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General News

State MMIS system now certified

Jun 6, 2019

After 10 years and millions of dollars, one of the state’s biggest IT projects has now been certified.

It’s called the “Medicaid Management Information System.”

"It was quite the project," said the assistant Medicaid director for the state Department of Human Services, Erik Elkins.

The MMIS system processes claims and pays providers.

"The entire process is to provide a better, more economical and more efficient system," Elkins said. "That should help both providers and recipients."

Armstrong introduces Justice Reinvestment bill

Jun 6, 2019

US Rep Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) has introduced a bill to put the Justice Reinvestment Initiative into federal code.

It’s a program from the Department of Justice. It makes grants to states, cities and tribes to study what drives crime, and to invest in strategies to reduce recidivism.

Armstrong said Justice Reinvestment Initiative is a targeted grant program, with money going to local law enforcement.

"Ninety-five percent of all criminal justice happens at the city, county or state level," Armstrong said. "The federal government can't solve the problem from DC."

Minot State University

It’s the first of its kind in North Dakota, and only the second such program in the country.

Minot State University will offer a major in “medicinal plant chemistry.”

Think medical cannabis.

Minot State Chemistry Professor Chris Heth said most often, marijuana is either smoked or eaten.

"And then you get everything in the plant," Heth said. "That's not always desirable."

THC is the main chemical that provides the psycho-active effects. Heth said there are other compounds that may do some useful things, or do nothing.

Basin Electric Power Cooperative

A study shows power companies serving the Bakken will need to find another 1000 megawatts to serve the continued growth in the area.

The study was done by Bismarck-based Barr Engineering for the North Dakota Transmission Authority.

"I'm quite excited about the results of the study," said Authority director John Weeda. "Most utilities around the country would be excited to have this kind of growth."

Weeda said North Dakota utilities are ready and anxious to meet that need.

Weeda said the study cites a number of factors leading to that load growth.

Job seekers get second chance

Jun 4, 2019
T.McDonald / Prairie Public

On Thursday of this week the cities of Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck will be hosting a “Second Chance Job Fair.” Prairie Public's Todd McDonald has details...

Aldevron plans major expansion

Jun 4, 2019

A Fargo company which started from research on the NDSU campus has announced a major expansion.

Aldevron is a biotech firm. It currently employs 300 people. It will be building three new buildings at its Fargo campus, adding another 189,000 square feet of space, to support the growing field of genetic medicine. When complete, Aldevron will employ more than 1000 people.

The company produces synthetic nucleic acids, and supports gene editing, gene therapy and cell therapy applications.

School may be out for summer - but this fall, students attending classes in West Fargo may be hitching a ride to school on the district's brand new all electric school bus.

Kline retiring from ND Housing Finance agency

Jun 3, 2019
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The executive director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency will be retiring July first.

Jolene Kline has been with the agency 34 years, and has been the executive director since 2013.

"I think we have expanded our role within the state, and we have become the go-to agency for housing," Kline said. "When the agency was created, it was created to promote home ownership. We've expanded that."

Kline said the agency is now serving all of the people of North Dakota, making sure every segment of the population has access to affordable, safe housing.

DEQ getting advisory committee, new authority

Jun 3, 2019
Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

One of the items the new state Department of Environmental Quality could be taking over is a program known as “Quad Oh,” or “Quad Zero.”

That’s the federal term for it.

DEQ director Dave Glatt said that program affects a number of industries, but primarily oil and gas. He says it deals specifically with air quality.

"We will be taking reports from industry, but we also will be going out in the field, and 'ground-truthing,'" Glatt said. "If they're saying they have no emissions, we'll have inspectors out there to see if that's the truth."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota has a new cabinet agency.

It’s called the Department  of Environmental Quality. It was created by moving the Division of Environmental Quality out of the state Health Department.

The new agency has 160 employees. It will be responsible for such things as air and water quality.

"We're going to continue to do what we've done in the past," said DEQ director David Glatt. "Common-sense environmental protection for the citizens of the state, using science and the law, and great professionals to make sure it happens."