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Wednesday, January 19, 2011



In November, the Legislators all got a pamphlet called “2010 North Dakota Finance Facts.” It is published by the North Dakota Legislative Council which is a non partisan, unbiased group, and expert in helping get the Legislature to function. It is a pocket guide to the state budget, performance, and statistics. As I read through it, many statistics stood out. Number one was the History of Total Appropriations which showed the amount of spending increased by 33.6% from 07-09 to 09-11. Second, it showed the percentages of spending from the general fund were; K -12 education(25%), human services(20%), and higher education is(18%). Transportation got less than 1% from the general fund. We need to prioritize our spending and infrastructure is high on my list.

This month’s look at the US Constitution takes us to Article I; Sections 1 and 2: Section 1 - “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Section 2; clause 1 “The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.” They used capitalization differently in 1788 than we do now.

Our Congress, the law-making branch, is composed of two houses (bicameral).  The President is the law executing and the Supreme Court is the law interpreting branch. All of the state legislatures are bicameral, except Nebraska’s, which has a one-house legislature. Clause one identifies who gets to vote for the members of the House of Representatives (the people we call Congressmen, not to be confused with state legislators from the House of Representatives). Suffrage (who has the right to vote) has changed over the years, and currently most citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote.

Our continuing look at the Presidents of the United States takes us to number 18, Ulysses S. Grant, nicknamed “Unconditional Surrender” because of his initials U. S.  His real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant (initials HUG) which he detested and had changed. Grant had one of the most interesting lives of any American. He grew up in Ohio, went to West Point, and became an army officer. He fought in the Mexican War, and went all the way to Chapultepec. He started out a Captain in the Civil War and rose to the rank of “general of the army” in 1866 (only Washington has held that post).

Grant became the supreme commander of a war that saw more dead than all the others wars combined. He smoked seven cigars per day and was at his calmest when under fire.  He served two terms as President during the Reconstruction period. He established the first National Park at Yellowstone in 1872. He was a cousin of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Grover Cleveland, both future presidents. He once got a speeding ticket for driving his horse and buggy too fast and was fined $20. This was when he was president (those DC cops are tough).

When we were little kids (5 & 6 years old), my sister Suzie and I lived in a brick house on the south side of town. My Dad had built it himself, and it was pretty nice for the time. We had a basement apartment that my folks would rent out. One renter we had worked for the Agricultural Service. He planted trees for shelterbelts. His name was Parker, and he had an artificial leg because his real leg had been blown off in Korea. The leg was cut right above his knee, and we were fascinated with looking at that stump. Sometimes he would let us touch it, and then he would say, “Boo”. We would jump back and laugh. It was a cheap thrill.  Have a good one!

Yours in the Spirit of the Republic,  Coach

Mike is a New England businessman who is currently a legislator serving in the North Dakota House of Representatives (District 36). He has served in that capacity between 1988-90, and was reelected in 2008 to his current term. He was a National Finalist for the High School Coach of the Year in 2000, leading the New England Tigers to four North Dakota State Class B championships in 1988, 1995, 1996, and 1997. He ended his coaching career with a 47-game winning streak. (A collection of Coach’s writings is available in book form at dakotabooknet.com)

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