James Kerian: Three Cheers For The North Dakota House


Conservatives are not typically very good at expressing gratitude to elected officials.  Our constant task is to limit the amount of money and control that is placed in their hands.  We’re constantly forced to remind forgetful liberals that our legislators are no more immune to greed (or any other vice) than those of us in the private sector.

Frankly, it just doesn’t feel very natural, as a conservative, to be heaping praise on politicians.

So it is, my friends, with all due reluctance that I point out that the North Dakota House of Representatives has been incredibly impressive during this legislative session.  On issue after issue they have championed the common sense conservatism that has made North Dakota great.  They have earned the respect and gratitude of the whole state.  I say three cheers for the House, and I will give three examples of why below.

The North Dakota Senate lacked the intestinal fortitude to defeat SB 2279 (the sexual orientation and gender identity bill) early in the legislative session.  They passed the bill by three votes and thus subjected the state to the media circus that Forum Communications chose to create.

The House, on the other hand, showed the Senate how it’s done.  In the face of plenty of obstacles (the national hysteria over Indiana’s religious freedom laws, theblistering editorials from the state media and the harassment from liberal activists) the North Dakota House of Representatives voted down this terrible piece of legislation with a nearly two thirds majority (56 to 35).

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]Conservatives are not typically very good at expressing gratitude to elected officials.[/mks_pullquote]

We began the legislative session with our Republican Governor, Republican Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction and a host of Republican legislators all, for some reason, bound and determined to join President Obama’s war on stay-at-home mothers by spending state money to influence parents to send their toddlers into the school system.  It was a ludicrous idea but with every Democrat in favor of it and so many prominent Republicans also buying in there seemed to be very little chance it could be stopped.  The Senate passed the bill (SB 2151) by a vote of 33 to 14 despite the fact that there was so little evidence of any benefit that even the Grand Forks Herald noticed.

The House, however, managed to amend the bill from a universal entitlement to a subsidy for families that are poor enough to qualify for free/reduced school lunches.  An expanded child tax-credit would have been a far superior way to help impoverished families but this amendment significantly slowed the bill’s advocates in their march towards universal preschool.   Rather than the government offering to pay for the institutionalizing of any toddler it will now make this offer only to low income families that could, in reality, have already received free preschool through the federal Head Start programs.

Finally, we have the House to thank for over $100 million in income tax cuts.  During the last few weeks the senate found room in the budget for a 9% (about $100 million) increase in spending for the North Dakota University System but they just couldn’t find a dime for income tax cuts.  The words of conservatives like Senator Joe Miller were ignored, the words of liberals like Senator Ray Holmberg were embraced, and by a vote of 13-33 the senate asked for “a two year break” on any income tax relief whatsoever.

The House, however, came through again for North Dakotans.  By using a bill passed by the senate much earlier in the session, back when the state budget was looking a lot more flush with cash, the House was able to make an end-run around the senate’s recently developed reluctance to give tax relief.  The Democrats spent almost an hour trying various procedural maneuvers to force the bill back to the senate but the Republican caucus (or at least enough of it) stuck together and the bill was passed 59 to 32.

So, again, three cheers for the North Dakota House of Representatives.  Well done ladies and gentlemen.  Common sense conservatives everywhere appreciate what you have done for all the people of this great state.  Since we are who we are, however, I don’t recommend getting too attached to our gratitude.