Shaw: Legislature's power grab must be stopped

Jim Shaw
Jim Shaw

Several members of the North Dakota Legislature, unhappy with the passage of the ethics measure, are now trying to make it much tougher to get other constitutional amendments on the ballot…

  • This is outrageous! The lawmakers, apparently upset that they have lost some of their free meals, trips and gifts want to have the final say as to whether citizen-led amendments, already passed by voters, should become law. Actually, they want to make it virtually impossible. That’s because it would take both chambers of the Legislature to approve of those measures in two consecutive sessions. It would be easier to escape from the state penitentiary. Realistically, citizens won’t even try to work on constitutional measures if these are the new rules. What would have been the chances of the Legislature approving the ethics measure? Zero. Zilch. Nada. That’s why it took citizen leaders Ellen Chaffee and Dina Butcher to bring it to a public vote. Sure, sometimes voters approve bad measures, just like they sometimes elect bad legislators. In essence, the lawmakers are shamefully trying to take power away from the people of North Dakota. Many legislators don’t like the citizens telling them what to do. This power grab must be stopped.
  • Heidi Heitkamp’s farewell speech to the U.S. Senate was wonderful. It was heartfelt, sincere, humble and thought-provoking. It was touching when a tearful Heitkamp said serving in the Senate was the greatest honor of her life. Her most important point was to call for bipartisanship in a very divided Senate. As someone who often voted with the Republicans, Heitkamp practiced what she preached. What struck me the most was that after Heitkamp finished, seven senators (four Democrats and three Republicans) spoke up and praised Heitkamp. It told me that the Senate lost a highly respected member.

  • At the risk of abusing my First Amendment privileges, I am sorry to see that North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer has kept his salary during the partial government shutdown, while 800,000 federal workers have not received theirs. Kudos to Heitkamp, Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kelly Armstrong for donating their paychecks. The least Cramer could do is remind best buddy President Trump that Mexico was supposed to pay for the border wall, not American taxpayers.

  • Not surprised to hear about the study by the High Plains Fair Housing Council that there’s high levels of discrimination against transgender people seeking housing in North Dakota. It’s disturbing that most of the transgender people were shown fewer or inferior housing units, were asked inappropriate questions, or couldn’t even get a handshake. Still, I’m not holding my breath that the Legislature will pass a bill that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. Sadly, many lawmakers don’t have a problem with that kind of discrimination.

  • This column will pay for itself.