By Andy Peterson The surly conflagration of partisan politics in Congress recently assured the death of large-call health care reform. Now, lawmakers are left with only two choices: They can continue to play the blame game or they can start fixing what's wrong with the existing law. Enough time has already been wasted and time is running out for many individuals and small businesses. Because if Congress fails to act before the end of this year, North Dakotans and small businesses will be slammed with a health insurance tax starting on Jan. 1.
Lots of people are on the move. However, not everybody knows where they are going. Nothing could be more frustrating than expending energy without an endgame in mind. The Greater North Dakota Chamber Board of Directors, a prestigious group of business members from across the state, are cognizant that an endgame is necessary to be successful. As a result, they dedicated their June board meeting to review GNDC's progress from the former year and set goals and objectives for the upcoming year.
BISMARCK—Congress is taking on the important work of improving our nation's health care system. All indications are that the process or replacing or repairing the Affordable Care Act will take several months. But regardless of the time it takes to put a new or revised law together, it's crucial that our elected representatives look at what reforms can be done now to support local businesses, workers and their families.
BISMARCK—Let's face facts: North Dakota is a commodity-based economy. It always has been and always will be. Agriculture and energy are the pillars supporting North Dakota's economy. These sectors not only drive much of our economy, they also, in many ways, define our culture and philosophy.
BISMARCK—North Dakota has a dynamic economy that is both rooted in the past and building for the future. The traditional livelihoods of our state's earliest citizens are echoed today in our people, our cultural heritage, today's modern ranching economy and our forward-looking business community. North Dakota has many opportunities to develop our state in tandem with our historical and traditional economic practices and the opportunities that lie within the Bakken/Three Forks production region.
BISMARCK—Say you recently bought a new car for the family. It seats five comfortably, meets current safety and gas mileage standards (called "CAFE Standards" by the Environmental Protection Agency), and you financed it for five years, not an uncommon thing in this day and age. You plan on keeping the car for five or six years, and you make your monthly payment on time, each month. It's clean inside and out, and you make sure the oil is changed according to the manufacturer's specifications. Lastly, you park where it is unlikely to get "door ding" in any parking lot.
BISMARCK—For more than a year, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been in some stage of governmental review. Now with the final decisions to grant permits for construction in hand from Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois utility boards, well over 95 percent of the route approved and a ruling that classifies the project as a public necessity, the project has entered the final stage of federal permitting before construction can begin.
BISMARCK—Recently, Tobacco Free North Dakota—over the signature of the group's president, Dr. Eric Johnson of Grand Forks—opined that the Greater North Dakota Chamber opposed tobacco prevention efforts by opposing a massive tobacco tax increase proposed during the 2015 legislative session. In response, it's important to understand the mission and goals of Chambers of Commerce—whether they be local, state, or federal—are to support free enterprise.
BISMARCK — North Dakotans are a sensible bunch. We tend to endorse the political center; this includes Democrats and Republicans, although the Republicans have dominated state politics for some time. Residents of our state value common-sense solutions and pragmatic compromise among political leaders. And when politicians venture out beyond voters' comfort levels, voters tend to make a change at the ballot box. This happened in our most recent election to a state senator and representative from the Republican Party, who lost their seats.
Up until last week, the North Dakota business community praised the anti-business policy decisions made by Minnesota. The Minnesota climate pushes economic development across the border into states like ours. (Thank you.)