Back in September, we shed some light on a $90,000 legislative summit that some of our very own North Dakota legislators and Legislative Council staffers attended in Nashville, Tennessee. If you haven’t already, you can read about it here. For some, it had the appearance of a party trip with lobbyists— at the expense of taxpayers. There was even a picture to prove it. It was really quite an embarrassment.
Unfortunately, this week marks yet another out-of-state trip for some lawmakers. And this one is much further away than Nashville. The Council of State Governments (CSG) is holding their National Conference December 4th – 7th in Puerto Rico. You can see for yourself by clicking here.
My purpose today isn’t to get into the specifics or costs associated with the conference. I don’t have all of the information regarding those things— yet. Having said that, it appears there may be a more immediate cost resulting from the trip for those who support North Dakota’s cottage food industry.
You might recall that early last month we published an article explaining why the legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee needs to stop the North Dakota Health Department from undermining the legislative process and our existing Food Freedom laws.
In that article, I explained some of the background regarding Food Freedom in the state and the fact that the Health Department is attempting to implement regulations administratively— a feat they couldn’t accomplish legislatively in 2019. In fact, a bill seeking to do just that was defeated in the House on a vote of 26 – 65. In other words, it wasn’t even close.
Yet, at this point, the only thing standing between the Health Department and their objective in achieving political retribution regarding this issue is the aforementioned Administrative Rules Committee. It consists of 16 members of the North Dakota Legislature. And if every member voted the same way in committee that they did on the 2019 legislation, the regulatory effort would be defeated 7 – 9.
And this is where Puerto Rico comes in. I’m told that three of those nine votes will be absent from today’s committee meeting as a result of their attending the CSG National Conference this week.
As I explained last month, this effort to undermine the cottage foods law is far bigger than the administrative rules proposed by the North Dakota Department of Health. The reality is that it has everything to do with honoring the legislative process and three branches of government.
What we have here is a backdoor regulatory effort. If successful, it only empowers bureaucrats and weakens the legislative process. After all, what was the point of the legislature having committee hearings, holding floor debates, and casting votes if it can all be undermined through an administrative process?
I said it before, and I’ll say it again— If members of the Administrative Rules Committee have even a particle of respect for things like the legislative process and three branches of government, they will defeat this proposal.
Note: The Administrative Rules Committee will meet today (Tuesday, December 3rd) from 9am – 2:15pm.
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