KHRT ND News

KHRT NEWS – MONDAY – 012521 – 0700
 
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Hospitalizations due to the coronavirus have fallen to its lowest total since Aug. 20, with Sunday’s update by the North Dakota Department of Health showing 49 people who are being treated in medical facilities. That’s down one from Saturday’s report. The state’s hospital tracker shows 38 staffed intensive care unit beds and 421 staffed inpatient beds available throughout North Dakota.
Officials confirmed 99 new COVID-19 cases out of 3,079 tests that were processed in the last day, a positivity rate of 3.7%. A total of 96,817 people have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. No new deaths were listed in Sunday’s report after there were 8 reported on Saturday.
 
There were about 284 new cases per 100,000 people in North Dakota over the past two weeks, which ranks 50th in the country for new cases per capita, according to The COVID Tracking Project. One in every 756 people in North Dakota tested positive in the past week.
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MINOT, ND – COVID-19 rapid BinaxNOW Screening in Minot will continue through Jan. 31. The testing is happening at the City of Minot’s Fire Station 1, located at 2111 10th St SW.
 
Times for upcoming testing will be:
 
Monday, Jan. 25 – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 26 – 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 27 – No testing
Thursday, Jan. 28 – 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 29 – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 30 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 31 – No testing
 
Tests are self-administered with the assistance of the Minot Fire Department and other City of Minot staff and offer results in approximately 15 minutes. Recipients should pre-register before arriving at the test site online at https://testreg.nd.gov/. All motor vehicles should come from the west on 20th Avenue before turning onto 10th street. This will help to avoid any potential traffic jams at that intersection.
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FARGO, N.D. (AP) – Police in Fargo arrested a 29-year-old man Saturday after he confronted an officer and then hid in his own vehicle with a gun for several hours, authorities said. The man was arrested at about 8 a.m., but authorities asked nearby residents to shelter in place while a bomb squad inspected a suspicious device that was found in the man’s vehicle. was discovered and a bomb squad was called in to make sure it was safe. The shelter-in-place request was lifted before noon.
 
Police Chief David Zibolski said the incident began shortly before 4 a.m., when a patrol officer noticed a man tailgating the squad car. The officer pulled into a parking lot to see if the man needed help, but the man aggressively got out of his vehicle, approached the squad car, and tried to prevent the officer from getting out of it. Zibolski said there was a brief confrontation, and the man said he was going to get a gun and return. The man went back to his vehicle, and then drove away.
 
The officer followed him to a driveway, where the man stopped, but refused the officer’s commands. A gunshot was heard from inside the vehicle, Zibolski said, and the man began covering the windows with cardboard and other debris so the officer could not see what was going on inside. Other officers, including SWAT members and crisis negotiators, arrived and set up a perimeter. “It was a very precarious and dangerous situation for some time,” Zibolski said.
 
“As the situation unfolded and this individual failed to respond in any fashion, we didn’t have any idea whether or not he had potentially shot himself or if he was just lying in wait for officers to approach the vehicle,” Zibolski said. “We knew that either could be possible.” After some time, officers realized the man was in the vehicle’s trunk. Officers popped the trunk open and the man surrendered without incident at about 8 a.m. Zibolski said he did not appear to have any gunshot wounds, but he was cold.
 
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MINOT, ND – Minot officials are preparing for the annual State of the City which will look a little different this year with the event being presented virtually on the City of Minot’s social media channels. The event, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, will feature an address from Mayor Shaun Sipma highlighting the success stories from 2020 and looking ahead to the challenges facing our community in 2021. Also the winner of the mayor’s Citizen of the Year video contest will be announced during the event.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – SATURDAY – 012321 – 0700
 
MINOT, ND – COVID-19 rapid BinaxNOW Screening in Minot will continue through Jan. 31. The testing is happening at the City of Minot’s Fire Station 1, located at 2111 10th St SW.
 
Times for upcoming testing will be:
 
Saturday, Jan. 23 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 24 – No testing
Monday, Jan. 25 – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 26 – 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Wed., Jan. 27 – No testing
Thursday, Jan. 28 – 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 29 – 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 30 – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 31 – No testing
 
Tests are self-administered with the assistance of the Minot Fire Department and other City of Minot staff and offer results in approximately 15 minutes. Recipients should pre-register before arriving at the test site online at https://testreg.nd.gov/. All motor vehicles should come from the west on 20th Avenue before turning onto 10th street. This will help to avoid any potential traffic jams at that intersection.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota health officials say three more people have died from COVID-19 in the state, bringing the overall death toll from the pandemic to 1,403. An additional 196 new cases of the virus were confirmed Friday. Health officials say a total of 96,567 people have had the virus in South Dakota since last March. Officials say 93,980 people have recovered. 53 people remained in a hospital Friday, down one from the previous day. Active cases statewide rose slightly, to 1,184, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
 
According to data provided to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 12,428 people in North Dakota have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccination. That’s about 1.6% of the state’s population. There can be a lag in CDC data, as healthcare providers report doses up to 72 hours after a dose is administered.
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MINOT, N.D. – State lawmakers are looking at a bill that would increase the state’s minimum wage. The change would come in stages with the first increase to $9 an hour. The bill proposes increasing then increasing the wage a additional dollar per hour each year until it hits $15 an hour in 2027. The bill was referred to the Industry, Business, and Labor Committee. The minimum wage was increased to $7.25 in 2009.
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MINOT, ND – It’s early in 2021, but those at the City of Minot’s Public Works Department have already established a schedule for this year’s cleanup weeks and household hazardous waste collection events. Mark your calendars now!
 
