“The Dollar Doug idea sure got stomped in the House,” a legislative observer texted me yesterday evening. The “Dollar Doug” thing is what some are calling the amendment to HB1001 which would reduce Governor Doug Burgum’s salary to just $1 per year, formulated in such a way so that whoever might take over after Burgum (be it at the end of his term or through some other circumstance) reverts to the old salary. It did, indeed, get stomped on in the House with members voting 11-79 to reject the bill as it emerged from conference committee.
“When I go to Washington, I’m not going to be for any special interest; I’ll be for the interests of North Dakota,” Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp said in 2013 shortly after winning election to her first term in office.
The big question heading into this week of the legislative session is this: “When are they going to finish?” Today is legislative day 74. The goal, when the session started, is that the lawmakers would wrap up their businesses on day 70 last week leaving 10 of the constitutionally-capped 80 days in case they need to come back into session to make adjustments. “Yeah, I wouldn’t hold my breath,” state Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck) told me during our interview on Friday (audio below) when I asked him about being done on Tuesday.
When a politician leaks information about their campaign finances to the media ahead of actually releasing their legally required report it’s usually because they want the public to focus on one aspect of the report and not others. Once all the journalists are done reporting on the leaked figures the report itself can seem like old news.
Earlier this year the National Republican Senatorial Committee announced that they were launching an ad campaign against North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp, trying to tie her voting record to that of far-left Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Remember the birther movement? It was an ugly bit of American politics from the Obama era. In fact, our current President was a major figure in birtherism. The conspiracy, for the uninitiated, was that President Obama isn’t really a naturally-born U.S. citizen and thus was ineligible to be President. Feeding into the conspiracy was President Obama’s refusal to release his birth certificate until years into his presidency .
In their previous session North Dakota lawmakers passed a law tightening up the state’s voter ID laws. Unfortunately, those reforms were struck down by a federal judge shortly before the 2016 election, so last year the state’s residents cast ballots based on the bad old laws. Which require an ID but, if you don’t have one, allowed you to cast a ballot anyway as long as you sign an affidavit confirming that you are who you say you are and you live where you say you live.
North Dakota's Republicans have given Democrats an opening in 2018, but can the liberals exploit it? Much is made of the utter electoral devastation North Dakota Democrats have suffered in recent election cycles, and rightfully so. Thanks to campaign incompetence, and a myopic adherence to left wing policy priorities a majority of voting North Dakotans care very little for, Democrats are in the wilderness. In 2018, however, the liberals may have a path back to relevance.
My colleague Mike McFeely writes today that North Dakota’s budget situation is the result of “fiscal mismanagement on the part of ND Republicans.” He’s right, and the budget for the state’s universities proves the point.
I wrote in my print column a couple of weeks ago that 2018 campaign for incumbent Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s seat in Congress had already begun. Given the sustained political assault on Congressman Kevin Cramer, the most talked about potential challenger for Heitkamp, since that column published the words I wrote seem downright prescient.