TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Mr. Bender Goes to Bismarck

It’s almost halftime at the North Dakota Legislature, so last week I went to the state Capitol to monitor progress.

I represented The Ashley Tribune and The Wishek Star as Newspapers of the Day, a program sponsored by the North Dakota Newspaper Association to foster better relations between the press and legislators. I guess I was an ambassador of good will. Because you know how lawmakers love to talk to someone who is always abusing free speech.

The Legislature is doing its very best to get a handle on all this transparency nonsense. For instance, there’s a bill supported by former Gov. Ed Schafer that would conceal the identity of applicants for government jobs until finalists are selected. Schafer said “no one” reads newspapers anymore because they are always presenting this kind of scandalous news. Knowledge upsets people. And here you are reading the newspaper. Loser.

You could conclude that since 85 percent of state voters in the last election wanted to have their local minutes published, taxpayers are interested in seeing how their government operates. I guess those are alternative facts. We should check with Landslide Donald.

I stopped by the governor’s office, but Doug Burgum wasn’t in. They were still trying to raise bail money after Gov. Burgum was dragged off the Senate floor for wearing blue jeans. The sergeant-at-arms is originally from Wishek, but he has been in Bismarck for 50 years. When you go that long without Wishek Sausage, it makes you a little cranky.

I also stopped in to see House Majority Leader Al Carlson, a frequent guest star of these columns. But he was out, too. I did get a peek at his throne — red velvet and gold encrusted with jewels. North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness was sitting in it, reading the Oil Illustrated swimsuit edition. You can’t unsee Harold Hamm in a thong. If they ever put him in the Rough Rider Hall of Fame, though, that’s the picture they should use.

There have been some remarkable achievements in the Legislature. I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit where credit is due — to the Republicans, who have a superduper majority. There are so many Republicans in Bismarck, they almost outnumber oil lobbyists.

Meanwhile, there are old-fashioned phone booths adjacent to the Senate Chambers, which is where the Democrats caucus. These meetings are open to the public. You can even wear jeans. And Birkenstocks.

Republican caucuses are held in a top-secret location off the Capitol grounds and are closed to the public. You need a password, a secret handshake and a hotdish for the potluck. Once a month, they sacrifice a virgin. Ironically, it’s always a Republican because they are the only women of virtue.

I got to hear the virtuous Sen. Janne Myrdal speak. She was wearing a chastity belt and a halo. You’ll remember Myrdal for her heroic struggle against Gay Nazis on Facebook. If you don’t fight them on Facebook, pretty soon you’ll have to fight them on Snapchat.

I also watched the Senate vote to support a bill banning masks. But what are oil executives going to wear when they are robbing North Dakotans? While Texas and Oklahoma billionaires got a 23 percent tax break last session, citizens here are facing austerity measures.

Eight rural highway maintenance shops are slated to be closed, meaning snowplows will have to travel 120 miles to clear roads in some instances. Which is reasonable, I guess, if you don’t live there. They also plan to close nine drivers license sites. You may have to drive 200 miles to get your license, but it’s not like those are “tax dollars” you pay at the pump. It should work out fine if the roads are clear.

The party that wants smaller government also voted in the Senate to grow government with the creation of  the Orwellian-sounding “Department of Environmental Quality,” which will allow a political appointee to more easily nonregulate the oil industry. A 153-page bill was approved, unread, in a 90-minute committee meeting, with no estimate of the cost of this new department. I guess they had to pass it to know what’s in it.

Republicans are defending us (and the fossil fuel industry) against wind energy. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is endorsing a two-year moratorium on wind energy development. The theory being that the free market works best without competition. Another bill would shift wind tax revenue from the counties to the state. So, the governor can afford some decent pants.

Thank goodness they’re standing up for the environment. Have you ever seen a wind spill? It’s ugly. They should ban solar energy, too. Because the sun is a leading cause of global warming.

Finally, thanks to GOP opposition to the overreach of the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s still legal to discriminate against “the gays” in North Dakota. However, you can’t just run them down in the street. Even if they are wearing a swastika. Because they could be a Trump supporter.

Compromise and moderation prevails, once again.

© Tony Bender, 2017

3 thoughts on “TONY J BENDER: That’s Life — Mr. Bender Goes to Bismarck”

  • Diana Esta Green February 22, 2017 at 9:54 am

    I’m amazed at the cutting edge of the tongue in cheek fun of this gentleman. Head shaking and laugh til I cried!! Awesome.

  • Landa Manders February 22, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    You didn’t mention how they destroyed the Medical Marijuana bill. Guess none of the Republicans care that 64% of voters approved the measure as written. They just ‘know better’ and have bastardized the will of the voters, to the point that you better hope you never need Medical Marijuana because you are too nauseated from chemotherapy to eat, or keep water down. REAL Compassion shown by these ‘Leaders’.

  • Roswell Henke February 22, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Great reading.


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