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7-4 Letters to the Editor

By Staff | Jul 2, 2015

If you have not read the June 30, 2015 New York Times article titled, “U.S. Chamber of Commerce Works Globally to Fight Antismoking Measures”, please do so. While we acknowledge there is, at times, a disconnect between national, state and local organizations such as the Chambers of Commerce organizations, I couldn’t help but recognize some similarities between Chamber international efforts as detailed in the article referenced above and the actions of the Greater North Dakota Chamber here in our state.

Even as an active member of the Healthy North Dakota Summit, a public health initiative established by then-Governor John Hoeven and whose statewide plan identifies strategies to “support North Dakotans who make healthy choices – in schools, workplaces, senior centers, homes and anywhere people live, learn, work and play,” the GNDC has not only been absent in supporting tobacco prevention efforts in our state, it has actively opposed them.

With the goal to “reduce tobacco use in North Dakota” on paper in their statewide plan and in mind, we are troubled to see efforts of the Chambers of Commerce – whether internationally or here at the state level – combat proven prevention strategies that save both lives and money.

We call on North Dakotans to demand better and challenge the GNDC to accept what the numbers have long confirmed – that comprehensive tobacco prevention practices are fiscally responsible to taxpayers, health care systems, and ultimately, our workforce and employers in the business community.

Dr. Eric Johnson, Grand Forks

President, Tobacco Free North Dakota

Dear Editor and Fellow Residents of Pierce County, N.D.:

We are living in a day of much change, some positive and some negative; what concerns me is that what always seemed to be our land’s rule and order is now subject to whimsical change. It is of no matter if in the North Dakota the legislative body overwhelmingly passes a law or if voters by a super majority passes an amendment any court can denounce and deny such. We are a United States, but historically have not the states had much responsibility and privilege as to their own governing? Is this changing? And, if so is that positive or negative?

Take for example a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling: I had always understood that each state had the obligation, and privilege to define and regulate marriage. (Bill of Rights, 10th amendment allows all powers not delegated by the Constitution to the Federal government to remain to the states and/ or the people.)

A couple intending to marry would go to the county Clerk of Court (some states Registers of Deeds Office) and make an application for license. States always varied in requirements and even in associated fees. Mandatory blood tests used to be very typical, the marriage of first cousins is prohibited in many states, (permitted in Illinois for those over age 50, I think); some states like Texas encourage premarital workshops, which then result in a discounted license fee.

We are living in a day of much change even as to how we may govern our own state. It seems to me the message is the county, the state, the citizens are no longer competent to even determine very basic ways of rule and order.

Indeed we live in a day of much change, some positive and some negative.

Mark Ostrem

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