Roughrider Roundup – January 31, 2022

Happy Monday!

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

In Memorium – Attorney General, Wayne Stenehjem (1953 – 2022)

“We are devastated to learn of Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s tragic passing. His record of service to the State of North Dakota and commitment to the constitution was second to none. He had the courage to stand up for us and to protect our liberties in the face of government overreach. We offer our deepest condolences and prayers to his wife Beth, along with his entire family. May God Bless his memory.” – Perrie Schafer, NDGOP Chairman

Funeral services for Stenehjem to be held Thursday
The Bismarck Tribune
Funeral services for Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem will be held this week. The funeral will be held 11 a.m. Thursday at the Bismarck Event Center Exhibit Hall. Visitation will take place from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the North Dakota State Capitol Great Hall. Both are open to the public. Further arrangements are pending with Bismarck Funeral Home…Gov. Doug Burgum directed all government agencies to fly the U.S. and North Dakota flags at half-staff until further notice in honor of Stenehjem’s longtime service to the state, and he encouraged residents to do the same at their homes and businesses.

Governor Doug Burgum
“Wayne embodied public service, both as a dedicated legislator and the longest-serving attorney general in our state’s 133-year history. As the top law enforcement officer in North Dakota for over two decades, Attorney General Stenehjem always put the safety and well-being of our citizens first. North Dakota is a safer place because of his unwavering commitment to law and order, his loyalty to his team members and his utmost respect for our men and women in uniform.”

Senator John Hoeven
“Attorney General Stenehjem spent four decades serving the people of North Dakota, and was a fierce advocate for the rule of law and the rights of our state’s residents. As our state’s longest-serving Attorney General, he worked tirelessly to keep our communities safe and took great pride in supporting our law enforcement officials. We will remember Wayne as a true friend and colleague, who will be greatly missed. Mikey and I send our sincerest condolences to Beth, Andrew and the entire Stenehjem family. We will continue praying for all of his loved ones.”

Senator Kevin Cramer
“Kris and I are saddened to hear of the passing of North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. I considered him a close friend and trusted colleague. Wayne was a true patriot, dedicating his life to public service and our great state. He always fought for what was right. My thoughts and prayers are with Beth and his family. Wayne will be sorely missed by all,”

Congressman Kelly Armstrong
“Tonight, my friend Wayne passed on. I am devastated. My heart hurts for Beth, Andrew, and the entire Stenehjem family. Wayne loved North Dakota as much as anyone I have ever met. He was smart, compassionate, and had the most down-to-earth approach to public service. He taught me how to turn legal knowledge into smart policy. I would not be where I am today without Wayne’s friendship. I know for an absolute fact that I am not alone in that statement. But above all else, Wayne was a loving husband and a proud father. I am going to miss Wayne so much. I love you sir. Godspeed my friend.”

SAVE THE DATE: The NDGOP Convention will take place April 1-2, 2022 in Bismarck, ND at the Bismarck Event Center. More information to come. 

North Dakota

Ensuring schools still receive milk despite milk truck driver shortage in ND
In response to the milk truck driver shortage, Governor Doug Burgum signed an executive order on Monday to allow milk truck drivers to work more hours. Additionally, he is working with Department of Transportation officials to speed up the process of getting a commercial driver’s license. Today, the average wait time for a CDL test is 10.5 days, down from an average of 80 days in 2019.

Pat Bertagnolli appointed to North Dakota Job Service’s Executive Director
AM 1100 The Flag
“Having spent much of the last decade recruiting and retaining workers in the fastest-growing area of the country, Pat Bertagnolli has the right experience to lead Job Service North Dakota as we tackle our state’s significant workforce challenge – our No. 1 barrier to economic growth,” Burgum said. “We are deeply grateful for Pat’s service on the Workforce Development Council these past eight years and look forward to his leadership at Job Service in connecting jobseekers with employers and removing barriers to employment.”

Xcel seeks over 10% rate hike for natural gas delivery in North Dakota
Grand Forks Herald
“Quite honestly, the timing is really unfortunate,” said Public Service Commission Chair Julie Fedorchak, who said state regulators will vet Xcel’s request and look for ways to cut it down in the upcoming rate case.