Spring Cleanup Week: May 3-7
Spring HHW/E-Waste Event: May 7-8
Free Dump Week with Water Bill at the Landfill: July 12-17
Fall Cleanup Week: September 20-24
Fall HHW/E-Waste Event: September 24-25
 
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – FRIDAY – 012221 – 1200
 
BISMARCK, ND – United States Attorney Drew Wrigley announced that United States District Court Judge Daniel L. Hovland has sentenced 30-year old Jorge Pitts, AKA “Jose”, of Detroit, Michigan, to 10 years in federal prison for Possession with Intent to Distribute Oxycodone and Possession of a Firearm by a Prohibited Person. Judge Hovland also sentenced Pitts to 3 years supervised release and a $200 Special Assessment.
 
On January 25, 2018, Pitts was stopped for traffic violations in New Town, ND. In response to the defendant’s suspicious behavior at the scene of the stop, a drug detection canine was deployed and detected drugs in Pitts’ vehicle. During a subsequent search of the vehicle, officers found 1,650 oxycodone 30-mg pills separated into multiple plastic baggies concealed inside the driver’s side door panel. In this same area of the vehicle, Officers also located a loaded Sig Sauer .40 caliber pistol with a 12-round magazine and 13 rounds of .40 caliber ammunition.
 
Pitts later pleaded guilty and admitted traveling to the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation from Michigan on multiple occasions beginning in or about 2016 and transporting between 800 and1,000 oxycodone 30-mg pills for distribution per trip. Pitts has a weapons felony conviction in 2009 and a possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in 2012, both of which make it illegal for him to carry a firearm or ammunition.
 
“Pitts was carrying illegal opioids with a street value of $130,000, and was bringing $70,000 in pills every time he trafficked this poison from Detroit to North Dakota,” said United States Attorney Drew Wrigley, “those drug and firearm offenses landed him right where he belongs, far away in federal prison for the next decade.”
 
This case was investigated by the Mandan Hidatsa & Arikara Division of Drug Enforcement; New Town Police Department; and Homeland Security Investigations, and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Rick L. Volk.
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MINOT, ND – The Minot City Council voted 5-2 at its meeting on Tuesday to extend the city wide mask mandate until Feb. 16. Mayor Shaun Sipma made the motion, which was supported by the mayor and council members Carrie Evans, Stephan Podrygula, Lisa Olson, and Mark Jantzer. Members Paul Pitner and Tom Ross opposed the extension. Gov. Doug Burgum allowed the state mask mandate to expire on Monday. Several Minot residents spoke against extending the city’s mask mandate, and council members held considerable debate on the issue. The City’s mask mandate will be reconsidered at the Feb. 16 City Council meeting.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A judge has struck down a North Dakota’s law that landowners say takes away their property rights.

The so-called pore space law passed the Legislature in 2019 after supporters sought clarification on the use of cavities in rock or soil. Pore spaces are used when the petroleum industry injects saltwater from oil and gas production underground for permanent storage or for enhanced oil recovery. Northeast District Judge Anthony Benson ruled the law unconstitutional because it gives the landowners’ value from pore space to the oil and gas industry for free.

The Northwest Landowners Association sued the state in 2019 arguing the law deprives them of their right to be compensated for the use of their pore space. “With energy development in this state, pore space is a massive, massive part of the puzzle,” said association chairman Troy Coons.
 
The North Dakota Petroleum Council pushed for the law. The council’s president, Ron Ness, said Thursday that he was disappointed in the judge’s ruling, the Bismarck Tribune reported. “No matter how this court ruled we expected one side to be disappointed,” he said. “We expect to see an appeal, there will be more to come.”
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Some members of the North Dakota Legislature are taking another shot at easing restrictions on citizens’ right to use deadly force in self-defense. The bill would allow someone to use deadly force without retreating in certain circumstances. The proposal to remove the so-called “duty to retreat” provision is the latest attempt by some lawmakers to modify the state’s “castle law.” The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 25 states have laws stating that there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force against an attacker.
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BISMARCK, ND – Today’s COVID-19 report from the North Dakota Department of Health list a daily positive rate of 3.1% as 196 positive come from 7,380 tests processed. Hospitalizations due to the virus are down one to 53. Active cases are at 1,184, up 15 since yesterday. Three more deaths are reported among those who tested positive, bringing the total to 1,403. They include one each from Benson, Cass, and Morton counties.
 
