Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.
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NEAR CANNON BALL, N.D. — For camp leader Everett Iron Eyes Sr., the sea of tents, teepees and vehicles dotting the landscape along the Cannonball River represents a concerned people expressing their free speech rights to stop a crude oil pipeline they fear will spoil their water supply and disturb sacred sites.
BISMARCK — Less than six years after North Dakota residents voted to sock away oil and gas tax collections for future generations, the Legacy Fund has topped $4 billion in value, a "phenomenal" feat the state's chief investment officer said speaks to the state's fiscal conservatism. The pile of unencumbered cash presents a tempting option for state lawmakers who face a bleak budget situation when they convene in January. But House Majority Leader Al Carlson, R-Fargo, said the Legislature must be "very cautious" about dipping into the trust fund's earnings.
BISMARCK — A ballot measure aimed at expanding the rights of North Dakota crime victims and listing them in the state constitution would cost taxpayers nearly $2 million per year, according to an estimate presented to lawmakers Thursday. Marsy's Law for North Dakota spokeswoman Lacee Anderson disagreed with the fiscal note, saying it wrongly assumes all crime victims will opt for notification services. "It assumes there's going to be more people signing up, which we haven't seen in other states," she said.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Trust Lands continues to make changes recommended in three critical audits released earlier this year, getting approval Thursday, Sept. 29, to reduce its number of deputy commissioners from two to one and having a consultant review its business processes. The state auditor's office made 59 recommendations in three separate audits released in February and April that that found bookkeeping errors, raised ethical concerns and identified shortcomings in how the agency handled the state's oil impact grant and unclaimed property programs.
BISMARCK — Despite more than $1 billion in agency budget cuts and planned fund transfers, North Dakota's general fund budget is still on track to end the biennium with a negative balance, the state's budget director said Thursday, Sept. 29.
BISMARCK — The North Dakota Department of Health's public information director has resigned over comments she inadvertently posted from the department's official Twitter account during the first U.S. presidential debate, calling it a "dreadful mistake." Colleen Reinke offered her resignation immediately after the incident Monday, Sept. 26, and it was accepted as of 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to emails provided by Human Resources Director Dirk Wilke in response to an open records request.
BISMARCK — Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem on Tuesday gave the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline 30 days to explain how it intends to use thousands of acres of ranchland purchased last week around the pipeline route in Morton County — and how it complies with the state's anti-corporate farming law.
BISMARCK — A proposal to give juveniles in North Dakota's tribal courts access to the same services available to those in the state court system could improve strained relations between the tribes and state government, a tribal official said Monday before a committee voted to advance the bill draft. "I think this is a great step forward," Mark Nygard, chief executive officer for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, told the Legislature's interim Tribal and State Relations Committee.
BISMARCK — The company building the Dakota Access Pipeline has purchased 20 parcels of land totaling several thousand acres just north of where protesters of the four-state pipeline are encamped on federally owned land and where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe claims sacred sites were distributed by pipeline construction, property records show. Dakota Access LLC bought the land from cattle ranchers David and Brenda Meyer of nearby Flasher for an undisclosed sum, according to the warranty deed filed with the Morton County Recorder's Office.
BISMARCK — North Dakota Democrats running for congressional, statewide and legislative office proposed Thursday a state-owned oil refinery and rerouting the Dakota Access Pipeline as potential solutions to the ongoing dispute over the four-state oil pipeline.