Letters to the Editor 7-3

Some say no to everything

Trevor Dahl

Dickinson

Today, it seems that nothing gets built in our country. Whenever a party tries to build a facility and create local jobs, an aggrieved third-party, who is most often neither a neighbor nor a truly interested party, stops the project with protests, allegations against the builder, or lawsuits.

In this case, western North Dakota’s usual suspects oppose the proposed refinery outside Belfield because a small stack from the refinery may be visible from a particular hill in the park. Yet we all know that, no matter how safe or well thought out a project, these groups would oppose it. They are against anything and everything.

To most readers, including myself, the refinery will have little direct benefit. However, we all have an interest in protecting the facility’s private property rights and ability to pursue its own business for if we don’t, it may soon be our own jobs, businesses, and property in the crosshairs of those who say “no” to everything.

Belfield has that opportunity. The refinery will create high-paying, stable jobs. It offers the opportunity to keep their kids near home, build new housing, and attract new businesses. We have no right to stand in their way because on our vacations we may see a small part of a facility on private property from seven miles away while standing on one particular hill.

The national park has a property line and that’s where public interest stops. There is no right to a viewshed into private lands. Property owners have put their own dollars into purchasing and maintaining that land. They should be free to develop it regardless of the distance to the park and under the same health and safety guidelines that govern facilities in any location.

It is time that we stand up for the property rights and business friendly policies that made North Dakota successful.

Youth does good deed

Della McIntyre

Minot

I would like to thank the kind and responsible young woman who returned my bank card last Wednesday. You even went to the trouble of researching my name and finding my address so you could return it in person!

That is definitely above and beyond and evidence that young adults in our community are outstanding! I was a bit stunned when you came, and didn’t even ask your name! Please stop back over sometime soon so I can “properly” thank you

Running Schmidkunz story was insensitive

Sharon Dotson

Minot

Is the Minot Daily News so desperate for subscribers, that they had to open up wounds for our family? Your inmate 2550 interview is so disgusting!!! Didn’t even bother to think what this would do to us!!!

Much less, ask us anything, so we could give our opinion about him and his story.

You should be ashamed!!

I think everybody in our family, deserves an apology for this insult.

Poorly timed article

Scott A Walter

Minot

I feel your editorial on inmate (Zac Schmidkunz) was scheduled at a very poor time. I don’t think you should have published it on Father’s Day. There is a man who lost his daughter, and Fathers Day isn’t a good day to remind him. Very poor judgment on your part. And very poor article. I think you owe the father (Edwin Walter) an apology.

Oil and gas are here to stay

Danita Bye

Stanley

Two weeks have passed since the Williston Basin Petroleum Council and I hoped to share some thoughts with readers on what the conference meant for the industry, its jobs and the state as a whole.

What was plainly evident and widely reported at the conference was the positive mood shared by the attendees. They see oil prices rising and the long-term opportunity of the Bakken. With efficiency advancements gained in the past 18 months, the Bakken is now able to compete at a cost much lower than other oil fields, meaning drilling activity in North Dakota will return earlier than much of the rest of the country and world. From company leaders to their workers, everyone recognizes that the Bakken is a world-class oil asset.

Too often here in North Dakota, we forget the Bakken’s place in the world, though that point was well highlighted in presentations given by industry and world experts in oil, economics, and investment banking. Their almost ubiquitous analysis called US shale oil, like the Bakken, a global competitor that is the new swing producer and an important source of energy for our allies. Underscoring that point, the most-recognizable face of the Bakken, Harold Hamm, missed the first two days of the conference to negotiate a deal that could ship North Dakota oil to South Korea, one of our most important allies in the Pacific.

Lest we forget too, that two prominent figures chose to visit Bismarck at the same time as the conference Franklin Graham and Donald Trump.

We, as North Dakotans, should be proud of this position in the world and country. We could have chosen another path that blocked oil and gas development before it ever happened. New York did it and the populations of many other states would do it if they had shale oil and gas too. After the conference, my husband and I spent time in Minneapolis and ran into many who assume North Dakota is in decline and the use of oil is on the way out.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Oil and gas is here to stay in North Dakota and likely to grow. It gives us jobs, is in the products we use everyday, and offers its workers and consumers a high quality of life. Let’s celebrate our place in it and provide a place for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to thrive as leaders.

Tired of flood reminders

George Withus

Minot

There has been a lot of coverage lately about the 5-year anniversary of the flood. To tell you the truth a lot of us don’t care to remember. I don’t want to have to relive the events of five years ago.

I remember the day they told us we would flood, I remember moving my things to higher ground, I don’t remember the sirens, because I left town. Mainly so I didn’t have to see everything that I had worked for flood. I want to forget those events. I don’t need to be reminded every year. If this makes for sensational reporting I’m sorry. We have all worked hard to get our lives back to NORMAL, whatever that is.

There are people here that are still feeling the effects of the flood. A good number of those people still believe it could have been avoided or feel that it wasn’t caused by a “Rain Event.” If you and the local TV stations need to remind someone of the events of June 22, 2011, remind the Souris River Water Board, the people that control the Rafferty and Alameda Dams, Lake Darling Dam and the Corp of Engineers, that there are real people that live in the valley, and that they should be more concerned about their wellbeing. I never want to see another flood, I also don’t want to see another article, documentary or news segment about the Minot flood of 2011.

