There were lots of missed opportunities and bad decisions made by the North Dakota Legislature at its recently completed session. Now, it’s time to hand out the dubious achievement awards.
- The Mel Gibson Intolerance Award: For defeating a bill that would have outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation. Instead, it remains legal for people to be fired from their jobs or kicked out of their apartments in North Dakota for being gay. Apparently, it’s better to discriminate against those who are LGBT than to protect them.
- The Take Power from the People Award: For passing a resolution that will go on the ballot, that will make it much harder and longer for North Dakota voters to approve amendments to the North Dakota Constitution. Also, for gutting the ethics measure that North Dakota voters approved.
- The No Need to Click it Because There will be no Ticket Award: For defeating a bill that would make wearing seat belts a primary law. That defeat means fewer people will wear seat belts in North Dakota, which means more people will die in car accidents. “Personal freedom” is shamefully more important than saving lives.
- The Joe Camel Award: For defeating three bills that would have reduced cigarette smoking in the state.
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- The Reefer Madness Award: For defeating a bill that would have fully decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana.
- The Smith & Wesson Award: For defeating the “red flag bill,” which is the law in 13 states and Washington D.C. Backed by the police chiefs in Fargo and West Fargo, it would have allowed family members or law enforcement officers to seek a judge’s order to keep firearms temporarily out of the hands of people determined to pose a risk of shooting someone.
- The Let’s Lie to Patients Award: For passing a bill that requires physicians to inform women that it may be possible to reverse a drug-induced abortion. That’s never been proven. Regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue, mandating that doctors give bad information to patients is deplorable.
- The Your Property Taxes are Still High Award: In previous sessions, the Legislature significantly reduced our soaring property tax bills with 12 percent buy downs. Not this time. The lawmakers could have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for property tax relief by restoring the oil extraction tax to 6.5 percent. That bill failed. Better to give huge tax breaks to out of state oil companies than to the people who live in the state.
- The We Support Local Control Except When We Don’t Award: For passing bills that prevent North Dakota cities from raising the lowest in the nation minimum wage above $7.25 per hour, and prevent banning plastic bags and straws.
- The Sgt. Schultz I See Nothing Award: For restricting performance audits.
By Jim Shaw, a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV new director. He can be heard Fridays, 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., on WDAY AM radio. Email email@example.com