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LETTER: Does Hamm run North Dakota?

February 23, 2018
Merill Piepkorn - State Sen., Fargo (District 44) , Pierce County Tribune

It should come as no surprise that Oklahoma oil man, Harold Hamm, is set to be national finance campaign chair for Republican Kevin Cramer's bid for the US Senate. After all, thanks to Republican-led tax cuts for out-of-state corporations over the past several ND legislative sessions, and oil tax cuts in the waning days of the 2015 session, Hamm, through his company Continental Resources, has extracted enough money from North Dakota taxpayers to finance Cramer's campaign on his own.

Hamm has never shied away from the limelight here in North Dakota, frequently sharing the stage and seeking the spotlight with political celebrities. A few years back he even wrote an open letter to North Dakotans, explaining how fortunate we were to have companies like Continental Resources active in our business-friendly (as in low taxes and few regulations) state. Maybe there's something to that saying going around "Oklahoma has the best legislature money can buyright here in North Dakota!"

Meanwhile, back in Hamm's home state of Oklahoma, things aren't going so well. Oklahoma is in a budget crisis. A February 9th, 2018 NPR news story reports, "Around 20% of Oklahoma schools now hold classes just four days a week. Last year Highway Patrol officers were given a mileage limit because the state couldn't afford to put gas in their tanks. Medicaid provider rates have been cut to the point that rural nursing homes and hospitals are closing, and the prisons are so full that the director of corrections says they are on the brink of a crisis." Apparently the oil money North Dakota is losing out on isn't doing much good in Oklahoma either. So where is all the money? In the pockets of the billionaires who seek more of it and the power that goes with that wealth. And of course they'll spend as much as they think is necessary to put into office those who they think can best serve their personal interests.

So what is it North Dakotans? Who runs our state? Who calls the shots? Who elects the politicians that represent us at the state and national levels? Whose government do you believe in? The government that billionaires bankroll, or Abraham Lincoln's government "of the people, by the people and for the people"? You know the answer. Have the courage to act on that knowledge.

Merrill Piepkorn

State Senator

Fargo, District 44

(Submitted via the ND Newspaper Association)



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