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 $15 million donation the developer of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline gave to the state of North Dakota was "unusual" but benefitted taxpayers, a top Republican lawmaker said this week. The money is intended to help offset the heavy costs the state incurred for the response to the monthslong protests against the pipeline. In an interview Thursday, Oct. 5, Gov. Doug Burgum said the state has "no obligations whatsoever" for accepting the payment.
BISMARCK — As members of Congress scrutinize a firearm accessory found at the scene of the Las Vegas massacre, North Dakota's senators said they wanted to learn more about the devices Wednesday, Oct. 4. A "bump stock" is a legal accessory that uses a gun's recoil to accelerate its rate of fire. They were found on at least a dozen of the 23 firearms discovered in the wake of Sunday's shooting that killed 58 people and injured hundreds more, according to the Washington Post.
BISMARCK — A new wind farm is planned for southeast North Dakota. The 150-megawatt, $267 million project would be located southwest of Merricourt in Dickey County and would include up to 75 turbines, according to documents filed with the North Dakota Public Service Commission. Foxtail Wind, LLC, applied for a certificate of site compatibility in July. A public hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30 in Ellendale.
BISMARCK—Citing "fundamental disagreements" between regulators in North Dakota and Minnesota, Xcel Energy has proposed creating a separate company to serve its North Dakota electric customers.
BISMARCK—Citing uncertainty around federal subsidies for health insurers, Medica will not offer individual coverage through North Dakota's Affordable Care Act exchange in 2018, the state's insurance commissioner said Thursday, Sept. 28. Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, a Republican, said Medica's decision illustrates the instability of the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Still, he noted North Dakotans should still have options through Blue Cross Blue Shield and Sanford Health Plan.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota lawmakers took another step toward taking Gov. Doug Burgum to court over vetoes he handed down a few months ago. Legislative Management, a powerful interim committee, voted 12-4 Thursday, Sept. 28, to proceed with litigation over the vetoes, which came shortly after legislators adjourned in late April. Lawmakers said the move is an effort to clarify the roles of the legislative and executive branches of state government.
BISMARCK—The release of a 15-month-old survey criticizing Mark Hagerott's leadership was politically motivated, the North Dakota University System chancellor said Friday, Sept. 22. Sitting in his office on the 10th floor of the state Capitol, Hagerott said he has made changes in response to the staff survey, which was detailed in news reports Thursday and described him as having a "militaristic" leadership style and favoring men over women. He denied the latter charge.
BISMARCK—A construction slowdown in North Dakota is likely contributing to a decline in the number of call-before-you-dig complaints, a Public Service Commission staff member said this week. The commission netted just a handful of North Dakota One Call complaints in the first few years after it began receiving them in 2009. But that quickly jumped to 47 and 48 in 2014 and 2015, respectively, before dropping to just 18 last year and six so far this year, according to Victor Schock, public utility analyst for the commission.
BISMARCK—North Dakota's first lady hopes to spark a "grassroots campaign" with the launch of a new conference on addiction next week. "We thought it would be a great way for us to start down the path of helping to reduce the shame and stigma surrounding addiction," said Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, the wife of Gov. Doug Burgum.
BISMARCK—The chairman of the North Dakota higher education board said Thursday, Sept. 21, that board leadership stands by University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott after the release of a 2016 staff survey that described him as a "militaristic" and "controlling" leader who treats men with more respect than women.