I had Governor Doug Burgum on my radio show today to talk about his new task force aimed at possibly reforming the governance structure of the North Dakota University System. I’m pretty excited about the effort. I told Burgum that this had the potential to be one of the most important things he does during his term in office.
Legislating at the ballot box is a foolish way to make public policy. That said, there is a widespread fetish in American society for direct democracy, and so we're stuck with initiated measures. A crap shoot of a process that lets deep pocketed interests pay professional signature collectors to put their hobby horse issues on the ballot, completely bypassing our elected officials and the rigorous legislative process. But state lawmakers are considering reforms to that process in an attempt to improve it. They've convened an interim committee to study reforms.
The North Dakota Department of Health is estimating that medical marijuana won’t be available in North Dakota for another 11-13 months . Voters in the state approved medical marijuana on the ballot a year ago, though the ballot measure they cast their ballots for was so flawed it didn’t actually decriminalize medical marijuana. That forced the Legislature to step in, and their bill became active in April.
Last week I posted about an incident from Bismarck where an officer involved in shooting a member of the public who was allegedly attacking him invoked Marsy’s Law to hide his identity from the public.
A shooter in Sutherland Springs, Texas, opened fire in a Baptist church over the weekend. As I write this, the count is 26 dead and 20 wounded .
I had a remarkable interview with North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread this past week. During a segment on my radio show, I asked Godfread if he'd be willing to go back to the time before Obamacare. "I would," he told me. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was supposed to increase competition among insurance companies while lowering premiums on the way to lower uninsured rates. Have those things been accomplished in North Dakota? Godfread says no.
My colleague Patrick Springer wrote a very astute article recently about two different visions for higher education presented by Governor Doug Burgum and NDSU President Dean Bresciani.
Last year, after an intense campaign funded exclusively by California billionaire Henry Nicholas, North Dakota voters approved a sprawling amendment to the state constitution called Marsy’s Law. It was billed as a “victim’s rights” bill, but critics (me among them) pointed out that the feel-good legislation would be hugely problematic in practice.
Yesterday the North Dakota Highway Patrol released to the public video of Tax Commissioner Ryan Raushchenberger’s arrest for DUI back in September. He pleaded guilty to those charges earlier this week. ( View video of the arrest here. ) Rauschenberger lied about his drinking , and pretty flagrantly too:
It may surprise you, given their dominance of elected office in recent years, but North Dakota's Republicans have some weaknesses heading into the 2018 election cycle. The top of the list of vulnerables has to be Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger. In the 2014 election cycle I was the first to report on the incumbent's struggles with alcohol addiction. Rauschenberger took a leave of absence from his elected position to seek treatment and returned, just weeks ahead of Election Day, to win by more than 20 percentage points.