The Last Thing North Dakota's Opiates Problem Needs Is Partisan Opportunism From Democrats


District 42 Rep. Kylie Oversen is recognized as woman of the year by the North Dakota Women’s Network . photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Whenever we’re in an election year North Dakota’s Democrats come up with some crisis they think justifies a special legislative session.

The objective is to manufacture a negative headline for Republicans while earning themselves some media coverage. In fact, it’s a stunt Democrats have already pulled once this cycle, back in March, but now they’re doing it again.

Looking to cash in on recent headlines about a surge in abuse of opiates, particularly in the Red River Valley, the Democrats are again demanding a special legislative session:

In a press release issued Thursday, Democratic legislators pointed to a forum held Tuesday night at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks, where a locally produced documentary on fentanyl abuse was screened.

“A young woman spoke up at the recent community forum in Grand Forks, where she shared that she is a recovering addict and requested that more treatment services be made available in Grand Forks,” Grand Forks State Rep. Kylie Oversen, who is also the Democratic-NPL party chairwoman, said in a statement. “By refusing to call a special session to address such requests, the governor and all Republican legislators are ignoring these pleas, leaving many people desperate and without many options.”

Oversen added that there were 226 patients admitted to Altru Hospital for overdoses in 2015, doubling 2010’s rate.

I’d link you to the full press release, but Democrats have steadfastly refused to send them to me over the years, and whoever designed their website should probably be fired.

Anyway, the last thing the opiates problem in North Dakota needs is knee-jerk legislating in response to rank partisan politics. Because that’s exactly what a special legislative session would be.

It would take at least a month for a special session to be organized, at which time our part-time lawmakers would be forced to make decisions about an emotional issue in a highly political election year environment. And on a relatively short timeline, too, which is the nature of special sessions.

Does anyone see good policy coming out of that situation? Better to wait until the regular legislative session which starts in January.

If Democrats were really interested in addressing this problem they’d be working with Republicans for bi-partisan solutions. Not staging an election year “gotcha” moment in the press.

Shame on you, Democrats. The opiates issue deserves better.

On a related note, any time we get one of these “we gotta do something” moments in politics I’m reminded of this parody video from Forgetting Sarah Marshall: