John Hageman covers local business and North Dakota politics. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Bemidji Pioneer.
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With the North Dakota budget in rough shape, officials are glad for any boost to state coffers. That includes the modest bump from the North Dakota Mill and Elevator that towers over north Grand Forks. The mill, the only such state-owned operation in the country, contributes millions every year to the North Dakota budget. But as President and General Manager Vance Taylor points out, the mill is financially self-sufficient.
A longtime coffee shop on South Columbia Road in Grand Forks has been sold. Sandi Luck purchased the Coffee Co. at 2100 S. Columbia Road. That business is now going by the moniker Bully Brew Coffee Co. & Roasters. "We didn't do a whole lot of changes except for put some cozy chairs in there and hang a couple pictures of bulldogs," Luck said, referring to the Bully Brew theme. "Most of it is exactly the same."
Northwest Minnesota cities are taking steps to attract craft breweries, an industry that has caught on in metropolitan areas but has also found success in small towns across the state.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem pitched proposals Friday to reduce recidivism in North Dakota and increase access to behavioral health treatment services as a way to save the state money in the long term, but acknowledged the ideas will carry some up-front costs. Stenehjem, a Republican candidate for North Dakota governor, pointed to sizeable increases in state spending on corrections over the past decade as proof that the system needs change. He visited with the Herald editorial board Friday with his running mate, state Sen. Nicole Poolman, R-Bismarck.
A North Dakota business leader and Republican lawmakers criticized a new federal rule Thursday that would expand the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. The rule, finalized this week by the U.S. Department of Labor, would raise the threshold under which most salaried employees are guaranteed overtime pay from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. All hourly employees are generally guaranteed overtime, according to a White House fact sheet.
There's been some speculation over the years about what Grand Forks businessman and civic leader Hal Gershman would do with his family business, Happy Harry's Bottle Shops. Gershman has put that question to rest, and told the Herald details of a meeting he had with a number of employees a few months ago. "I said, 'There's been a lot of speculation. I sold the business. I'd like you to meet the new owners—look at each other,'" he said. "Many of them got it."
Almost a year after passing the Senate, a bill creating a commission to study the issues facing Native American children sponsored by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., went before a House committee Wednesday. The bill would establish an 11-member commission within the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Tribal Justice, according to a memo. The bill passed the Senate unanimously in June 2015.
Democrats in Minnesota's Senate District 1 have endorsed attorney Kip Fontaine to run for the state Senate and represent Minnesota's northwestern counties. Fontaine was announced Saturday as the Democrats' pick to succeed longtime state Sen. LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, who will retire after this legislative session after more than three decades in office.
Grand Forks city and economic development officials discussed Monday the future of a city-owned space that's currently rented by Internet retail giant Amazon. Amazon said earlier this year it would move its Grand Forks customer service employees to a home-based model. It also informed the city that it would exercise its right to terminate the lease at 1400 S. 48th St. three years early, after Sept. 30, 2018. "(Amazon's) notice also stated a desire to work cooperatively on decommissioning and re-leasing the space," a city memo states.
The battle for one of North Dakota's U.S. Senate seats didn't end when former Gov. William Langer was elected in 1940. When Langer, a Republican, showed up in the Washington, D.C., to be sworn in early 1941, he was informed that a group of North Dakotan citizens had petitioned for him to be denied the seat. They cited his "financial misconduct" as governor for grounds for denial, and a majority of committee members reviewing Langer's actions later agreed.