Say Anything

​A frightening reminder of legislative power

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | March 18th, 2015

At times the business of governing can seem like a zany affair. The theatrics can be wacky and the cast of characters more like caricatures than level-headed political leaders.

The posturing and gamesmanship can often leave observers with the feeling that what’s taking place in the halls of power isn’t really all that serious.

That perception is folly. Policymakers, for all their pomposity and vainglorious campaigning, wield an awesome sort of power. Even a few subtle lines of code…

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​Heidi Heitkamp’s strange approach to bipartisanship

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | March 11th, 2015

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp

If there was a theme to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s 2012 campaign to the U.S. Senate, it was the idea that she is a pragmatic leader who would help cut through obstruction in Washington, D.C. to get things done.

On her still-active campaign website Sen. Heitkamp said there are “too many extreme politicians in Washington” who hold the country “hostage to advance their narrow political agenda.”

Sen. Heitkamp has postured herself as specifically against the Senate’s filibuster,

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​Time for a House Cleaning in Higher Education

by Chris Hennen | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | March 4th, 2015

Late Saturday evening, a SayAnythingBlog.com reader named Austin Emineth, a student at the University of North Dakota, contacted me to say that he and some friends had been ejected from a hockey game.

Their sin? Displaying a large banner near the end of the game which said, “Fire Kelley.”

“Kelley,” of course, is UND President Robert Kelley.

The officials at the Ralph Engelstad Arena dispute the claim of ejection, but Emineth tells me he and his friends were asked to leave. Either…

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​A shameful day for House Republicans

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

On Wednesday, Feb. 18, Dr. Nadim Koleilat, a surgeon from Bismarck and a member of the Muslim community there, was to have delivered an invocation to the state House of Representatives.These invocations are a long-standing tradition for the Legislature. A committee organizes spiritual leaders of a diverse cross-section of faiths to deliver an address intended to uplift and inspire before the floor sessions in the House and Senate begin.

I cannot say if an Islamic leader has delivered an…

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​Collegiate athletics are a distraction

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 18th, 2015

North Dakota State University was created as a land grant institution under the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1890. That legislation granted 30,000 acres of federal land to each state allowing them to use it, or the proceeds from its sale, to establish educational institutions.

The purpose of those institutions was, per the original act, “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively…

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North Dakota’s newly assertive Legislature

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 11th, 2015

If there is one political debate that has persisted since the dawn of the American republic, it is the never-ending competition between the legislative and executive branches of government.

The debate has its roots in George Washington’s administration when Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton sowed the first seeds of partisan politics.

Hamilton believed in “energy in the executive,” as he put it in the Federalist Papers, promoting an executive branch with powers bordering on…

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​The era of “yes” is over for North Dakota

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | February 4th, 2015

For the first time in a long time, North Dakota’s political leaders are going to be faced with difficult decisions when it comes to governing the state.

“We don’t run the state on oil revenue,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple told the editorial board of the Williston Herald in December.

At the time he was trying to address skepticism of his executive budget, which built aggressive spending on top of an optimistic revenue outlook.

Turns out he was wrong. At least in terms of the last couple of…

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Oversight on oil and gas

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 28th, 2015

Photo by  Joshua Doubeck

"Measure would void new North Dakota flaring, oil rules," screams a headline from the Associated Press about state Rep. Keith Kempenich's bill to change the process by which oil regulations are passed by the the Industrial Commission.

That headline set up a scolding and typically intemperate editorial from the Fargo Forum, which as usual, seems to have only a superficial grasp of the matter at hand.

A fairer headline would have read something like this: "Legislature seeks more say over…

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​For the Fourth Amendment

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 21st, 2015

Should it be illegal to exercise your Fourth Amendment rights? A North Dakota law recently upheld by the state Supreme Court does just that.

In 2013, lawmakers, pressured by hyperbolic newspaper editorials and activists who went so far as to park a car wreck on the steps of the capitol, passed a number of changes to DUI law. Among those changes was the decision to treat refusal of a chemical sobriety test as a crime.

Previously the law treated such a refusal as a civil matter, with the…

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​Audits Necessary for State Regulators

by Rob Port | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | January 16th, 2015

Rep. Kenton Onstad, a Democrat in North Dakota’s state House, has introduced a bill that would mandate an audit for the North Dakota Health Department as well as the Oil and Gas Division of the Industrial Commission.

With the legislation Onstad is seeking to force an audit of the two state departments with the most oversight over energy development in North Dakota.

In this matter he is the servant of the strident environmental activists at the Dakota Resource Council who have been…

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