New positive cases today include:
 
Burleigh County – 32
Cass County – 31
Ward County – 25
Williams County – 14
Grand Forks County – 12
Morton County – 12
Ramsey County – 8
Stutsman County – 7
Traill County – 7
Adams County – 4
Hettinger County – 4
McKenzie County – 4
Mountrail County – 4
Richland County – 4
Bottineau County – 3
Rolette County – 3
Grant County – 2
Ransom County – 2
Sioux County – 2
Walsh County – 2
Benson County – 1
Bowman County -1
Burke County – 1
Emmons County – 1
LaMoure County – 1
McHenry County – 1
McIntosh County – 1
McLean County – 1
Mercer County – 1
Pierce County – 1
Renville County – 1
Stark County – 1
Towner County – 1
 
The 14-day rolling positivity rate is at 3.4% today.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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KHRT NEWS – FRIDAY – 012221 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A survey sponsored by a union that supports North Dakota teachers shows more willingness by instructors and staff to return to the classroom, thanks to a drop in COVID-19 cases. The report by DFM Research of St. Paul, Minnesota said 52% of the 501 teachers and education support professionals who were interviewed said they felt safe returning to full-time, inperson learning. That’s up from 31% in October, according to North Dakota United, the education and public workers union.
 
Even so, the survey revealed that many teachers are considering another profession due to increased stress and burnout stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The union said that could make it difficult to recruit and retain teachers, The Bismarck Tribune reported. “Should teachers, who are experiencing very high levels of stress, leave the profession early, we may well be pushed into a teacher shortage crisis,” North Dakota United President Nick Archuleta said in a statement.
 
North Dakota health officials on Thursday confirmed 152 new COVID-19 cases out of more than 7,400 tests in the last day, a positivity rate of 2.4%. A total of 96,320 people have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. The state reported 13 deaths due to the coronavirus in the last day, boosting the total to 1,400 fatalities. Hospitalizations fell from 55 to 54 in the last 24 hours.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (PNS) – The weight of the pandemic is being felt by many North Dakota families, and supporters of a statewide paid-leave program are pushing a revised proposal they say would protect workers when they, or loved ones, need care. State Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, D-Fargo, has reintroduced a measure to create a paid-leave fund, facilitated by the state, for employers or their staff to contribute to. Unlike a previous proposal, contributions would be optional – and could be split by all parties, or covered by one of them.
 
Amy Jacobson, executive director of the group Prairie Action, said she thinks this added flexibility gives the bill new life. “This lived experience that we’ve all had with the pandemic, and just really understanding the needs of our families in North Dakota,” said Jacobson, “puts us in a position to be able to address that in a way that’s empowering, really.” And although the program would be phased in, she said it gives hope to those who had to forgo paychecks because of the crisis. The Greater North Dakota Chamber raised concerns about the previous plan requiring contributions.
 
Meanwhile, another potential obstacle in the overall effort is a separate proposal, which would block local governments from enacting their own programs if the statewide effort falls short. But Kristie Wolff, executive director of the North Dakota Women’s Network, said she hopes enough lawmakers rally around Hanson’s plan – noting it can help companies retain employees. She said that’s especially the case for smaller firms that want to help workers in these situations, but often can’t afford to. “This policy would make it possible to provide those benefits for employees and provide that culture,” said Wolff. “And also will help us compete for good employees.”
 
And supporters said the program could help independent contractors trying to survive in the “gig-economy.” Jessica Petrick, a Realtor and small business owner in Bismarck, said now is the time to help women who have had to make difficult choices such life-changing events as childbirth. “For example, I owned a salon, and a lot of the employees I had didn’t have health insurance,” said Petrick. “Some of them ended up getting pregnant, or whatever it was, and they didn’t have any type of paid leave.”
 
The bill does require an initial state investment of $5 million to help get the program started. That money would have to be paid back over a 20 year period.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The North Dakota Senate has rejected a bill that would have allowed the state to hold liable any corporate officer responsible for oil- and gas-related violations. The North Dakota Petroleum Council and the Greater North Dakota Chamber had lobbied against the bill, saying it unfairly targeted the oil industry. The measure rejected Wednesday was requested by State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms after recent environmental problems in the oil patch. Helms said the state was left with the $1 million bill for cleaning up two properties after companies refused to get involved or abandoned the sites.
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A new monthly survey of bankers suggests growing improvement in the economy in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. But Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says bank CEOs’ biggest fears for 2021 are excessive inflation and higher long-term interest rates. The overall index of January’s Rural Mainstreet Survey improved to 52.0 from December’s 51.6 – the highest reading since before the onset last year of the coronavirus pandemic. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
 
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – THURSDAY – 012121 – 1200
 
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The North Dakota Senate has rejected a bill that would have allowed the state to hold liable any corporate officer responsible for oil- and gas-related violations. The North Dakota Petroleum Council and the Greater North Dakota Chamber had lobbied against the bill, saying it unfairly targeted the oil industry.
 
The measure rejected Wednesday was requested by State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms after recent environmental problems in the oil patch. Helms said the state was left with the $1 million bill for cleaning up two properties after companies refused to get involved or abandoned the sites, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
 
Rep. Jim Roers, of Fargo, was among Republicans who killed the bill. “We have corporations and partnerships that provide protections for certain individuals, and we felt by passing this bill we would violate those protections, and CEOs, boards of directors could now be held liable for things they would have very little knowledge of what was going on,” he said.
 
Democratic Sen. Merrill Piepkorn, of Fargo, defended the measure. “This is an addition that gives the Industrial Commission another tool in their toolbox as they are charged with regulating this industry,” he said.
 
