5 things to know today: Abortion numbers, Diversion land, Street racing, Roers townhomes, Burgum donations
A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
1. Who's having abortions in North Dakota? Here's a by-the-numbers look
Data tucked away on the state health department website provides a snapshot of women seeking abortions in North Dakota — women who will have to find other options if Roe v. Wade is overturned and the state’s so-called “trigger” ban prohibiting abortion takes hold.
A change to the landmark 1973 decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion appears likely, based on a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion published May 2.
Anyone performing an abortion, other than the pregnant female on whom it would be performed, could face a Class C felony, except in cases of rape or incest or if the mother's life is in danger.
Abortion statistics are compiled by the North Dakota Department of Health Division of Vital Records. The most recent year for which complete data is available is 2020.
The “by-the-numbers” annual report, referred to as Induced Termination of Pregnancy Data, lays out details including age, education, race and marital status, along with week of gestation at the time of abortion, number of living children and number of previous abortions.
2. North Dakota court puts the brakes on 'quick take' in diversion land case
The North Dakota Supreme Court has reversed a lower court and concluded that officials were improperly using a streamlined eminent domain process called "quick take" to obtain a farmstead for the metro flood diversion project.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the Cass County Joint Water Resource District, which is acquiring land for the $3.2 billion project, must use the standard eminent domain process to acquire land and other property owned by Gene and Brenda Sauvageau.
“They’re validating landowners’ rights,” Cash Aaland, the Sauvageaus’ lawyer, said Monday, May 16, in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. Aaland said the water resource district was using the quick take process to pressure the Sauvageaus into accepting an unfair offer.
“They’re not negotiating in good faith,” he said, adding that the North Dakota Supreme Court now has ruled twice that the district was acting improperly in acquiring land. “You have a pattern here of Cass Joint violating landowners’ rights.”
3. Fargo City Commission votes down task force on street racing, speeding
A proposal to form a task force to address racing, speeding and noise on city streets was shot down by the City Commission on Monday night, May 16.
The measure, proposed by Commissioner Arlette Preston, a mayoral candidate, had a 3-2 vote was 3-2, with only Commissioner John Strand voting with Preston.
The defeated plan came after a town hall meeting on May 5 when about 50 residents from around the city attended to express concerns.
The biggest areas of concern were North University Drive, 19th Avenue North, 10th Street North, South University Drive, 25th Street South and 52nd Avenue South.
Preston said she proposed the task force of seven to 11 people — composed of residents, business owners, city police and traffic engineers — to become educated on the subject and to look for solutions from other cities.
Commissioners Dave Piepkorn and Tony Gehrig led the charge opposing the task force.
4. Roers, city may be headed to court over Fargo townhome squabble
The squabble over unbuilt townhomes in the midst of the north Fargo Roosevelt neighborhood could be headed to court.
Assistant City Administrator Mike Redlinger and Assistant City Attorney Ian McLean said three meetings were held after a heated May 2 Fargo City Commission meeting where Jim Roers, company president of Roers Development Co., was harshly criticized by several city commissioners for not having the townhomes built by a deadline of last December.
The first meeting was May 9 with Roers, his lawyer and city officials and the second was on May 10 with representatives of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association.
Many neighbors were originally against the apartment complex at 1113 N. University Drive because they believed it would take away from the neighborhood feel and eliminate more single family housing they think is needed to keep the vitality of the neighborhood. The townhomes were a compromise worked out between the two sides.
At a third meeting on May 13, Redlinger said they received an offer from Roers on the issue.
Redlinger said the offer would be the subject of a closed or executive session of the City Commission prior to their next meeting on Tuesday, May 31.
5. North Dakota Gov. Burgum once again making hefty political donations
During the 2020 election cycle, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum gave more than $3.2 million of his personal fortune to a secretive political committee that spent heavily to support candidates who aligned with him and to oppose those who didn’t.
Campaign finance records filed last week indicate Burgum is making moves to be a major political donor again in 2022.
The former tech mogul recently gave $935,000 to the Dakota Leadership PAC, a committee that spent nearly $3.5 million on political advertising in 2020.
Levi Bachmeier, Dakota Leadership PAC’s chairman, wrote in a statement to Forum News Service that the committee is grateful for Burgum's continued donations.
"Our mission remains to elect conservative Republicans who share the governor’s vision to strengthen North Dakota's economy," Bachmeier said.
In response to Forum News Service's voicemail seeking comment about the governor's donations, Burgum's campaign spokesperson Dawson Schefter emailed the following statement:
"The governor has been an active donor to Republican candidates and causes for years and strongly supports the mission of Dakota Leadership PAC," Schefter said.