Dan Ulmer: Heading into the legislature
By the time you read this North Dakota’s 63rd Legislative Session will have completed its first week of work. The representatives for this paper, the official paper for Mandan and Morton County, incorporate four legislative districts or 12 legislators as follows: Mandan, District 34 – Dwight Cook, Todd Porter, Nathan Toman; Morton County and parts of Mandan, District 31 – Don Schaible, Karen Rohr, Jim Schmidt; District 36 – Kelly Armstrong, Mike Schatz, Alan Fehr; District 33 – Jessica Unruh, Gary Kriedt, Brenda Heller.
Most folks think that these folks aren’t interested in hearing what we citizens have to say about their activities and therefore just hope that their activities don’t do too much damage. However, the reality is that each of these legislators really is interested in hearing what their constituents think about any given issue.
The legislature is the board of directors for the state of North Dakota, they make the laws that we North Dakotans have agreed to abide by and as such what they do really does affect us all. So ‘we the people’ (you) need to pay attention to what they do.
The detail to all of this is that the North Dakota legislature is divided into 47 legislative districts, each with its own personality and needs. For instance, the needs and desires of the Fargo districts differ from the needs of the Williston districts and Minot differs from Mandan and Flasher differs from Gwinner, and so on.
However, the legislature is charged with governing the state as a whole and as such has to balance the needs of each district with the overall needs of North Dakota. Take education for instance. Legislators have to balance the educational needs of all of our kids to make sure that each one gets the best education possible. They really can’t assure that the kids in Mandan get a better education than the kids in Fargo etc.
In this particular session, Fargo needs help with flood issues, the Dickinson and Williston areas need help accommodating the oil boom, Minot needs help with floods as does Devils Lake etc… and the legislature’s task is to meet these needs as best they can while also meeting the needs of the rest of us… it’s a tough job that requires a great deal of input from all those affected by their actions.
So back to my original premise that our legislators will only be as good as those it governs… i.e. you and me. We all need to pay attention to what our government is doing and fully appreciate that our legislators depend on our input… so don’t be bashful about getting involved.
And the easiest way to do that is via the internet. Go to the website legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013 and you’ll find your representative’s email. Legislators are fully up to speed on the net. Llike most folks today, they spend their days fiddling with a computer, so if you’d like to say your piece, ask a question, etc. get online with them and see what happens.
In the meantime, let’s hope that their work leaves this place better off than they found it…