A big round of applause to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum for vetoing the transgender ban bill and the anti-mask mandate bill! Burgum’s gutsy moves demonstrated his leadership, compassion and common sense. All those things are in short supply in the Legislature.

The bill to ban transgender high school athletes from playing on teams consistent with their gender identity was cruel, and promoted hatred and discrimination. It also was unnecessary. There has never been a problem with transgender student-athletes in the state.

Beyond that, the Legislature showed disrespect for the North Dakota High School Activities Association, which oversees high school sports in the state, and has solid policies in place.

On top of that, it would have been a killer for tourism and sporting events. Many people wouldn’t come here. The NCAA almost certainly would have prohibited football and hockey playoff games in the state for North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota. The NCAA banned playoff games in North Carolina after that state’s legislature passed an anti-transgender bathroom bill. Wrestling, youth hockey and swimming tournaments would likely have been held elsewhere, as would many business conventions.

North Dakota’s mask mandate was a huge success in saving lives and preventing infections. In vetoing the bill to ban statewide mask mandates, Burgum was spot on when he said the bill is, “irresponsible and an unnecessary risk to the future public health and well-being of North Dakota citizens.”

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Tragically, recklessly and dangerously, the anti-science legislators successfully overrode the veto. It all means more North Dakotans will needlessly die or be infected, whether it be from this pandemic or a future one. Yes, cities can still approve mask mandates, but they are not even close to being as comprehensive or effective as statewide mandates.

The legislators complained that the mask mandate was an overreach by government. The real overreach was the Legislature’s passing of bills to ban transgender athletes and academic freedom. The most important role of government is to keep us safe. The Legislature shamefully failed to do that.

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So sorry to hear of the passing of former Vice President Walter Mondale. He was a friendly, decent and caring man. I had the honor of interviewing him a few times when I was a reporter at WDAY-TV.

Jim Shaw is pictured with former Vice President Walter Mondale at an event in Moorhead in the 1990s. Special to The Forum
Jim Shaw is pictured with former Vice President Walter Mondale at an event in Moorhead in the 1990s. Special to The Forum

The last time was in the late 1990s in Moorhead. Mondale had a speaking engagement in Moorhead that night. The interview I did with him was live on our 6 p.m. news. As usual, the legendary Marv Bossart was the male anchor of that newscast. Marv liked to portray himself as another Jack Benny. Specifically, funny and cheap. Actually, Marv was funny, but also generous.

I asked Mondale if he would play along with Marv’s image during the live interview, and he happily agreed. So, in my last question of the interview, I asked Mondale if he had a message for Marv.

Mondale said, “Marv, I want you to know it’s a free ticket tonight, so I think you can afford the ticket.” Marv, myself, and the viewers loved it.

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director. Email jimshawtv@gmail.com

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.