1. 30 minutes to vote in North Dakota? Officials say it would be more of a guideline than a rule

A massive North Dakota elections package that now awaits the signature of Gov. Doug Burgum contains a provision that would put a 30-minute time limit on casting a ballot at a polling place.

The 83-page House Bill 1253, a sweeping elections proposal, received broad support in both the North Dakota House and Senate in the final days of this year’s legislative session after it was brought on behalf of the Secretary of State’s Office to refine and modernize election administration procedures. Officials say the bill’s 30-minute voting rule is more of a guideline, but some lawmakers criticized it as a strategic restriction that could limit turnout for non-white populations and create unintended hurdles for disabled voters.

Read more from The Forum’s Adam Willis

2. Major issues emerged during North Dakota’s 2021 legislative session. Here’s a rundown

WDAY logo

Newsletter signup for email alerts

North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, speaks at a bill signing on April 21, 2021, next to Gov. Doug Burgum, left, and House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, speaks at a bill signing on April 21, 2021, next to Gov. Doug Burgum, left, and House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

North Dakota lawmakers are heading home after nearly four months of work at the state Capitol in Bismarck.

Both chambers of the Republican-dominated Legislature ended their biennial regular session just after midnight on Friday, April 30, but the effects of the more than 500 laws they made will be felt by North Dakotans for years to come.

Read more from Forum News Service’s Jeremy Turley

3. Minnesota officials urge renters to apply for aid, landlords lambast program rollout

From left, Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho listen to residents of Kings Crossing in St. Paul Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, as they discuss their fear of losing federal housing assistance because of the month-long partial shutdown of the federal government. Christopher Magan / St. Paul Pioneer Press

From left, Gov. Tim Walz, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and Minnesota Housing Commissioner Jennifer Ho listen to residents of Kings Crossing in St. Paul Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, as they discuss their fear of losing federal housing assistance because of the month-long partial shutdown of the federal government. Christopher Magan / St. Paul Pioneer Press

Minnesota officials on Friday, April 30, urged tenants with back-rent spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for federal support through renthelpmn.org.

Renters who’ve faced job losses, limited work or other hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for up to 15 months of rent coverage through the program, with some of the funding available to cover future rent payments.

Read more from Forum News Service’s Dana Ferguson

4. North Dakota’s Grand Farm sounds off in US Senate hearing

An artist's rendering of buildings associated with the Grand Farm autonomous farming initiative depicts how it might look in three to five years, about 10 miles south of Fargo, N.D. Image courtesy of Emerging Prairie.

An artist’s rendering of buildings associated with the Grand Farm autonomous farming initiative depicts how it might look in three to five years, about 10 miles south of Fargo, N.D. Image courtesy of Emerging Prairie.

The “Grand Farm,” based near Fargo, N.D., took the stage in a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on April 29, 2021.

Grand Farm launched in 2017, after a speech by Fargo-based agricultural entrepreneur Barry Batcheller, who urged the emphasis of a “major” focus for the region to continue its long-standing agricultural technology leadership, led by luminary companies such as Titan Machinery, Bobcat and Steiger Tractor Co. The company says it provides a “neutral platform” for projects and demonstrations, designed to “energize collaboration” among businesses, organizations and researchers.

Read more from Forum News Service’s Mikkel Pates

5. Former UND President Mark Kennedy censured by campus in Colorado

File photo of UND president Mark Kennedy. P       hoto by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

File photo of UND president Mark Kennedy. P hoto by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks HeraldEric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Former UND President Mark Kennedy was censured Thursday, April 29, in what apparently was a first-of-its-kind vote by faculty at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

The censure vote was a result of Kennedy’s “failure of leadership with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion,” according to a written motion from the campus’ Faculty Assembly, which is made up of faculty members from across campus.

Read more from Forum News Service’s Sydney Mook