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Tom Fiebiger, Fargo, Published December 28 2012

Letter: Politics erodes reason

Like all my fellow North Dakotans, I expect our North Dakota legislative leaders to foster good public policy. That is not happening right now.

Rep. Kathy Hogan, D-Fargo, served for many years as director of Cass County Social Services. She developed a wealth of invaluable knowledge and wisdom in that position. She now wants to serve our state as a member of the House Human Services Committee. That makes sense. Not so fast.

Republican leaders in the House have refused to put her on this important committee. In fact, the only Democrats allowed on the committee are all new legislators. No offense to these new members, but the political smallness and, more importantly, the loss to North Dakotans of this important wealth of institutional knowledge, for political reasons, is inexcusable.

We deserve better. I urge you to contact the House leadership, including Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, (majority leader), Rep. Robin Weisz, (who is chairman of the House Human Services Committee), as well as your own representatives. Demand that they put Hogan on the Human Services Committee. Demand better public policy. Remember, these folks work for you.

On another note, State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt recently transferred more than $60 million to the Legacy Fund, making the total in that fund well over $700 million. While in the Legislature, I voted against the establishment of this fund because of the restrictions on how the funds can be accessed. What is the “legacy” we as a caring state are leaving to the 1,000 3- and 4-year-olds who remain on the Head Start waiting list because North Dakota continues to be one of a few states that refuses to help fund Head Start, a proven program that works?

Last year, a bill to help fund this important work failed in the North Dakota Senate by one vote. My understanding is that our governor has not allocated any funds to Head Start in his current budget. I again urge you to demand that your legislators create a legacy of caring for our young children who are here today and are our future.

Speak out. Demand more of your elected officials. The future of our state depends on it.

Fiebiger is a Fargo attorney and former state senator.