Allen joined the Grand Forks Herald to cover local government and politics May 2018. Call her at 701-780-1102, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter, @Emily_theHerald.
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The Grand Forks area Chamber will no longer schedule legislative forums for 2019, according to Chamber President and CEO Barry Wilfahrt, who said the events were losing relevance. Since 2003 the Chamber has hosted several Saturday morning sessions at Grand Forks City Hall where constituents asked questions of their legislators, Wilfahrt said. Calling the forums "old-fashioned" and "out of style," Wilfahrt said the Chamber's board of directors made the decision in June.
North Dakota's all-Republican delegation is split on measures to oppose easing sanctions on three Russian companies. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer voted Wednesday against a Senate resolution to maintain the sanctions, while Rep. Kelly Armstrong was among 136 Republicans who voted Thursday in favor of a similar Democratic-backed effort in House.
North Dakota lawmakers have introduced a bill to increase liability limits for political subdivisions in the event one is found at fault for damage or harm. Bill sponsors say current limits aren't enough to cover hospital charges and other damages, while state officials dealing with insurance say raising limits could lead to higher premiums for city and county governments.
Former Grand Forks County State’s Attorney Peter Welte has been nominated by President Donald Trump to serve as U.S. District Court Judge for North Dakota. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., announced the nomination Wednesday afternoon. Welte would replace Judge Ralph Erickson, who was appointed to serve on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2018.
A motion to improve paving and drainage on a city-owned gravel parking lot died Tuesday night, with a majority of East Grand Forks City Council members saying it's time to get rid of the gravel altogether. The request from City Engineer Steve Emery to gather project cost estimates failed with opposition from council members Marc DeMers, Tim Riopelle, Tim Johnson and Clarence Vetter. Council member Dale Helms and President Mark Olstad voted in favor of the request, saying they'd rather see the quotes and make a decision on the parking lot afterward.
North Dakota will participate in the Federal Aviation Administration's Unmanned Traffic Management Pilot Program, according to an announcement from U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao on Monday. The Northern Plains UAS Test Site for drones and other unmanned aircraft in North Dakota is one of three sites involved in the program. Locations in Virginia and Nevada will also be involved.
The city of Grand Forks is taking its final steps toward collecting a hotel tax from Airbnb, an international hospitality company that lets travelers book lodging in private homes. City Council members looked over an agreement with the company Monday night before granting the document preliminary approval. The council will officially vote on the matter next Monday. Grand Forks already collects a 3 percent tax from local hotels and motels. Those funds go to the Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau, or CVB, to bolster local tourism and market area events.
The city of Grand Forks is taking its final steps toward collecting a hotel tax from Airbnb, an international hospitality company that lets travelers use online booking to stay in private homes. City Council members looked over an agreement with the company Monday night before granting the document preliminary approval. The council will officially vote on the matter next Monday, Jan. 21.
Grand Forks city officials will be in Bismarck Tuesday to testify for a bill that could give them and other eastern North Dakota governments reliable funding for infrastructure. The Prairie Dog Bill takes funds from oil and gas tax collections that non oil-producing cities, counties and airport districts can use toward infrastructure projects. Legislators have said the bill will guarantee continued appropriations for these entities.
Since a large cut in Local Government Aid appropriations in 2003, the Minnesota Legislature has slowly been putting money back into the budget, causing some local governments to notice small yearly increases in what they receive. LGA is funding the state sets aside each year from its general fund and gives to local governments. Minnesota cities receive LGA based on a statistical formula evaluating several factors, including property values, age of housing and strength of tax base.