The bill was defeated on a vote of 7-39.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota Republican Gov. Doug Burgum and the state’s all-GOP congressional delegation want President Joe Biden to reconsider his revocation of the permit for the long-disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline. Burgum says in a statement that “revoking the permit is wrong for the country and has a chilling effect on private-sector investment in much-needed infrastructure projects.” Sen. Kevin Cramer urged Biden to reconsider the pipeline decision, calling it an “early mistake by the president and a nod to far-left environmental extremists.” The pipeline was planned to carry about 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast.
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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) – A new monthly survey of bankers suggests growing improvement in the economy in rural parts of 10 Plains and Western states. But Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says bank CEOs’ biggest fears for 2021 are excessive inflation and higher long-term interest rates. The overall index of January’s Rural Mainstreet Survey improved to 52.0 from December’s 51.6 – the highest reading since before the onset last year of the coronavirus pandemic. Any score above 50 suggests a growing economy, while a score below 50 suggests a shrinking economy. Bankers from Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming were surveyed.
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BISMARCK, ND – Most numbers are down in today’s COVID-19 report from the North Dakota Department of Health. The daily positive rate is 2.4% as 152 positives come from 7,407 tests processed. Active cases drop by eight to 1,169. Hospitalizations due to the virus are down one to 54. There were 13 deaths reported among those who tested positive bringing the total to 1,400. They include two each from Burleigh and Ransom counties; and one each from Barnes, Cass, Golden Valley, McHenry, McLean, Towner, Walsh, Ward, and Williams counties.
 
New positives today include:
 
Burleigh County – 24
Cass County – 23
Williams County – 17
Grand Forks County – 10
Stark County – 10
Richland County – 7
Rolette County – 6
Bowman County – 5
McKenzie County – 5
Walsh County – 5
McLean County – 4
Ramsey County – 4
Adams County – 3
Benson County – 3
Mercer County – 3
Morton County – 3
Stutsman County – 3
Dickey County – 2
Foster County – 2
Sioux County – 2
Bottineau County – 1
Eddy County – 1
Golden Valley County – 1
LaMoure County – 1
Pembina County – 1
Pierce County – 1
Sheridan County – 1
Steele County – 1
Traill County – 1
Ward County – 1
Wells County – 1
 
The 14-day rolling positivity rate is at 3.5%.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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KHRT NEWS – THURSDAY – 012121 – 0700
 
 
BISMARCK, N.D. – After being sworn-in yesterday morning, one of the first orders of business for President Joe Biden was to sign several executive oders. One of them revoked the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would have an on-ramp for Bakken crude oil from North Dakota. Gov. Doug Burgum released the following statement
 
“For decades, a primary policy goal of every presidential administration has been to put America in a position to sell energy to our friends and allies versus buy it from our enemies. Finally achieving this policy of U.S. energy independence in recent years due to American innovation and entrepreneurship has led to low energy prices that help working families keep more money in their pockets, a resurgence in American manufacturing jobs and the ability to bring our soldiers home. Now is not the time to abandon this essential strategy.
 
“In North Dakota, we’ve experienced first-hand how major modern pipeline infrastructure and an all-of-the-above energy strategy can create high-paying jobs, strengthen the economy, move product to market in the safest and most efficient manner, and advance U.S. energy independence. The Keystone XL pipeline accomplishes all of these goals, and revoking the permit is wrong for the country and has a chilling effect on private-sector investment in much-needed infrastructure projects, which is why we urge the President to reconsider.
 
“We’re ready to work with the new administration on developing policies that support our state’s priorities, and we will continue to oppose policies that harm North Dakotans, especially our energy and agricultural producers.”
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A North Dakota lawmaker wants to ban testing of wastewater for the coronavirus, saying the practice violates the privacy rights of college students. Republican Rep. Claire Cory, of Grand Forks, introduced a bill that would prohibit wastewater testing “for genetic material or evidence of disease.” She said she brought the proposal over concerns from people about wastewater testing tracing the virus on university campuses. “They should still have privacy and things like that,” Cory said, acknowledging that the testing doesn’t trace the virus to individuals.
 
North Dakota’s Department of Environmental Quality is heading the wastewater testing, an emerging science that is potentially an earlier indicator of active COVID-19 cases than testing of people, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
 
Cory’s bill isn’t the only one that targets wastewater analysis. Republican Rep. Matt Ruby, of Minot, is sponsoring an initiative that would require a public hearing and a vote before local officials decide to participate in state or national testing. Like Cory, Ruby said he was approached by people concerned by testing that traced the virus to a university residence hall. “I’m not going to get into big conspiracy theories or anything like that. I just think we need to have eyes on it from the citizens’ standpoint,” Ruby said.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Bipartisan legislation proposes that North Dakota taxpayers pick up the tab for lawmakers’ meals since dinners paid for by lobbyists and interest groups are now banned under voter-approved ethics rules.
 
Republican GOP Rep. Keith Kempenich is sponsoring HB1424 that would allow lawmakers who live outside Bismarck to claim reimbursement for meals. The bill has an estimated two-year cost of more than $424,000, or about $3,340 for each of the 127 qualified lawmakers during the maximum 80-day session. Kempenich said Wednesday that the bill was inspired by the measure that voters approved in 2018 that amended the North Dakota Constitution to include a sweeping government ethics overhaul. Most Republicans opposed the measure that was aimed at adding transparency and accountability to government.
 
