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—Amid lingering uncertainty over federal health care policy, North Dakota's insurance commissioner said Thursday, Oct. 26, Sanford Health Plan will remain on the state's Affordable Care Act individual exchange next year, but only in some counties. Sanford's TRUE plan will be available on the exchange for residents of Cass, Traill, Burleigh, Morton and Oliver counties. Its Simplicity plan will be available statewide off the exchange.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota Senate's chief budget writer said this week the $400,000 in severance paid to employees of the state's now-defunct tobacco prevention agency "continued a pattern of abuse" that helped justify its elimination. State lawmakers voted to repeal the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, known as BreatheND, earlier this year. Nine employees received severance for six months of pay and for the cost of six months of health insurance, totaling $400,739, said Pam Sharp, the Office of Management and Budget director.
BISMARCK—The state Supreme Court has denied a petition for a rehearing filed by opponents of a proposed hog farm near Buffalo, N.D. The denial, issued late last month, doesn't end the fight over the Rolling Green Family Farms project, the opponents' attorney Derrick Braaten said Tuesday, Oct. 24. But he said they likely won't pursue federal court over the matter.
BISMARCK — Amid declining shipments, the rail industry is phasing out "less-safe" tank cars carrying crude oil ahead of rapidly approaching deadlines to do so. The federally mandated deadlines to remove the DOT-111 tank cars from oil service came after several high-profile derailments involving Bakken crude. That included the deadly Lac-Megantic, Quebec, disaster in 2013 and the explosion near Casselton, N.D., later that year.
BISMARCK — Actions taken by state agencies will help make a live-saving opioid overdose antidote more widely available in North Dakota, a state human services official said Friday, Oct. 20. The moves come under an executive order signed by Gov. Doug Burgum in late September and represent further efforts to prevent opioid overdose deaths, which have skyrocketed around the country in recent years. The governor's order was focused on naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdose symptoms in an emergency.
BISMARCK — North Dakota newspaper officials are worried about a "general tightening" of government meetings and records this year, a pattern highlighted by reporters being kept out of recent summits on the Fargo-Moorhead flood diversion project. "It just seems like there's a general trend in government that used to be very much in favor of transparency now isn't," said Jack McDonald, attorney for the North Dakota Newspaper Association.
BISMARCK—North Dakota's insurance commissioner will deny additional health insurance rate increases after President Donald Trump's decision to cut off subsidies to insurers, the state insurance department said Tuesday, Oct. 17. The decision means the previously approved rates released earlier this month will stand. Premiums will increase by between 7.9 percent and 22.6 percent next year for North Dakota customers covered under the federal health care exchange.
BISMARCK -- As cities and states across the country apply to be the site of Amazon’s new headquarters, the Red River Valley already appears to be out of the running. Lisa Gulland-Nelson, vice president of marketing and public relations for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp., said they filled out an initial questionnaire but weren’t able to submit a full proposal because they didn’t meet enough of the criteria.
BISMARCK—Randy Ziegler was bracing for a major headache once Marsy's Law went into effect late last year. But the Bismarck deputy police chief has been flabbergasted by the minimal impact the new crime victim's rights measure has had on the department. Since it was implemented, Marsy's Law has only been invoked 11 times to Bismarck police officers, he said. "It is a little mind-boggling to me," Ziegler said. "Eleven is a very, very small number." An official at the Burleigh County State's Attorney's Office said 26 people have asserted at least parts of it there.
BISMARCK—A contract dispute between the state of North Dakota and a Wahpeton construction firm that oversaw a major addition to the Heritage Center is headed to a jury trial next month. Comstock Construction sued the State Historical Society in March 2016, arguing it breached its contract by improperly withholding payment, among other claims. It was the general contractor for the museum's recent 97,000-square-foot expansion. Comstock's claims total more than $2 million, according to a brief filed this week.