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5 things to know today: Drug bust, Legacy Fund, Treatment options, Price surge, Country duo

A rundown of some of the best stories found on Inforum.

Many more indictments are expected in cracking a drug ring that targeted North Dakota Indian Reservations.

1. North Dakota reservations target of Detroit opioid traffickers, feds say

Federal prosecutors have started to unveil defendants in a significant opioid trafficking case they say led one of the most violent Detroit gangs to North Dakota Indian reservations.

In likely his last news conference, U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley on Wednesday, Feb. 24, named DeVonsha Dabney and Romel Rambus, two 26-year-olds from Detroit, as suspected ring leaders of the Reub gang, which allegedly trafficked tens of millions of dollars worth of fentanyl and oxycodone pills to the Fort Berthold, Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain reservations in North Dakota. Indictments have not been unsealed for the two men because charges haven’t been brought against 24 other possible defendants, Wrigley said.

“You are going to see a lot of this case in the months and maybe even in the years up ahead,” Wrigley said, referring to the case as Operation Letter to Reub.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

2. Plans move ahead to reshape spending, investing of North Dakota's massive Legacy Fund


The North Dakota House of Representatives meets in the state Capitol on Thursday, Feb. 11. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

Two proposals to redesign the way North Dakota spends and invests its enormous oil tax savings account are one step closer to the law books after the state's House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the legislation on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The bills, which would pave the way for income tax relief and big capital investment in local firms, will now head to the Senate for consideration. Lawmakers also killed on Wednesday a competing Democratic proposal for spending banked oil tax revenue.

A decade after North Dakotans voted to establish the Legacy Fund, the account is worth more than $8.1 billion. Lawmakers have used the fund's earnings to balance the state's budget in recent years, but leaders from both parties say they want to show residents this legislative session that the fund is being put toward quality-of-life improvements.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

3. Minnesota lawmakers mount push for cheaper treatment options for cancer, arthritis

pill bottle.jpg
Special to The Forum

Joined by pharmacy leaders, a pair of Minnesota lawmakers on Wednesday, Feb. 24, kicked off a bid to drive down the sticker price of certain expensive, name-brand medications by expanding access to generic versions.


If approved, Minnesota would be the first in the country to implement such a law and the legislators carrying the bill said they expected a strong push from pharmaceutical companies to prevent its passage through the Statehouse. But the bill has a strong benefit in surviving the divided Legislator: a bipartisan set of authors.

Biologic drugs have been used to treat cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and gastrointestinal diseases. And they contain bits of living organisms, which makes them more complex (and often more expensive) to produce compared to other drugs.

Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson

4. Though power grid held steady during cold, Minnesotans brace for natural gas price surge

Though images of frozen wind turbines in southern states went viral during this week's power grid blackouts, grid operators in Texas and with Southwest Power Pool, the grid serving parts of Minnesota and North Dakota, said that contributions from wind resources met their expectations. Mikkel Pates / Forum News Service

The electrical grid in Minnesota largely withstood the punishingly cold weather that enveloped the state in recent weeks, unlike the grid in Texas, where winter storms last week caused widespread blackouts.

But the surge in natural gas demands, both for heat and for power, and the resulting spike in prices may be passed on to utility customers in Minnesota. Some could be charged hundreds of dollars more in utility bills because of it, regulators were told this week, costs that would be spread out over the course of next year.

"I think what the event has shown of the last week," Public Utilities Commission member Joseph Sullivan said Tuesday, Feb. 23, "is that our system is resilient from a reliability perspective, but my concern is that from an economic perspective, we are vulnerable."


Read more from The Forum's Matthew Guerry

5. Country duo with ties to North Dakota has the No. 1 song on iTunes

Country music duo Tigirlily is Kendra (right) and Krista Slaubaugh. Photo by Jared Olson / Special to The Forum

A country music duo that hails from North Dakota has the No. 1 song on iTunes right now.

Tigirlily, which consists of sisters and Hazen natives Krista and Kendra Slaubaugh, are now based in Nashville. They celebrated the release of their new single, "Somebody Does," on Tuesday, Feb. 23, and posted to social media Wednesday morning announcing that they woke up with the No. 1 iTunes song in America for all genres.

"PLEASE DON'T PINCH US!!!!!! This is one of our wildest dreams come true, so we want to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts," they posted to Twitter.

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