Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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BISMARCK—The first track inspector hired by North Dakota regulators for a new rail safety program created in the wake of two fiery oil train derailments has earned his federal certification while finding more than 400 defective conditions and over a dozen violations, PSC officials said Wednesday. The three-member Public Service Commission received notice Monday that inspector Karl Carson is now certified by the Federal Railroad Administration, PSC chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said.
BISMARCK—Backers of a proposed measure to legalize marijuana in North Dakota will soon start gathering signatures to try to put it on the Nov. 8 ballot. Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Wednesday approved their petition for circulation. Sponsors must gather at least 13,452 signatures of eligible voters by July 11 to put the statutory measure to a statewide vote. Eric Olson of Fargo, who chairs the 26-member sponsoring committee, said supporters will start collecting signatures right away and he hopes to gather 20,000 "for a safe margin."
BISMARCK—State Engineer Todd Sando informed the State Water Commission on Wednesday that he will retire by the end of June, capping a 31-year career with the agency. The 54-year-old Sando joined the agency in January 1985. The commission's nine-member board hired him as state engineer in July 2010, replacing Dale Frink, who had retired the previous month. "It's hard for me to do this because water has been my life," Sando said.
BISMARCK—Two months after cutting 60 jobs and closing seven offices to cover a $4.1 million budget shortfall, Job Service North Dakota has received extra federal dollars to hire temporary staff to help deal with unemployment insurance claims that continue to roll in at record levels. The U.S. Department of Labor provided $100,000 in additional funding to help the agency deal with an increased workload, and Job Service could receive as much as $500,000 depending on workload through the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, Executive Director Cheri Giesen said.
BISMARCK — A decades-old vision of sending Missouri River water to eastern North Dakota to provide relief during times of drought has found a new path forward — and it starts underground. A recently completed study confirms that a system of collector wells along the Missouri River can gather enough water to service the entire Red River Valley Water Supply Project, said Ken Vein, vice chairman of the 13-county Lake Agassiz Water Authority, the project's local sponsor.
BISMARCK — Recently announced budget cuts in North Dakota have the state's biggest health care providers saying patient care will suffer and has one lawmaker questioning a state agency's decision-making. The North Dakota Department of Human Services was forced to slash $54 million from its general fund budget which could mean the loss of an additional $61 million in federal funds, lawmakers learned this week.
2017-19 executive budget timeline April: Governor releases budget guidelines to agencies July-August: Preliminary revenue forecast prepared July 15: Budget requests due from agencies, unless granted an extension August to mid-October: Budget meetings with agencies November: Executive revenue forecast prepared Dec. 7: Executive budget presented to Legislature at organizational session
BISMARCK — Three candidates competing for the Republican Party’s endorsement for governor will clash in a rare debate on a historic stage here today, each aiming to distinguish himself as the leader to guide North Dakota through tumultuous economic times. State Rep. Rick Becker of Bismarck, Fargo entrepreneur Doug Burgum and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem will square off at 7 p.m. at the 102-year-old Belle Mehus Auditorium.
BISMARCK — A new poll commissioned by North Dakota's largest union of public teachers and employees finds Fargo entrepreneur Doug Burgum trailing Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem by a large margin in the race for the Republican nomination for governor. The poll by North Dakota United and St. Paul-based DFM Research asked 369 likely Republican primary voters if they would vote for Burgum or Stenehjem if the June 14 primary election was between the two candidates.
BISMARCK -- U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York will deliver the keynote speech at the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party's state convention April 1 in Bismarck, the party announced Monday. Gillibrand, an attorney, was elected to the U.S. House in November 2006. She was appointed to the Senate in January 2009 to fill the seat left open when President Barack Obama appointed then-Sen. Hillary Clinton's appointment to secretary of state.