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—State regulators want to sit down with company officials behind a proposed oil refinery in western North Dakota to understand why they're not going through the Public Service Commission's siting process. The commission has scheduled a meeting for Dec. 19 regarding Meridian Energy Group's plans for a refinery in Billings County near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Company CEO Bill Prentice plans to attend.
BISMARCK — A federal judge ordered the developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday, Dec. 4, to work with two American Indian tribes on an oil spill response plan for the project's Lake Oahe crossing.
BISMARCK -- An intraparty race for North Dakota Secretary of State may be in the works. Will Gardner, chairman of the District 34 Republicans, is scheduled to address a committee of the North Dakota Republican Party later this month in Minot as a “candidate for Secretary of State,” according to an agenda obtained by Forum News Service. That would set up a challenge to the longtime Republican incumbent Al Jaeger, who said Monday morning, Dec. 4, he planned to run again. He was first elected in 1992.
BISMARCK - North Dakota’s senators split their votes early Saturday, Dec. 3, on the Republican overhaul of the tax code. Sen. John Hoeven sided with almost all of his fellow Republicans to pass the bill in a 51-49 vote. The bill still needs to be reconciled with a House version that passed a couple of weeks ago before heading to President Donald Trump’s desk.
BISMARCK—The list of potential Republican challengers to U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp narrowed Friday, Dec. 1, when Border States Electric CEO Tammy Miller said she would not run against the incumbent Democrat.
BISMARCK—The number of newly diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS in North Dakota has steadily climbed over the past five years, the state Department of Health said Friday, Dec. 1. In 2012, there were 16 such cases. But that rose to 50 by 2016, said Shari Renton, the department's HIV surveillance coordinator. Renton said there have been more reports of anonymous sex, but she said "it could also just be that more people are getting tested," bumping up the number of reported cases.
BISMARCK — Years before she became the state budget director, Pam Sharp's time in the North Dakota Auditor's Office helped her understand the inner workings of government agencies. "I liked public service," she said from her office on the fourth floor of the state Capitol. "But I decided that if I wanted to move up in state government, I needed a broader view of how state government works."
BISMARCK — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp expressed serious concerns about the Republican tax plan moving through the Senate Thursday, Nov. 30, but said she is still pushing for changes to improve the bill as a floor vote approached. Heitkamp, a Democrat facing reelection next year in a heavily conservative state, joined the rest of her party in voting against a motion to proceed with consideration of the bill Wednesday. Asked in an interview if she ultimately planned to vote for it, she outlined several changes she's pursuing, including a smaller cut in the corporate tax rate.
BISMARCK — North Dakota utility regulators approved a new five-mile electric transmission line in the Fargo area Wednesday, Nov. 29, that they hope will improve Xcel Energy's reliability. The three-member Public Service Commission issued a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the 115-kilovolt line connecting two substations on the city's north side. It will largely follow an existing rail line from west of Interstate 29 to southwest of the North Dakota State University campus. The project is too small to require a siting process.
BISMARCK — An effort to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in North Dakota is underway. David Owen of Grand Forks delivered a proposed petition to initiate a ballot measure to the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office Tuesday, Nov. 28. State officials must now draft a petition title and review the format before it can be circulated for signatures. Organizers hope to have the statutory measure on the November 2018 ballot.