- Associated Press - Saturday, February 14, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota’s Legislature is marching toward its midsession break, and lawmakers will be considering only a smattering of bills in their respective chambers this week. Legislators mostly will be engaged in committee work and floor debates as the session heads toward crossover.

Monday is Day 30.

PERFORMANCE AUDITS

The chief of the North Dakota Department of Health’s environmental health section says he welcomes an audit of his agency’s performance in regulating oil and gas.

Dave Glatt told The Associated Press that he expects such an audit, even though it won’t be required by law.

“I’m not afraid of one,” he said.

North Dakota’s House last week soundly defeated bipartisan legislation by a 67-22 vote that would have required performance audits of the state Department of Mineral Resources and the state Department of Health. Both agencies have departments that regulate oil and gas activity in the state.

House Democratic Minority Leader Kenton Onstad, of Parshall, sponsored the bill that would have required the performance audits.

Onstad says the bill was crafted after increasing worry from landowners and others that the agencies were not adequately regulating the North Dakota oil and gas industry.

North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department underwent a performance audit last year and was hit hard by investigators.

Auditors said that agency was unable to account for guns missing from a volunteer hunter education program, as well as “noncompliance with laws, rules, and policies.”

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A “NAY” FOR “CANADA DAY”

All but one member of North Dakota’s House believes the state should honor Canada with a special day.

GOP Rep. Rick Becker, a plastic surgeon in Bismarck, cast the lone “nay” vote on a resolution last week that designates March 5 as “Canada Day in North Dakota.”

Becker tells The Associated Press that the Legislature has more pressing things to do than to spend time on such matters.

The House is slated to vote this week on several resolutions, including a commendation to the North Dakota State University football team for winning its fourth consecutive Football Championship Subdivision title.

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NEW SALEM SUE

Tamra Heins of New Salem told lawmakers that her town is proud of its dairy heritage but she has seen many of her neighbors leave the dying industry.

So proud of its dairy roots, the town’s high school sports teams are known as the Holsteins.

Heins, a hog farmer, was one of several people who spoke in support of a bill that would exempt dairy and pork operations from North Dakota’s more than 80-year-old anti-corporate farming law. It’s a move supporters say will help those industries rebound after years of decline.

Opponents, including the state’s biggest farm group, say the current law blocks unfair competition from big, out-of-state corporations.

Heins’ town also is the home of Salem Sue, a huge fiberglass cow standing watch off Interstate 94, west of Bismarck. The cow stands 38 feet tall and is 50 feet long.

Sen. Joe Miller, R-Park River, is a farmer and chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Miller jokingly asked Heins if Salem Sue contributed to the town’s milk production.

Heins said the enormous bovine has never been a milker.

“She’d have been culled from the herd a long time ago,” Heins said.

The mother of six children also drew unintentional chuckles when she submitted testimony from a board member of the North Dakota Pork Council, who could not attend the hearing.

His name? Seth Bacon.


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