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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

MIKE SCHATZ : FROM THE SIDELINE -  10-05-10



We had, what might be, our final Industry, Business, and Labor Interim Committee meeting, at which time we finalized a report on what the federal health insurance law is going to do to North Dakota. We had been working on this for over a year, and we had monthly meetings with every government and private agency that might be affected.

Our determination was that over the next 10 years, it is going to cost North Dakota $1.114 Billion (Insurance Dept, HS – Medicaid, Health Dept., PERS, Blue Cross/Shield, Pol. Subdivisions), and remember, the state takes in to our general fund, by taxes, about $1.3 billion a year. We also determined that approximately 15,000 citizens are without insurance due to pre-existing conditions, lifetime maximums, etc.  North Dakota is a state with 645,000 people which provides health care to all children through the SCHIP program and federal law requires hospitals to serve all people.

Then on Wednesday, Aug 4th, a spokesperson for Sen. Kent Conrad said that the Federal Government will pick up the entire tab (except for $32 million). First of all, governments don’t pick up tabs, taxpayers do, and furthermore, the federal government is practically broke.  Second, the federal government basically refused to participate in these hearings. Maybe since Sen. Conrad has some inside information, he should come back and share it with our committee and the people of the state of North Dakota.

Our ongoing look at the United States Constitution takes us to the 25th amendment which deals with presidential succession, vice presidential vacancy, and presidential inability. It is too long to put in this article, so if you want to read the whole amendment, go to wikpedia.com.  It has four sections and was ratified in 1967. Section 1 says that the Vice President officially becomes President if the President is removed, dies, or resigns. Section 2 says that if there is a vacancy in office of Vice President, the President nominates a new one and Congress confirms.

Section 3 says that the President can temporarily give up his powers and give them to the Vice President if she/he is going to be sick or incapacitated. And finally, section four outlines a method where the Vice President and the Cabinet can determine if the President is incapable of performing the duties of the office. This became very important during the nuclear age because the President is solely responsible for launching nuclear weapons and if the President shows signs of mental instability then she/he must be replaced very quickly (no time for impeachment by Congress). A very interesting amendment with interesting procedures – a must read.

The 26th amendment deals with the right to vote – age. “Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age. Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

This amendment was passed in 1971 and was part of the “If I can serve in the military – I should be able to vote” movement. It also spawned the “If I have to serve in the military – I should be old enough to drink” movement. North Dakota was one of the few that didn’t fall for that. This past Presidential primary brought up an interesting question. If you are 17 at the time of the Presidential caucus (February) but 18 on election day, can you vote in the caucus? The Secretary of State’s office ruled that you can not.

My wife and I have been blessed with four wonderful children. In the raising of those children, we saw the need to go to church as often as possible. Little children in church can sometimes be an impossible situation, and my wife used a variety of things for them to look at to be entertained and to not disturb the service. Now my dad, Gramps, used to teach the kids certain expressions when we weren’t looking, and then they would say these words and we would all laugh.

One particular time in church, my son was looking through a stack of pictures my wife had given him, as the scripture reader walked up to the lectern.  When the reader got ready to read, my son saw a picture of himself and he yelled out, “Who’s that bonehead?” It was a struggle to get through Deuteronomy after that outburst. 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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