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Monday, January 29, 2018


BUDGET BOOGEYMAN Gov. Doug Burgum sees a bright future for the state, but indicated the budget is still the big challenge in the shorter term. In his State of the State address in Minot this week, he said the state burned through cash reserves, as well as tapping the Legacy Fund for $200 million, in order to make the current budget. He believes the $5 billion Legacy Fund should not be used to fill holes in the state’s operating budget, rather, it should be used for projects that “transform what we’re doing.” As always, Burgum emphasized the state needs to respond to “the unstoppable forces of technology.”
VISION AND VOICE Columnist Mike Jacobs observed that Gov. Burgum is not a policy wonk, unlike his predecessor Jack Dalrymple, who had a substantial legislative background. Jacobs said, “My conclusion about Burgum is that he wants to use the governorship to create spaces for local governments and individuals to develop policy.” He said Burgum “seeks to provide vision and voice” -- not a surprising strategy coming from a former corporate CEO.
“THIS WAS THE SOUL-CRUSHINGEST OF THEM ALL” -- The St. Paul Pioneer Press summary of the Minnesota Viking’s 38-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. the win puts the Eagles in the Super Bowl in Minneapolis on February 4 and makes ND star Carson Wentz a candidate for a Super Bowl ring. Wentz led the Eagles to a 10-2 record before his December injury. Star-Tribune sportswriter Jim Souhan had a less kinder view of the loss: “They became beloved overachievers who, on Sunday, provided a reminder that overachievers don’t always fare well on the big stage.”
SOMETHING FUNNY HAPPENED on the way to the Super Bowl. ND football fans seemed to shift their loyalty from the Eagles to the Patriots. The state is the only one outside New England to favor the Patriots. An analyst said, “It appears North Dakotans were much bigger fans of Wentz than they were of the Eagles team as a whole.” He also suggested Nodaks were influenced by the very rude treatment Viking fans received in Philadelphia.
IT’S NOT UNUSUAL As noted here a number of times, I-94 has become a “river of drugs” flowing from the West coast to the Twin Cities. The Star-Tribune took note of the phenomenon this week with the headline “Third gigantic pot bust on I-94 in N.D. in 2 months; total seized nears 1,000 lbs.” The S-T observed “In each case, a Minnesotan has been arrested and charged.” The article only mentioned seizures in the Jamestown area -- there have been an equal number of large seizures near Bismarck-Mandan. The Stutsman County Sheriff said “It is unusual and very concerning to me that this amount of marijuana is moving through our community.”
WHY I-94? The West Coast is the new marijuana production center and I-94 is a direct route to the Twin Cities and Chicago, both major drug distribution hubs. Also, drug interdiction has been stepped up on east-west interstates to the south. Law enforcement expects more drug traffic on I-94.
DENTAL THERAPISTS were turned down by ND legislators in 2015 and 2017, largely, due to the opposition of the ND Dental Association. Advocates contend dental therapists make dental care more accessible to low-income people and Indian reservations. Minnesota has 70 licensed therapists with no negative consequences -- the dental association there initially opposed therapists. A ND legislator has reintroduced a dental therapist bill.
JOHN ANDRIST (86) died last week. He was the publisher of The Journal in Crosby and was a state senator for 22 years. A Forum editorial said, “John Andrist, the consummate community journalist, was also the consummate North Dakotan. His wit, wisdom and service will be missed.”
KELLY RUSCH, NDSU Vice President for Research, has resigned after scathing reviews by faculty and staff. Some reviewers criticized NDSU President Dean Bresciani for failing to act. One critic said Bresciani was “complicit in permitting (perhaps even encouraging) Rusch’s egregious reign of terror” by ignoring complaints and giving her “glowing” annual reviews.
LIFE BEYOND BREAKING EVEN is the name of an economic summit for farmers to be held at Bismarck State Jan. 29-30. Western ND farmers have dealt with low commodity prices and drought in the past year. The conference will cover both farm management and the accompanying stress.
ND’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION is inviting guests to the State of the Union Address. Sen. Hoeven has invited Miss America Cara Mund. Rep. Cramer has invited Tommy Fischer, CEO of Fischer Industries in Dickinson, which was given a contract to design a protoype wall for the Mexican border. Sen. Heitkamp has yet to announce her invitee.
IT’S A SLIPPERY BUSINESS Fifty years ago, Detroit Lakes (45 miles east of F-M) was ending ice harvesting. Ice was cut from the lake in 400 pound blocks and skidded onto rail cars for shipment from Minneapolis to Spokane for use in refrigeration. That’s all over, but Detroit Lakes is commemorating its ice-harvesting history by building a 40-foot high ice palace near the lake.
MIGHTY CORPORATE CENTER The Twin Cities area has an enviable list of public company corporate headquarters. Twelve companies have revenues over $10 billion; 31 over $1 billion. The top five are household names: United Health, Target, Best Buy, 3M and Medtronics.
GO TO JAIL CARD The nationwide imprisonment rate dropped while Minnesota’s rose. One factor: Minnesota’s rising black population -- a study shows Minnesota blacks go to prison at 11 times the rate for whites.
DAKTOIDS: ND needs NAFTA. According to the Greater ND Chamber, 98 percent of the state’s commodity exports go to Canada or Mexico . . . ND’s largest tree is a 105-foot, 200-year old cottonwood near Portland . . . The U. of Mary in Bismarck released a book this week on self-made ND hotel millionaire Gary Tharaldson.

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