- Member for
- 2 years 5 months
Good for Grand Forks. Good for Republicans? We'll see. And a whole new ball game for the North Dakota University System. Those are three quick conclusions about the 2015 legislative session, the crucible in which multiple ingredients get cooked with unpredictable but always fascinating results. Good for Grand Forks. Grand Forks Rep. Mark Sanford said it best: "It's been a very good session," he told Herald staff writer John Hageman last week. And that's true in multiple ways.
On political maps in 2015, North Dakota is Red River red, and Minnesota is Lake of the Woods blue. But party labels — like gender categories — are proving surprisingly flexible these days. And if Minnesota Republicans want to hold on to their House majority and even capture the Senate, they should watch North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a Republican who knows there's a whole lot more to successful GOP governance than just cutting taxes. Take a typical day in Dalrymple's life — namely, yesterday.
Kudos to the East Grand Forks City Council for taking a new and serious look at piping its wastewater to Grand Forks for treatment. The council got updated cost estimates last week and will be examining the various options.
In one key way, Grand Forks lucked out with its monster flood. The city had the great good fortune to flood in 1997, not 1987 or 2007. And the timing...
When negotiating, it's good for the two sides to start by agreeing on a key topic or two. That's why the Minnesota House and Senate should start their education-bill bargaining with the subject they're already in near-agreement on: the need to make it easier for qualified teachers from other states to get Minnesota teaching licenses. First off, Minnesota schools clearly need the reform. Second, Gov.
On the issue of rail safety, here's the key figure for North Dakotans and Minnesotans to remember: "In 2008, only 9,500 rail carloads were shipped to U.S. refineries," as Michael Kraft of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has written. "By 2014, that number had soared to more than 400,000, or 42 times as much." This gigantic increase in the shipping of a North Dakota product represents a fantastic boost for the regional economy, as valley residents know. But it also represents a lot more stress on North Dakota's rail infrastructure.
Faced with tough but important decisions over the past week, a number of local leaders chose wisely. They include: ▇ UND President Robert Kelley, who clearly had been angered by student leaders' calls of a vote of no confidence, but who swallowed both his anger and his pride by admitting mistakes and vowing to make amends. Student leaders—recognizing the huge difference their protests had made—graciously accepted Kelley's change of heart and shelved their no-confidence call. The incident didn't have to turn out that way.
The stumbling block in the dispute over parking at Grand Forks Central High School is a big one. Specifically, it's three stories high and a block long. It's the parking ramp across the street from Central—the key point on which the City Council and the School Board can't see eye-to-eye. And as long as that's the case, then resolving the dispute is unlikely.
The year was 1998. In the U.S. House, the Water Resources Development Act was locked up; and with adjournment only days away, it looked more and more like the logjam wouldn't break. Which posed a major problem for Grand Forks. That's because a clause in the act authorized the city's dike project, a $400 million effort that promised much-needed protection against monster, 1997-sized floods. Enter then-Congressman Earl Pomeroy, who threw what has been described as a legislative Hail Mary pass.
One side says North Dakota will be better off with stabilized, more predictable oil extraction taxes. The other side says that stability would come at an unfathomable price: potentially, multiple billions of forgone tax dollars over the decades, meaning multiple highways that won't get widened, parks that won't be expanded and classrooms that won't be built. Who's right? Given that this question is fundamental to North Dakota's future, you'd think that lawmakers would have spent much of the 2015 legislative session studying House Bill 1276, the bill with this oil-tax reform at its core.