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 — Opposing sides of the court battling over North Dakota's voter identification laws will enter settlement talks later this month. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland granted a request Monday, May 7, from attorneys for several members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa for a settlement conference with the state of North Dakota. The judge set the conference for May 29 at the federal courthouse in Bismarck. "We'll see what happens," Republican Secretary of State Al Jaeger said.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System may have a new leader in place by the end of the month. The PERS Board extended a job offer to Scott Miller last month, interim executive director Sharon Schiermeister said Monday, May 7. Miller is the retirement program administrator for the city of Phoenix Employees' Retirement System, according to his LinkedIn page. Miller has accepted the offer, which is contingent on him passing a background check, Schiermeister said.
BISMARCK — A new form of gambling that has taken off in Minnesota is expected to populate North Dakota establishments in the coming months. North Dakota legislators last year legalized electronic pull tabs, the paper versions of which can already be found in dispensing devices and jars across the state. The electronic ones will take the form of a "cabinet" with a screen that players will use to "open" the pull tabs to reveal winning combinations of symbols.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Democrats pounced on the state Republican Party for promoting a poll that found only about a third of voters think Heidi Heitkamp deserves to be re-elected Thursday, May 3, the day of the funeral for the Democratic senator's mother. A Republican official, meanwhile, said the social media post was inadvertent. The poll, released by Morning Consult, found 44 percent approve of Heitkamp's performance, compared to 42 percent who disapprove. But only 35 percent said she should be re-elected, compared to 49 percent who said it's time for somebody new.
BISMARCK — The head of the North Dakota Trade Office said there are "still transactions happening" despite a report that China is "shunning" U.S. soybeans amid a trade dispute between the two countries. Bloomberg quoted the head of the world's largest oilseed processor Wednesday, May 2, as saying China is "very deliberately not buying anything from the U.S." and is shifting to other markets such as Brazil. But NDTO Executive Director Simon Wilson said Thursday he's heard that "it's actually pretty difficult for China to stop purchasing U.S. soybeans."
BISMARCK — North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer was among 18 House Republicans to nominate President Donald Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to "bring peace" to the Korean peninsula Wednesday, May 2. Cramer signed a letter that noted North Korea has announced it will suspend its nuclear and missile tests. During a historic meeting in South Korea last week, the leaders of the two countries said they would work to formally end the Korean War and toward the peninsula's "complete denuclearization."
BISMARCK — A federal judge forcefully slapped down North Dakota's efforts to fight his ruling that loosened the state's voter identification law Monday, April 30. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland denied the state's request to delay part of that ruling amid an appeal. The request focused on the April 3 order preventing the state from requiring that IDs include a "current residential street address," which Native American communities often lack.
BISMARCK — A federal judge properly dismissed a lawsuit brought by the former director of the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center, an appeals court said last week. Then-UND President Robert Kelley fired Gerald Groenewold in 2014 after alleging the longtime director provided false information about the EERC to the university and "created an inappropriate and abusive work environment," among other acts, according to an opinion published by the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Tuesday, April 24.
BISMARCK — North Dakota's oil and gas tax revenues have exceeded expectations so far this budget cycle, prompting tempered optimism from state lawmakers. Oil and gas tax collections surpassed $1.4 billion through April, 22.8 percent above forecasted totals. That's due to better-than-anticipated oil production and prices, according to a report sent to state lawmakers Friday, April 27. The report covered the first nine months of the biennium that started in July 2017. Revenue collections reflect oil production and prices from two months prior.
BISMARCK — U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp's mother died Sunday, April 29, at the age of 88, the North Dakota Democrat announced on Facebook. Doreen Heitkamp was "the rock of our family," the senator said in a Facebook post accompanying a family photo. She was a "school cook with a high school degree," but "she told us we would go to college and change the world," Heidi Heitkamp added. Heitkamp's post indicated her mother died after a battle with Parkinson's disease. Her father, Ray, died in 1982. Sunday was her parents' 66th wedding anniversary.