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 contract dispute between the state of North Dakota and a Wahpeton construction firm that oversaw a major addition to the Heritage Center is headed to a jury trial next month. Comstock Construction sued the State Historical Society in March 2016, arguing it breached its contract by improperly withholding payment, among other claims. It was the general contractor for the museum's recent 97,000-square-foot expansion. Comstock's claims total more than $2 million, according to a brief filed this week.
BISMARCK—President Donald Trump's decision to cease health insurer subsidies under the Affordable Care Act could raise premiums in North Dakota, the state's insurance commissioner said Friday, Oct. 13. The cost-sharing reduction payments compensate insurers for reducing out-of-pocket costs for low-income people buying Obamacare marketplace plans. Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, a Republican, said the 42,000 North Dakotans who are on the individual marketplace are "likely going to see some effect from this" in the form of rate adjustments.
BISMARCK — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by almost two dozen Morton County landowners who alleged Dakota Access made "numerous misrepresentations" when negotiating easements along the oil pipeline's route. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland's order, filed Tuesday, Oct. 10, said the plaintiffs weren't specific in their claims of fraud, such as when the fraudulent statements were made and the names of people who made them.
BISMARCK—A federal judge declined to vacate the Dakota Access oil pipeline's easement on Wednesday, Oct. 11, while the project undergoes further analysis. U.S District Court Judge James Boasberg's order comes about four months after he ruled the Army Corps of Engineers had failed to fully follow the National Environmental Protection Act when it said the pipeline wouldn't have a significant environmental impact. He sent the matter back to the agency for further evaluation, but sought feedback on a proper remedy.
BISMARCK—There are still some open questions over the implementation of Marsy's Law almost a year after North Dakotans approved the victim's rights ballot measure, a county prosecutor said Tuesday, Oct. 10. The interim Judiciary Committee examined the new constitutional provision during a meeting at the state Capitol. It provides 19 rights to crime victims, including to prevent the disclosure of information that could be used to locate or harass them and to be notified of all criminal proceedings in their case.
BISMARCK—North Dakota officials welcomed news Monday, Oct. 9, that the Trump administration would repeal a rule restricting greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said he will sign a proposed rule Tuesday, Oct. 10, to withdraw the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation that sought to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The rule was met with resistance in North Dakota, a major coal producer.
BISMARCK—The federal government has denied North Dakota's request for a disaster declaration for this year's drought, Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday, Oct. 9. In a letter dated Saturday, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long said "supplemental federal assistance under the Stafford Act is not appropriate for this event" and noted drought relief is available through other programs.
BISMARCK — A group of North Dakota university faculty members were "troubled" that members of the State Board of Higher Education hadn't seen a report criticizing the chancellor's leadership before voting to extend his contract, the organization said this week.
BISMARCK—The state of Minnesota is fighting attorneys' fees awarded to North Dakota in a long-running dispute over a Minnesota clean energy law. Almost a year ago, Minnesota appealed a federal judge's order awarding North Dakota more than $1.3 million in attorneys' fees and other costs in the case. Arguments are scheduled for Oct. 18 in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul.
BISMARCK — The $15 million donation the developer of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline gave to the state of North Dakota was "unusual" but benefitted taxpayers, a top Republican lawmaker said this week. The money is intended to help offset the heavy costs the state incurred for the response to the monthslong protests against the pipeline. In an interview Thursday, Oct. 5, Gov. Doug Burgum said the state has "no obligations whatsoever" for accepting the payment.