Senator Murphy -November Legislative Report, 2015
There was one Energy, Development and Transmission committee meeting (we meet more often than any other Interim committee to the best of my knowledge) this month and it was all about how we in ND need to sue the Federal Government for asserting too much authority over our rights to burn coal the way we see fit. ND has not been given credit for much of our wind energy development in those new mandates nor are the EPA’s wishes doable in the time frame allowed, according to industry as well as the ND Dept. of Health. We can make coal emissions better, but we do need more time to kick this in to gear. States’ rights declarations are as old as our country and killing ourselves by the hundreds of thousands over it in the Civil War may have tempered our passions for the last 150 years, but the give and take over who has the authority and what is fair will never die out. So we have the balancing act before us today. Thankfully we have the framework to go about it in the judiciary as well as the court of public opinion.
Locally, I attended courthouse meetings on the Nielsville bridge. Some Minnesotans were in attendance and a couple of those were fired up – rude, even. The bridge has shifted about two feet away from its foundations on the ND side and the Polk and Traill county commissions deciding the issues are hoping to cooperate and then appeal to the Federal government for help (nobody suing them then). If that fails, they are hoping to put pressure on the ND state government to cover our half of the bill. One of the problems is that our county commissioners and state Representatives were already out to Bismarck this summer to make their case and got a cold shoulder. Another is that our commissioners were not in agreement as to how or even if to proceed, although now all seem to believe that repairing the deck is not an option – replacement is the way to go. Yet another is falling revenues for the state of ND. It is safe to see that the ND DOT does not have replacement of that bridge in its long term plan to have large, well-built bridges at intervals that are sustainable going forward. At any rate, plans can change so we will give it our best shot.
Also at the courthouse, the annual Township Officers meeting was held along with another for running the 4×40 mile test and research strip set up by NDSU to see how much help unmanned aerial systems can be to get agricultural data here in the Valley. I also attended the conclusion of the accrediting process for Mayville State University’s new nursing program (they got the thumbs up, I believe). This is important to address the shortage in rural ND, especially as we Baby Boomers will only need more attention going forward. And I have been able to attend the last couple Traill County Economic Development board meetings as the designated legislative liaison. There are also legal drain water issues, but I am out of space this week.
With Thanksgiving just past, I would like to say that being involved in Township and State governments for the last 25 years has given me a pretty good seat at the table whereby I have been able to observe the passion of our volunteer firemen, first responders, city, county, township and state employees. Maybe you would join me in thanking them for all of their dedication. They deserve it.