Politics & Government

ND Tax Dept.

The US Supreme Court will hear a case tomorrow (Tuesday, 4-17-18) that could force Internet retailers to start collecting state sales taxes.

The case comes from South Dakota.  It attempts to reverse the decision in the earlier “Quill” case from North Dakota. “Quill” sold office supplies through catalogs. The high court would not allow North Dakota and other states to require the collection of sales taxes from retailers that don’t have a physical presence in that state.  The justices ruled that it would be extremely difficult to collect sales taxes in different states.

City of Minot

The state Water Commission has reallocated just over $11 million from the flood protection efforts in the city of Minot to do work outside the city.

Construction on the first three phases of the project is underway in Minot.

Souris River Water Board representative Ryan Ackerman told the Water Commission the budget for those three phases was about $120 million.

"The bids came in roughly around $100 million," Ackerman said. "We had the savings of $20 million."

The state share is roughly 65 percent of that, or about $11 million.

Using electricity to produce ammonia

Apr 10, 2018

The project is called “Low Pressure Electrolytic Ammonia Production.”

And it has received support from the federal Department of Energy.

The key is to use electricity to produce ammonia. The Energy and Environmental Research Center at UND is partnering with UND’s Chemistry Department and NDSU Mechanical Engineering to look at ways of using electricity – specifically in this case, wind power – to produce ammonia.

"I guess it's electricity-agnostic," said EERC Chemist and researcher Ted Aulich. "It could be renewable, or from the grid. It doesn't matter."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A state Senator from Casselton is hoping the 2019 Legislature will keep the Public Service Commission’s rail safety program.

That program was set up as a pilot project. And it expires next year, unless the legislature re-authorizes it.

Sen. Gary Lee (R-Casselton) helped get the program approved by the Legislature.  He said he thinks the two inspectors have done good work.

"They will need to prove that to the Legislature," Lee said. "I do think they do good work, and have some things they do. I think we will be satisfied with the work they've done."

Cramer: Cool the 'hysteria' over Chinese tariffs

Apr 9, 2018
Rep. Cramer's office

The potential for Chinese tariffs on US agriculture products has some growers upset.

That’s especially true of soybean growers, because China is a very big customer.

China would impose those tariffs because the US is imposing tariffs on some Chinese goods, to try and chop into the US trade deficit with China.

Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), the GOP candidate for US Senate, said he thinks the hysteria needs to be ratcheted back.

10 apply for Board of Higher Education

Apr 5, 2018

Ten people have applied to be on the Board of Higher Education.

Two spots are available. One current board member whose term is up, Kevin Melicher of Fargo, has applied to serve a second four-year term.  Mike Ness was eligible for a second term, but did not apply.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The Public Service Commission has decided that Dakota Valley Electric Cooperative will provide power to a new grain handling facility being built near Mooreton in Richland County.

Minn-Kota Ag products is building that plant.  It will process 20,000 bushels of grain per hour, and has a storage capacity of 3 million bushels. It is scheduled to go on-line in June.

Minn-Kota had wanted Otter Tail Power Company to provide electricity to the new plant. But Dakota Valley objected, because the plant is in its service area.

North Dakota’s Insurance Department has begun a market conduct examination of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of North Dakota.

"I use the term loosely -- kinda looking under the hood, a little bit," said state Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread.

Godfread says if you look across the country, most major insurance companies get examined every three to five years.

"This isn't anything out of the ordinary," Godfread said. "It's one of my duties as Insurance Commissioner to ensure that our consumers are getting the services they're being promised."

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

North Dakota’s chief information officer says as the state becomes more computerized, the threats of computer hacking grow along with it.

"Lots of people say, 'North Dakota -- we're small, and nobody's coming after us," CIO Shawn Riley said at a meeting of elected and appointed state department heads. "On average, we defend 7.3 million attacks a month. They're comin' after us."

Riley said bad actors are looking at the state both for its energy and its network.

Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

Gov. Doug Burgum wants to see more collaboration among state agencies when it comes to building budgets.

Next month, Burgum will release his budget guidelines for state agencies for the 2019-2021 biennium. State agencies will build their budget requests based on those guidelines. But Burgum told representatives of agencies during a meeting in Bismarck Wednesday agencies sometimes have similar responsibilities, but their own budgets for certain programs and issues, such as addiction treatment. And he wants agencies to be more collaborative.