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Culture of Intimidation (Part 3: Lawmakers)

The most baffling group of decision makers who succumb to intimidation are the lawmakers themselves. It doesn’t come from the voters either; it is from their ranks in the Capitol. Legislators tend to forget that it is the people of their district, constituents, who are their boss, not some person they elect as their caucus […]

The Culture of Intimidation (Part 2: State Agencies)

State agencies are not immune to partisan political pressures. In fact, many of the people chosen to run these agencies are politically appointed which lends itself to kowtowing to party leadership. There are instances where department heads internally separate from the direction taken by their elected counterparts. The difficulty is often getting them to go […]

Not Your Typical NRA Post

Let me be clear, this is not an anti-NRA nor an anti-gun post. I own guns, and I hunt. I shoot a lever action .243 for deer hunting that was passed down to me from my dad. I enjoy getting back to rural Benson County and taking my good friend’s AR-15 out for target practice. […]

The Culture of Intimidation (Part 1: Lobbyists)

If you were to walk around the Capitol when lawmakers were around you’d maybe get a sense of cordialness. Smiles followed by a greeting are common and expected. You may not notice the underlying stress for some individuals as they’re being pressured to keep certain lawmakers happy but also do the right thing for the people they represent. […]

An Open Letter To The Democratic National Committee From A Rural Democrat

Dear Democratic National Committee, I’m writing you as a recently defeated Democratic State Senator in the “Red State” of North Dakota to talk about rural America. I’ve heard you may be interested in learning about us after the results of the 2016 election. Some of you have taken to the national airwaves to talk about reconnecting with our life styles here in the […]

Is Swapping One Position for Two Shrinking Government?

Governor Burgum announced the staff for his office on Thursday and along with it a “new model to deliver results.” There certainly are some recognizable names. I don’t really have anything against the people Burgum decided to hire. Of course, the one hire that leaves me shaking my head is Ron Rauschenberger serving as the senior advisor. Rauschenberger has served as Chief of Staff […]

Why Don’t We Trust Journalists Anymore?

Today I hosted “News and Views with Joel Heitkamp” on KFGO 790AM based in Fargo, ND. I had hoped to have some time to talk about the subject of a FiveThirtyEight article sent to me this week but ran out of time. The article interprets a Gallup poll that shows Americans basically have little to no trust […]

Don’t Expect WSI Changes Anytime Soon

I’ve had a few readers send me an article written by Patrick Springer of the Fargo Forum. Yesterday, Springer’s article, “Firefighter’s battle turns from catastrophic stroke to workers’ comp cuts” left many people angry and shaking their heads. Springer has done great work covering Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) over the years, and this article is […]

Retention Bonuses and Cabinet Appointments

Remember those Jack Dalrymple retention bonuses during the 2013-2015 biennium? The rather large bonuses given out to his staff to the sum of approximately $100,000 caused a bit of a stink across the state. Legislators from both parties pushed back on the decision claiming these bonuses were excessive. During the GOP Gubernatorial primary, both Wayne Stenehjem and Doug […]