Report on three day International Legislator’s Forum – Senator Phil Murphy
A legislator died last week. He was Representative Hofstad from the Devil’s Lake area and I liked him as did most. We were to have been together in Denver the week before but he stayed behind to work on other issues and we both were on the roster for the International Legislator’s Forum which met this week. We missed Curt there. He had a big smile and was easy to talk to. Rest in peace.
The ILF was in ND this year. Having written about it now for the fourth year in a row I am certain you remember that our bipartisan partners are Minnesota, SD and Manitoba. We meet to discuss common concerns and see if we can break down walls and cooperate to help matters flow more easily through those jurisdictions. We learn from each other and make contacts. Knowing each other is the name of the game as it accumulates political currency making it easier to work together. But you know that. This year there were three issues; Human Trafficking, GMOs and Aquatic Invasive species.
Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs are big business around here. Our agricultural producers save huge amounts of chemical, time and fuel because much less spray maintenance and fewer passes over the field are needed. Nor has science found any danger in consuming these food products. However there are many opinions to the contrary with some countries refusing to import GMOs. Our group is urging more education take place amongst our consumers. Of the three studied by the ILF, this was the only problem that really had a contrary side to it, as there is rarely any substantive positive side to invasive species much less human trafficking.
Human trafficking has picked up in our area and this vileness was reviewed by people who work with it every day in North Dakota. Christina Sambor discussed some of this from North Dakota’s perspective. She explained about FUSE, which is a program started in 2014 to combat trafficking. Last session, we passed a law that removes criminality from victims of sex trafficking when under 18 years of age. Miss Sambor presented what ND has been doing so that others could build on it if they choose. Manitoba also presented at length, explaining much on the dynamics involved. One thing I learned was why it makes no sense to legalize prostitution: because it is based on demand for sex, and buyers are willing to risk criminal penalties and shame as it is now, what would happen when the penalties go away? Would it decrease demand? No, of course not, demand would increase. And given that few women choose to sell themselves, the number of sellers would decrease. Therefore, the usual result of legalization is the inverse of what was hoped for.
We all need to understand that prevention of the spread of Aquatic Invasive (ND calls it ANS for Nuisance) Species needs to be understood and improved upon. I learned that cleaning ones boat and trailer of weeds and visible zebra mussels was not enough. Bait and water transfer needs to stop as zebra mussels, for instance, can be transported in their microscopic stages. My space here is limited, but you can learn much more by going to Agree.org. Click on International Legislative Forum, then the 2016 line. All the presentations can be seen there.