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Time for some potpourri

By Staff | Jan 2, 2009

The latest U.S. Census Bureau data reported North Dakota’s population is again growing — albeit incrementally.

According to the latest numbers, the state’s population is now at 641,481 — up 3,577 from a year ago.

It wasn’t too long ago the state was losing population due to a lack of economic diversity and competitive wages as well as other shortcomings (compared to other states). However, thanks to an improved state economy, tied largely to another oil boom in the western half of the state, the pendulum has swung.

A closer look at the data revealed there were more births in the state in 2008 than the previous year, and there continues to be an increase in immigration into the state, likely tied to jobs.

No surprise most of the gains occurred in the state’s largest cities, including Fargo and Bismarck. However, some towns in the west, near the oil drilling, experienced some population growth as well.

Legislative session begins

The 61st North Dakota Legislative assembly will begin later this week, and it should be an interesting next four months at the Capitol.

Governor Hoeven unveiled his budget a few weeks ago, and it includes additional spending in several key areas as well as healthy property tax relief. While the budget was praised by many lawmakers, others argued it didn’t go far enough in addressing needs in many areas, including education and health and human services, as well as property tax relief. Those issues will surely get debated rigorously in committees and in front Senate and House lawmakers.

One issue of local interest pertains to whether an amendment will come to the law which will allow regional Class One corrections facilities to enter into inmate boarding contracts with other state departments of correction. The current law is a bit ambiguous regarding whether regional jails have that authority. If the legislation is approved, it could provide more boardings for the NCCRC. Local legislator Jon Nelson-Rugby is planning to introduce the legislation.

Community comes through

And finally, through the generous giving of many local residents, the holiday season was a lot merrier for many individuals and families in need. Several local charity projects were able to meet their goals, thanks to donations from residents.

It’s often said that North Dakota has the nicest people — and judging by the generosity shown recently — it’s hard to argue with that.

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