Strange bedfellows

Dina Butcher, Bismarck

OK, so what do the majority of North Dakota legislators and Nancy Pelosi have in common? Answer: she said “But we have to pass the bill (massive federal health care reform) so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of controversy” and of course implied, then figure out how to pay for it.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem rightly expressed great concern that the legislature should provide an appropriation to defend legislation that will unquestionably be challenged in the courts. In news reports, Stenehjem properly stated that there is no way to know with any certainty what the final costs will be. To paraphrase his comments to the appropriations committee: “We don’t really know how much the inevitable litigation will cost so let’s start with $400,000.”

My, my, my! I never thought my Republican legislators would use the same tactics as the former U.S. House Majority leader, which just proves the old saying, “politics makes strange bedfellows.” Pass the bills and then we will figure out the cost to the taxpayer for the inevitable litigation and for the damage that the subsequent unintended consequences will do to medical costs and medical care.

One can imagine how the thought process might have gone for the legislators who will be up for election in 2014: “By the time my re-election campaign kicks off, the bills will not have taken effect because of litigation or referral . And, because I voted with the majority, the single issue zealots who, through threats and intimidation, coerced me into voting for these bills, can’t send vicious attack mailers as they have in previous elections in North Dakota.”

Sadly, our legislature has become a body that is basing its decisions on fear, and they are unfortunately listening to the extremists in their midst. Instead they should be listening to the professional opinions of the nation’s most respected constitutional scholars and the opinions of highly trained medical professionals who provide wonderful medical care right here in North Dakota for women who often face the heartache of infertility or life-threatening medical conditions. Legislators need to listen to experts not extremists!

If you are wondering, yes, I am still a conservative Republican. But, I am not terribly proud of what self-serving wusses many of my fellow Republicans have become. By allowing themselves to be distracted and intimidated by out of state, single-issue radicals, who could not care less about the constitutionality (or costs to the North Dakota taxpayer) of these bills, our legislators have lost their focus on many of the most pressing policy issues facing our state during this sixty third legislative session. This is the session that, may well be remembered as the session when the super majority in the legislature was totally out of step with the majority of North Dakota citizens.