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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UND student leaders are trying to get the word out to their classmates about North Dakota's voter identification requirements, which have changed several times over the past few years with legislative revisions and a more recent legal challenge. "There has been confusion," UND Student Body President Brandon Beyer said. Beyer sent out an email to UND students last week with information from the Secretary of State's office in an effort to alert students about what they need to do in order to vote.
Doug Burgum, the Republican candidate for North Dakota governor, said Tuesday he may be open to reauthorizing the state's Medicaid expansion, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act. The North Dakota Legislature passed a Medicaid expansion bill in 2013. The program is available to people between the ages of 19 and 65 years old with household incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, according to the North Dakota Department of Human Services.
An office building on U.S. Highway 2 in East Grand Forks was torn down Tuesday to make room for a new one in its place. Todd Gregoire, owner of Todd's Trailer Sales and Rental, said a new office building and shop will replace the demolished structure. The business is located at the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Business Highway 2. Its Facebook page said the business provides storage for companies and people moving to a new home. Gregoire's business rents and sells trailers, and the new service shop will allow him to repair them as well.
A mailer from the North Dakota Republican Party circulating in Grand Forks' District 18 contains a couple of glaring errors about Democratic Rep. Corey Mock. The mailer misspells Mock's first name as "Cory" in four different places, and it refers to him as a "freshman member of the minority party," although Mock is in his second term after first being elected to the North Dakota Legislature in 2008. He is currently the Assistant Minority Leader in the North Dakota House, according to his legislative biography, and he ran for North Dakota Secretary of State in 2010.
An infant died last week of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, after being found unresponsive at a Grand Forks day care, according to an obituary in Monday's Herald. Gunnar Matthew Steen, who was almost 7 months old, died Friday at Sanford Children's Hospital in Fargo after being found unresponsive Thursday afternoon at Hopeful Beginnings on 17th Avenue South.
Grand Forks city and legislative leaders are seeking to ensure state funding for a new water treatment plant comes through next year. North Dakota lawmakers passed a spending bill last year that said it was their "intent" to fund half of the plant's construction costs with $30 million grants in both the 2015-17 and 2017-19 budget cycles. The State Water Commission awarded the first $30 million earlier this month.
Grand Forks state Rep. Kylie Oversen, the chairwoman of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, denounced violence taking place at the protest over the Dakota Access oil pipeline this week, as her Republican opponents questioned her previous statements of support for the protest Friday.
With Halloween quickly approaching, a handful of customers perused the aisles of Party City in south Grand Forks Thursday in search of a last-minute costume for the upcoming holiday. Halloween shoppers plan to spend an average of $82.93 this year, according to the National Retail Federation, which is up from last year's $74.34 in spending. Total Halloween spending is expected to reach $8.4 billion, the highest in the 11-year history of the survey.
The Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority appears to be close to finalizing a deal with FedEx to terminate its leases with the company. The authority meeting agenda indicated the board would vote on an offer from FedEx Thursday, but Executive Director Ryan Riesinger said the two sides are still hammering out the details of a deal. "They agreed, to an extent, with our numbers on our last offer," he said. "However, it's not final yet until that termination agreement is complete."
Previously reported plans for an Old Chicago restaurant in Grand Forks apparently have been scrapped. Joe Cody, CEO of Border States Management in Willmar, Minn., said he has no current plans to develop an Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom in Grand Forks. "We looked at it at one time but didn't find a suitable site," he said this week. The Herald reported in October 2011 that Border States was planning an Old Chicago here. But two months later, a Border States official said the restaurant was not "on the development radar" for at least the first half of 2012.