Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Legacy Fund hearing disrupted by protest

by C.S. Hagen | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | News | November 13th, 2019

Screenshot of the RRVDSA disruption

FARGO — The North Dakota Legislature Legacy Fund Earnings Committee hearings started off Tuesday night by listening to the public on a range of ideas on how to spend the state’s $6.36 billion surplus from oil and gas revenues. On Wednesday, however, the hearings turned sour after a representative from an out-of-state bill mill took the stand.

Members of the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America immediately disrupted the speaker, Jonathan Williams, the chief economist and vice president for the Center for State Fiscal Reform of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, as he was preparing to present a case for reducing state income taxes, an idea that has already been turned down by state lawmakers.

“Mr. Chairman, why does this man get 50 minutes to sell an idea and last night people of the public barely got any time,” one man asked. “He is just a charity for billionaires.”

The person stood, put two one-dollar bills into his hat and threw it at the ALEC representative.

“If he needs money, here you f*cking go. Pass the hat around.”

“Carpetbagging piece of junk,” another person said from the crowd. “Go home. Go back to the swamp, Shrek.”

A woman stood up and placed a carpet bag full of Monopoly money on the speaker’s lectern.

“Your tax cuts are for billionaires,” another person said.

Fargo Police were called at 10:56 a.m. about a disturbance involving protesters inside the North Dakota State University’s Alumni Hall. Fargo Police along with NDSU Police responded, but found no disruptions, and no arrests were made, according to Fargo Police Crime Prevention and Public Information Officer Jessica Schindeldecker.

Zac Echola, a member of the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America, said the disruptions — which totaled three — were organized by the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America.

“The voters already voted tax elimination down in 2008 and these legislators know it,” Echola said. “They tried to pass it again in the 2017 session and failed again. But here we are with members of ALEC and their carpetbaggers from D.C. repeatedly trying to ram this through.”

Many ideas of how the state should spend its $6.36 billion Legacy Fund have been presented to the North Dakota Legislature’s Legacy Fund Earnings Committee this week. Citizens asked for road repairs, bridges, more school investment, affordable housing, rural town demolition, counseling services, and other requests including universal school lunches, which solicited the most interest.

The chairman of the North Dakota Legislature Legacy Fund Earnings Committee is Representative Chet Pollert, the vice chairman is Senator Rich Wardner. Other members include representatives Josh Boschee, Jeff Delzer, Craig Headland, Keith Kempenich, Don Vigesaa, senators Joan Heckaman, Ray Holmberg, Jerry Klein, and Jessica Unruh, according to the North Dakota State Legislature.

“They were upset, they wanted to disrupt the ALEC speakers,” Wardner said. “It was kind of interesting as the ALEC speakers were going to talk about reducing the income tax and not many on the committee are for that.”

The state already has a low income tax and Wardner does not support the ALEC proposals, he said.

“But they [RRVDSA] discredited themselves and some of them spoke last night and they were given all the time they wanted, nobody cut them off,” Wardner said. “I’m disappointed they felt they had to do that. As far as calling us names, I’ve been a basketball coach... and now I’m a legislator, and I get called those names periodically, it’s like water off a duck’s back.”

The first speaker, Williams, was later followed by a representative from Americans for Prosperity, Russ Latino, who also spoke about reducing tax reductions.

“It is certainly one thing to protest, but when we have public hearings like that it’s best to try to get your point across to the committee,” Joshua Boschee said. “Outside of committee rooms is where protests should take place.”

ALEC reports that it is the largest membership driven organization of legislators in the nation, and yet only two percent of its revenue comes from membership dues, according to The Center for Media and Democracy. The rest of the funding – as the organization works with a deficit of approximately $1 million every year – is donated by captains of industry, Koch Companies, UPS, State Farm Insurance, the tobacco industry, the oil industry, the coal industry, big pharma, and big food-developers.

Last legislative session at least four bills — preemptive strikes — on banning local laws regulating or taxing plastic bags, banning firearm buyback programs, banning local laws altering living wages, and other issues were cookie cutter recommendations taken directly from ALEC proposals

Recently in:

News

Red, white and Burn

by C.S. Hagen

FARGO — Since 2016’s Dakota Access Pipeline controversy, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has said very little about North Dakota. Until now. Never an essential swing state, North Dakotans feel overlooked, at times, and appear…

By Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comHave you ever wondered what it was like to celebrate Christmas is 1885? Discover Christmas Past at the Comstock house this Saturday. The Cass County Historical Society has decked the house…

Saturday, December 14, 3-6 p.m.Junkyard Brewing Company, 1416 1st Ave. N, MoorheadPlay a game of winter Hammerschlagen and giant Jenga while sipping on a tasty beverage. Stumbeano's Coffee Roasters will be on site with hot coffee,…

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I met Sam Walton. My father’s hand dwarfed mine as he and the Walmart founder talked from inside a convenience store in Rogers, Arkansas. My memories are vague, but I remember an elderly and…

It’s Time For PitchforksI have been told my French ancestors lived in Normandy in the last half of the 18th Century and some of them used pitchforks for a living. I often wonder if any of them took part in the storming of the…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

I am a voracious reader of anything culinary and a subscriber to several culinary periodicals. I like to hang onto them as I find it hard to throw away these culinary nuggets of information with their adventures to distant lands. …

By Shannon Raeloudmouthrockreviews@gmail.comDropping tomorrow via Listenable Records, On The Rise, is a bluesy rock collection by the Spanish quintet Imperial Rise. With praises across Europe, we would like to add in a bit of…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.comJennifer Kent’s “The Nightingale” will not attract the same cult following or breadth of widespread fan devotion as “The Babadook,” but her latest marks significant progress in the…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comFounded in 1991, Springboard for the Arts’ mission is “to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life.”…

By Michael Str!kemichaelstrike.solo@gmail.comComedy, dance, live music, and that classic wordplay and wit only Mel Brooks can deliver. This Friday, November 14th, Concordia College Theater premieres their production of Mel…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

Perched along the banks of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela Rivers and tucked up into the surrounding hills, Pittsburgh’s 90 distinct neighborhoods are connected by more bridges than Venice. Commuters and travelers enjoy…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

Last Word

How Small We’ve Become

by HPR Contributor

By Waylon Hedegaardretiringwithcats@gmail.comWhen I think about grandmothers, I think of a kindly woman with a plate of cookies in an old fashioned kitchen, but I’m not sure why. For my grandmother, none of this was even remotely…