This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
A bill approved by lawmakers will change how the state shares oil tax revenue with the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation for wells that straddle the border of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. The bill calls for MHA to receive a portion of oil production and extraction taxes for oil wells that begin off the reservation and extend across the border. The bill corrects an inequity that has existed in the tax sharing agreement. The state has already shared in revenue from wells that begin on the reservation and extend beyond the border. The new agreement is estimated to send an additional $7.15 million to MHA Nation over the next two years. The bill also provides certainty for oil companies drilling in that area. The legislation awaits the governor’s signature.
More than 18,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and 16,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were in storage in North Dakota as of Thursday and waiting to be used. Demand for the vaccine started strong in the state but has leveled off. From February to March, the percentage of North Dakotans who have received one vaccine dose went from 15% to almost 30%. But in April, that rate has increased from about 42% to 46.4%. Surveys by the federal government show North Dakota has some of the highest rates of vaccine hesitancy. State and local health officials should work to address the concerns of vaccine skeptics. Efforts to make the vaccine convenient such as pop-up clinics at Bismarck-Mandan Walmarts are good steps and should continue. Meanwhile, Gov. Doug Burgum’s decision to lift the COVID-19 emergency declaration at the end of the month may send a confusing message to the public about the urgency of getting vaccinated.
Gov. Burgum made the right call in vetoing the bill to restrict transgender girls from competing in K-12 sports. The bill was a solution in search of a problem. As Burgum pointed out, the state already has fairness in girls sports due to the policies of the North Dakota High School Activities Association. The bill promoted discrimination against transgender youth, and the Senate was right to sustain the veto.
Troubles have continued at the Sahara Night Club at the Gateway Mall in Bismarck. Bismarck police recently responded to a noise complaint at the nonalcoholic club about 2 a.m. A patron there is accused of fighting with police and injuring an officer. Under the city ordinance, the club is allowed to stay open until 1 a.m., but it was still operating when police responded. The club, which is now closed, has had numerous police calls for service in the past, including for assaults.
The University of Mary won the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II title last week after defeating Iowa State 2-0. It was the first time the Marauders have won a men's national championship in any sport. The team dominated the tournament held at Starion Sports Complex in Mandan. Head coach Dan Huntley was named the ACHA D-II men's coach of the year for the second year in a row, and 26-year-old senior Zach Garrett was named the ACHA D-II player of the year.