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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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.
An fictitious epidemic has broken out, and your group of eight companions must search a room in downtown Grand Forks for clues and solve puzzles to find the antidote. That's the premise of a new business, Grand Forks Escape Room, that's moving in this year at 100 N. Third St. It's an idea that has caught on in places such as Fargo, and owner Ashley Boswell said he hopes it will here as well. "They're very popular," she said. Grand Forks Escape Room will be open Thursday and Friday evenings as well as all day Saturday. Boswell is planning a grand opening on Aug. 4.
The news this week that BNSF Railway had parked about 45 locomotives in its Fargo trainyard provided another sign of continued slowdown in the freight rail industry. Industry observers blame lower coal shipments as a major reason for the shipment decline. BNSF, the largest railroad in North Dakota, reported its national volumes were down 6 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to last year, and coal shipments alone were down 33 percent. Its first quarter profits dropped 25 percent. But BNSF isn't the only railroad experiencing a downturn.
Republican Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has raised more than $500,000 this year in his effort to win the June primary election, campaign filings released Friday show. That's less than his opponent, Fargo businessman Doug Burgum, who has garnered large contributions from across the country. Stenehjem reported $512,596 in contributions in his preprimary report along with $27,300 in a separate statement filed Friday. He had $368,780 in cash on hand, and he started the year with almost $240,000, according to the Secretary of State's website.