The legislature voted today on a couple of bills I’ve written about in the past.
First, the House passed HB1120 allowing the executive officer of any county or city in the state to order mandatory evacuations for up to seven days, and beyond with the approval of the city council/county commission.
Currently only the governor can order mandatory evacuations. I’ve written before that this sort of local authority is unnecessary, and is more likely to do harm than good. Rare are the situations when citizens won’t evacuate, when when citizens resist it may be for some pretty good reasons. How often, in the flooding our communities face, could homes or businesses be saved because citizens were on-hand to protect them instead or being ordered away? More often than emergency officials would like to admit, I think. I’d rather attend to the problems presented by obstinate citizens who refuse to evacuate for no good reason at all than to cede this power to local officials needlessly.
Second, the Senate shot down SB2149 introduced by a group of higher ed-friendly legislators aimed at gutting the state auditor’s ability to conduct performance audits. There has been friction between the university system and the auditor’s office in recent years. Remember that it was the state auditor’s office who refused to comply with requests from the State Board of Higher Education that a review of Dickinson State be limited in scope. That audit eventually uncovered the rampant diploma fraud going on that the university. The auditors also caught NDSU and UND misusing student fees last year too. This was clearly payback for the auditor from the higher ed system and their legislative allies, and I’m glad to see it was voted down by a 12 – 32 vote.