KHRT ND News – 11/02/21

KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 110221 – 1200
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Many of the more than two dozen bill drafts submitted by North Dakota lawmakers for consideration in their upcoming special session attempt to restrict vaccination requirements and the teaching of critical race theory in public schools. The Legislature is set to meet in Bismarck starting Nov. 8 for a tightly packed special session with specific emphasis on redrawing legislative districts and allocating federal coronavirus relief funds. However, 26 bill drafts filed by lawmakers can still become law if they make it through a vetting process at the beginning of the session and subsequent floor votes. GOP leaders tell the Bismarck Tribune they expect one or two proposals on vaccine mandates and critical race theory to move forward.
 
Seven Republican-sponsored bill drafts take several different angles at the common goal of curbing vaccine mandates imposed on North Dakotans. Five proposals aim to prohibit employers from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for their workers or outline broad exemptions employees could claim if compelled to get the shot. Several of the proposals filed by North Dakota lawmakers are in response to national debates over critical race theory and teachings on race and gender in public schools.
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BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – The Interior Department is preparing to offer oil and gas lease sales on large tracts of public land despite concluding that burning fossil fuels from those parcels could carry huge costs and contribute to climate change. Burning oil, natural gas and coal from federally-owned lands accounts for about 20% of energy-related U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. But officials with the Biden administration’s Bureau of Land Management say in newly-released planning documents that they can’t accurately determine the climate impacts from upcoming oil and gas lease sales in western states. Officials proposed delaying sales of some tracts in Wyoming and Montana over concerns drilling could harm wildlife. Attorneys general from 13 states, including North Dakota, had sued the administration saying the suspension would cost the states money and jobs.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – State corrections officials say coronavirus cases involving inmates at the North Dakota State Penitentiary have soared to the highest number to date in the pandemic. North Dakota Department of Corrections officials said that out of more than 525 inmates, active positives among inmates jumped from 17 last week to 63 this week. And active positives for staff jumped from 14 last week to 19 Monday.
 
“Our medical team, they were aware. They knew this was coming. Our facility staff, all of that. Of course, it is nothing that we want to see,” said Kayli Richards, director of communications for North Dakota Corrections and Rehabilitation. Richards adds that “COVID spread in a congregated setting is extremely difficult to avoid,” and says staff and medical professionals are working around the clock to mitigate the spread, KFYR-TV reported.
 
The facility has exceeded its isolation space and is using the gym as an infirmary for COVID positive inmates. No inmates have been sent to the hospital with COVID, but some individuals have continued to quarantine after an isolation period is complete due to their symptoms.
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BISMARCK, ND – Deaths among those positive with COVID-19 continue to spike in North Dakota. Information from the Department of Health today list 12 more deaths (1774). That’s 18 in the first two days of November. This after October ended as the fourth deadliest month since the pandemic began with 136 deaths. Today’s daily positive rate is 8.60%. There are 662 new positives today and 498 new recoveries. Active cases rise by 152 to 3,276. Eight of North Dakota’s 53 counties have 100 or more active cases, led by Cass County with 775, Burleigh has 454, and Ward at 299. Hospitalizations drop by 7 to 163, with 14 of those in ICU.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) awarded loans for water and sanitary sewer projects to two communities and a water district through the State Revolving Fund Programs in September.
 
– Barnes Rural Water District received a $507,000 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan towards the addition of underground, concrete storage reservoirs at four existing reservoirs. This project will improve system reliability and increase water pressure for customers.
 
– Hebron received a $120,000 Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) loan to replace aging water meters. This project will ensure accurate accounting of water for the residents.
 
– Stanley received a $1,322,000 CWSRF loan and a $2,253,000 DWSRF loan towards replacement of aging water mains, manholes, sanitary sewer mains and services. This project will ensure the safe transmission of water and wastewater for the residents.
 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides part of the SRF Programs funding, which offers below-market interest rate loans to political subdivisions for financing projects authorized under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. SRF programs operate nationwide to provide funding to maintain and improve the infrastructure that protects our vital water resources. Loans are awarded to projects listed on the NDDEQ project priority list based on project eligibility and repayment ability. Please contact the NDDEQ regarding specific detail on any of the projects mentioned above.
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FARGO, N.D. – Open enrollment for health insurance began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 15, 2022. Open enrollment is a period where individuals and families can make changes to their health coverage or enroll in new coverage for any reason. If you experience a qualifying life event, like the birth of a child, a special enrollment period allows you to make changes at other points in the year. The timeframe for open enrollment is mandated by federal law and generally closes on Dec. 15; however, in 2021, President Biden extended the deadline to Jan. 15, 2022. Health officials say it is important for all individuals and families to review their health insurance coverage to ensure it meets their needs as well as makes financial sense.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 110221 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Federal airplane crash investigators have found no mechanical problems with the plane in a crash that killed a student at the University of North Dakota’s aerospace school last month. John Hauser was a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in commercial aviation. A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board found that he turned around the Piper airplane he was piloting late on Oct. 18 shortly before it crashed. The report found that the plane then made a “rapid descent” before hitting the ground. Hauser, who was from Chicago, was pronounced dead at the scene.
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A new monthly survey of business leaders in nine Midwest and Plains states shows significant jumps in employment and inventories since September, but confidence in the economy over the next six month remained at a dismal low. The overall index for October of the Creighton University Mid-America Business Conditions released Monday rose to 65.2 from September’s 61.6. Any score above 50 on the survey’s indexes suggests growth. But the survey’s business confidence index, which looks ahead six months, failed to budge from 37 recorded in September. The monthly survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
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MINOT, ND – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has agreed to reevaluate its previous findings related to new flood plain maps after a successful appeal by the City of Minot. Because of the appeal, FEMA and North Dakota Department of Water Resources officials indicated revised preliminary floodplain maps will likely be issued in the summer of 2023. The City of Minot will have the opportunity to comment and, potentially, issue another appeal on the revised maps at some point in the fall of 2023. FEMA officials indicated the earliest the new maps would become effective is the fall of 2024. Flood insurance rate increases due to map changes will not occur until the new maps are effective.

