1. North Dakota Senate sends transgender athlete bill to governor's desk

North Dakota's transgender athlete bill cleared a final legislative hurdle with the approval of Senate lawmakers on Thursday, April 15, sending the proposal to Gov. Doug Burgum's desk.

If signed into law, House Bill 1298 would restrict transgender athletes in K-12 sports in North Dakota from competing alongside competitors of their identifying gender. The Senate approved the bill in a 27-20 vote on Thursday after the House endorsed it by a wide margin the day before.

Read more from The Forum's Adam Willis

2. 'Report card' on Walz's climate performance gives him low marks

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. (State of Minnesota photo)
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. (State of Minnesota photo)

Environmental leaders and organizations say Gov. Tim Walz isn’t doing enough for Minnesota’s climate.

The North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, along with other environmental organizations, issued a mid-term “report card” on Walz’s climate policies.

The report was critical of Walz’s proposed budgets on transit, and inaction on blocking Enbridge’s Line 3 project that will transport oil from Canada through Minnesota. The line, which would cross 200 bodies of water, including lakes, wetlands and rivers, and Native American tribal land where wild rice is grown, has sparked ongoing protests.

Read more from Forum News Service's John Molseed

3. Minnesota Democrats prioritize ranked-choice voting in election debates

State Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, talks about the need for more planning aid for infrastructure in Minnesota due to more extreme weather.  Barry Amundson / The Forum
State Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, talks about the need for more planning aid for infrastructure in Minnesota due to more extreme weather. Barry Amundson / The Forum

Senate Democrats on Thursday, April 15, said they would again push to expand the use of ranked-choice voting to limit the impacts of "spoiler" candidates and make sure voters have their voices heard at the ballot box.

A group of DFL senators during a virtual news conference said that they would continue their efforts to place the bill in a larger state government bill in the Senate or during conference committee conversations about the proposal.

Five Minnesota cities — St. Paul, Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Minnetonka and Bloomington — have enacted ranked-choice voting for local elections. The Senate DFL plan would make ranked-choice voting the standard statewide for primary and general elections for state and federal offices. Municipal governments would then be able to decide if they want to allow the new system for local elections.

Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson

4. Teachers union, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton schools clash in court over extra prep time

Clay County Courthouse. Forum file photo
Clay County Courthouse. Forum file photo

A Minnesota teachers union has taken Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Public Schools to court in an attempt to force the district to provide additional teacher preparation time that Gov. Tim Walz called for in his Nov. 5 emergency executive order related to distance learning.

Education Minnesota, the union representing pre-K-12 teachers and staff throughout the state, said in court documents that originally an extra 30 minutes were provided as per the executive order, but when the district returned to in-person instruction, the preparation time was eliminated despite some students continuing distance learning.

Read more from The Forum's C.S. Hagen

5. Landowners, hunters led North Dakota wardens to poachers who illegally took antlers from 10 deer

One of 10 deer that was poached by hunters in Barnes County, N.D. The hunters removed the antlers and left the carcasses behind. Special to The Forum/ North Dakota Game and Fish
One of 10 deer that was poached by hunters in Barnes County, N.D. The hunters removed the antlers and left the carcasses behind. Special to The Forum/ North Dakota Game and Fish

In October 2019, a landowner found a dead whitetail deer near Valley City that had its antlers removed. Less than a week later, another deer without antlers was discovered nearby.

Hunters reported more deer carcasses in the following weeks. All had their antlers or heads removed. No meat was taken, and the bodies were left to rot.

A months-long investigation led game wardens to four men who were convicted of a long list of misdemeanors in recent months connected to poaching at least 10 deer, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said this week.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten