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Port: North Dakota's special session is already so off the rails the lobbyists are calling for an end to distractions

This is a remarkable letter. It has to be tempting for many of these groups to try and use the special session to advance their agenda. Calling for a session focused on redistricting and the "Biden bucks" (as some lawmakers are calling it) is an act of principle.

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The North Dakota State Capitol is seen Jan. 17, 2021. Michelle Griffith / The Forum

MINOT, N.D. — It's come to this, my friends: The lobbyists have become the voice of reason.

The special session of North Dakota's Legislature will begin next week.

The intent of the session is to fulfill two of the Legislature's constitutional duties. Redistricting, for one, and appropriating the more than $1 billion in federal COVID-19 funding that has come to the state, for another.

But there is a push, mostly coming from the Trump-aligned Bastiat Caucus of far-right Republicans to make the session about vaccine mandates and critical race theory, and more.

READ MORE FROM ROB PORT

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  • Friday Mailbag: Rick Becker, 'let's go Brandon,' Donald Trump and Chris Berg If you'd like to reach out to me, send your correspondence to rport@forumcomm.com.

  • Port: Ultra-conservative North Dakota lawmaker took some big, fat, forgivable government loans There's nothing wrong with getting a PPP loan. Millions of Americans received them. I'm glad Rick Becker found help for himself and his employees. There is something wrong, however, with an ideological zealot who spends most of his time throwing rhetorical rocks at people he deems not sufficiently conservative getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in government loans.

  • Port: Bismarck rally has ties to Jan. 6 riot and election conspiracy theories The intent of this folderol is to pressure North Dakota's lawmakers into advancing the Bastiat Caucus bills. Given that, don't the organizers of this event owe us some explanations? Where is the money coming from? Why is this Florida group involved? North Dakotans deserve to know.

More than two dozen bills unrelated to redistricting or the COVID-19 funding have been introduced, with more, potentially, in the works.

There is also a rally aimed at pushing some of these bills, organized by the Bastiat Caucus with assistance from some shadowy national interests with at least one connection to the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C.

They're preparing for thousands of attendees.

We'll see if that turnout actually happens (color me dubious) but as these interests push to turn the special session into a runaway exercise in knee-jerk lawmaking, a coalition of interests groups has come together to ask lawmakers to avoid distractions.

"Many of the policy bills that have been submitted require substantive policy debate, and a very open public process," Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce president Arik Spencer says in the letter. "It's our fear, at least on behalf of GNDC, that this condensed special session, won't allow that vigorous debate to happen."

The GNDC is one of 36 signatories of the letter, which you can read in full below.

This is a remarkable letter. It has to be tempting for many of these groups to try and use the special session to advance their agenda. Calling for a session focused on redistricting and the "Biden bucks" (as some lawmakers are calling it) is an act of principle.

Kudos to them.

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To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a columnist and podcast host for the Forum News Service. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com.
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