The Bowman rancher pushed a similar bill two years ago, while the ethics rules were being crafted and some meals were still being provided. No hearing has been scheduled for the new bill. Kempenich, who has been in the House since 1993, said dinners funded by lobbyists and other groups had gone from “steak and lobster to finger food” during that time. Lawmakers used to joke about the weight they packed on during a session, but this session, he said, the freebie food is nonexistent.
 
One former lawmaker testified last session that the removal of the lobbyist meals perk was forcing him to develop unhealthy eating habits, including dipping into candy dishes on his colleagues’ desks. Kempenich said he doesn’t expect to gain any extra pounds this session since he now typically eats a can of spaghetti for dinner that costs $1 and he keeps canned food in his desk for lunches.
 
Lawmakers are paid $518 a month and $186 a day during the session. They also receive a housing allowance during the session of more than $1,800 a month and are included on the state-funded employee health plan worth about $1,425 monthly. “We are a citizen legislature,” said Kempenich, whose home is about 200 miles from Bismarck. “It shouldn’t have to cost us money to be here.”
 
Kempenich’s bill failed in the House two years ago, but he said his fellow lawmakers may support his bill now that the free “feedbag” is no longer available. GOP Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, of Dickinson, said he has no “appetite” for such legislation, especially at a time of declining state revenue.
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UNDATED (AP) – Two large studies give a much sharper picture of which inherited mutations raise the risk of breast cancer for women without a family history of the disease. Doctors say the results published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine can help women make better decisions about screening, preventive surgery or other steps. Although this sort of genetic testing isn’t currently recommended for the general population, its use is growing and many people get it from tests sold directly to consumers. One study suggests that nearly 2% of U.S. women have a mutation that may raise their risk for breast cancer.
 
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – WEDNESDAY – 012021 – 1200
 
BISMARCK, ND – A week after damaging winds hit the upper Midwest, the strong wind is back in North Dakota. The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning for north central North Dakota into the Devils Lake basin through 9 pm. Forecasters say north west winds to 25 to 35 mph could gust to 55 or 60 mph. Some blowing snow could also effect travel across the region.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A Mandan couple is charged with child endangerment after their 4-year-old son, dressed in pajamas, was found outdoors in freezing temperatures. A caller told police the child was visibly shaking when found three-tenths of a mile from his home Saturday morning without shoes and wrapped in a blanket, according to a affidavit. The temperature was 19 degrees, the Bismarck Tribune reported. 26-year old Kasandra Denault and 42-year old Peter Denault made their initial court appearances Tuesday. Court documents do not list an attorney who could speak on their behalf. The parents told police the boy jumped out of a bedroom window and ran off and that he had done so before. The window was not secured, the affidavit said. The two are also facing misdemeanor drug paraphernalia charges.
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BISMARCK, ND – Hospitalization due to COVID-19 are at the lowest point since September 9th, while active cases are at their lowest level since August 18th. Today’s report from the North Dakota Department of Health list hospitialization at 55, down 33 in the past day. Active cases drop by 57 to a total of 1,177. Active cases peaked at over 11,000 in November.
 
Today’s daily positive rate is 3% as 158 positives come from 6,308 tests processed. A man from Ramsey County is the only death reported among those who tested positive, bringing the total to 1,387 since the pandemic began.
 
New positives today include:
Burleigh County – 21
Ward County – 18
Cass County – 16
Williams County – 16
Grand Forks County – 15
Stark County – 10
Richland County – 9
Mercer County – 6
Morton County – 6
Bowman County – 4
McLean County – 4
Bottineau County – 3
Stutsman County – 3
Traill County – 3
Walsh County – 3
Mountrail County – 2
Adams County – 1
Barnes County – 1
Benson County – 1
Cavalier County – 1
Dickey County – 1
Divide County – 1
Dunn County – 1
Eddy County – 1
Foster County – 1
Golden Valley County – 1
Grant County – 1
McHenry County – 1
McKenzie County – 1
Oliver County – 1
Pembina County – 1
Renville County – 1
Sheridan County – 1
Sioux County – 1
Steele County – 1
 
The 14-day rolling positivity rate is at 3.6%
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MINOT, N.D. (PNS) – The movement to expand affordable legal services is receiving renewed focus, since a U.S. Supreme Court Justice made a public endorsement of the idea. Conservative-leaning Justice Neil Gorsuch recently wrote an op-ed for USA Today, calling on states to find creative ways for more Americans to get free or affordable legal guidance, especially in non-criminal cases. Examples include establishing a will or dealing with small-claims issues.
 
Rich LeMay, executive director for Legal Services of North Dakota, said this kind of advocacy is long overdue. “Attorneys go to school for this, and quite frankly, some of the attorneys don’t have it figured out,” LeMay asserted. “It’s a lot to expect that a person’s gonna be able to do everything the way the court requires.” Even for people who do qualify for legal aid, LeMay said programs like his don’t have a wide range of resources to cover every kind of case.
 
Arizona now allows para-professionals to represent people in court in limited situations, even without a law license. Private attorney groups have raised some concerns that these changes could open the door to unregulated companies preying on people who need help.
Meanwhile, LeMay pointed out Congress could help by adjusting eligibility requirements, so more people could qualify for legal-aid groups that have attorneys on staff. He contended these groups also need more funding to serve more clients. “When I started in 1989, Legal Services Corporation, nationally, was funded at $400 million,” LeMay explained. “And here we are, 32 years later. And granted, we’re getting increases, but we’re only at $465 million.”
 
