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General News

Minot to appeal FEMA flood map decision

Feb 21, 2020

The Minot City Council has decided to appeal FEMA’s decision to change the flood maps for the city – a change that could force more Minot residents to buy flood insurance.

Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma said originally, FEMA’s flood maps used a 5000 cubic foot per second flow – which he said is essentially the normal Mouse River flow. But he said FEMA has changed its hydrology, so that it uses a 10,000 cfs flow rate, meaning more people would have to buy the insurance.

From a driver's license to a clam dealer's permit.

Those are some of the hundreds of fees on the books in North Dakota state government.

And the state Auditor’s Office has just completed a performance audit of those fees.

The study had been suggested by Mandan Senator Dwight Cook, who chaired the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee. State Auditor Josh Gallion said once he heard about the study, he was all for it.

"We focus a lot on the expenditure side," Gallion said in an interview. "To me, that's only one-half of the coin."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota Mineral Resource director Lynn Helms believes the state will soon meet the Industrial Commission’s goals for natural gas capture.

The goal was to capture 88 percent of the gas, starting last November. But as of December, the rate was only 84 percent.

In his recent "Director's Cut" briefing, which covered December production, Helms said he is optimistic that the 88 percent capture goal will be met – and it’s possible that may have happened in January.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission says she’s hoping to draft an order that could satisfy the concerns of the developer of a proposed wind farm in northern McLean County, as well as follow state law concerning light mitigation technology.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The monthly “Director’s Cut,” featuring December oil and gas production  numbers, was released on Valentine’s Day.

"Unfortunately, not a lot of candy and roses in the report," North Dakota Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms told reporters. "It's a bit of a downer."

In December, the state produced 1,475,685 barrels of oil a day.  One month earlier, the state set a record for production -- 1,519,037 barrels a day.

"We saw about a 3 percent drop," Helms said.

Agreement reached over 'tribal IDs' and voting

Feb 14, 2020

A settlement has been reached in the lawsuit Spirit Lake, Standing Rock and other tribes brought against North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger over tribal IDs and other ballot access concerns.

The suit centered around the state’s ID requirements for voting. State law says a valid ID must have a person’s name, date of birth and physical address.  The tribes said many of their reservation residents only had a post office box number, not a street address.

MDU Resources, Inc

MDU wants to add a second natural gas unit to the Heskett plant, north of Mandan.

It would be an 88 megawatt unit, and will serve as a “peaking” unit. That's the same as the other unit.

"You can ramp it up pretty quickly, when you need the power during a peak time," said MDU spokesperson Marh Hanson.

Officials with AARP say the on-going battle to reign in prescription medications is reaching a key point…

Reporter Todd McDonald has details…

North Dakota’s Tax Commissioner says so far, state income tax filings are a little ahead of last year.

Ryan Rauschenberger said to date, around 66,000 returns have been filed, compared with 57,000 last year at this time. Rauschenberger said 98 percent of those have been e-filed. And he said the refunds are running about the same as last year – averaging about $174 per return.

Rauschenberger said his department is continuing its focus on fraud protection.

New EPA Lead and Copper rule has ND cities concerned

Feb 11, 2020
City of Bismarck

A number of North Dakota cities are expressing concerns about a new EPA rule concerning lead in drinking water.

Fourteen cities – and the North Dakota League of Cities – are weighing in with the EPA.

As it stands, the municipality is in charge of the water mains, and homeowners own the service lines from the water main into the house. The new EPA rules would give the municipality jurisdiction over those service lines.