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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

When pot and small-town dynamics collide

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Friday, May 3, 2024   

Petitions are being circulated to get a marijuana legalization question on North Dakota's fall ballot.

Some local officials said marijuana laws could affect their small cities and towns in unique ways. A North Dakota group called New Economic Frontier is behind the ballot initiative. If put before voters, it would be the third time they'd consider the idea. Similar questions failed in 2018 and 2022.

Scott Decker, mayor of Dickinson, said if it wins this time, the state has to honor the will of the voters. Whether his area would see economic benefits or new residents, he pointed out energy jobs have a big presence and there is a potential conflict.

"Even if recreational marijuana is passed, individuals working in the energy sector are still gonna have to pass drug tests," Decker explained. "That's just a standard in the industry. Safety is paramount. "

He also wondered about local police having enough resources to secure technology for field sobriety tests, especially if revenues do not trickle down to his city of nearly 25,000 people. But Decker acknowledged other criminal justice aspects of legalization, noting there are too many people with low-level marijuana offenses who are incarcerated.

Tom Erdmann, mayor of Carrington, said his constituents are fairly conservative on the issue. He doubts his town would ever be a hotbed for marijuana retail sales but no matter the dynamics, he said any possible revenue would be a bonus.

"You know, any tax revenue that we get, whether it's from tobacco sales or highway use tax or any of those things that are not necessarily listed every year in our budget, we don't send it, that's for sure," Erdmann emphasized. "We keep it and use it in places where we need the funds to go."

He added Carrington has a solid economic base but his revenue sentiments illustrate the pros and cons communities have to wrestle with as legalization debates resurface. Petition organizers tout a range of economic boosts, while also stating their proposed policy is pretty restrictive compared to other states.


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The 2024 Summer U.S. Conference of Mayors in Kansas City, Mo., will be under the leadership of its president, Mayor Hillary Schieve of Reno, Nev., and host Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
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