FARGO — With Congress back in session and the government shutdown ended, delegates from North Dakota and Minnesota have announced their guests for the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Senators and representatives from both states are taking individuals that engage in public work and tackle issues ranging from health care to education.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., has announced that his guest at the president's speech will be Bethlehem Gronneberg, founder and CEO of uCodeGirl.
Gronneberg’s uCodeGirl is a Fargo-based nonprofit organization that promotes education and careers in software development and engineering for young women.
Gronneberg also serves on the Governor’s Innovative Education Task Force in North Dakota and is an adjunct professor of computer science at Concordia College in Moorhead.
“Bethlehem is doing tremendous work in the Fargo region, helping prepare young women to be the next generation of innovators and tech entrepreneurs,” Hoeven said in a statement.
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he's taking Debjyoti Dwivedy, a North Dakota State University graduate and the senior vice president of Immigration Voice, a national nonprofit group that helps highly-skilled immigrants facing legal issues.
Dwivedy completed his master’s degree in computer engineering at NDSU and was a student senator during his time there. He's a member of the U.S. Army Reserve based at Fort Snelling, according to Cramer’s office.
Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., said his guest will be Debbie Bjerk, of Grand Forks, whose son died in 2012 from a synthetic drug overdose.
Bjerk has said she wants to push for a state law that offers immunity from possible drug crimes for anyone who calls 911 in order to save someone from overdosing, according to a 2014 Grand Forks Herald article.
Bjerk was also part of a 2014 CNN documentary that highlighted the story of two Grand Forks area deaths, including Bjerk's son, from synthetic drug overdoses.
Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., has announced that she's taking Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan as her guest to the State of the Union address. “Peggy leads with compassion, determination, and I know she not only inspires me — she is a source of inspiration for Americans across the United States,” Smith said in a statement.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., will be joined at the speech by Nicole Smith-Holt, a Minnesota woman whose son died after struggling to afford his prescription insulin.
“Having Nicole join me at the State of the Union address will shine a light on the critical needs to bring down the cost of prescription drugs,” Klobuchar said in a statement.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., gave his extra guest ticket to Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., according to Peterson’s Detroit Lakes office.