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BISMARCK — Rep. Emily O'Brien is among 27 members of the North Dakota House of Representatives who haven't missed a vote through the first 43 days of the current legislative session. O'Brien, a first-year Republican, is the only member of the eight-person House delegation from Grand Forks to have put her mark down on every vote so far this year, according to Herald research through Thursday. There are 94 members in the House. The Herald will list local Senate voting numbers next week.
Scott Meyer says the best way to hasten a North Dakota winter is win a seat in the North Dakota Legislature. "For those who want to get away for the winter and be a snowbird, I say go serve in Bismarck," Meyer said Friday. "It flies by in the blink of an eye." Meyer, a Republican senator, is one of four rookie lawmakers from Grand Forks serving in the 65th assembly of the state Legislature. Other first-year legislators from Grand Forks are Reps. Jake Blum, Emily O'Brien and Steve Vetter. All are Republicans.
Richard Nixon may be the only president who despised the media as much as President Donald Trump. Nixon kept so-called "enemy lists" of reporters he disliked. He banned certain reporters from the White House. When the Washington Post pushed its investigation of Watergate, Nixon told his staff to mess with the Post's television licenses. One of his aides told the head of CBS that the Nixon administration would "bring you to your knees" and "break your network."
It's a rather depressing time for business in North Dakota. The oil, agriculture and Canadian tourism industries all tanked at once. Now, consider a government-mandated plan to add 27 percent labor costs to small businesses throughout the state. That's essentially what would happen if a plan to raise minimum wage is passed by the North Dakota Legislature.
Safety concerns are a natural reaction to speed limit increases. Common sense tells us the higher the speed limit, the more likely a fatal accident could result. Statistically speaking, that's probably true in all cases. But it isn't necessarily automatic. For instance, South Dakota in 2015 raised its interstate speed limits to 80 miles per hour and, in 2016, had 115 traffic fatalities statewide. It was the lowest tally in that state since 2011.
Not long ago, the Grand Sky aviation and technology park was more grand vision than foreseeable reality. As the Herald has reported, the idea first came five or six years ago, when local leaders sat around a boardroom table at the UND Center for Innovation. They talked about building an airport for unmanned aircraft and constructing a business park to accommodate the innovative businesses that predictably would spring up around the burgeoning unmanned aviation industry.
Voters in Devils Lake this spring will decide whether to build a new performing-arts center, and in the process may well determine the future of performing arts in the community. The question before them is whether to approve an $8.95 million facility with an auditorium that would seat 600. If approved, taxes will increase in the district; a home worth $150,000 will see an annual tax increase of $97, while cropland taxes will increase according to value.
We've all seen that driver — the guy who zips down the highway at unsafe speeds on snow- or ice-covered roads. Or the motorist who refuses to give room to law-enforcement officers or tow-truck drivers doing their dangerous jobs along a roadside. Eventually, easily avoided mishaps are bound to happen.
The future of Arbor Park is in limbo as city leaders and lovers of green space seek a solution for the sliver of land in downtown Grand Forks. At present, it's a quaint park in a lot vacated after the 1997 flood. Some, including the Herald's editorial board, want the park razed to accommodate a proposed five-story, $7 million building with condos and retail space. It's becoming an emotional issue, as parkland debates often do. As the City Council and others consider the future of Arbor Park, we have two great hopes.
We have no beef with the big box stores. They advertise their goods in the Herald and employ hundreds in Grand Forks—probably thousands in the Red River Valley overall. But with the start of holiday season comes Small Business Saturday, and it's our hope that Grand Forks shoppers—all shoppers, for that matter—understand the impact they can have by simply opening their minds and their wallets, if only a bit.