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 North Dakota legislative committee will consider amendments to almost three dozen sections and subsections of state law to include gender-neutral language on Wednesday, Jan. 4. Senate Bill 2043 comes about a year and a half after the U.S. Supreme Court said gay couples had the right to marry under the Constitution. The amendments included in the bill include replacing "one man and one woman" with "two individuals" in the section of North Dakota law defining marriage, along with similar changes in sections of state law regarding adoption and fishing licenses.
BISMARCK—North Dakota lawmakers will gather here Tuesday, Jan. 3, to mark the beginning of another legislative session after a year that saw budget cuts and a rare special session to deal with a projected revenue shortfall. But House Majority Leader Al Carlson sees at least one bright spot in their fiscal situation. "I always tell people it's easier to govern when you have less money because then it's easier to say no," the Fargo Republican said. "Every session is dominated by money, whether it's too much or not enough."
BISMARCK—The North Dakota attorney general said Friday, Dec. 30 that public entities should not reveal crime victims' addresses if they have asserted their rights under the newly passed constitutional provision known as Marsy's Law. In an opinion released Friday afternoon, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said while a victim's specific address is protected, Marsy's Law doesn't prevent law enforcement from releasing "general location information about criminal activity for purposes of public safety."
BISMARCK—Roz Leighton resigned as executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party earlier this month to take a job with the committee overseeing the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Leighton's new role as Cabinet affairs liaison with the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee involves coordinating events, travel logistics and "ensuring that there's a clear line of communication between the ... committee and the stakeholder groups," she said Thursday, Dec. 29.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum took steps to separate himself from his various business interests ahead of taking office Thursday in an effort to avoid potential conflicts of interest, but the state's highest officeholder said he will retain investments related to two firms he founded.
GRAND FORKS — Sitting behind his desk on a recent snowy morning, Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson described the recent spike in drug overdoses in personal terms. Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, took the life of one of his son's friends a couple of years ago. That death helped prompt a federal investigation into the drug's distribution. Nelson cited the experience of watching his son act as a pallbearer at Evan Poitra's funeral in arguing drug abuse isn't a "victimless crime." There are parents, friends and classmates who suffer.
GRAND FORKS — More than 16,000 voter affidavits were filed in this year's general election, according to a survey of North Dakota county auditors. Less than two months before the Nov. 8 general election, a federal judge ordered North Dakota to provide the affidavit as an option to voters. The elimination of the affidavit option by a 2013 state law is part of a lawsuit brought against North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger by seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov.-elect Doug Burgum announced several impending Cabinet departures Monday, Dec. 12, including the head of the state's largest agency. Department of Human Services Executive Director Maggie Anderson will lead the agency until a new director is named. But 11 of the 17 members of outgoing Gov. Jack Dalrymple's Cabinet will remain through the transition to the Burgum administration.
GRAND FORKS — Enbridge Energy Partners is confident a replacement of an aging oil pipeline that cuts across northern Minnesota will be completed, despite recent delays over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in neighboring North Dakota. Enbridge plans to replace almost all of its 1,097-mile Line 3 pipeline, which runs from Edmonton, Alta., to Superior, Wis. The project will nearly double the line's capacity to 760,000 barrels per day. The pipeline was constructed in the 1960s, and the company hopes to have the new line in service in 2019.
MANDAN, N.D. — Law enforcement officials urged calm over ongoing protests of the Dakota Access oil pipeline Saturday, two days before the Army Corps of Engineers has said it plans to close a protest camp. The Army Corps announcement came a few days before North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple ordered an evacuation of the protest camps on Army Corps land, citing harsh winter weather. Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said Saturday he's been asked "a hundred times, if not more," about what will happen Monday.