Summer 2015 Legislative Report, Senator Murphy
With the session over and twenty months until the next one, legislators begin the task of learning through a few different methods; Interim Committees – each lawmaker belongs to a couple of them, mine being Energy Development Transmission and Agriculture and Natural Resources. Interim Committees usually meet once every three months or so, but my energy committee meets more than the rest, every month and usually for two days each. Another way to learn includes attending national legislative organization conventions. There are two of these major nonpartisan groups, NCSL (National Council of State Legislators) and CSG (Council of State Governments). Both are good and plan their conventions, both regional and national, around topics important at the state level as you would expect. Yet another way we learn is to be appointed to special committees as I have the past three years in regards to the Consensus Council’s International Legislators Forum. What follows is a quick synopsis of one important topic from this year’s held in Deadwood.
Grandiose in name, the International Forum is called that because we USA legislators from Minnesota, ND and SD partner with legislators from mostly Manitoba, but some from Ontario and Saskatchewan in Canada. This year we spent a day on Missouri river issues (usually it is all about waters shared with Canadians like the Mouse/Souris and the Red) along with workforce issues (Day Care and Early Childhood Education were the focus) and Transportation. Today I would like to share with you some information from the transportation agenda, notably trucking. In District 20 where we live, trucking is big business. Trucks are a constant in our lives here in the Red River Valley and it is safe to say our lives and standard of living would be quite different without the services they provide. For the purposes of this report from Deadwood, trucking was discussed in terms of international trade and centered on fixing some of the inefficiencies that hamper our truck trade with Canada. You may know that Canada is by far our biggest trading partner (not China) and that of the largest ten ports of entry (POE’s) between the USA and Canada, two are located in ND, none in Minnesota. Emerson/Pembina at about $18.4 billion in 2012, Portal at about $11.3 billion.
We were addressed by a transportation expert out of the Manitoba Department of Infrastructure and Transportation in Winnipeg, Dr. David Lettner. In essence, he explained that problems of processing trucks crossing the border resulted in too many delays. Costs for running a truck average about $200/hr. and delays farther downstream in the supply chain exacerbate costs such as in the auto manufacturing business where delays will run you around $13,000 a minute. So he talked about a project to improve our Pembina POE that will vastly improve our speeds through the bottleneck. It started with a study in 2010 and that was completed in 2012. For this project which includes two nations and their many subsets of governments, there are at least eight entities which have to come together (both nations’ border patrols, NDDOT, Manitoba’s counterpart, our Federal Highway Admin. and Canada’s counterpart, to name some). At least 6-10 years are needed, but soon, if I remember correctly 2018, about 99% of trucks should be moving through that POE without significant delay. Good news for us and our truckers. I will write soon about my first EDT committee meeting which just concluded in Williston and Watford City.