5 things to know today: American Experiment, Assessment change, Gun laws, Legislative session, Hospice house
A select rundown of stories found on InForum.
1. Protesters gather at Center of the American Experiment launch in West Fargo
Police presence was heavy at the Rustad Recreation Center on Wednesday, May 25, during an hourlong event organized by the Center of the American Experiment to address critical race theory.
About 10 protesters lined the main entrance. Some held signs saying “Defund Schools meeting” and “Stop white washing history.”
“This is the only reason people are here. White people are scared of their own history,” said Margaret Mckenzie, a protester.
The Center of the American Experiment is a Minnesota-based think tank advocating for conservative and free-market principles, according to its website. Founded in 1990 by Mitch Pearlstein, a President Ronald Reagan appointee, the center supports school vouchers and has opposed affirmative action.
2. West Fargo School Board grapples with potential Horace assessment change
The city of Horace is considering a change to the formula it uses when calculating special assessments for the West Fargo School District that could increase the amount the school district would have to pay exponentially.
Horace leaders have been working with a consultant to revise the city's special assessment formula. At the Monday, May 23, West Fargo School Board meeting, Business Manager Levi Bachmeier said Horace's assessment calculations could change from one based on square footage to one that uses potential road loads.
The current policy bases special assessments on the amount of square footage the school district owns in the city of Horace. The revised policy would base the assessment amount on a load factor of 45 multiplied by acreage owned.
The proposal is not yet finalized and will be brought before the Horace City Council at its June 6 meeting.
On Monday, the school board unanimously approved allowing Bachmeier, Superintendent Beth Slette and two board members to meet with Horace leaders to comment on the proposal, which Bachmeier said he hopes will stop short of an official protest by the school district.
3. North Dakota delegates weigh in on gun laws after Texas shooting
A devastating shooting at an elementary school has once again evoked pleas from gun control advocates to tighten federal laws governing the sale and possession of firearms.
Authorities believe a lone gunman murdered 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24. Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old suspect killed by police after the attack, was born in North Dakota, according to a Texas state senator.
North Dakota's all-Republican congressional delegation acknowledged the "evil" and heartbreaking nature of the massacre and stated a willingness to look into reinforcing gun laws without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of Americans.
Sen. John Hoeven said in a statement "we need to find ways to enforce our laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and people who are mentally ill" while protecting the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.
The second-term senator did not offer specific proposals for reforming gun regulations or preventing shootings, but he said the country needs to "find ways to harden our schools, which should be a local, state and federal priority, to prevent this type of terrible incident in the future.”
A spokeswoman for Sen. Kevin Cramer did not respond with a statement from the senator Wednesday afternoon, but Cramer told the Sacramento Bee he wouldn't immediately dismiss a proposal to raise the age for legally purchasing an assault rifle from 18 to 21.
4. What got done — and what didn't — during the 2022 Minnesota legislative session
Minnesotans won’t see state tax cuts or rebate checks this year.
And funding for schools, police agencies and nursing homes will remain stagnant after lawmakers left the Capitol this week with much of their business left undone.
Partisan disagreements stalled out decisions over billions of dollars of new spending in the final hours of the legislative session. That means promised funding boosts for several sectors won’t come through this year unless lawmakers return to St. Paul for a special session.
Lawmakers didn’t have to do anything this year since they passed a budget in 2021 that runs through next July. But they were expected to approve new spending, a jobs and projects bill known as a bonding bill and a proposal to send money back to Minnesotans since they had a historic $9.2 billion budget surplus.
Legislative leaders and the governor this week discussed a special session to finish up pieces that lawmakers couldn’t wrap up before their deadline. But as of Wednesday, May 25, they hadn’t reached an agreement about that.
5. Hospice of the Red River Valley set to begin construction on North Dakota’s first hospice house
After nearly 20 years of work, Hospice of the Red River Valley will soon begin construction on North Dakota’s first hospice house.
It’s been decades worth of work, but Hospice of the Red River Valley Executive Director Tracee Capron told The Forum Friday, May 20, that HRRV’s board, donors and staff came to the conclusion that the time was right to bring the vision to life. A groundbreaking ceremony for the hospice house will take place Thursday, May 26, at 3800 56th Ave. S. in Fargo.
The hospice house, Capron explained, is a place for families to gather with hospice patients in a tranquil, comfortable setting. Essentially a “hospital in disguise,” the hospice house serves as a place where family and loved ones can gather in a place that feels like home rather than a sterile hospital environment. “You’re taking a lot of the medical things of a hospital and disguising them into a home,” Capron said.
In most cases, patients will be able to occupy one of the hospice house’s 18 rooms for five days and five nights to receive end of life care. Capron described the hospice house as a “stepping stone” which allows patients to transition from hospital care back to wherever they call home. The hospice house can also be used when care simply cannot be managed in a home environment.