Goehring pushes back on trucker vaccine mandate
More than 32,000 truckers coming from Canada to the U.S. may not be allowed to cross the border due to a recent COVID-19 vaccine mandate. North Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner, Doug Goehring, is pushing the White House to life the mandate. The mandate, that went it affect Jan. 22, blocks unvaccinated truckers from entering the U.S. from Canada. Canada also has a similar ban preventing unvaccinated truckers from entering the country. Truckers had been previously exempt under essential worker status in the U.S. “Forcing this vaccine mandate on the industry will hurt the livelihoods of truckers, create further supply chain disruptions and cause price increases in essential goods,” Goehring said in a statement Friday.

Burgum to attend national meeting of governors
The Bismarck Tribune
Gov. Doug Burgum will be in the nation’s capital Friday through Monday, attending the National Governors Association Winter Meeting. Governors will be discussing issues around infrastructure, cybersecurity and computer science education, according to Burgum’s office. The second-term Republican and former software executive will attend a business session of the meeting set to be held at the White House.“The National Governors Association offers a unique bipartisan forum for governors to share ideas, discuss best practices and highlight policy successes and solutions to the challenges we have in common,” Burgum said in a statement. “We look forward to connecting with state, national and international leaders on topics that affect North Dakotans and advocating for federal policy that respects states’ rights and supports economic growth, including in our two biggest industries, agriculture and energy.”

MDU electric customers will see a small reduction in their monthly bills
Prairie Public Newsroom
MDU electric customers will see a small reduction in their monthly bills, beginning in February. The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved the new “renewable rider.” It includes cost of power from three wind farms – two in southwestern North Dakota, and one in Montana. Commissioner Randy Christmann said it also includes the installation of a new lighting system at the North Dakota wind farms, and the repowering of the Montana wind farm. That repowering will bring with it production tax credits, and that helps to lower the rider costs. “The monthly billing impact, with this update, for the average residential customer, will be a decrease of $1.20 per month,” Christmann said. MDU is planning to use existing turbine blades for its repowering of the Montana wind farm. “The blades will be taken down, laid on the ground, and re-coated,” said PSC Chairman Julie Fedorchak. “It certainly saves the landfill from all these big fiberglass blades, and it makes a more affordable option.”

Gov. Doug Burgum to Grand Forks/East Grand Forks residents: ‘You’re doing the right things, so keep it up’
Grand Forks Herald
Gov. Doug Burgum told attendees at the annual Grand Forks-East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce dinner that the community has emerged as a statewide leader in development, saying “you’re doing all the right things, so keep it up.”…The governor spoke for more than 40 minutes, discussing an array of goings-on throughout the state, with the focus almost entirely on economic development and business activity. When he spoke of Grand Forks specifically, he seemed especially pleased with recent business developments.

Burgum announces large-scale, $1.9 billion data center in development for Williston
Embracing new technology to enhance communities has become a goal for state and local officials in northwest North Dakota. On Wednesday in Williston, Governor Doug Burgum announced an exciting new project that he says he hopes will make the state a leader in a relatively new field. Williston is now the home of the Atlas Power Data Center, a $1.9 billion project that is expected to be one of the largest in the world. It will provide opportunities for mining valuable cryptocurrencies and advanced computing operations.

Proposal to add climate risk to ag lending metrics gets a rise in North Dakota
The Williston Herald
Gov. Doug Burgum issued a statement urging the National Credit Union Administration to remove language from its proposed 2022 to 2026 strategic plan that advises credit unions to prioritize climate risks when making agricultural loans. North Dakota has 34 credit unions with 214,000 members, Burgum noted in the statement. Collectively they hold $748 million in agricultural loans, and those loans are roughly one-quarter of credit union loan portfolios, on average. “Given our administration’s goal of North Dakota becoming a carbon neutral state by 2030, we appreciate NCUA’s concern about climate change,” Burgum wrote to the NCUA Board. “However, carbon neutrality can be achieved only through innovation, not regulation – and certainly not by limiting access to credit for agricultural operations with natural carbon storage capacity.”