He added public awareness is a big issue. And given all the financial challenges from last year, his group didn’t see as many cases as expected. LeMay suggested people in need of legal advice research any possible assistance options before deciding to represent themselves.
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COOPERSTOWN, N.D. (AP) – Sheriff’s officials are investigating after vandalism caused extensive damage at a Bible camp in eastern North Dakota. Authorities say someone set fire to a boys’ cabin and caused other damage at the Cooperstown Bible Camp Monday night. Officials say someone drove recklessly all over the camp, narrowing missing buildings, trees and propane tanks. The Griggs County Sheriff’s Office is looking for information on those responsible.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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KHRT NEWS – WEDNESDAY – 012021 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota legislative leaders are proposing a bill that spells out the process for filling the seat of a victorious candidate who dies or resigns before taking office, after a similar scenario last fall resulted in a clash between the governor and lawmakers.
 
Republican House candidate David Andahl, of Baldwin, died due to complications from the coronavirus on Oct. 5 and then won one of two open seats in District 8. Gov. Doug Burgum, who in the primary supported Andahl and another candidate over longtime Republican lawmaker Jeff Delzer, tried to appoint Washburn coal executive Wade Boeshans to fill the spot. That move was rebuffed when the state Supreme Court said a Republican district committee should pick the replacement. Delzer, who had clashed with Burgum on policy and budget issues, was named as successor even though he lost in the primary.
 
The proposal by six Republican majority floor leaders mirrors the Supreme Court ruling and gives district parties the power to name a successor to an open seat. It specifically states that the governor may not fill a vacancy in the office of a member of the legislative assembly, The Bismarck Tribune reported. House Majority Leader Chet Pollert called that provision “pretty plain.”
 
The governor’s spokesman, Mike Nowatzki, said Burgum “generally doesn’t comment on pending legislation.”
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Some lawmakers want a broader investment policy for North Dakota’s oil tax savings account to help finance
projects in the state. The legislation unveiled Tuesday by Republican lawmakers would tap 20% of the money coming into the Legacy Fund primarily for investments within the state. It’s the latest attempt to use the voter-approved fund as a source of money to help finance expensive infrastructure projects as state’s oil-driven economy declines.
 
GOP Rep. Mike Nathe, a Bismarck funeral home owner and the bill’s primary sponsor, said only about 1% of the Legacy Fund’s principal is invested in North Dakota at present. “It’s always great to invest in North Dakota and ourselves and this bill reflects that,” Nathe said in an interview.
 
Earnings from investments would be used to establish a revolving loan fund. Loans from the fund would have an interests rate of less than 2% percent interest. They would be administered by the state-owned Bank of North Dakota for projects such as flood protection and water systems. Cities, counties and other political subdivisions such as townships would be eligible for some loans.
 
In 2010, North Dakota voters endorsed a constitutional amendment that requires setting aside 30 percent of state tax revenues on oil and natural gas production in the Legacy Fund, which is now valued at $7.89 billion. It’s expected to earn about $500 million in the next two-year budget cycle. The most recent deposit into the fund was $29.6 million in December.
 
The fund’s principal has not been seriously targeted, but lawmakers have spent $455 million from the earnings since 2017, mainly to balance the state budget that has more than doubled in the past decade. Currently, a two-thirds vote of the North Dakota House and Senate is needed to spend any of the fund’s principal. A state attorney general’s opinion said that voting threshold does not apply to fund’s investments, Nathe said. “We’re not spending the principal,” Nathe said. “These are investments.”
 
A decade ago, revenue from the fund was parked mostly in short-term, low-risk and low-return U.S bonds, guaranteed by government agencies. But annual earnings from the fund barely kept pace with inflation.
 
The State Investment Board now invests the Legacy Fund money in a broad range of assets, including stocks, bonds and real estate, averaging a return of about 6%. The board also supervises the Retirement and Investment Office and oversees state and local government employee pension funds. The board also supervises a separate “rainy day” fund, called the Budget Stabilization Fund, that holds almost $750 million. “We have investments all over the world and we have virtually nothing here in North Dakota,” Nathe said of the Legacy Fund investments.
 
North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread, who sits on the 12-member investment board, said the panel, which meets later this month, has not yet discussed the bill.
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NEW TOWN, N.D. (AP) – Authorities say one man was killed in a camper fire Monday at a mobile home court in New Town. Oficials received a report about 5:11 p.m. Monday of man locked inside a 20-foot camper, which was fully engulfed in flames when fire crews arrived on scene. The blaze was extinguished in 20 minutes, after which time crews found the man’s body, KXMC-TV reported. The victim has not been identified. The North Dakota Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the blaze.
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NEW TOWN, N.D. (AP) – Authorities say an explosion at an oil tank battery near New Town Monday night sent 14 tanks up in flames and caused oil and brine to spill. No injuries were reported. New Town Fire Chief John DeGroot said the fire was allowed to burn out in a few hours. The cause of the explosion is not yet known, he said. The incident caused 600 barrels of oil and 243 barrels of brine to spill, according to a report filed with the state by Slawson Exploration Co. The report said the spill was contained to the well site and the oil was consumed by the fire, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota Sen. Terry Wanzek says he has contracted COVID-19. The 63-year-old Jamestown senator says he took a rapid test Monday and immediately left the Capitol after a test-taker told him about the positive results. Wanzek says he doesn’t believe he has any close contacts in the Legislature and has been wearing his mask. The senator shared the news remotely during the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting. Wanzek will quarantine at home for 10 days, KQDJ reported. North Dakota lawmakers are required to wear face coverings in the House and Senate chambers and other shared spaces. But, some lawmakers regularly eat lunch together in the Capitol cafeteria without masks.
 
