HB1259 was legislation backed by Democrats and environmental activists mandating a performance audit of the state’s Oil and Gas Division and Health Department, the two agencies of the state most involved in overseeing oil and gas development in the state.
I support the audit – I actually wrote a column supporting it back in January – but this legislation was a bit of a political stunt by Democrats who have proven themselves over and over again to be more concerned with scoring political points than sound policy.
The Legislature already has an established procedure for requesting audits. It’s called the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee (you’ll often hear people referring to it phonetically as the “laugher-c”, LAFRC, committee), and it is empowered to both request audits and review audit findings on behalf of lawmakers.
HB1259 got a “do not pass” from the Political Subdivisions Committee because, as bill carrier Rep. Patrick Hattlestad (R-Williston) noted, the LAFRC committee has already taken the issue up. It is on their agenda and they will discuss it at their next meeting.
And it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the committee authorized the audits.
Which brings us back to the bill debated today. It failed on a 22-67 vote, but expect Democrats to make political hay over its failure, accusing Republicans of not wanting to hold the state’s regulators accountable.
Because that’s really the reason why they introduced the bill in the first place.