5 things to know today: Omicron variant, party separation, energy funding, rewriting the law, homeless veterans – InForum

1. North Dakota confirms first case of omicron variant

North Dakota confirmed its first cases of the highly mutated omicron variant of the coronavirus on Monday, December 20.

Four cases have been identified: two in Ward County and one each in Burleigh and Cass County, according to the state Department of Health.

None of the four are hospitalized and they are all adults under the age of 50, health officials said. Two had traveled together in a different state, while two had not traveled.

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2. Walkout at North Dakota GOP Meeting Highlights Party Split

The North Dakota Republican Party headquarters sign is located along East Boulevard Avenue near the State Capitol in Bismarck. (Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service)

Eight North Dakota GOP leaders walked out of a party meeting in Bismarck over the weekend to protest decisions made by party leaders, yet another sign of a growing Republican divide.

Republican leaders of the party’s state committee met at the GOP headquarters on Saturday, December 18 to discuss plans for next year’s political convention and vote on the new statutes.

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3. Environmental group denounces conflicts of interest within the North Dakota Energy Board as $ 160 million in funding is approved

PHOTO: Coal Creek Station

Negotiations continue to find a new owner for Coal Creek Station, North Dakota’s largest coal-fired power station. The effort faces an impending summer deadline for completion. Great River Energy / Special at the Forum

Environmental group calls out a new branch of the North Dakota government for allegedly mismanaging its conflicts of interest when it met last week to recommend more than $ 160 million in public funds for grants and loans in the fossil fuel sector.

The Dakota Resource Council, an environmental group, raised concerns about the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority’s handling of conflicts of interest in a letter sent to the State Ethics Commission and Governor Doug Burgum on Monday December 20, in which the organization called for stricter rules regulating such conflicts in the future.

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4. Minnesota Stakeholders Say Liquor Law Rewrites Are In The Works In 2022

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Minnesota liquor retailers and craft beverage officials have said they hope 2022 will be the year of a vast rewrite of the liquor law on Capitol Hill.

And that means Minnesotans could see more take-out options for sale at craft breweries, distilleries, and cider houses, or additional options available at local liquor stores starting next year if lawmakers do. approve.

The push for change comes after years of deadlock among stakeholders in the distribution system and after craft breweries launched public pressure campaigns to convince lawmakers to lift the caps on barrels of beer they can produce each year while still offering take-out selling options in their sales room. .

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5. North Dakota “on the verge” of ending veteran homelessness

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A Veterans Community Resource and Referral Center is now open at 721 1st Ave. N., in Fargo. The CRRC is designed to meet the housing, health care, and other needs of homeless veterans in North Dakota and Northwestern Minnesota. There are just over 30 CRRCs in the United States, including one in Minneapolis, said director Diana Hall, pictured on Friday, September 11. The Fargo center is the first of the Upper Great Plains, she said. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

Ten years ago, more than 300 veterans were homeless, every night, across North Dakota.

Now the Fargo Veterans Affairs healthcare system, through the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, is on the verge of declaring an end to veteran homelessness in North Dakota, said Diana Hall, who manages housing and veteran employment programs for the Fargo VA health care system. .

“We are on the verge of being able to declare zero functional homelessness for veterans. We are not there yet. We still have a few veterans that we need to house, but we’re close, ”Hall said, adding that she hopes the declaration can be made in 2022.

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