North Dakota health officials on Tuesday reported 138 new positive COVID-19 tests and two deaths in the last day, increasing the total number of cases to 96.071 and the cumulative fatalities to 1,386 since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations were down 3, to 88. After spending several weeks near the end of 2020 as the worst state in the number of new virus cases relative to population, North Dakota was ranked 50th per capita in data compiled Monday by The COVID Tracking Project.
 
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 011921 – 1200
 
FARGO, N.D. (AP) – A man accused of using an ax to smash windows at the entrance of Republican North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven’s office in downtown Fargo has been indicted in federal court, according to documents unsealed today. Thomas Starks of Lisbon is charged with injury or depredation against government property for allegedly causing the damage discovered by staffers on Dec. 21. Starks was also charged with criminal mischief in state court.
 
Police said Starks can be seen in security video walking up some stairs toward the entrance of Hoeven’s office. The video first shows him striking the secure lock system then hitting the windows with the ax. Starks appeared in federal court this morning. Tatum O’Brien, Starks’ lawyer, was in court and not immediately available for comment. U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley planned a news conference to discuss the case after Stark’s court appearance.
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MINOT, ND – An early morning fire on Sunday damaged a Minot business on East Burdick Expressway. Minot Fire Department crews were called to Steins, Inc at 2500 East Burdick Expressway at 4:23 a.m. for a reported structure fire. Upon arrival fire crews encountered heavy fire in the rear of the structure. Crews verified that no one was inside and started their fire attack. The fire was contained to the structure of origin; no surrounding structures were damaged. All four City of Minot fire stations responded and a call for additional personnel was initiated. No civilian or firefighter injuries were reported. A portion of Burdick Expressway was temporarily closed while firefighters were on scene. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Minot Fire Department.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Sen. Terry Wanzek says he has contracted COVID-19. The 63-year-old Jamestown senator says he took a rapid test Monday and immediately left the State Capitol after a test-taker told him about the positive results. Wanzek says he doesn’t believe he has any close contacts in the Legislature and has been wearing his mask. The senator shared the news remotely during the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting. Wanzek will quarantine at home for 10 days. North Dakota lawmakers are required to wear face coverings in the House and Senate chambers and other shared spaces. But, some lawmakers regularly eat lunch together in the Capitol cafeteria without masks.
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BISMARCK, ND – Active cases of COVID-19 in North Dakota continue to drop. Today’s report from the Department of Health list 1,234 active cases, down 143 in the past day. Today’s daily positive rate is 4.24% as 138 positives come from 3,810 tests processed. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are down by three today to 88. Deaths among those who tested positive include a man from Cass County and a man from Ward County, bringing the total to 1,386.
 
New positives today include:
 
Ward County – 20
Cass County – 18
Grand Forks County – 17
Burleigh County – 16
Richland County – 10
Williams County – 10
McKenzie County – 7
Adams County – 4
Ramsey County – 4
Bowman County – 3
Morton County – 3
Walsh County – 3
Dickey County – 2
Rolette County – 2
Sargent County – 2
Stark County – 2
Traill County – 2
Barnes County – 1
Bottineau County – 1
Burke County – 1
Divide County – 1
Eddy County – 1
Foster County – 1
Hettinger County – 1
McIntosh County – 1
Mercer County – 1
Mountrail County – 1
Pembina County – 1
Renville County – 1
Stutsman County – 1
 
The 14-day rolling positivity rate is down to 3.7% Only four counties have more than 100 active cases led by Cass with 252, followed by Burleigh at 159, then Grand Forks with 133 and Ward at 123.
 
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – TUESDAY – 011921 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A massive $1.1 billion bonding package aimed largely at financing infrastructure projects across North Dakota is being withdrawn and will be replaced by a far less costly proposal, Republican legislative leaders said Monday. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, who unveiled the proposal earlier this month at a press conference teeming with lobbyists, told The Associated Press the bill would be scrubbed.
 
A new proposal that would be at least $300 million less will be coming from the House, probably later this week, he said. “We are going to do a slimmed-down version,” said House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, who declined to give a dollar amount. The GOP leaders said priority will be given only to water and flood-control projects. “No matter what we do, there are some people who aren’t going to be happy,” Pollert said.
 
The original Senate proposal had not been publicly debated, but it has been the subject of several behind-the-scenes intraparty negotiations. Wardner had predicted earlier that the proposal would meet resistance in the more-conservative House.
 
