John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.
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BEMIDJI — The city council approved a $65,000 revolving loan fund request Monday for a North Dakota-based furniture store hoping to move into the Bemidji Design Center building. St. Michel Furniture has plans to move into the building, located 123 Beltrami Ave. NW, potentially by mid-summer, according to its owner Rob St. Michel, who attended Monday’s meeting. Tiffany Fettig, business loan consultant with the Headwaters Regional Development Commission, said the business would use the loan to buy inventory.
BEMIDJI — Despite little being written into law this session on the Bemidji veterans home proposal, Sen. Tom Saxhaug said Monday progress has been made. The state government finance bill, which was set to be voted on Monday before the Legislature adjourned at midnight, did not include a provision establishing a veterans home in Beltrami County. That provision was taken out sometime after the bill was introduced in mid-April. Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids, said that authorization bill was not needed as the home already is on a federal list of proposed projects.
ST. PAUL -- The keystone of Minnesota Democrats’ budget plans, $2 billion in tax increases, won House approval early today and the Senate pulled a surprise in the early morning hours by approving money to fund state Capitol building renovations. Faced with a midnight constitutional deadline to adjourn for the year, Republicans and Democrats began working together overnight to find a way to neatly end the contentious session.
BEMIDJI —It was the largest fire David Gould had seen in his short time with the Bemidji Fire Department. He and 10 other local firefighters were called Tuesday night to the scene of a rapidly expanding wildfire north of Menahga in Wadena County.
BEMIDJI —The Bemidji Economic Development Authority will meet Monday to discuss its process for developing city-owned land. The BEDA, which is made up of city councilors and staff, has authority to sell city-owned land to be developed.
BEMIDJI —Bill authored by a Bemidji lawmaker banning formaldehyde in children’s care products was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton Monday. The legislation, authored by Bemidji DFLer Rep. John Persell, bans manufacturers and wholesalers from selling care products in Minnesota, like shampoo or lotion, designed for children younger than 8 years old that contain formaldehyde or ingredients that release formaldehyde.
BEMIDJI – The city of Bemidji’s hopes for a hospitality tax were effectively dashed Friday night at the State Capitol. After months of debate in legislative hearings and at city hall, a joint House and Senate taxes committee declined to include the tax in its overall plan. That decision came at a meeting where legislators discussed what to include in that plan. The proposal would have allowed the city to impose up to a 1 percent tax on purchases at local hotels and restaurants.
BEMIDJI —Although gas prices soared to near-record levels this week, local tourism officials don’t expect it to hamper one of the area’s most vital industries. Denelle Hilliard, executive director of Visit Bemidji, said she didn’t expect tourism to be affected significantly by higher gas prices. She said many tourists that come here are coming from a 300-mile radius rather than other regions of the country.
BEMIDJI — Local officials fear the Bemidji Public Library would host fewer events under a funding proposal moving through the state Senate. Paul Ericsson, the Bemidji Public Library branch manager, said the Senate’s $1 million proposed appropriation to the state’s 12 regional library systems in 2014 and 2015 would hurt the local library.
BEMIDJI — This is, in fact, their first rodeo. Sanford Center staff have been working this week to prep the two-year-old arena for the Minnesota Rodeo Association finals this weekend. That includes laying down a mixture of clay and sand for the riders. Georgette Bloom, the center’s convention sales manager who brought the event to Bemidji, said they are using even more dirt than what was used for the bull riding event in March. "It needs to be deeper," Bloom said of the dirt.