Dear Fellow Republicans,
We wanted to provide you with a roundup of everything you might have missed from North Dakota’s great Republican leaders this past week. Please share with family and friends!
Perrie Schafer, NDGOP Chairman
Photo of the Week
NDDOT: THANK YOU to snowplow operators, law enforcement and other first responders and thank YOU for heeding warnings and staying off the road to allow these public servants to do their best work. Fighting epic blizzards is a team effort. Stay warm, ND!
Check out the latest from RNC Research:
INFLATION SLAMS SHOPPERS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
- This Christmas, Americans will pay more for just about everything under the tree (and the tree itself) thanks to Bidenflation.
- This year’s Christmas price index – which calculates the price of gifts from the classic “Twelve Days of Christmas” – is up 10.5 percent, the largest increase since 2008.
- More than three-quarters of Christmas tree growers plan to increase their prices between 5 to 15 percent compared to last year.
- Overall, retail data suggests “a more subdued holiday shopping season than in 2021” with consumers spending less and cutting back on what they buy themselves.
- 41 percent of Americans plan to spend less this year than last, marking the most cautious holiday season since 2013.
- Families are facing steeper prices to travel to see loved ones over the holidays.
- A round-trip flight during the Christmas season is now 39 percent more expensive than last year, making this the most expensive holiday airfare in five years.
- Rates for hotel rooms and rental cars have spiked “12 percent and 46 percent respectively from where they were in 2019.”
- Gas prices sit at $3.25 per gallon, remaining nearly $1 higher than before Biden took office.
- Holiday meals will be costlier, with staples like a Christmas ham (+7.8 percent), pie (+19.4 percent), and milk for Santa (+14.7 percent) all up.
- Along with a more expensive holiday, heating costs this winter are also expected to burn a hole in Americans’ wallets.
EDITORIAL: Soybean plant’s arrival is all the more reason to expand natural gas in eastern North Dakota
Grand Forks Herald
“You have to move quickly on the permitting. If you have a regulatory environment that slows down people’s ability to deploy capital when they want to, they will go to places where they can deploy their capital sooner,” Burgum told the Herald in an in-person interview. “If you want to build a plant and the economics are starting to work and there is a market for soybean oil and you’re going to spend that kind of money, you want to get the plant built now because you know the market is going to pay now. You don’t want to wait two years and hope the plan is still working.” Burgum passed credit to others and said he’s “cheering for them” as it appears North Dakota is on the verge of landing another big soybean processor in a state that is increasingly producing soybeans. He believes it will not only provide jobs and economic impact for the immediate region, but it also will boost the basis for soybean producers. And, he said, it will help remove soybeans from political trade battles with other countries.
North Dakota to offer sober ride vouchers for holidays
The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota will offer sober ride vouchers over the upcoming holiday season in an effort to prevent driving under the influence. Vision Zero’s ND Sober Ride will give people Lyft vouchers to help pay for sober rides from Dec. 19 to Jan. 1, according to the Vision Zero website. The vouchers are for $10 off a ride using the promo code VZWINTER22. The state used a similar program for the Thanksgiving Day weekend. It provided 83 people Lyft vouchers, according to a news release. An alcohol-related crash occurred nearly every 13 hours last year in North Dakota, according to a news release. A death from driving under the influence occurred nearly every 10.5 days, the North Dakota Department of Transportation said in the release.
Pipeline builder fined $50,000 for violations; Andeavor built outside approved route
The Bismarck Tribune
The North Dakota Public Service Commission has levied a $50,000 fine against Andeavor Field Services LLC for several violations surrounding a natural gas liquids pipeline project. Andeavor committed permit violations and constructed parts of its pipeline project outside the permitted route, according to PSC Chair Julie Fedorchak. Parts of the pipeline are in Billings, McKenzie and Stark counties. The PSC approved the final route corridor along with the fine Wednesday. Fedorchak said these were “pretty substantial violations,” and the company and PSC staff negotiated the $50,000 fine. “I will say that’s one of our higher fines; it’s not the highest, but it’s the second-highest siting fine that we’ve issued,” Fedorchak said. She said the company obtained the needed permit prior to construction “but then they pretty much just built (the pipeline) without a lot of concern for what the permit requirements said.”
How snow days for schools are decided in North Dakota
The superintendent drives around the area to understand road conditions and constantly contacts local city departments to make the decision. Elementary schools must be in session for 962 and a half hours for the school year, and 1,050 hours for middle and high school. If snow days are called, hours of class will be taken from spring break or summer vacation. “Some of our school districts have chosen to use this blizzard event as their storm days, so they won’t have a longer spring break or they’ll go two extra days at the end of the year,” said Baesler. Schools are now getting equipped for virtual classes in case of snow days so students and teachers don’t have to make storm days up in person.
Burgum, other governors ban TikTok for state employees
Governor Doug Burgum signed an executive order yesterday banning the popular social media site for state employees, adding, “TikTok raises multiple flags in terms of the amount of data it collects and how that data may be shared with and used by the Chinese government.”