“We are very satisfied that FEMA is reconsidering their previous work and will be considering the accurate operational rules of all of the reservoirs on the system above Minot,” Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma said. “Our valley residents have been through enough economic turmoil in the last decade, so it’s encouraging that FEMA is listening to our concerns that their results would have placed an undue economic burden on the residents of Minot.”

In October 2020, the City of Minot submitted an appeal identifying deficiencies with FEMA’s previous work. Of particular concern to the City were the assumptions used within FEMA’s analysis related to the operation of flood control reservoirs on the Mouse River system. Minot officials met with representatives from FEMA and the DWR last week to hear results of the appeal regarding FEMA’s proposed Flood Insurance Study for Ward County.

“We had serious concerns that FEMA’s analysis did not consider the full storage that was purchased by the United States in Rafferty and Grant Devine reservoirs,” City Engineer Lance Meyer said. “Additionally, their assumptions arbitrarily limited the amount of flood storage available in Lake Darling. As a result, we believe their results are overestimating the flood discharge that is used to determine the regulatory floodplain and flood insurance rates which will be paid by Minot property owners in the valley.”

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BISMARCK, N.D. – The National Governors Association announced Monday that North Dakota and five other states were selected for the second phase of NGA’s Workforce Innovation Network (NGA WIN), in which states will deploy cross-agency teams to identify and implement strategies that advance digital skill development and more equitable economic participation.
 
In response to the impacts of accelerated trends in automation and digital transformation on work, workers and workplaces, NGA WIN will award Hawai?i, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island up to $100,000 each and provide technical assistance to help state teams ensure all individuals have the digital skills needed to participate in work, education or training. The NGA Center will collaborate with NGA WIN advisors to deliver technical assistance and best practice resources to participating states through June 2022.
 
“North Dakota’s workforce shortage remains the No. 1 barrier to economic growth in our state, and joining the NGA’s Workforce Innovation Network will help us ensure that North Dakotans have the digital skills they need to enter the workforce, pursue education or seek training opportunities,” Gov. Doug Burgum said. “We’re grateful to NGA WIN for selecting North Dakota as one of six states to participate in the second phase of this important initiative.”
 
The NGA Center will provide subgrants and technical assistance to the states with support from NGA WIN founding sponsor, the Cognizant Foundation, and additional sponsors Intel, Microsoft, Western Governors University and Walmart, the latest addition to the growing coalition of NGA WIN partners and supporters.
 
Each state team – consisting of representatives from governors’ offices, workforce development agencies and state workforce boards, and other state agencies – will work collaboratively toward a state vision for closing digital equity and workforce achievement gaps by advancing digital skill development. States will leverage tools such as the Digital Equity Scorecard – developed by NGA WIN advisors at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, National Skills Coalition and Microsoft – to gather new data on skill gaps and develop plans to address gaps in priority industries, geographies and demographics.
 
“Governors are leading with creative solutions to help workers and job seekers access the tools they need to succeed in a rapidly changing economy, and NGA is honored to support them,” said Timothy Blute, director of the NGA Center. “We look forward to working with these six states to help them develop and implement strategies to improve access to the digital skills that are increasingly essential to both workers and businesses.”
 
An initiative of the NGA Center’s Workforce Development and Economic Policy Program, NGA WIN was founded in January in partnership with the Cognizant Foundation as a nonpartisan action collaborative for state leaders committed to building an inclusive and resilient workforce. In March, NGA WIN awarded 10 states each up to $100,000 and provided their multi-agency state teams with customized technical assistance to improve employment outcomes in response to the economic impacts of COVID-19 by connecting job seekers to work, education or training opportunities and essential support services. Case studies and best practices from this first round of NGA WIN state grants will be published later this year.
 
Since its launch, NGA WIN has secured additional partnerships with Microsoft, Intel, Western Governors University and Walmart, and has welcomed more than 20 new philanthropic supporters, subject matter experts, practitioners and industry leaders to assist governors and state leaders in their workforce innovation efforts through grants and technical assistance provided by the network.
 
Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the bipartisan organization of the nation’s 55 governors. Through NGA, governors share best practices, address issues of national and state interest and share innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.
 
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 

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