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Sen. John Hoeven meets with Devils Lake leaders to discuss inflation, health care

The meeting was attended by the city’s new mayor Jim Moe, North Dakota State Rep. Dennis Johnson, members of the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce, Ramsey County commissioners, representatives from Lake Region State College and former Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson.

Former Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson, Lake Region State College President Doug Darling, current Mayor Jim Moe, Sen. John Hoeven and other city leaders talked about inflation, health care and agriculture at the roundtable meeting in Devils Lake on June 29.
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DEVILS LAKE – U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., met with city and county leaders in Devils Lake on Wednesday, June 29, to discuss energy, inflation and health care issues in the city.

The meeting was attended by the city’s new mayor Jim Moe, North Dakota State Rep. Dennis Johnson, members of the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce, Ramsey County commissioners, representatives from Lake Region State College and former Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson.

At the meeting, Hoeven linked the rising prices of goods and services back to energy production, and said federal regulations have restricted North Dakota’s energy producing abilities.

“There’s an energy component to any product or service that you get, and the irony is the administration really put the handcuffs on our producers,” he said.

He said bringing down energy prices by tapping into North Dakota's energy potential, including coal, oil and natural gas reserves, with less regulation would lower prices for consumers, farmers and ranchers.


“We’re going to continue to push on that every way that we can,” said Hoeven.

Hoeven is working to advance legislation like his American Energy Independence from Russia Act, which aims to increase U.S. energy production, by authorizing construction and operation of the Keystone XL pipeline and reducing regulation on liquefied natural gas exports.

Rather than continue to invest in the aging building, which was completed in 1937, the Devils Lake School Board determined the best use of taxpayer money would be to invest in a new middle school building. Not everyone agrees.

Hoeven also expressed his continued support in helping Devils Lake establish a unified health care system. Right now in Devils Lake, CHI Health owns the hospital, while Sanford Health and Altru Health System both have clinics in town and have expressed an interest in remaining in the community long term.

“We have a lot of demand for services, but they have a financial disincentive to work with each other, and the only people caught in the middle are people that are seeking care,” said Spencer Halvorson, city administrator.

According to Halvorson, the nearby Spirit Lake Tribe has stepped up as a community partner in health care. On June 10, Johnson met with Spirit Lake Nation Chairman Doug Yankton, U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Gov. Doug Burgum to discuss health care, among other topics.

Dick Johnson, whose last day as mayor was June 28, had been working to secure a unified health care model in Devils Lake, and updated Hoeven on his efforts. He said an interested provider may buy land for a new health care facility with a hospital, clinic and wellness center, with an announcement coming later in the week if the deal goes through. He declined to name the company involved with the looming deal.

“We’re on a good path,” Johnson said. “We’ll know a lot more within a couple of days for sure.”

Hoeven discussed his support for agricultural producers through last year’s drought, this year’s spring flooding and ongoing supply chain and shipping disruptions.


“It’s North Dakota — our producers always have to face weather issues, so as a result of the drought and then excess moisture in some places, not a good thing, we have secured assistance for farmers and ranchers,” said Hoeven.

This funding is the Emergency Relief Program and the Emergency Livestock Relief Program, which are both currently distributing $10 billion in agriculture disaster aid to farmers and ranchers affected by last year’s drought.

Hoeven was also a sponsor of the recently passed Ocean Shipping Reform Act, which aims to update federal ocean shipping regulations and help American producers export products, and has been pressing the Surface Transportation Board and rail companies to resolve rail service disruptions that impact farmers in the region.

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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