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General News

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.

Human Service 'zones' in place, functioning

Feb 11, 2020

The executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties believes a redesign of county social services is going very well.

As of the first of the year, 19 “human service zones” have been created. Four of those zones are single counties – Cass, Burleigh, Grand Forks and Ward – and the rest are collapsed into units of two to six counties.

"All the employees have transferred to the host county," said Association executive director Terry Traynor. He said while it's a good start, there is a long way to go before everything is completed.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A group is working to increase the Native American vote in North Dakota.

North Dakota Native Vote was actually started in 2018, to try and fight the state’s new election law, that required everyone who votes to have a physical address. Many people on the reservations only had a post office box.

A federal judge upheld the law. Now the group is hoping to work to make sure those who are eligible to vote get to cast that vote.

Gov. Doug Burgum’s call for 50 percent of the proceeds of the state’s Legacy Fund to be reinvested back into the fund is sparking a lot of discussion among state Legislators.

"There will be no question that we will be reinvesting some of the Legacy earnings," said Sen. Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "But what that percent will be, I don't know."

Wardner said other lawmakers have suggested as high as a 75 percent reinvestment.

"I've been scratching around, and penciling," Wardner said. "I'm kind of around the 40 percent mark."

The leader of an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota is confident his group will have enough signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.

David Owen of Grand Forks chairs “Legalize N-D.” His group needs 13,452 valid petition signatures by July 6th.

Owen said petition circulation began January 6th. He said the group has already collected between 1400 and 2000 signatures.

"We are on schedule," Owen said in an interview. "And we'll be on the November ballot, assuming everything goes well."

A one day workshop was held in Bismarck to talk about the 2020 Census.

It was sponsored by the North Dakota Census 2020 Task Force – and was dubbed “We’re Counting on You.”

North Dakota Census Office manager Kevin Iverson said the purpose of the workshop was for everyone to learn how the Census will be conducted, and specifically what happens when people don’t respond. Iverson said in 2010, the results were seen as incomplete.

Great Plains Food Bank receives record donation.

Feb 3, 2020
T.McDonald / Prairie Public

It’s being described as the largest single donation ever for the Great Plains Food Bank.  Reporter Todd McDonald has details...

It appears money from the “Prairie Dog” infrastructure bill will be available earlier than expected.

The bill was passed in the 2019 Legislature. It provides money to non-oil producing cities, counties and townships, funded through the state’s oil taxes.

The “Prairie Dog” Bill allocates $115 million to cities, $115 million to counties and townships, and $20 million to airports. It is aimed at “essential” infrastructure projects.

In 2018, the National Guard’s tuition assistance program nearly ran out of money.

The state’s Emergency Commission approved a temporary funding plan – and the 2019 Legislature increased the amount for the current two year period.

"Recruiting is up in both the Air and the Army Guard," said North Dakota National Guard Adjutant General Alan Dohrmann.

Dohrmann said the retention of Guard personnel has always been great.

"We have great citizen soldiers and airmen," Dohrmann said. " We make a huge investment in these folks' training."