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 — Crews are replacing the North Dakota Capitol building's aging elevators, a vital mode of transportation for hundreds of state workers in the tower. The four elevators' motors, cables, cars and mechanics are being replaced for a cost of $1.8 million, said John Boyle, the facility management director. Two are being updated at a time, leaving employees and visitors two options — not counting the stairs — to climb the tower's 19 stories until the project is finished around Thanksgiving.
BISMARCK—The state of North Dakota has received 17 applications from entities seeking to become registered medical marijuana manufacturers, a Department of Health official said Thursday, April 19. The application period closed Thursday afternoon. A review panel is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon at the state Capitol to discuss applications. Jason Wahl, director of the Health Department's medical marijuana division, didn't have a "firm timeline" for registering the manufacturing facilities.
BISMARCK—North Dakota is fighting part of a federal judge's ruling that loosened the state's voter identification law. Early this month, U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland issued an order preventing the state from requiring that IDs include a "current residential street address, which Native American communities often lack. The state asked Tuesday, April 10, to delay that order while an appeal is pending.
BISMARCK — Warning previous financial woes cut deeply into the state’s reserves, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum asked agencies to craft smaller budgets for the next two-year funding cycle Wednesday, April 18.
BISMARCK—The North Dakota Industrial Commission approved a $24.7 million rail and grain storage expansion project for the state Mill and Elevator in Grand Forks Tuesday, April 17. The project includes the addition of about 18,000 feet of track near the state-owned mill and the construction of four 250,000-bushel grain bins. Vance Taylor, the mill's president and general manager, said the project would be paid for using funds generated by mill profits.
BISMARCK—An inquiry from an unknown North Dakota lawmaker has prompted a large survey on the cost of state employees attending events hosted by Gov. Doug Burgum and state agencies. Legislative Council staff sent a survey to 47 state agencies last week asking how many of their employees attended events, such as the Main Street ND Summit, Recovery Reinvented and Burgum's 2018 State of the State address in Minot. It also asks about registration fees paid and employee travel expenses.
BISMARCK — An audit of Gov. Doug Burgum’s travel expenses includes an examination of the use of state Department of Transportation-owned airplanes. State Auditor Josh Gallion is conducting a performance audit focused on “travel related expenditures and use of state resources” by Burgum’s office. DOT spokeswoman Jamie Olson confirmed auditors are looking at flight information but Gallion, a Republican, has declined to discuss details of the inquiry, making its full scope unclear.
BISMARCK -- North Dakota Republican congressional candidate Kelly Armstrong raised more than $458,000 in the opening weeks of his campaign, outpacing his Democratic challenger, Mac Schneider. Armstrong’s first-quarter haul includes a $100,000 loan from his own pocket, according to Federal Election Commission records accessed Monday, April 16. A state senator from Dickinson, he resigned as chairman of the state party before announcing his U.S. House campaign in late February.
BISMARCK—North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called his White House meeting with President Donald Trump "super productive" as he and other leaders from agriculture states discussed the administration's trade policies. In an interview after the meeting, Burgum said "the playing field has not been level" and people shouldn't overreact to any particular proposal. "We're watching a negotiation take place in real time," he said.
BISMARCK—With his client doomed to spend his remaining days behind bars for two grisly murders in Fargo, Ashley Hunter's attorney argued he didn't receive a fair trial and appealed his conviction to the North Dakota Supreme Court Wednesday, April 11. A jury last year found Hunter guilty of murdering Clarence Flowers and Samuel Traut in June 2015, the former by repeated stabbings and the latter via hammer blows to the head. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murders and 10 years in prison for arson.