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.
2. September unemployment rate drops slightly in North Dakota
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.
3. Lawsuit: West Fargo VFW employee negligence contributed to woman's rape
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.
4. Unable to agree, Minnesota working group punts $250 million hero pay decision to Legislature
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.
5. South Dakota lawmakers give OK to pot legalization draft
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.