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 North Dakota insurance commissioner urged a California official this week to cease an initiative that calls for insurance companies to divest from coal. Jon Godfread, a Republican, sent the letter with officials from five other states to California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Wednesday, June 21, according to a news release.
BISMARCK—North Dakota legislators set the groundwork Wednesday, June 21, to take Gov. Doug Burgum to court over vetoes they worry may erode their authority to write laws. Legislative Management voted unanimously to proceed with litigation, but another vote will take place before any lawsuit is filed, said Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, who chairs the panel. Still, the move signals a looming battle between two branches of state government could soon play out in front of the Supreme Court.
BISMARCK—Two-hundred state employees applied for a buyout in recent weeks, North Dakota budget officials said Wednesday, Jun 21. The results of the "voluntary separation incentive program" were announced during a meeting of the Legislature's Budget Section at the state Capitol. Pam Sharp, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said 158 of the 200 applicants for the program were accepted.
BISMARCK—Opponents of a hog farm near Buffalo, N.D., will take their case to the state's highest court Thursday, June 22. The case stems from the North Dakota Department of Health's August 2016 decision to grant a permit to Rolling Green Family Farms for a 9,000-swine factory farm to be built in rural Cass County, about 40 miles west of Fargo. A district court judge affirmed the agency's decision in March, prompting the appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court. Arguments are set to begin at 2:45 p.m. Thursday.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem urged federal regulators this week to define "waters of the United States" in a way that preserves the states' roles in protecting water. The Republican signed a letter with 19 other attorneys general that was sent to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt Monday, June 19. The EPA is reviewing the Waters of the United States rule, an Obama-era regulation that sought to clarify which small waterways are protected by the Clean Water Act.
BISMARCK — A progressive advocacy group said Tuesday, June 20, it has placed a billboard in Bismarck to urge Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., to avoid working with Republicans on major health care legislation. CREDO Action said it placed the digital billboard, which asks Heitkamp to "#ResistTrumpCare," between the Bismarck airport and Heitkamp's home. It produced similar billboards for two other moderate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.
BISMARCK—North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum overstepped his constitutional authority on several recent vetoes, the attorney general said in an opinion released Monday, June 19. Wayne Stenehjem's opinion, requested by the House and Senate majority leaders last month, comes two days before a legislative committee is scheduled to discuss how to address several vetoes the first-term governor issued after the legislative session ended in late April.
BISMARCK — Questions about privacy and public safety hovered over arguments at the North Dakota Supreme Court on Monday, June 19 in a Cass County DUI case that may test a decision handed down by the nation's highest court last year. The arguments came nearly a year to the day after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of warrantless breath tests in drunk driving cases but said the Fourth Amendment doesn't permit warrantless blood tests, a more invasive procedure. The ruling came out of three consolidated cases under the title Birchfield v. North Dakota.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem has joined a bipartisan group of attorneys general to investigate drug companies' marketing and sale of opioids in the midst of an epidemic of overdose deaths, his office announced Friday, June 16. Drug overdose deaths have jumped sharply in North Dakota and elsewhere in recent years. Opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, killed a record 33,000 people in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
BISMARCK — A project connecting Bobcat's manufacturing facility in Gwinner, N.D., to natural gas service took a step forward Friday, June 16. The Public Service Commission approved a certificate of "public convenience and necessity" along with a Montana-Dakota Utilities' transportation service agreement with Bobcat. MDU will provide natural gas through a 12-inch, 21-mile pipeline that will tap into the Alliance Pipeline northeast of Milnor, according to a PSC press release.