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BISMARCK — A bill to provide funding for western North Dakota communities failed in the state House Tuesday, Feb. 14, but lawmakers said they plan to address funding for the oil-impacted areas in the second half of the legislative session. House Bill 1366, which relates to the way oil tax revenue is distributed to cities, counties and schools in the Bakken, failed with a 37-54 vote.
BISMARCK — At least five journalists have been charged with engaging in a riot while covering Dakota Access Pipeline protests, an offense that would carry a stiffer penalty under a proposal before the North Dakota Legislature. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Monday, Feb. 13, on House Bill 1426, which would make engaging in a riot a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine. Currently the offense is a Class B misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
CANNON BALL, N.D. — Construction has resumed on the Dakota Access Pipeline as opponents continue trying to fight the project in court. Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, said Thursday Feb. 9, he expects the pipeline will be complete and transporting oil by early April. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially issued an easement on Wednesday for the Lake Oahe crossing north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
BISMARCK — A bill to clarify mineral ownership under Lake Sakakawea and the Missouri River moved forward Wednesday, Feb. 8, with a 37-9 vote in the North Dakota Senate. Senate Bill 2134 clarifies that North Dakota only claims ownership of minerals under the original channel of the Missouri River and not under Lake Sakakawea, created by the construction of the Garrison Dam. The bill uses a 1950s-era survey to define the Missouri River channel, rather than a 2009 survey the state conducted to define the ordinary high water mark of the river.
BISMARCK — North Dakota House lawmakers voted 76-15 Wednesday, Feb. 8, to charge a flat 10 percent tax on oil production regardless of the price of oil, a change that the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation opposes. House members approved House Bill 1166, which removes a so-called high-price trigger that would increase the state's overall tax rate on oil to 11 percent if oil prices were sustained at high levels.
BISMARCK — Authorities are asking the public's help to locate three fugitives who are wanted on federal charges stemming from Dakota Access Pipeline protests. U.S. Attorney Christopher Myers announced Wednesday, Feb. 8, that an indictment was unsealed in U.S. District Court relating to an incident that occurred on Oct. 27. Brennon J. Nastacio, 36, Brandon Aaron Miller-Castillo, 22, and Dion Ortiz, 20, have been indicted for civil disorder and use of fire to commit a federal crime.
BISMARCK — North Dakota House lawmakers advanced four bills Monday, Feb. 6, aimed to give law enforcement more tools for responding to Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The package of bills, which some opponents criticized as "knee-jerk legislation," would double the penalties for some riot offenses and create a new felony offense for individuals who cause economic harm while committing a misdemeanor. The legislation, which still needs to be considered by the state Senate, also would make it a misdemeanor to wear a mask while committing a crime.
BISMARCK — Western North Dakota cities took on high levels of debt to keep up during the rapid growth years of the oil boom. Now mayors in the Bakken want to keep the same level of state oil tax revenue flowing back to their cities so they can keep up with debt payments. But changes to the way funding would go to "hub cities" — communities most affected by oil impacts — mean those funding levels could be cut short.
BISMARCK - Native Americans and members of other minority groups urged North Dakota legislators Thursday, Feb. 2, to require cultural competency training for all lawmakers. Senate Bill 2337 would require at least four hours of training to aid legislators in working with diverse populations in the state, including Native Americans. One of the bill sponsors is Sen. Richard Marcellais, D-Belcourt, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, who said the proposal aims to improve communications and relations with the state's five tribal nations.
BISMARCK — As Dakota Access Pipeline protest activity escalated Wednesday, a legislative committee worked into the evening to "fast-track" several bills introduced in response to the protests. The House Judiciary Committee gave a do-pass recommendation to three of the proposals, including one that relates to wearing a mask, but voted against two others, including increasing penalties for riot offenses.