As tax season opens, North Dakota filers will be looking at a tax credit
Prairie Public Newsroom
As North Dakotans begin filling out their income tax forms, they will also see lower tax bills, thanks to the income tax credit passed by the Legislature. It will be a deduction from a filer’s tax liability of up to $350 for single filers, and $700 for joint filers. First, Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus said filers have to figure out their tax liability, which is easy enough to do. “Once they determine what their tax liability is, the tax credit will be deducted from their liability,” Kroshus said.

Washington, D.C.

Grand Sky looks to future growth in 2022
Grand Forks Herald
On the list of new things to watch for this year at Grand Sky, an unmanned aerial systems business and aviation complex, is the possibility of additional tenants…“Grand Sky is the place to be for all things UAS and this new expansion, which is already fully leased, proves just that,” Sen. John Hoeven said in a statement at the time of the grand opening in October. “The multi-tenant building enables companies of all sizes to be part of the incredible UAS ecosystem we’ve worked to develop in Grand Forks.”

In Ukraine crisis, region’s Midwest leaders urge ‘peace through strength’
Grand Forks Herald
“There are a lot of questions going on around that, but number one, we should never put our troops in an unwinnable situation,” Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., said. “That absolutely has to be first and foremost as our priority.”…“It certainly doesn’t mean moving troops to Ukraine,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., who joined a congressional delegation to Ukraine amid the crisis earlier this month. “But it would certainly mean, at the very least, an increase in providing weapons — lethal weapons that will have an impact on Ukraine’s ability to defend itself.”…“Putin’s military buildup represents the most serious security threat to the region in decades,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement provided by his office. “We should adhere to the principle of peace through strength to deter Russia, that includes utilizing strong sanctions as well as working through NATO to shore up the alliance’s eastern flank. We need to ensure Putin never finds a weak spot to attack the most successful security alliance in history.”

‘National School Choice Week’: As School Lockdowns and Mandates Persist, Most Parents Want New Options
Christian Broadcasting Network
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), along with Sen. Lankford, introduced a resolution to recognize the need to stand up for parents’ choices in their children’s education during School Choice Week. “School choice allows parents to make decisions that put their children in the best position to succeed,” said Sen. Cramer. “Unfortunately, parents across the country have been given the cold shoulder, even equating them to domestic terrorists. Your zip code shouldn’t define your quality of education. Our resolution recognizes and protects the parents’ freedom to choose the best educational environment for their child’s success.”

Letter: Please do not leave my brother behind in Ukraine
Bismarck Tribune
On a visit to Ukraine last week, Sen. Kevin Cramer took time to visit and pray with Kurt in custody and then met with Kurt’s legal team and U.S. Embassy officials. But Embassy support for Kurt could end soon, as State also noted, “U.S. citizens in Ukraine should be aware that Russian military action anywhere in Ukraine would severely impact the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services, including assistance to U.S. citizens in departing Ukraine.”

New funding important to move ahead with flood protection
Minot Daily News
Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, was in Minot on Wednesday for a celebration of sorts. The senator was here to meet with city representatives to talk about securing $61.5 million in federal funds designated for Minot flood protection. Sixty-one million dollars is a big deal for a project to protect this city from future floods like the 2011 flood that devastated so many residents’ homes and businesses. Hoeven had a big hand in working with Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the St. Paul office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure the funds, and that is appreciated.

Tucker: Biden has ‘enabled’ an ongoing assault on our national sovereignty
Fox News
ARMSTRONG: Well, you absolutely can’t, and I think it’s important to recognize that without the bravery of rank and file members of the Capitol Police and good reporting, we probably wouldn’t know about this. But it is a leadership change. It started prior — it started last fall. It obviously got brought into full swing after January 6th, in the spring, and they are literally collecting all kinds of information on our constituents, our donors, our supporters and that doesn’t mean — they have to sign a book, if they come into the Capitol, we don’t know where that information goes. And they’re obviously doing it to our constituents and at meetings we’re having at home, and I mean, listen, it doesn’t matter who you’re meeting with, if the police are spying on you without probable cause that is a terrible thing. But it’s even more chilling when people are redressing their grievances with their Member of Congress. That’s one of the things our country is founded on, and this is really, really scary and it is really, really inappropriate. And I stand by what I said in the article, whoever is in charge of this program should resign or be fired.

Put North Dakota First