Dalrymple triangulates on Carbon Dioxide

It’s not surprising that a quixotic quest against federal environmental regulations would be a top priority for the people that benefit from the oil trade in North Dakota, but that doesn’t mean that they’re right.

Governor Dalrymple is at least not claiming, like some on the right, that Carbon Dioxide isn’t a pollutant at all.  But he talks of heel-dragging on the issue.  Short-sightedness on the consequences of carbon regulations is easy when you’re used to a narrow business model, but drill, pump, refine, burn has nearly run its course.  Yet, if people stop burning Bakken crude in their gas tanks, it will still be saleable to the chemical industry, as stock material for plastics and pharmaceuticals.

A recent study suggests that moving to practice and policy on carbon-based energy that will keep CO2 levels under 450 ppm is only going to cost the global economy about 0.06% of annual GDP.  If public policy can provide the right incentives and penalties, the big CO2 generators can clean up their act, without really stopping them from being  big money generators.

League hopeful in District 43

District 43 Dem-NPLers are ready to meet the challenges this election year will bring for the party and its candidates, incumbent Representative and retired teacher Lois Delmore, UND Student Senator Kyle Thorson, and returning Senate candidate and teacher JoNell Bakke.

Fundraising was brisk at the event, which attracted numerous young faces.  Yet hanging like a cloud in the room were deep concerns about protecting the right to vote for groups made especially vulnerable by the new law, particularly students and the elderly.

There are already reports of serious struggles with the new voter identification laws, which amount to in essence a motor voter registration regime, something not previously seen in North Dakota.  Worse yet, only 19% of North Dakota registration sites are open on any weekday you might choose to stop by.

Métis ruling upheld

A landmark legal case in Canada has been upheld on appeal: Métis members continue to count as “Indians” under the Canadian Constitution, something that has important repercussions for everything from public services to border crossing.  The Métis people were present all over the Red River Valley before Confederation, and the culture is still relatively organized in Manitoba and the Turtle Mountain area.

Still no word on Industrial Commission open records

There’s still no ruling on the Industrial Commission’s lack-of-minutes problem.  Has the Commission seriously not kept minutes since 2009? Or is it just so embarrassed about what’s happened since then that it can’t bear to part with the public record?

We shouldn’t have to guess at the decisions being made about our state’s economic development — all the more reason why Ryan Taylor needs to be Agriculture Commissioner.

Oooooohh jaaaaaa you beeetcha

North Dakotans and Minnesotans can be mistaken for funny-talking rubes for years to come with the advent of the new “Fargo” TV show.

Set in Bemidji and filmed in Alberta, it’s like to be the only thing people remember about us aside from the oil.  But they managed to include a North Dakota-born actor in the cast, so hey, it’s not like they completely threw us under the bus.

MN wage rise passes legislature

Following an announcement earlier this week, minimum wage legislation has passed the Minnesota legislature.  When signed into law, HF 2091 will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 “indexed” in 2016.

I have to use “indexed” in quotation marks, because the planned increases in the minimum wage won’t necessarily track inflation. Rather, the increase will track inflation between 0% up to a maximum of 2.5%, and there is administrative discretion to cancel scheduled hikes in any year. If inflation exceeds 2.5%, as it has in about 9 of the last 20 years [chart included], then minimum wage workers will get hit with a crunch.

But a partial index is better than no index at all, and Minnesota’s law could prove to outlast several states set to bump to $10.10 without indexing.

Seriously, take a Time Out

Robert Kelley had to call out UND sorority ΓΦΒ for being insensitive toward the Native American community, during the annual Time Out Week, where the University opens its doors to lectures and events from the region’s First Nations.  If it was the only sour note that would be dandy, but there are a lot of our Aboriginal neighbours in the city this week, and the chatter around town is becoming downright ugly.

It’s a familiar story for anyone whose skin is darker than milk.  You’re minding your own business at a bar in Grand Forks, when some drunk waltzes up and asks you, “WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE NICKNAME?”.  You could be Latina, East Indian, or even Black and get this routine, whose sole purpose seems to be to reassure the owner of hundreds of dollars of overpriced sports merchandise that they aren’t casually insensitive to larger social problems.

Along with the same-old, same-old, I have at least one report of a bar manager talking like he wants to throw out Native Americans wholesale.  As j5mc.org prides itself on its local drama coverage, we’ll try to get more on this story as it develops into an apology, firing, or defiant indifference.

In the meantime, mark your calendars:  The main event of Time Out week, the Wacipi, begins on Friday at 7pm, with a traditional meal on Saturday at 5pm.  Tickets are $12 for the general public, and UND students go FREE with ID.

Kelley’s statement after the bump.

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Liberals return to power in Québec

qc2014The Parti Québecois, swept to power two years ago amidst a massive student protest against the former administration of Jean Charest, will not be getting a second term, as voters sided with the Parti Libéral in yesterday`s election. 

The PQ ran and lost on a francophone, separatist platform, which turned ugly during the election as rules were abused to keep younger, anglophone voters who tended toward the PL off the rolls (a lesson the Conservative Party should heed in its proposed election reforms).

The election results skewed heavily toward the Libéraux, with a first-past-the-post bonus of 15% over the other parties, all of which are slightly to significantly underrepresented.  In a proportional election, the Parti Libéral would have won a minority government and the Coalition Avenir Québec would have held the balance of power.

Nearly 7 million covered by ACA

ACAsignups.net reports that despite demand crashes at HealthCare.call trends are on track to breach at least 6.9 million, a number that surprisingly makes congressional estimates of how many would get coverage by this point correct.

Essentially, demand trumps goofy implementation. Once word got out that the sites were finally mostly fixed, the promise of actual Health Care was more compelling than the hiccups and annoyances that came before. As one of those 7 million (or at least, someone who will be starting in May), I can say that it is a little easier to sleep at night.

And the best news of all: Even if you only start your sign-up today, you can still come back to the exchanges, finish by April 15, and enroll in coverage for May.

Dem-NPL convention Day 1

Ryan Taylor, Ag Commissioner candidate

Ryan Taylor, Ag Commissioner candidate

Leaguers from across North Dakota gathered for the state convention in Fargo today.

Former State Senator Ryan Taylor was nominated for Agriculture Commissioner, easily the high point of the afternoon.

Afterward, the Democratic-NPL policy platform was adopted, including floor amendments adding the need for truck weigh stations (suggested by someone tired of seeing the Highway Patrol struggle with mobile scales).  A proposed policy on GM crops was removed on the floor.  Despite the numerous changes, the entire document was approved in less than 80 minutes.

The platform also notably includes a concrete commitment that the Dem-NPL will circulate petitions on as many as 5 measures following the next Legislative session, if policies with broad public support fail to pass as bills.