Say Anything

​Where all that higher ed money is going

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | June 3rd, 2015

When the 2013-2015 biennium ends on June 30 the taxpayers of the State of North Dakota will have increased spending on our 11-campus university system by 133 percent over the last decade. That averages out to a 24 percent increase per biennium according to data from North Dakota Legislative Council.

Meanwhile full time equivalent enrollment at our universities has increased less than 8 percent during those same years, or about 1.9 percent per biennium.

If we divide total higher education…

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Dalrymple veto protects golden parachutes for higher ed

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | May 20th, 2015

Here’s something that should make you angry.

I’m sure you all remember Hamid Shirvani. He had a short and tumultuous reign as Chancellor of the North Dakota University System. He was hired on March 13 of 2012 and, after drawing the ire of a few politically powerful university presidents, was placed on administrative leave pending his resignation on July 14, 2013.

Altogether Shirvani served the state of North Dakota for 489 days. Yet, he’s actually been on the state’s payroll more…

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​Silver lining in Heimdal derailment

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | May 13th, 2015

Earlier this week another oil train derailed, this time near Heimdal in central North Dakota.

Anti-oil activists could almost be heard panting in their excitement, rushing to the media with talking points about “bomb trains” and lax regulation of oil shipped on America’s rail lines. Rep. Ron Guggisberg, a North Dakota Democrat from Fargo, went on MSNBC to make political hay claiming that the state’s first responders aren’t prepared for these derailments.

But let’s cut through…

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Open letter to new NDUS chancellor

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | May 6th, 2015

Dear Mark Hagerott,

Congratulations on your appointment as the next chancellor of the North Dakota University System. Your resume is impressive, and your military service in particular commends you.

At $372,000 per year you will, when you take your position on July 1, be making more than our governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state combined. In North Dakota, as I’m sure you know, given your history in our state, we expect to get what we paid for.

What we need is a leader for…

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Democrats let politics trump policy

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | April 29th, 2015

The 2014 legislative session is coming to an end. After a respite over the summer, thoughts will turn to the election side of our two-year political cycle and the politicians will be deciding what to campaign on.

There’s no question Democrats will be campaigning on the oil tax reforms Republicans pushed through this month, not to mention the legislation to prohibit discrimination against homosexuals. But before the talking points begin flying let’s establish exactly what happened…

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​Fix the damn oil tax already

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | April 26th, 2015

On the 70th day of the state’s 80-day legislative session, Republican leaders in the House and Senate have proposed a major reform to oil tax policy.

Already it is being met with anger from partisan Democrats hoping to inflame the public’s hatred for “big oil,” but it’s time to cut through that nonsense.

It’s time to fix the damn oil tax.

Let me explain why.

In 2001 lawmakers created a trigger eliminating the oil extraction tax when prices fall below a certain price. The idea…

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​Is Dalrymple a post-boom governor?

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | April 15th, 2015

Governor Jack Dalrymple

Whether or not Governor Jack Dalrymple will run for another term in 2016 is a question on the mind of most political observers in the state.

It made this observer think of the movies: specifically, Robert Duvall’s character Tom Hagen from the “Godfather” trilogy.

Hagen was adopted by the “godfather” himself, Vito Corleone, and educated to be the attorney for the family’s crime business. We are first introduced to Hagen in part one of the trilogy when he is serving as…

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Lawmakers defend their right to say no

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | April 8th, 2015

Last week lawmakers in the North Dakota House of Representatives, after much emotional floor debate, voted down SB 2279 by a nearly two-to-one vote margin.

The legislation would have added homosexuals to the state’s list of protected classes, prohibiting discrimination against them for employment, housing, accommodations and business services.

The reaction to the bill’s failure was immediate and furious.

Thousands took to social media to vent spleen and invective. The Forum turned its…

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​Time to end the corporate farming ban

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | April 2nd, 2015

Photo by Neil Howard

I’m certain all of you reading this are familiar with the term “Luddite,” but do you know where it comes from?

It is a reference to the followers of Ned Ludd, a hero of folklore from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Ludd was said to have destroyed two mechanical knitting machines in a fit of rage in the 18th century. His name was then appropriated to describe members of a 19th century labor movement who attacked factories using automated machinery because they felt the…

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​Vaping isn’t smoking

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | March 25th, 2015

By Rob Port

Heading into the 2015 legislative session, it was clear that vaping products, or e-cigarettes to use a term proponents of the new products hate, we’re going to get some new regulations to live by.

It isn’t currently illegal in North Dakota to sell vaping products to minors, though most retailers won’t sell them to kids anyway, and doing so almost certainly will be illegal once this session is over. But the relatively non-controversial move toward prohibiting sales to…

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