1. North Dakota lawmakers gridlock over how to spend federal coronavirus relief money

After hours of negotiations between top North Dakota lawmakers on Wednesday, Oct. 27, state budget writers adjourned in the evening without reaching an agreement over how to spend the state's hundreds of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus aid.

The House and Senate Appropriations committees agreed on most proposals for the state's $1.1 billion dollars in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act and have spent the last two days mapping out budget lists that target investments in energy, infrastructure, health care and education projects.

Read more from The Forum's Adam Willis

2. September unemployment rate drops slightly in North Dakota

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The Job Service North Dakota office just off 13th Avenue in south Fargo will reopen for in-person visits this coming Monday, July 27, when those on unemployment will be required to once again be searching for jobs and making contacts.  Meanwhile, a national debate is raging on whether to continue enhanced jobless benefits to help those still unemployed.  David Samson / The Forum
The Job Service North Dakota office just off 13th Avenue in south Fargo will reopen for in-person visits this coming Monday, July 27, when those on unemployment will be required to once again be searching for jobs and making contacts. Meanwhile, a national debate is raging on whether to continue enhanced jobless benefits to help those still unemployed. David Samson / The Forum

The non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate in North Dakota stood at 2.6% in September, Job Service North Dakota reported Friday, Oct. 22.

The rate was lower than August's 3.2% mark and down 1.5 percentage points from September 2020.

Between August and September, unemployment in the state decreased by 2,551, a 19.6% drop. North Dakota's unemployment numbers tend to decrease between August and September, Job Service North Dakota said.

Read more from The Forum's Thomas Evanella

3. Lawsuit: West Fargo VFW employee negligence contributed to woman's rape

The West Fargo VFW is pictured on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 at 444 Sheyenne St. in West Fargo.
Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum
The West Fargo VFW is pictured on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 at 444 Sheyenne St. in West Fargo. Alyssa Goelzer / The Forum

A Cass County woman has sued the West Fargo VFW after then-employees helped wheel her up in a chair to the apartment of a man who sexually assaulted her when she was intoxicated to the point of being incapacitated.

The woman filed a lawsuit in early August alleging the bar was negligent in its responsibility to provide reasonable care for the customer when she was at the VFW in early August 2019. The lawsuit also names 59-year-old Bruce Clayton McCartney, who admitted to raping the woman in his apartment, which is in the same building as the bar at 444 Sheyenne St.

Scott Kaufman, the commander of the West Fargo VFW, declined to comment when contacted by The Forum Thursday, Oct. 20. Craig Johnson, the attorney representing the VFW, said everyone at the bar feels horrible about what happened to the woman, but the VFW feels it is not responsible for what occurred.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

4. Unable to agree, Minnesota working group punts $250 million hero pay decision to Legislature

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, along with other members of the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group and front-line workers, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, spoke to reporters at the Capitol after they advanced two proposals for sending out $250 million to the Minnesota Legislature. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley, along with other members of the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group and front-line workers, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, spoke to reporters at the Capitol after they advanced two proposals for sending out $250 million to the Minnesota Legislature. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

A Minnesota working group has failed to divvy up $250 million for front-line workers that remained on the job during the pandemic and sent two proposals to the Minnesota Legislature.

The Frontline Worker Pay Working Group held meetings for months and heard from dozens of workers deemed essential during the pandemic before closing out their panel Wednesday, Oct. 27, by voting 8-1 to advance a pair of dueling plans that varied little from those introduced by Democrats and Republicans on the committee in July.

Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson

5. South Dakota lawmakers give OK to pot legalization draft

Doors are opened wide by two employees of Native Nations Cannabis on the Flandreau Santee Sioux reservation in far-eastern South Dakota on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Once the site of a controlled burn of a cannabis crop, the indoor farm now grows plants to be sold beginning July 1, 2021 (Christopher Vondracek / Forum News Service).
Doors are opened wide by two employees of Native Nations Cannabis on the Flandreau Santee Sioux reservation in far-eastern South Dakota on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Once the site of a controlled burn of a cannabis crop, the indoor farm now grows plants to be sold beginning July 1, 2021 (Christopher Vondracek / Forum News Service).

An interim committee of the South Dakota Legislature has greenlit a draft bill to legalize recreational marijuana.

Nearly a year after voters said "yes" to legalizing use of cannabis among adults, a summer study committee approved the draft bill on a 14-to-10 vote. If approved by the full Legislature, the bill would put back in place an adult marijuana program that was struck down by a circuit judge in Pierre.

A separate measure to impose a 15% excise tax on sale of marijuana also passed the committee, though by a wider margin.

Read more from Forum News Service's Christopher Vondracek