North Dakota AFl-CIO Legislature Watch Week ending 1-11-19

Sisters and Brothers,

This last week the North Dakota Legislature ramped up. As usual a variety of bills are already out, some threatening, some helpful. Of course, we will throw everything we have into the fight for better laws, but we’ll need everyone’s help.

First up is the legislative overreach trying to limit ballot initiatives and constitutional measures. The right for North Dakotans to have a direct voice in our state has been guaranteed to its citizens for a century, but now there are several bills that would reduce our in direct democracy. In areas from medical marijuana to a state ethics commission, the legislature has continually ignored ideas that are popular with North Dakotans. The right of citizens to initiate their own bills has been a powerful check and balance against this ignorance.

Though there are several bills we are tracking, the worst is Senate Concurrent Resolution 4001. This travesty of legislative arrogance would force any citizen led constitutional change to be approved by the legislature, not just once but twice… in two separate sessions! The legislators who have sponsored SCR 4001 seem to think that they rather than “We The People” should have the last word in our Republic.

In addition to threats to our democracy, there are other attacks like HB 1040. This would reinstitute a program that would give up to a two-million-dollar tax break to manufacturers who automate their factories. We are giving tax breaks to factory owners who automate away worker’s jobs, and the taxes from those factory workers will go into a program that will threaten their own jobs. This is ridiculous.

Factories are going to automate and replace workers. That is an unfortunate fact in today’s world, but we shouldn’t use our hard-earned money to hurry that along. Using our tax dollars on programs to make the rest of us poorer is a terrible idea.

Lastly, next week will see the introduction of a bill to allow police and firefighters to collectively bargain for the first time. Right now, we ask our firefighters to rush into burning buildings to save our families, and we expect our police to stop active shooters and keep us safe, but we refuse to give them a place at the bargaining table to talk about their needs in equipment, training and policies. This is just not right!

A bill is being sponsored by Mary Schneider, Steve Vetter and Cory Mock. I want to thank these legislators for standing for a core principle of ours that workers are safest and best when they have a voice in their workplaces. On Monday, we’ll be working to get other sponsors from both parties to sign on and I'll let you know who chooses to stand with or against our fire fighters and police.

We all need to call and write our legislators to make certain they all know that our Police and firefighters need collective bargaining. They need to know that North Dakota needs this too. We’ll have a link up soon, so be ready.

In Solidarity,

Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
[email protected]
(701) 595-3334