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Cole Carley, Fargo, Published April 06 2013

Letter: Arrogant, petty ‘leaders' embarrass North Dakota

Look at the history of inaction by the North Dakota Legislature:

The Legislature has refused multiple times to pass a seat-belt law, which would have decreased automobile deaths. Our Legislature has refused multiple times to pass a motorcycle helmet law, which would have decreased motorcycle deaths.

Our Legislature is refusing to pass tougher DUI laws, which would result in stiffer penalties for driving drunk, despite a 53 percent increase in DUI arrests in the past 10 years that accounted for 250 deaths in the past five years.

The Legislature refused multiple times to pass a smoking ban, instead ducking the issue by waiting until the people they represent passed an initiated measure with 66 percent of voter approval. With such a large margin of success for the measure, it seems logical that legislators must have had some idea of citizen attitudes on this issue, yet they ignored it.

On a related note, they are considering a bill to restrict initiated measures, thus giving the Legislature fewer opportunities to be second-guessed by the citizens.

And they have repeatedly refused to create a code of ethics law. North Dakota is one of only four states that has no statute regarding legislative ethics beyond sections pertaining to candidates’ campaign finance and outside interest disclosure. Of course, if they passed such a statute, it would probably mean the end of free drinks and dinners provided by lobbyists.

They were finally shamed into providing milk to children from low-income families. At least the Senate approved it after it was defeated in the House by a wide margin. The House will still have to approve the revised bill.

While passing the toughest abortion laws in America, the Legislature disapproves of mandating sex education in public schools, which would reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancies, which

would directly reduce the number of abortions.

But here’s the kicker: Most of them will probably just stay in place because many of us don’t want to participate in the futility of party politics, which has brought us a state government filled with arrogance, group-think and gerrymandered districts.

A few “leaders” can push the rest around because they are petty and vindictive. That’s great government at work.

Recently, a number of people have declared they are ashamed of being a North Dakotan or being from North Dakota. I’m proud of being a North Dakotan. What I’m ashamed of is the Legislature, and in that I include most of the Cass County delegation. I’m also ashamed that my wife and I haven’t provided more financial support for candidates who oppose our small-minded incumbents. We won’t be making that mistake again, nor, I suspect, will many others who may have finally had it with hypocritical politicians who staunchly defend the unborn while having so little regard for attempts to safeguard people who are already alive.