NORTH DAKOTA FLOODING-DECLARATION
Federal disaster declaration requested for ND
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple is requesting a federal disaster declaration to help 16 counties and the Spirit Lake Reservation recover from spring flooding.
Dalrymple sent a letter to President Obama asking for the declaration. If approved, the presidential disaster declaration would make federal funding available to Benson, Bottineau, Cass, Cavalier, Eddy, Foster and McHenry counties. It would also make it available to Pembina, Ramsey, Renville, Richland, Rolette, Towner, Trail, Walsh and Wells counties as well as the Spirit Lake Reservation.
The request follows a preliminary damage assessment. Federal, state and local teams estimate it will cost about $5 million to repair flood damage in the Red River of the North Basin, the Devils Lake Basin and the Souris River Basin.
NORTH DAKOTA FLOODING
Residents of small ND town asked to evacuate
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The mayor of a small town in northeastern North Dakota is asking residents to evacuate as floodwaters threaten a dam.
Cavalier Mayor Ken Briese asked the approximately 1,500 residents of the town to evacuate Tuesday until 7 p.m. A mandatory evacuation is required Tuesday night and thereafter.
Construction crews built a temporary levee at the nearby Renwick Dam in hopes of keeping the Tongue River from spilling over and carrying floodwaters downstream to Cavalier.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple also has directed the North Dakota National Guard and state agencies to help with fighting flooding in Cavalier and other areas in Pembina County.
ND GOP Chairman says he won't seek another term
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The chairman of North Dakota's Republican Party says he won't seek another term.
Stan Stein announced Tuesday that it was "the right time" to step down.
Stein took over as chair in late 2010, replacing Tony Clark. Stein was elected to his first full term in June 2011.
He tells the Bismarck Tribune that being chairman is "a demanding job" best left to someone else. In an email to party officials sent Monday, the 62-year-old Stein said the party is in "a solid financial position."
Party Vice Chairman Jim Poolman lauded Stein's efforts, noting that the state party held or gained every statewide office it sought in 2012. Poolman says the party is better off than when Stein took over.
Party officials are to elect a new chairman in June.
North Dakota legislators pick 41 interim studies
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota lawmakers will be studying 41 issues over the next two years, including property taxes and the effects of federal health care legislation.
The 17-member Legislative Management Committee chose the topics Monday out of 69 potential studies. They'll be considered between now and the 64th Legislature in 2015.
Among the other approved study topics are a review of the state's tobacco control plan and statewide child care service needs. Rejected topics included a study of man camps in the oil patch, special traffic enforcement for high-fatality areas on state highways and requirements placed on state schools by the federal Education Department.
10 of the 41 studies are being required by the Legislature. Those topics include health care reform and new funding formulas for education.
KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE
Obama opposes GOP bill on Keystone XL oil pipeline
WASHINGTON (AP) - The White House says President Barack Obama opposes a House bill that would speed approval of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas.
The White House said Tuesday that the bill "seeks to circumvent longstanding and proven processes" by removing a requirement for a presidential permit. The legislation also says no new environmental studies are needed.
House Republicans say the bill is needed to ensure the long-delayed pipeline is built. The project, first proposed in 2008, would carry oil extracted from tar sands in western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
Opponents say the pipeline would carry "dirty oil" that could trigger global warming, while supporters say it would create jobs and bolster North American energy resources.
A House vote is expected Wednesday.
Attorneys argue over notes about death row inmate
FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Federal prosecutors in North Dakota say the refusal by defense attorneys to turn over notes in the case of death row inmate Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. is meant to prolong the appeal.
Rodriguez was sentenced to death after a jury found him guilty of raping, beating and stabbing University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin (shuh-DEEN') of Pequot Lakes, Minn., in 2003.
Prosecutors argued Tuesday for Rodriguez's attorneys to surrender notes from mental health professionals who have examined the defendant.
A defense attorney says the government doesn't need those transcripts in order to form an opinion on Rodriguez's psychological condition.
Defense attorneys in October 2011 filed a federal habeas corpus motion, considered the last step in the appeals process.
The 298-page document claims, among other things, that Rodriguez is mentally disabled.
Parents of slain student: Justice will be served
FARGO, N.D. (AP) - The parents of slain University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin (shuh-DEEN') say the man convicted of killing their daughter isn't the only person who received a death sentence.
Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., of Crookston, Minn., sits on death row in Terre Haute, Ind., while his lawyers argue what is believed to be his final appeal. Rodriguez was convicted in 2004 of killing Sjodin, of Pequot Lakes, Minn.
Sjodin's parents, Allan Sjodin and Linda Walker, attended a hearing in Fargo Tuesday over a government motion for the defense to produce notes from mental health experts.
Linda Walker says she thinks about Dru every day and feels like she and Allan "were given the death sentence as well."
Allan Sjodin says "justice will be served" and he and Walker "aren't going anywhere."
NM sees oil production jump 46%
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Oil production in New Mexico has increased by nearly 50% over the last three years, making it 1 of 5 western states that have helped boost national production over the last three years.
Statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show onshore oil production increased nationally by more than 2 million barrels a day - or nearly two-thirds - between February 2010 and February 2013.
North Dakota and Texas have been the driving forces, but New Mexico along with Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah account for 15% of the growth.
A spokesman for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Wally Drangmeister, says southeastern New Mexico's stretch of the Permian Basin has been booming. He says recent advancements in drilling techniques have helped developers pull more oil from their wells.
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