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 Senate backed a compromise package of higher education capital projects Tuesday, April 23, that provides more state support for replacing a chemistry lab building at North Dakota State University. The Dunbar Hall project has long been a priority for the university, as the building is considered a fire safety hazard. A House-Senate conference committee agreed to $40 million in bonding, $8 million in cash and authorization to raise $3.2 million for a total of $51.2 million.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Senate approved a bill requiring local governments to justify larger setbacks imposed on animal feeding operations Tuesday, April 23. The new version of Senate Bill 2345 was approved along party lines in a House-Senate conference committee Monday afternoon before it passed the full Senate in a 36-11 vote Tuesday. It still must pass the House before it's sent to Republican Gov. Doug Burgum.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota House approved a bill Monday, April 8, that backers said would support the state's livestock industry but was criticized as an infringement on local control. Senate Bill 2345 would remove local governments' ability to impose longer setbacks than the state's requirements for livestock feeding operations. For the largest such facilities, the state's setback is 1.5 miles. The bill passed the House in a 71-19 vote and is expected to end up in a joint House-Senate conference committee before final passage.
BISMARCK — North Dakota senators sent Gov. Doug Burgum a bill adding second cousins to the state's anti-corporate farming law Friday, April 5. State law prevents corporations and limited liability companies from owning or leasing farm or ranch land and from “engaging in the business of farming or ranching,” with some exceptions. House Bill 1388 expands requirements that shareholders or members be related to each other to include second cousins. Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, said legislators should "open (the law) up" to help sustain the state's agriculture industry.
BISMARCK — North Dakota utility regulators have proposed eliminating rules that prevent energy facilities from being built on "prime and unique farmland" after debating whether a proposed solar farm in Cass County would fall under the regulations.
BISMARCK — A Bismarck police officer urged North Dakota lawmakers to crack down on minors riding in the back of pickup trucks Thursday, Jan. 17, a practice he described as dangerous but one that's embedded in the state's rural culture. Senate Bill 2129, introduced by a group of Republican lawmakers, would impose a $20 fine on motorists who allow people under the age of 18 to ride in an open truck bed while driving on highways, streets, alleys and parking lots. It includes exceptions for farming and ranching activities, parades, military exercises and medical emergencies.
BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Public Service Commission chose its newest member to chair the three-member panel Wednesday, Dec. 19. Brian Kroshus will begin chairing the utility regulatory agency for two years starting Jan. 1. He will succeed Randy Christmann, who will remain on the all-Republican commission alongside Julie Fedorchak. "There's been a strong tradition of leadership at the commission," Kroshus said. "(I have) big shoes to fill, but I look forward to working with a very talented staff and doing my part to continue in that tradition."
BISMARCK — North Dakota utility regulators are split over whether a rule preventing energy projects from being built on prime farmland should apply to a large solar project proposed in Cass County. The three-member, all-Republican Public Service Commission examined the Harmony Solar Project during a work session with staff Monday, Dec. 17. The $320 million project, proposed by Minneapolis-based Geronimo Energy, would be built in Harmony Township west of Fargo.
BISMARCK — North Dakota utility regulators signaled to Xcel Energy that it could seek to recover the cost of several wind farms through its customers’ bills Thursday, Dec. 6, as they acknowledged growing concerns from the public about such projects. The eight projects consisting of roughly 1,850 megawatts were given an “advance determination of prudence” and are located in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. The two in North Dakota are already under construction.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum offered a few Thanksgiving-themed quips as he pardoned two turkeys at the state Capitol Monday, Nov. 19. Burgum highlighted the work of organizations helping domestic and sexual assault victims as well as homeless people before pardoning Teddy and Mittie, two turkeys from Wyndmere, who are named after former President Theodore Roosevelt and his mother. He said the North Dakota Turkey Federation would give 12 turkeys to both the Abused Adult Resource Center and the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House.