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Senate cans 'dubious' bills

BISMARCK - Government performance bills sponsored by a new, ballyhooed House subcommittee are being summarily killed off by the Senate. Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, is chairman of the new Government Performance and Accountability Committee, a divisi...

BISMARCK - Government performance bills sponsored by a new, ballyhooed House subcommittee are being summarily killed off by the Senate.

Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, is chairman of the new Government Performance and Accountability Committee, a division of House Appropriations.

Senators overwhelmingly voted down House Bills 1514, 1282, 1304 and 1394 on Friday, with none getting more than four "yes" votes. Four others will be voted on later.

The bills were stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee since February and were passed out by the committee on Thursday.

"We called them the good government bills," said Sen. John Andrist, R-Crosby, in explaining the bills to the Senate on Friday afternoon. "We've had a difficult time sorting out which ones might bring about better government and which ones might be just adding more paperwork for some of the agencies," Andrist said.

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House Bill 1514 called for the governor's budget to be presented earlier, which Andrist said was too early for the state's budget officials "and of dubious benefit for us."

House Bill 1282 called for detailed reports from agencies that are funded on a continuing appropriations basis. "All this information is already available to us," said Sen. Randy Schobinger, R-Minot, who carried the bill to the floor. "All you have to do is ask."

Sen. Randy Christmann, R-Hazen described House Bill 1304 as "another one of those bills from that committee." It called for cost-benefit reports from agencies that lease property. Senators believed it would turn each small government report "into a 3-inch binder," he said.

House Bill 1394 was voted down after Sen. Harvey Tallackson said its proposed restrictions on the governor's budget process "puts things into law we don't think need to be there."

Power hour signoff

Anne Buchanan of Fargo, whose son died after engaging in a "power hour" drinking binge at a Moorhead bar last year, was at the Capitol on Friday for one final effort on the state power hour law, Senate Bill 2067.

Gov. John Hoeven invited Buchanan to take part in the bill-signing. She and sons Rob Reinhardt, 19, and Grant Tosterud, 10, watched the governor enact the bill into law. Then the two boys were guests of Sen. Judy Lee, R-West Fargo, on the Senate floor for its 1 p.m. session.

Power hour is the practice of someone going into a bar at 12:01 a.m. on his or her birthday and trying to drink 21 shots of alcohol before the bar closes.

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The bill changes state law so people are not 21 for the purposes of alcohol consumption until 8 a.m. on the day of their birthdays.

Because of an emergency clause, it will go into effect as soon as the secretary of state receives the bill from the governor and files it.

Buchanan's son, Jason Reinhardt, died of alcohol poisoning on March 15, 2004, his 21st birthday, after engaging in power hour at a Moorhead bar.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830

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