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Sen. Tyler Axness, Published August 31 2013

Letter: Porter, his party are out of touch

On Aug. 25, a commentary by Rep. Todd Porter, R-Mandan, was published in The Forum in which he penned erroneous and personal accusations over outdoor policies.

When pragmatic solutions are offered to universally agreed upon issues, or requesting citizens’ participation at the ballot box are labeled as “extreme,” Porter and his party’s leadership have become so out-of-touch or reached such a dangerous level of arrogance that they are doing a disservice to the people of the state.

The public has seen the continued news of natural gas flaring practices allowed to continue, and demand action. After this session, not much will change because of refusal to seriously consider viable solutions. I’m also reminded of the many initiated measure “reforms” passed by the Republican Party that appears to question their trust in the voting public’s decision-making. Both illustrate points in the above paragraph.

Furthermore, I have never labeled the North Dakota Republicans “evil,” as suggested in Porter’s column. In fact, I consider many of my new colleagues as friends with whom I hold good working relationships.

What seems to upset Porter is when people continue to question legislative leadership and policy priorities. I can assure you many across our state share these questions as a result of the 63rd session and its failure to solve some of the state’s persistent challenges.

As for demonizing a new measure for outdoors, it would be responsible of Porter as an elected official to read the language once it is approved and published by the secretary of state before casting judgment, misinformation and half-truths.

The point is discussion on leadership and priorities needs to continue in our time of unique development. That is what this state deserves: a fair and honest public debate in which everyone is encouraged to participate. As we discuss our future, I ask that we be mindful of who is accepting participation and who is looking to create barriers to having all voices heard.

Axness, D-Fargo, represents District 16 in the North Dakota Senate.