Poor decision about Child Support

Susan Beehler

Mandan

The state is now granting amnesty to those who owe child support? (Article on 6/02/2016 ) Is this done at the stroke of the pen? Is this done through the court?

As per the child support office, Section 457 of the Federal Social Security Act, the state child support office is allowed to collect reimbursement from the child support owed to your child in exchange for receiving “welfare,” TANF.

Over 30 years ago I went through a divorce, became a single parent struggling financially as student in college, working and trying to care for a baby (and) I turned to the state for help. In order to get the help, I had to give up my rights to my court order for child support. The state was now going to be the “daddy.”

Little did I know that decision would lead to me helping to form a group, RKIDS, Remembering Kids in Divorce Settlements; a group to look out for parents’ rights. Parents of divorce all across North Dakota joined when they found money supposed to be going to our children was pooling in a state “slush” fund based on this reimbursement process. The Child Support agency lacked transparency, creditability and accountability.

I am still owed child support for my now 34-year-old son. According to the state in 1999 the state says their share of my child’s money was $8,319. In 2014 they said it was $14,756.87. I just got off the phone and the state says the amount they were owed from that short period of time I was on welfare was $13,300.

Why the discrepancy? The state gets a monthly payment of $300+ from my ex who is now old enough to draw Social Security. $0 is the amount I receive. All because I signed a paper over 30 years ago, needing a little help with diapers and other necessities when I felt I had no other options.

The state is getting their share first, yet they have the power to grant amnesty? A system is unfair when an agency has the power to do whatever they want.

Republicans have case of alligator arms

State Sen. Mac Schneider

State Rep. Kenton Onstad

North Dakota is great state. It’s home to great people who work hard and sensibly plan for the future with an eye toward leaving things better for the kids. If the presumptive Republican presidential nominee feels the need to make America great again, he can just as well start with the other 49 states. Because North Dakota is already great (and, in our view, so is America).

However, the choices made by the Republican majority in the North Dakota Legislature have not been great. As recent events have laid bare, these choices have had serious consequences. Despite our offers to work together to enact policy on a more bipartisan basis, the majority squandered significant opportunities and is now clumsily responding to the downturn in the price of oil and ag commodities.

During the boom, the majority’s governing philosophy might as well have been, “let the good times roll.” Cut the corporate income tax. Pop the champagne. Slash the oil extraction tax rate. Pour another. Drastically reduce the personal income tax, even though North Dakotans overwhelmingly said no to that choice in a statewide vote. “We know better,” said the majority between toasts.

In the 2013 tax year alone, the effect of corporate and personal income tax reductions was over half a billion dollars compared to the pre-2009 rates. The oil extraction tax cut, ramrodded through the 2015 Legislature in a matter of days during the close of the session, is now costing the state an estimated $11 million per month.

At the same time, the Legislature has dramatically increased spending. From 2009 to 2015, General Fund appropriations increased by 186 percent. With this “tax cut and spend” approach, it was as if our friends in the majority believed they lived on Pleasure Island.

To be fair, Democratic-NPL legislators supported spending on key priorities, especially education and infrastructure. But at the same time, we were focused on reducing and reforming the tax North Dakotans were upset about property tax. We said the Republicans’ choices were unsustainable, and we were treated as scolds. We tried to pull our Republican friends away from the bar, but they said “make it a double.” More tax cuts. More spending.

Now, the tab has come due, and the bleary-eyed majority is having a case of alligator arms when it comes to picking up the check.

Automatic “across the board” budget cuts have gone into effect without any vote by the Legislature. These cuts threaten promised property tax relief and have senselessly cost hospitals and long-term care facilities tens of millions of dollars in matching funds. They also peel back childcare assistance grants that keep parents in the workforce and nix initiatives to address the addiction and mental health crises in our state. Belt tightening by these means is utterly non-strategic.

On the other hand, here’s some Republican spending that is not subject to automatic cuts: the nearly quarter million dollars paid to the Center for Reproductive Rights as a consequence of enacting unconstitutional laws on issues related to women’s health. It’s true. Because of the majority’s choices, hundreds of thousands of North Dakota taxpayers’ dollars were given away to lawyers for a New York-based advocacy group during a time of record budget shortfall for our state. That’s not just a colossal backfire. It’s the height of fiscal irresponsibility.

Democratic-NPL legislators extended a hand to the majority and offered opportunities for bipartisan results. But our calls for contingency budgeting were largely dismissed, as was the agreement to reserve five legislative days to bring the Legislature back into session in the event of further economic downturn. Same goes for our revenue volatility study and a call for a special session.

The majority’s choices have given way to headaches, and now it’s time for a new Legislature to work with a new governor on reforming our budget, sustaining property tax relief, and making smart investments in education and our workforce.

We’ll continue to advocate for practical problem solving over political ideology during this time of challenge for our state. That’s our job, and it is the clear-headed approach North Dakotans deserve.