be a special election to fill her seat this fall along with the general election more than likely. And then just with, we've talked about Governor Burgum and his was candidacy for president.

And I really think that this is going to be an eventful election year and with the ballot initiatives and the candidates and the personalities, I think definitely that will be taking a lot of our time.

Dave Thompson

Dave, what's gonna be on your plate? Well, to follow up on that, I think it'll be interesting to watch the local and state conventions to see how they're going to play out. There is some chatter among some party regulars in the Republican Party that legislators may not go to their local conventions and go immediately to the primary.

So that will be interesting because they want to avoid some of the issues that have happened in some of these local district conventions as well. And then the state convention, we had a preview of that a couple of years ago when Rick Becker ran against John Holvin for the nomination and Becker darn near knocked him off in the convention, but Holvin won in the primary by a long shot. So that will be worth watching, I think.

Main Street

All right, let's go around the room one more time, I ask each of you at the top of the show to contemplate whether North Dakota is in a better place today than it was a year ago as 2023 started. And Dave, I'll start with you with that question.

Dave Thompson

I am not too sure about that at this point. I think we're holding our own, but I don't know if we're in a better position than we have been in the past. There are still some uncertainties on the horizon about the farm bill and about energy prices and about what might happen to these carbon pipelines and what that might affect the economy.

Amy Wobbema, what do you think?

Amy Wobbema

Well, I'm the kind of person that when we've had a year like we've had in 2023, I like to believe that the only place we can go is up. So when I look back at the first day of 2023, I think I had a lot of, there was uncertainty then of what the year was going to bring and a lot of things have happened over the course of this year. That I really wanna say that we were probably- It's not an easy question.

In a place where we need some good news. We need some good news or more good news. And yes, some good things have happened.

The legislative session brought some good things. And so now we just see or we watch those things take hold and see, ask me that question in 365 days.

Main Street

Amy Dalrymple, what about you? What do you think? Is North Dakota in a better place today than it was a year ago?

You get the last word.

Amy Dalrymple

Okay, well, I mean, just getting back to the tax relief that we were talking about earlier, from that perspective, I think all of us are gonna start to enjoy a little bit of relief from the income tax relief and the property tax rebates. And so from that perspective, I think we are better off. I certainly am happy that there are less inches of snow on the ground compared to this time last year.

So I'll try to think of things to be optimistic about.

Main Street

I am very happy that's the case. Last year was our first winter here and this year is different and I'm okay with it. Our monthly review of the news, our monthly round table is concluding now.

Amy Dalrymple, she's the Editor-in-Chief of the North Dakota Monitor. Amy, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you.

And, Amy Wobbema, the owner of the New Rockford Transcript and Foster County Independent. Amy, it was great to visit with you.

Amy Wobbema

And you as well. Thank you so much for having me on.

Main Street

You're welcome. And Dave Thompson, our News Director. Dave, it's great to visit with you again.

And here's to everyone, to a great 2024. Thank you all for joining us.

Dave Thompson

Absolutely, thank you.

NOTE: AI generated this transcription and it may have errors. The audio is the official record of the show.