The proposal would use earnings from the state’s oil tax savings account to pay for the borrowed money. The idea is similar to a $1.25 billion bonding proposal presented by Gov. Doug Burgum last month. But there’s one huge exception: The Republican governor’s proposal includes $700 million in low-interest loans for roads, bridges and other construction projects. The legislative leaders’ plan would offer those funds as grants. Burgum and legislative leaders tout bonding as a way to finance infrastructure projects without having to use other revenue sources or increase taxes.
 
Both proposals aim to pay off the bonds in 20 years or less using earnings from the state’s oil tax savings account known as the Legacy Fund, which voters enacted in 2010. The fund’s value is currently $7.8 billion and it’s expected to earn about $500 million in the next two-year budget cycle.
 
Democrats also had offered a sweeping $2 billion bonding package that includes a revolving loan fund of $750 million for school construction. The proposal was seen only as a political statement from the party that is badly outnumbered in the Legislature.
The ambitious billion-dollar bonding proposals from Republicans, Democrats and Burgum were expected to highlight the session. But the legislature that has shown little appetite for borrowing money to pay for projects, and many saw any bonding proposal doomed from the start.
 
For several years, the state rode a wave of unprecedented growth – and spending – due to generally healthy commodity prices and rapid oil development in western North Dakota as the state became the No. 2 oil producer in the U.S. behind Texas. The state budget has more than doubled in the past decade, and lawmakers generally have funded projects with money on hand, instead of borrowing for them.
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BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota National Guard adjutant general announced force structure changes affecting the Williston-based 818th Engineer Company (SAPPER). “The National Guard Bureau is adjusting Army engineer force structure nation-wide,” said Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, adjutant general. “What this means for North Dakota is the eventual transfer of the 818th Engineer Company to another state. This doesn’t mean that we won’t have N.D. National Guard presence in the city. We are committed to a long-term unit presence in Williston.”
 
The N.D. National Guard will develop options for a follow-on unit in Willison along with plans to build a new armory in the future when the new unit-type will be known. The transfer of the 818th is not expected until 2025 and the unit will continue to train as normal for the immediate future. Williston has been an important location for the N.D. National Guard for over a century.
 
The other projected force structure change is in the Jamestown-based 817th Engineer Company (Sapper). The 817th is projected to convert to a Combat Engineer Company – Infantry (CEC-I) also in 2025. This change would increase the unit strength from 103 to about 119 assigned Soldiers.
 
These force change initiatives are part of the U.S. Army’s commitment to LSCO (large-scale combat operations) and the structure to support that effort. Force adjustments are cyclical, and through these transformations, the N.D. National Guard will continue to modernize and grow capabilities.
 
The N.D. National Guard has been a part of the Williston community since 1902. In 2006, Company B, 164th Engineer Battalion converted to the current 818th Engineer Company. The unit served in Afghanistan from for nearly a year from April 2012 to March 2013. In 2006, Company B, 141st Engineer Battalion converted to the current 817th Engineer Company. Company B was mobilized for service in Iraq from Dec. 2003 to Feb. 2005 while the 817th deployed to Iraq from June 2007 to June 2008.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – North Dakota’s rate of positive examinations for COVID-19 remained low in Monday’s daily update, which included its usual sparse amount of processed tests from the weekend. The list included 69 new cases from 2,194 tests, a positivity rate of 3.63%. The COVID Tracking Project reports that North Dakota’s rolling average number of daily new cases over the past two weeks has decreased by more than 27%.
 
A total of 95,934 people have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. The state has seen a steady decline of daily cases since peaking in mid-November and ranks 48th per capita in the country for new cases over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.
 
The update showed no deaths in the last day, the fifth time this month that no fatalities have been reported in a 24-hour period. The death count, which stands at a total of 1,384, is the sixth highest per capita at 185 deaths per 100,000 people, researchers said.
Hospitalizations increased by six in the last day, to 91. The state’s hospital tracker shows there are 32 staffed intensive care unit beds and 351 staffed inpatient beds available throughout North Dakota.
 
A statewide mask mandate that was ordered in mid-November was allowed to expire Monday morning.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The coronavirus pandemic cut the number of passengers using North Dakota’s eight commercial service airports in half last year. The airports in Bismarck, Minot, Williston, Dickinson, Grand Forks, Fargo, Devils Lake and Jamestown finished 2020 with a total of 572,093 airline passenger boardings. The state Aeronautics Commission says that’s a 52% drop from the previous year and the lowest passenger count since 2003.
 
After COVID-19 arrived in North Dakota in March, passenger numbers in April plummeted by 95%, to the lowest monthly count since record keeping began 40 years ago, the Bismarck Tribune reported. But, since then, boardings have been on the upward swing and last month were 55% below the December 2019 level.
 
The commission says increased recent demand has encouraged airlines to begin slowly adding back flights and seat capacity. The state’s airports still provide nonstop flights to 10 destinations, three of them seasonal.
 
“Our airports never closed and they quickly worked to implement recommended mitigations to help ensure that a safe environment exists for those who need to travel. They were also able to accommodate emergency-related personnel and products to efficiently enter and depart our state,” Aeronautics Commissioner Kyle Wanner said. “As we look forward to 2021, I remain optimistic that airline passenger numbers will continue their current positive trend towards recovery.”
 
The Federal Aviation Administration last year awarded more than $85 million in aid to 53 North Dakota airports through the federal CARES Act economic rescue package.
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)