MANDAN, N.D. — Independence Day brings back some of my favorite childhood memories, and that's the case for so many folks across North Dakota. For some, the yearly tradition was a parade down Main Street or a rodeo that brought friends and loved ones together from across the state. Others grew up celebrating with a boat parade at the lake or at a backyard barbeque with neighbors, gathering around a fire to make s'mores.
When North Dakota is blessed with natural resources like oil, gas, coal and wind, the last thing we want to do is waste them. That's why I voted against overturning a federal rule that will help limit methane emissions from oil and natural gas wells on public or tribal land—resources that belong to American taxpayers and tribes.
GRAND FORKS — In our day-to-day lives, we don't think much about organ transplants, beyond perhaps checking the donor box on our driver's license at the DMV every few years. Until something hits us personally, life-or-death issues such as organ donation aren't at the top of our minds. But Gail Hand, who manages my Grand Forks office, knows that can change overnight — especially when you learn that someone you love needs a transplant to survive.
WASHINGTON—The statistics of opioid abuse throughout North Dakota are harsh. In Minot, heroin and methamphetamine use increased by 400 and 438 percent in 2015, and according to the Ward County Narcotics Task Force, heroin seizures spiked by 442 percent from 2014 to 2015. But these statistics—no matter how jarring—don't tell the full story. Hearing the full stories is critical to truly addressing this crisis. On a cloudy morning in March, I met with law enforcement, parents, teachers and health leaders in Minot. What I heard was heartbreaking.
WASHINGTON—A barley field outside Rolla, N.D., just below the Canadian border, is as far from Mexico as it gets in this country. But don't let that distance fool you. Disrupting trade with Mexico has consequences as far away as that barley field — especially when agricultural exports alone support 27,000 good-paying jobs in North Dakota, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
WASHINGTON—It's no secret that access to technology is now a key ingredient to the success of any student in any town, from those in rural communities in the middle of the country to those in cities on our nation's coasts. Without the proper resources in schools, our children and the future of our economy could fall behind. At least 37 percent of North Dakota's rural communities lack access to high-speed internet—that's 18 times higher than our state's urban areas—but as many as seven in 10 teachers nationwide assign homework that requires high-speed internet.
WASHINGTON—North Dakota understands the importance of public schools. Growing up in Mantador, I went to elementary school with a class of 13 other small town kids, and graduated in Hankinson with a class of almost 60. None of us came from much, but we all had a distinctly American opportunity that North Dakotans valued then, and that North Dakotans value today. We had the opportunity to learn, to achieve and to become anything we wanted.
WASHINGTON—Three years ago this week, disaster struck in Casselton. A westbound train hauling soybeans derailed just outside of the North Dakota town, and when an eastbound train carrying crude oil hit the wreckage, the crash ignited fiery explosions that were heard and felt for miles. Fortunately, North Dakota is home to some of the bravest first responders in the country. They quickly ran toward the danger to contain the fire and keep our communities safe.
WASHINGTON—Anyone who's been to a place like Portal, N.D., knows the vast expanse along the northern border that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and agents are responsible for protecting. And anyone who's visited the southern border can tell you it's a whole different ball game up north.
WASHINGTON—Destructive gridlock too often cripples Congress, and it frustrates me as much as anyone. Congress shouldn't be a place where good ideas with bipartisan support fail to move forward. If this election has taught us anything, it's that Congress needs to get to work finding the kind of practical, bipartisan solutions that I've pushed for and that North Dakotans rightfully expect.