Shaw: The North Dakota Legislature is an embarrassment

"The Republican Party used to stand for less government in our lives and more personal freedom," columnist Jim Shaw writes. "However, these legislators think state government should be everywhere."

Jim Shaw
Jim Shaw

To paraphrase Gerald Ford, our long statewide nightmare is over. The North Dakota Legislature has adjourned. It was by far, the worst session I’ve seen in the 44 years I have lived in this state.

The Legislature is now dominated by a cesspool of cruel, bullying and extremist ignoramuses. Drunk with the arrogance of power, they think they know more than everyone. They know more than doctors. They know more than teachers. They know more than professors. They know more than librarians. They know more than law enforcement officers. They know more than taxpayers. They know more than voters. They know more than women. They know more than parents. They know more than you.

In a session overwhelmed by culture wars, they passed legislation that was not wanted by most North Dakotans. They passed legislation that attempted to fix problems that do not exist. They used the phony baloney excuse that they were trying to protect children. If they really want to protect children, they would ban AR-15s.

State lawmakers passed bills to cut taxes, to restrict transgender residents and to tackle labor shortages. Their next regular session won't begin until January 2025.

Some of the dangerous new laws will be taken to court, and the state will almost certainly lose. They don’t care. These court cases will waste lots of taxpayer dollars. Speaking of wasting taxpayer dollars, there was their sneaky stunt when the legislators were meeting, but not officially gaveled in, so they could make extra money.

Not to be overlooked are the foolish tax breaks given to the oil companies, as if they would otherwise leave the second highest oil-producing state.


The brutal attacks against transgender children defy any logic or humanity. There have been no problems in the state when it comes to medical treatment, bathroom use or sports participation by transgender youngsters.

How does being transgender affect any of the lives of the legislators? It doesn’t. Since when do the extremists have any medical training? Will lawmakers now mandate treatment for those who have cancer or heart disease? Possibly, if the patients are gay or transgender.


In passing the oppressive abortion ban, legislators called North Dakota “a pro-life state,” but conveniently forgot that in 2014, by a near two-to-one margin, state voters overwhelmingly said abortion should be legal.

The six-week exception for victims of rape and incest is a farce. Women and girls usually don’t know if they are pregnant at six weeks. The extremists don’t care about traumatized girls being forced to give birth to a rapist’s baby.

Trying to ban books sounds like something out of Nazi Germany, rather than a free society with the First Amendment.

The Republican Party used to stand for less government in our lives and more personal freedom. However, these legislators think state government should be everywhere. To them, it should be in our doctors’ offices, our libraries, our schools, our colleges, our bedrooms and even our bathrooms.

The Legislature is an embarrassment. Good luck in getting people to move to or visit North Dakota. Many disgusted people will leave this state. When drivers enter North Dakota, the sign should now say, “Welcome to North Dakota. Turn your clocks back 200 years.”

Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.


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

Opinion by Jim Shaw
InForum columnist Jim Shaw is a former WDAY TV reporter and former KVRR TV news director.
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