PSC to hold a public hearing on MDU’s electric rate request
The Public Service Commission has scheduled a public hearing on MDU’s proposed electric rate request. The utility has asked for a 12.3% rate increase. If approved, it would mean an increase of nearly $15 per month for a customer using 800 kilowatts of power per month. “This is a substantial rate increase,” said Commission Chairman Julie Fedorchak. She points out there are three interveners in the case — AARP, Wal-Mart and Marathon Oil. “I think that speaks to the size of the increase,” Fedorchak said. Fedorchak said some of the things MDU is asking for include how to handle depreciation, as well as retirement costs, which she called “substantial.” “This one, I have a lot of questions about,” Fedorchak said.
AGs Wrigley, Ellison join fight against robocalls and robotexts
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and North Dakota’s Drew Wrigley have joined attorneys general from every state in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission in support of a plan to cut down on unwanted text messages. The proposal would require mobile providers to block texts from invalid, unassigned, or unused numbers, and from numbers on a Do Not Originate list. In 2021, the FCC received more than 15,000 complaints about unwanted texts. In 2020, scammers stole more than $86 million through fraud perpetrated via scam text messages.
Basin Electric seeks state OK for power plant expansion; data center industry cited
The Bismarck Tribune
PSC Chair Julie Fedorchak said Basin cites “as a need for this, that the service area in northwestern North Dakota is experiencing a rapid increase in the development for server farm facilities, that host data centers and also cryptocurrency mining, as well as activities associated with oil and gas extraction from the Bakken shale formation, currently concentrated in McKenzie, Mountrail and Williams counties.”
Electric utilities prepare for heavy, wet snowstorm
It’s a frightening concern that has Mountrail Williams Electric Cooperative and other utilities closely monitoring the situation. Julie Fedorchak, chairwoman of the state’s Public Service Commission, says while there is little that can be done to protect every pole, she is confident that the utilities will be quick to respond to any issues. “Our utility companies are among the best in the nation at dealing with this stuff because they are so familiar with it. The infrastructure is built to, as much as possible, withstand the weather we receive up here on a routine basis,” said Fedorchak.
Sen. Hoeven joins call to reinstate soldiers discharged over COVID vaccine mandate
Sen. John Hoeven joined 10 other U.S. senators who are urging the Pentagon to reinstate soldiers who were discharged for refusing the COVID-19 vaccination. The senators, who addressed the letter to Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, are asking for all COVID-19 vaccine-related discharges to stop, to quickly reinstate those who were discharged, and give those soldiers back pay and full benefits. The senate recently approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which ended the vaccine mandate that had been in place. “This year’s NDAA, which provides essential funding and sets defense and national security policy for the United States, also contains a key provision we fought for which eliminates the requirement for service members to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” the senators wrote. “While we are proud to see this needed change included, simply reversing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate is insufficient to right the wrongs done to our service members.”
National defense bill authorizes funds for Minot AFB
Minot Daily News
Sens. Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven announced Thursday evening the U.S. Senate had passed the James M. Imhofe National Defense Authorization Act…Cramer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the bill contains funding for North Dakota’s military assets and missions in Minot, Grand Forks and Cavalier while providing support for the state’s National Guard and the entire North Dakota military community. “It also emphasizes nuclear modernization programs and protects our strategic deterrent to keep pace with our adversaries. I’m pleased to see the final version include my amendment on contract flexibility to better allow the Pentagon to tackle rising costs in the defense supply chain,” said Cramer. “We need to support the men and women who defend our nation, and that’s exactly what this NDAA does,” said Hoeven. “We worked to end the Defense Department’s COVID vaccine mandate as part of this legislation and to provide our troops with a pay raise. At the same time it authorizes modernization of our nuclear systems for Minot Air Force Base, the Global Hawk and satellite missions at Grand Forks, and our Guard’s Reaper mission. Now, as a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, we’ll work to fund these vital programs.”
RESPECT Act Passes House of Representatives, Will Go To President’s Desk for Signing
Native News Online
If signed, the Repealing Existing Substandard Provisions Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act would abolish 11 outdated federal laws that are related to the treatment of Indians, including provisions on hostile tribes, alcohol, work requirements, penalties for truancy, and placement of youth in reform school without the consent of a parent or guardian… The bipartisan effort was cosponsored in the Senate by…Kevin Cramer (R-ND).
Federal committee punts on Grand Forks Chinese land deal decision
A federal committee reviewing a Chinese real estate deal in Grand Forks wrapped up their investigation without deciding if the transaction should be allowed to go through. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS determined the proposed issue doesn’t fall within their jurisdiction, and the outcomes of their months-long investigation are largely classified. And although they remained neutral, North Dakota’s senators are doubling down, asking the city not to permit the Chinese company to build the corn milling plant. “I am opposed to the Fufeng investment in Grand Forks, I’m opposed to the proximity to the Air Force base, I’m opposed to their ownership of critical supply chains, particularly food. And I just think we need to take a more patriotic, pro-American position against these investments regardless,” said Senator Kevin Cramer, R-ND. Senator Cramer said CFIUS will brief him on their classified findings next week.
The IRS wants to know if you earn more than $600 on Venmo
Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., sponsored a bill called the “Stop the Nosy Obsession with Online Payments Act of 2022 (SNOOP), which would change the threshold back to $20,000. Hagerty called the tax code law an invasion of privacy. A number of Republicans, including Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, are also backing the “SNOOP” Act because they feel it violates personal privacy. “The federal government should not be able to snoop on taxpayers’ personal transactions,” he said. “Our bill will undo their plans to spy on Americans’ personal finances and violate their privacy.”