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 — A federal appeals court has denied the state of North Dakota's request to suspend a judge's order that loosened its voter identification law. The Friday, June 8, order from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals was "based primarily on the imminent primary election," which will be held Tuesday. The denial was without prejudice, which means the state could file another motion requesting a stay later.
BISMARCK — North Dakota election officials aren't expecting many hiccups during next week's primary election despite changes to the state's voter identification law. Tuesday, June 12, will mark the first statewide election since state legislators passed a new voter ID law last year, which was later amended by a federal judge in an ongoing lawsuit. As of early Friday afternoon, almost 32,600 ballots had already been cast, including mail-in and absentee ballots.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Transportation is eyeing a proposal to raise the state's driver's license and vehicle registration fees, a department official said Thursday, June 7. Mark Nelson, the DOT's deputy director for driver and vehicle services, said they haven't determined a specific dollar figure but are planning to draft a bill for the next legislative session. He said the extra revenues could help fund road projects.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved $4.6 million in grants for conservation projects Tuesday, June 5. The 13 approved projects represented the 11th round of grant funding since the Outdoor Heritage Fund was created in 2013. The last four rounds have awarded less than $2 million each. "There are ample grant funds there for conservation projects," said Jim Melchior, chairman of the Outdoor Heritage Fund Advisory Board, which recommends projects to the three-member Industrial Commission.
BISMARCK — The chief backer of a ballot measure to raise North Dakota's minimum wage isn't holding out much hope that organizers will be able to attract enough signatures to put the question to voters this fall. Bismarck's Scott Nodland said Tuesday, June 5, the effort is lacking volunteers to collect signatures, but most people they approach are receptive to the idea of boosting the minimum wage. "It's the first run, and it's the first time that people are hearing about the possibility of a $15 minimum wage," he said.
BISMARCK — The Democratic candidate for North Dakota attorney general is fighting a citation for allegedly driving 30 mph over the speed limit on a Grand Forks County road in April, court records show.
BISMARCK — State officials are exploring multiple proposals to use North Dakota's $5.4 billion Legacy Fund to help finance public infrastructure projects. Several legislators have already proposed using part of the voter-approved Legacy Fund to provide low-interest loans to local governments seeking to build flood control structures, water treatment plants and other infrastructure. But some, including Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, are hesitant to touch the fund's principal.
BISMARCK — A North Dakota judge dismissed a lawsuit accusing a security firm of operating here without a license during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests Wednesday, May 30. District Judge John Grinsteiner's order came a month after he dismissed one of three counts against North Carolina-based TigerSwan. On Wednesday, he said there's nothing left in the state Private Investigation and Security Board's complaint that's within the court's "purview."
BISMARCK — North Dakota utility regulators kicked off three days of hearings Wednesday, May 30, over Montana-Dakota Utilities' proposed natural gas rate hike. The company is proposing a 3.3 percent rate increase, amounting to a $3.6 million annual revenue boost. Residential customers could expect their bills to increase by $1.82 a month, MDU attorney Paul Sanderson said during a Public Service Commission hearing Wednesday.
BISMARCK — State officials showed off the new North Dakota governor's mansion Tuesday, May 29, just days after the old home next door met the wrecking ball. Leading a throng of news reporters on a tour, Facility Management Director John Boyle described the home as "very nice" but not "over the top." The 13,700-square-foot home is complete, with the exception of landscaping and some minor details inside.