Stenehjem Stops in Rugby
The second of three Republican gubernatorial candidates stopped in Rugby Monday morning.
Wayne Stenehjem met with area residents and District 14 leadership at Dakota Farms in Rugby to discuss issues.
“You’ve got a well-informed and engaged group of people here,” Stenehjem said.
Stenehjem discussed the borehole project that was defeated in Pierce County in March.
” I assured everybody that as far as I’m concerned, as a member of the Land Board and the Industrial Commission, we’re not going to have that here in Pierce County or anywhere else in the the state of North Dakota,” Stenehjem said. “There’s real concern about that, and what I said was North Dakota has done more than its share to meet the energy needs of this nation through coal, oil, natural gas and wind. We don’t need to set ourselves up to be a storage site for nuclear waste.”
Stenehjem discussed issues of federal overreach, including the Waters of the U.S. Rule, the Clean Power Plan and the Bureau of Land Management’s rules on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
“All of those kinds of things were important to the folks here and we’re all concerned about federal overreach,” Stenehjem said. “We are people who tend to believe that the government that is the closest to the people is the one that governs best and the federal answer is, too often, the over-extensive, one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t work for North Dakota.”
Stenehjem discussed challenges presented by changes in the state budget, particularly with a $1 billion shortfall attributed to falling commodity and oil prices.
“Even though I think the Legislature was wise in providing, taking the additional revenue we had last biennium, providing one-time funding for some badly-needed projects in this state, providing tax relief as well as setting money aside into savings accounts to help bridge the gap in our low farm commodity prices and oil prices, long-term we know we’re going to have to make some budget cuts in the next session, some serious belt-tightening, because if our revenues aren’t sufficient we have to do what the Constitution and good business practices employ which is balance the budget,” Stenehjem said. “The issue of balancing the budget not terribly complicated, that’s not to say it’s easy but we have balanced our state budget for 126 years and during my administration that’s exactly what’ll happen in the next four years.”
Stenehjem said that, as governor, one area of the budget he will pay close attention to is the corrections budget and prisoner recidivism and addiction treatment.
Stenehjem also discussed marijuana legalization. Backers of a proposed measure to do so were granted approval to petition for inclusion on the Nov. 8 election ballot by Secretary of State Al Jaeger. Stenehjem said that due to increasing rates of use of heroin, methamphetamine and prescription drugs, a move to legalize marijuana was not needed.
“What I made clear is that I do not believe we need another substance to abuse, and that if we legalize marijuana North Dakota will not be healthier and will not be safer,” Stenehjem said.
Stenehjem said that North Dakotans need to elect someone with experience.
“I think that what is important is now, more than any other time in history, is the citizens of North Dakota elect someone that they know, has experience working in state government, has experience working with the Legislature, who does not need on-the-job training and can hit the ground running to address all our challenges, but also to recognize all the successes that we’ve seen in North Dakota,” Stenehjem said. “I’ve kind of been viewed as the optimist in this race because I believe North Dakota’s best days are ahead of us. There’s never been a better time in North Dakota than right here, right now.”
Stenehjem was born in Mohall and grew up in Williston. He was elected to the state House of Representatives and served for two terms before he was elected to the state Senate in 1980. In 2001, he became the state’s Attorney General.
Also running on the Republican primary ticket are Doug Burgum and Paul Sorum.
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