ND Dems Put Their Crosshairs On Free Speech In Upcoming Session

In response to Governor Jack Dalrymple’s State of the State speech today (posts about that here and here), North Dakota Democrats have released their own list of priorities.

For the most part, they’re really not all that different from Governor Dalrymple’s priorities, though they do a good job getting some nice, partisan jabs in for the sake of not looking like they agree with the Republican governor too much.

This conservative observer is chagrined, though, at the amount of ideological overlap.

Anyway, one of the line items in the Democrats’ list of priorities for the upcoming session jumped out at me:

· Increasing local governments share of oil tax revenues to address immediate needs as they arise.
· Working in a bipartisan fashion to establish a permanent endowment which funds merit-based scholarships for North Dakota students.
· Providing meaningful property tax relief for North Dakota families and small businesses while opposing permanent income tax cuts for out-of-state corporations.
· Ensuring open and transparent government by requiring disclosure of corporate and union political expenditures in the wake of the Citizens United and American Tradition Partnership cases.
· Addressing the daycare crisis and increasing access to early childhood education.

The Supreme Court cases referred to have to do with federal restrictions on how private citizens, and private businesses, spend their money for political purposes. The SCOTUS, rightly, upheld the idea that money is speech, and that we citizens can spend our money on whatever political agendas we want up to and including opposing or supporting Democrats.

Unfortunately, our friends on the left don’t like the idea of free citizens participating in the political process by spending their own money as they please. What they’re seeking is restrictions on the political activities of private citizens.

Which shouldn’t be surprising after the last election cycle in the state, where Democrats tried to argue that political contributions from private citizens, and political action committees, made and disclosed in accordance with the law to Republican candidates were somehow bribery because the citizens/PAC’s who made them are governed by the politicians who got the contributions.

That logic would also mean that farmers can’t contribute to the Ag Commissioner, and teachers can’t contribute to the Superintendent, but I don’t think Democrats are so much after transparency and accountability here. Rather, I think it’s about assault the NDGOP’s base of financial support.

Democrats don’t get a lot of campaign contributions from inside North Dakota. They’d like to neutralize that Republican advantage with speech-restricting policies masquerading as ethics reforms.

North Dakotans should say “no thanks.”

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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