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 attorney general said Friday, Dec. 30 that public entities should not reveal crime victims' addresses if they have asserted their rights under the newly passed constitutional provision known as Marsy's Law. In an opinion released Friday afternoon, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said while a victim's specific address is protected, Marsy's Law doesn't prevent law enforcement from releasing "general location information about criminal activity for purposes of public safety."
BISMARCK—Roz Leighton resigned as executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party earlier this month to take a job with the committee overseeing the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Leighton's new role as Cabinet affairs liaison with the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee involves coordinating events, travel logistics and "ensuring that there's a clear line of communication between the ... committee and the stakeholder groups," she said Thursday, Dec. 29.
BISMARCK — Motorists in North Dakota would be able to go a little faster on interstates under a bill introduced by a state lawmaker. Lonnie Laffen, a Republican state senator from Grand Forks, prefiled legislation to increase the speed limit on "access-controlled, paved and divided, multi-lane interstate highways" to 80 mph from 75 mph. He said it's an effort to allow drivers to be more efficient on the roads, and pointed out vehicles have become safer over time.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum took steps to separate himself from his various business interests ahead of taking office Thursday in an effort to avoid potential conflicts of interest, but the state's highest officeholder said he will retain investments related to two firms he founded.
A Grand Forks coffee shop is taking over for another on the south side of town. Bully Brew Coffee Co. and Roasters is moving its Columbia Mall location to the Dunn Brothers Coffee shop at 4571 S. Washington St. Bully Brew owner Sandi Luck hopes to open there Dec. 28. "We're not changing much over there," she said. "It fits what our culture looks like, so we're excited about that."
Minnkota Power Cooperative's Grand Forks headquarters is on the market with a hefty price tag of almost $12 million. The company is preparing to move to a new facility in southwest Grand Forks. That headquarters, located just west of the intersection of Interstate 29 and 32nd Avenue South, will be made up of two buildings totaling roughly 250,000 square feet, Minnkota officials previously told the Herald. Minnkota spokesman Kevin Fee said the company plans to start moving into the new facility Nov. 1 and complete the move by the end of next year.
Sitting behind his desk on a recent snowy morning, Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson described the recent spike in drug overdoses in personal terms. Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, took the life of one of his son's friends a couple of years ago. That death helped prompt a federal investigation into the drug's distribution. Nelson cited the experience of watching his son act as a pallbearer at Evan Poitra's funeral in arguing drug abuse isn't a "victimless crime." There are parents, friends and classmates who suffer.
More than 16,000 voter affidavits were filed in this year's general election, according to a survey of North Dakota county auditors. Less than two months before the Nov. 8 general election, a federal judge ordered North Dakota to provide the affidavit as an option to voters. The elimination of the affidavit option by a 2013 state law is part of a lawsuit brought against North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger by seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
North Dakota Gov.-elect Doug Burgum announced several impending Cabinet departures Monday, including the head of the state's largest agency, Department of Human Services Executive Director Maggie Anderson. But 11 of the 17 members of outgoing Gov. Jack Dalrymple's Cabinet will remain through the transition to the Burgum administration.
An appeals court affirmed a decision in favor of the clothing retailer Gap in its years-long lease dispute with Grand Forks' Columbia Mall last week. The Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court's judgement in favor of Gap, which argued it was not obligated to pay for heating, ventilation and air conditioning expenses, as well as common-area maintenance costs under its lease with Illinois-based GK Development.