John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.
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BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Department of Health unveiled eight regions for medical marijuana dispensaries that cover much of the state Thursday, Jan. 11. Each region consists of a 50-mile radius around eight cities: Fargo, Bismarck, Grand Forks, Minot, Williston, Dickinson, Jamestown and Devils Lake. State law allows the health department to register up to eight dispensaries.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota Department of Trust Lands continues to address problems identified in state audits released almost two years ago, the agency's new leader told legislators Wednesday, Jan. 10. Land Commissioner Jodi Smith, who took over late last year, updated the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee on the department's progress, but said many issues will require technology upgrades.
BISMARCK—North Dakota regulators ordered an investigation into how recently passed tax cuts will affect electric and gas utilities Wednesday, Jan. 10. The Public Service Commission also asked for information about the impact of federal tax reform by Feb. 15 from Great Plains Natural Gas Co., Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., Xcel Energy and Otter Tail Power Co. The investigation was prompted by a cut in corporate income tax rates, as that tax is one factor in determining electric and gas rates.
BISMARCK—North Dakota regulators will decide Wednesday, Jan. 10, whether to examine the new federal tax law's effect on utility rates and the prospect of customer refunds, which was raised by agency staff. In a Dec. 29 letter to Public Service Commission executive director, John Schuh, legal counsel for the PSC, noted the new law cuts the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent beginning in the 2018 tax year. He said corporate income tax is a "component of determining just and reasonable" electric and gas rates.
BISMARCK — A trial has been scheduled in the case of a Dakota Access Pipeline security firm that a North Dakota regulatory board alleged was operating in the state without a license during the monthslong protests. A five-day trial is set to begin Oct. 8 at the Burleigh County Courthouse, according to a scheduling order signed by District Judge John Grinsteiner Monday, Jan. 8.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Democrats asked for an ethics investigation Monday, Jan. 8, into a tweet from Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer's official account that discussed campaign polling, a move that the third-term congressman called "petty." The request to the Office of Congressional Ethics comes as Cramer weighs a run against Democratic incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. He expects to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.
BISMARCK — An attorney for the State Historical Society of North Dakota has acknowledged it's about $1 million short of paying a judgment awarded to a construction firm that led the expansion of the Heritage Center. Comstock Construction of Wahpeton, N.D., was awarded more than $1.4 million after a jury trial late last year that stemmed from a contract dispute with the state.
BISMARCK — Workplace deaths in North Dakota dipped to their lowest level in seven years in 2016, as Minnesota saw a spike in fatal incidents that year. North Dakota's 28 fatal injuries in 2016 were roughly in line with yearly totals before the surge in work brought on by the Bakken oil boom, according to figures released recently by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, workplace deaths peaked at 65.
BISMARCK—It remained unclear Thursday, Jan. 4, how U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to rescind guidance on marijuana enforcement may affect North Dakota's budding medical marijuana program, a state official said. Gov. Doug Burgum, meanwhile, said "North Dakota voters have spoken" on whether medical marijuana should be legal.
BISMARCK—A federal lawsuit filed this week accuses a California-based company of subjecting black employees to discrimination, retaliation, racist graffiti and harassment while they worked in western North Dakota. The lawsuit against KS Industries, LP, was filed Wednesday, Jan. 3, in U.S. District Court in California. It accuses the engineering, fabrication and construction company of violating federal civil rights and California fair employment laws and seeks back pay and benefits along with other damages.