This week the North Dakota House passed legislation that’s designed to prevent North Dakota State University from using federal grant money partnered with Planned Parenthood for sex education in the state. The bill was amended to single out NDSU. The original Senate bill could have interfered in grant dollars to all the state’s colleges and universities. All of this is based on personal vendettas by extreme far-right lawmakers. What is the cost to the state?

If the Republican Senate goes along with the Republican House, this would impact NDSU to the tune of $2.8 million. In the past, the ND Senate would be where these sorts of attempts get defeated. That is no longer the case with the upper chamber’s makeup. The original vindictive approach to NDSU and research, in general, originated in the Senate and Edinburg Republican Janne Myrdal. They already passed a more broad bill earlier this session.

It begs the question, how much money has the Myrdal and Koppelman wing of the NDGOP cost the state of ND? All the lawsuits created because of unconstitutional legislation backed by out-of-state right-wing special interest groups that promised they’d pick up the tab. Or so we were told. The state is still waiting to receive those checks. Chances are they weren’t lost in the mail. That money was never on its way. Instead, it’s the Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem who’s got a whole budget set aside to fight these frivolous lawsuits because these lawmakers pass legislation they know is unconstitutional, that’s going to end up in court. Taxpayers are stuck with the tab.

Don’t the more reasonable lawmakers want to double check the tab and figure out who is running up total? They hold the checkbook. Then, they should turn around and tell their colleagues to stop using the state’s budget like a personal piggy bank to go on these personal crusades.

We can baseline that cost at $2.8 million if this bill goes forward. Just for North Dakota State University alone. All because of a vendetta. What will NDSU do? This sets a terrible precedent for academic freedom at a research university. If I’m NDSU President Dean Berscani or if I’m one of these researchers, I’m starting to talk to some attorneys as well. Perhaps Brescani could invite one of those attorneys to the President’s suite at the last home Spring football game instead of hanging out with individuals who have supported and enabled those lawmakers who are constantly targeting the university.

Tyler Axness
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