North Dakota rolling in $1.6 billion surplus

Note to Minnesota budget managers … seek oil. The AP reports: “New estimates put North Dakota’s budget surplus at a staggering $1.6 billion. In July the state’s budget surplus was estimated at $850 million. That doesn’t count $1.1 billion in state reserve funds that have restrictions on how they can be spent. Gov. Jack Dalrymple credits explosive growth in sales tax revenues for much of the increase. He says oil exploration in western North Dakota has caused a bigger increase in tax collections than anyone expected. Dalrymple says much of the surplus should be devoted to one-time public works projects and tax cuts.”

Another story with a NoDak twist … Christopher Bjorke of the Grand Forks Herald writes: “A Minnesota manufacturer is suing its former general manager who is the current head of the North Dakota Trade Office for allegedly breaking agreements signed with the company. Mattracks, based in Karlstad, Minn., filed a lawsuit against former employee Dean Gorder and the North Dakota Trade Office in Minnesota District Court in Kittson County on Sept. 5. According to Mattracks’ complaint, Gorder violated confidentiality and noncompetition agreements signed at the time of his hiring that barred him from using contacts or information made as an employee to the benefit of another company. The agreement also barred him from recruiting Mattracks employees after leaving the company.” Gorder should call ex-PiPress and Strib publisher Par Ridder for some guidance on this situation.

Of course in Edina, we only drink Pellegrino … The AP notes: “Minnesota utilities are competing “glass to glass” to determine which community has the best tasting drinking water in the state. The winner of the ‘Best in Glass’ taste test will be decided at the Minnesota chapter of the American Water Works Association annual convention Wednesday in Duluth. The event attracts water professionals from across the state and runs through Friday. … The winning city takes home a trophy and wall plaque, as well as bragging rights. Last year, St. Cloud Public Utilities took home the Best in Glass trophy. Moorhead won it in 2009 and 2010.” Don’t forget the twist of lime.

Speaking of my people … According to Nicole Norfleet’s Strib story: “An Edina woman has been charged with child endangerment after she allegedly had her 11-year-old nephew ride in the trunk of her Lexus so he wouldn’t drip water on its leather seats. According to the criminal complaint, Susan Marie McCarty, 38, was charged after she admitted that she had her nephew get into the trunk because he was damp from going on a water ride at Valleyfair. … When he said he was getting hot, she said, air vents were aimed at the hole, which was about the size of a piece of paper. Temperatures that day were in the mid 80s.” On second thought, she probably should have called the limo service.

Rebecca Harrington of the Minnesota Daily has a story about a U of M process to clean up water post-fracking: “When fracking is complete, the water used can be so contaminated with oil, gas and sediment that it turns black. But University of Minnesota researchers have found a way to clean this water with bacteria, earning funding to continue their research and apply it industrially. The National Science Foundation awarded the team a grant worth $600,000, the University announced Monday. Researchers also received a Minnesota Futures grant worth $250,000 from the University in June.”

Another AP story says: “The Wisconsin judge who overturned key parts of Gov. Scott Walker’s restrictions on collective bargaining says he will issue a written decision on a request to put that ruling on hold. … Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas gave attorneys who challenged the law until Monday to file briefs. Van Hollen has until Sept. 26 to respond. Colas didn’t say when he would issue his decision. Van Hollen asked him to act quickly.”

The GleanRepeated visits from therapists is a violation of constitutional rights? That’s the argument Pam Louwagie of the Strib reports: “The lawyer for a man accused of killing his three daughters in River Falls, Wis., is asking a higher court to prevent jail mental health workers from approaching the man in his cell. Repeated visits from a worker violate Aaron Schaffhausen’s constitutional rights, his defense attorney argued in appeal papers this week. Jail deputies are already documenting everything about Schaffhausen — including when he eats, sleeps and uses the bathroom — in case it’s needed in the criminal case against him, defense attorney John Kucinski argued in the appeal. If Schaffhausen ever speaks to a mental health worker, Kucinski questioned whether that information would remain medically confidential if the case ends up focusing on Schaffhausen’s mental status.”

He’ll need a few thousand more … Megan Boldt of the PiPress says: “The Democrat hoping to unseat Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann in the 6th Congressional District has launched his first two television ads. Jim Graves, a luxury hotel and restaurant developer, started running the ads on Wednesday, Sept. 19. A campaign spokeswoman said the ads, which cost $60,000, will run on all four Twin Cities television stations through Sept. 23. The first ad is strictly biographical, introducing the St. Cloud native and founder of the AmericInn motel chain to voters. The second features workers from Sartell’s Verso paper mill, who say Bachmann did not reach out to them after a fire that ultimately closed the mill. The $60,000 spots are a nominal investment for television ads in the Twin Cities.”

Jeff Zeleny and Marjorie Connelly of the New York Times file a statistic-filled story on Mitt Romney’s challenges in Wisconsin: “Seven weeks until the election, with Mr. Romney facing new questions about his ability to gain trust among voters experiencing economic hardships, his campaign is increasingly pointing to Wisconsin as a place where a statewide Republican resurgence could rub off on Mr. Romney. But President Obama has overtaken Mr. Romney on who would do a better job handling the economy, according to a new Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll of likely Wisconsin voters. The poll also found that Mr. Obama has a 17-point edge over Mr. Romney when voters are asked if a candidate cares about their needs and problems.” He may need to tweak his pitch to “entitled victims.”

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