Plain Talk: Prescription drug prices and income tax cuts


MINOT, N.D. — Two state officials joined this episode of Plain Talk to discuss a couple of the more complicated and politically thorny issues North Dakota’s Legislature is taking up this session.

Rep. Zac Ista, a Democrat from Grand Forks, talked about his opposition to an income tax plan being touted by Gov. Doug Burgum and Republican lawmakers. He said the plan may pull revenues away from needed spending areas, like child care and mental health, and also argued that the cut is a “giveaway” to the wealthy.

It’s that last point I wanted to debate with him and my co-host Ben Hanson.

Also, a bill under consideration would start a pilot program aimed at capping prescription drug prices in North Dakota, using prices set in Canada as a reference point. The bill would put this program under the administration of the Insurance Commissioner’s Office.

Jon Godfread, a Republican and our current commissioner, said that would be like trying to “force a square peg into a round hole.” He expressed skepticism that this bill would be effective, and he’s also concerned about the tax dollars the state would spend defending it in court.

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