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 — North Dakota budget director Pam Sharp will retire next month after more than three decades in state government, Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday, Oct. 30. Sharp, the Office of Management and Budget director, "will assist in a temporary position throughout the transition to new leadership," according to a news release. Her retirement is effective Nov. 30, capping off a career that saw North Dakota’s fiscal fortunes swing dramatically in recent years.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger will serve almost a year of unsupervised probation under a plea agreement reached last week for his drunk driving arrest. Rauschenberger was arrested by a Highway Patrol officer late last month in Mandan for driving under the influence of alcohol, a Class B misdemeanor. A breath test indicated he had a .206 percent blood alcohol content, more than twice the legal limit.
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE — Vice President Mike Pence lauded airmen here as the country's "backbone" while highlighting the base's role in deterring threats from abroad Friday, Oct. 27. The base Pence visited is the only one in the country with two nuclear missions, with B-52 bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles. He said the Trump administration "will make sure that our nuclear deterrent is stronger than ever before" and declared that the "the era of budget cuts to the American military are over."
BISMARCK—Amid lingering uncertainty over federal health care policy, North Dakota's insurance commissioner said Thursday, Oct. 26, Sanford Health Plan will remain on the state's Affordable Care Act individual exchange next year, but only in some counties. Sanford's TRUE plan will be available on the exchange for residents of Cass, Traill, Burleigh, Morton and Oliver counties. Its Simplicity plan will be available statewide off the exchange.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota Senate's chief budget writer said this week the $400,000 in severance paid to employees of the state's now-defunct tobacco prevention agency "continued a pattern of abuse" that helped justify its elimination. State lawmakers voted to repeal the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, known as BreatheND, earlier this year. Nine employees received severance for six months of pay and for the cost of six months of health insurance, totaling $400,739, said Pam Sharp, the Office of Management and Budget director.
BISMARCK—The state Supreme Court has denied a petition for a rehearing filed by opponents of a proposed hog farm near Buffalo, N.D. The denial, issued late last month, doesn't end the fight over the Rolling Green Family Farms project, the opponents' attorney Derrick Braaten said Tuesday, Oct. 24. But he said they likely won't pursue federal court over the matter.
BISMARCK — Amid declining shipments, the rail industry is phasing out "less-safe" tank cars carrying crude oil ahead of rapidly approaching deadlines to do so. The federally mandated deadlines to remove the DOT-111 tank cars from oil service came after several high-profile derailments involving Bakken crude. That included the deadly Lac-Megantic, Quebec, disaster in 2013 and the explosion near Casselton, N.D., later that year.
BISMARCK — Actions taken by state agencies will help make a live-saving opioid overdose antidote more widely available in North Dakota, a state human services official said Friday, Oct. 20. The moves come under an executive order signed by Gov. Doug Burgum in late September and represent further efforts to prevent opioid overdose deaths, which have skyrocketed around the country in recent years. The governor's order was focused on naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdose symptoms in an emergency.
BISMARCK — North Dakota newspaper officials are worried about a "general tightening" of government meetings and records this year, a pattern highlighted by reporters being kept out of recent summits on the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project. "It just seems like there's a general trend in government that used to be very much in favor of transparency now isn't," said Jack McDonald, attorney for the North Dakota Newspaper Association.
BISMARCK—North Dakota's insurance commissioner will deny additional health insurance rate increases after President Donald Trump's decision to cut off subsidies to insurers, the state insurance department said Tuesday, Oct. 17. The decision means the previously approved rates released earlier this month will stand. Premiums will increase by between 7.9 percent and 22.6 percent next year for North Dakota customers covered under the federal health care exchange.