Time to shine
Important work waits for members of the North Dakota House of Representatives and Senate when they gather in a special session in early November. Citizens have problems that need solutions, and the Legislature has the authority, and the resources...
Important work waits for members of the North Dakota House of Representatives and Senate when they gather in a special session in early November.
Citizens have problems that need solutions, and the Legislature has the authority, and the resources, to provide them.
It will be an opportunity for lawmakers to prove themselves and that state government works. Or not.
The initial need for the special session was legislative redistricting based on the 2010 U.S. census. The spread of people across North Dakota needs to be reconciled with the boundaries of legislative districts so that each citizen's vote weighs equally in the ballot box. It's important work, but for the general public it's a low-grade issue. Redistricting often proves ripe for legislative shenanigans. We shall see.
Because national health care was largely unresolved by lawmakers during the regular session earlier this year, the Legislature decided it would make a state response in November. The largest aspect on the issue of health care reform will be the creation of insurance exchanges. Lawmakers and the state insurance commissioner developed that legislation during the interim.
Health insurance exchanges will touch the lives of many of the state's citizens, making the actions by the Legislature sweeping in scope.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple is expected to offer the Legislature a disaster relief package for Minot. There may be assistance for homeowners, as well as aid for permanent flood protection structures. No cost figures have been released. More than redistricting or health insurance exchanges, lawmakers will be judged on how they handle disaster relief.
Also expect the agenda for the Legislature to include additional funding for more Highway Patrol officers for western North Dakota. A dozen troopers are scheduled to graduate in December and be assigned to western North Dakota. Frustrating road safety issues in the Oil Patch have raised the prospect of "expediting" the training of another class of patrol officers and putting them on the road by midsummer. This is a big deal for people who use the roads and highways in the eight oil-producing counties.
Finally, the Legislature will be asked to allow the University of North Dakota to drop the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. The nickname has passionate supporters, but they have been unable to convince the NCAA to allow UND to participate in sanctioned activities using the "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo. It has been an election and court issue. It's been mulled around, argued, debated and discussed beyond reason. It needs closure.
Any lawmaker who thinks to make political hay on the "Fighting Sioux" ought to stifle the urge. The topic needs little if any additional debate. It needs resolution.
How the Legislature performs in November will set the stage for the 2012 election cycle. Lawmakers will be judged as to whether they are part of the solution, or not.