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Omdahl: Red alert! Legislature is in session

By Staff | Jan 23, 2015

Let them eat cake

As expected, the first issue to be considered by the North Dakota Legislature was taxes. The Republicans want to cut income taxes while the Democrats want to reduce property taxes. Both parties are wrong.

Cutting the income tax helps only those with incomes; cutting the property taxes helps only those with property. Nobody is championing the poor people who will keep paying sales taxes at the present rate.

Have gun; will legislate

Pointing to the Canadian incident in which legislators were shot, legislators introduced a bill permitting all public officials – they included – to carry guns.

More children have been killed with guns than legislators so perhaps we should arm the children. (The NRA would support that.) Or at least provide them with bullet proof vests. If everybody is going to have a gun, that is the least we could do for kids.

In case Heidi comes home

An anti-Heidi bill was introduced on the basis of a rumor that Senator Heitkamp was coming back to run for governor. The bill assumes that she would win, in which case she would appoint her replacement. To prevent such an appointment, the bill would require an election for a new senator.

The last time North Dakota saw such speculative maneuvering was in 1959 when the Legislature replaced the at-large election of two Congressmembers with two separate districts so they could beat then-Congressman Quentin Burdick in the Republican east district come 1960.

Burdick was cornered until Senator William Langer conveniently died and gave him the opportunity to run for the Senate. Burdick won and hogged the seat for 32 years. If they would have left the at-large system, it’s likely Burdick would have run for re-election and Republicans would have captured the Senate seat.

Why not more government?

The local officials in western North Dakota came out against a proposal to create an “oil and gas development strategic planning authority.” They claim they already have too much government, a heretical statement in a state that loves governments so much that it has more governments per capita than any other state.

As for the western counties, they want to run their own crisis and not let a bunch of outsiders confiscate it.

Testing students on civics

Assuming that schools aren’t teaching students the facts of government, legislators have a bill to require a civics test at least as difficult as the tests given for citizenship. Considering the number of Norwegians and Germans that got into the country with the present citizenship test, that isn’t a very high bar for today’s youth.

Proposing an annual session

A handful of courageous legislators are proposing an annual session to keep up with rapidly changing circumstances in North Dakota. Under the present biennial sessions, the Legislature has to set a bunch of triggers to get the state to the next session.

It has become governance by “ifs.” If our revenue declines this much, oil taxes will be cut; if revenue increases, some will be siphoned to a mattress; if the icepacks start melting, the Capitol will be raised three feet, etc. etc.

Actually, the voters approved annual sessions 40 years ago.

No peeking by UAV

Another bill would require police to get a warrant before using unmanned aircraft to find and fight crime. They must have probable cause before they can look for probable cause. This goes well with the ridiculously low speeding fines in North Dakota. It seems we want law enforcement but not too much.

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