1. North Dakota to receive 49 Afghan refugees
North Dakota will become home to 49 refugees from Afghanistan in the wake of a Taliban takeover that compelled thousands to flee the Asian country.
Though state officials had said last month North Dakota was unlikely to receive any Afghan refugees, the U.S. State Department recently approved a proposal made by Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, North Dakota's refugee resettlement agency, to take in the 49 evacuees. Minnesota is slated to take in 275 refugees.
2. North Dakota judge upholds law limiting collection of old oil and gas royalties
A Watford City judge has upheld a recently passed law that sets limits on how far back oil companies must pay old royalties to North Dakota.
Companies agree to pay oil and natural gas royalties and any late fees to the state for the right to extract publicly owned minerals, but industry-backed legislation approved earlier this year by the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Doug Burgum retroactively established a statute of limitations for state collections of royalty payments, meaning the Department of Trust Lands can't require firms to pony up on outstanding royalty bills from before August 2013.
3. Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo schools see relatively few COVID-19 cases regardless of mask policies
Public schools in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead are reporting relatively few active COVID-19 cases and no major apparent difference in incidence regardless of whether the district requires mask use.
As of Thursday, Sept. 16, the public school systems for the three metro districts were reporting COVID-19 case counts that represented less than 1% of various student populations.
Fargo and Moorhead public schools require students and staff to wear masks in school, while West Fargo recommends mask wearing but has no requirement.
4. Future satellite mission added to Grand Forks Air Force Base's responsibilities
Grand Forks Air Force Base has been assigned a future satellite mission, it was announced Friday, Sept. 17.
According to the office of U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., the Defense Department's Space Development Agency was approved by the Air Force to operate the satellite mission out of Grand Forks Air Force base. The Space Development Agency will use GFAFB as a center to monitor and maneuver low-earth-orbit satellites.
5. North Dakota National Guard to resume COVID-19 response support
The North Dakota National Guard has placed a number of troops on COVID-19 duty, to support efforts by the North Dakota Department of Health, according to a release by the national guard.
According to the release, 65 guard members will be on state active duty with orders under the authority of FEMA, and are scheduled through the end of the year. Fifty of those members will support NDDOH's COVID-19 contact identification efforts, while 15 others will support the state laboratory in Bismarck.