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Tuesday, May 03, 2011


Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the March print edition of The Dakota Beacon

The Legislature is in the home stretch as all of the major funding bills are being argued. We are on a pace to be at a 24% increase in our overall spending which includes general funds, special funds, and federal funds. Looking back, the 09 increase was 33.6%, 07 – 14.5%, and 05 – 13.3%.  53% of our general fund spending goes to education and many people say that this is too much considering the enrollment in k-12 has dropped by about 3000 students. The House passed House Concurrent Resolution 3046 which would have overhauled education and gotten rid of the Board of Higher Education and the Department of Public Instruction and created a streamlined educational process. If it doesn’t pass the Senate (which I hear it won’t), then it would have to be put up by the people in the form of a Constitutional Amendment to make our education system work better for all of us.

Our continuing look at the US Constitution takes us to Article 1, Section 3, Clauses 1 and 2: “The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.” Clause 2: “Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.”

The House of Representatives is composed of a representation determined by population, where the Senate is based on land, or on the 50 states. Yet in our state legislature, the seats in both houses are apportioned strictly on population. Clause two has been amended, and we have popular elections of Senators rather than a vote of the legislature which would produce a far different outcome. Since all laws have to pass both houses, North Dakota is on an equal plane with California, and it gives the people in the rural states a true voice in the government of the US. Otherwise, we would have further consolidation of power by the more populated areas.

The president of the month is number 20, James A. Garfield, the second president to be assassinated. There was an old legend starting in 1840, that every 20 years a president will die in office and it held true up to Ronald Reagan. Garfield was from Ohio (the state with the most presidents) and was a teacher, a lawyer, a politician, and a civil war general. He also considered becoming an evangelical preacher.

Garfield was educated in the classics and could write with either hand. He amazed people by writing Latin with one hand and Greek with the other. The election of 1880 had the Republicans nominating Garfield because they were deadlocked on two other candidates. He took office in March and was shot by Charles Guiteau (a deranged office seeker) on July 2nd  of 1881. He was examined by a physician’s unclean hands and instruments, acquired an infection, and died on September 19th. Guiteau was hanged in 1882.

When my kids were little they used to discover all kinds of things in the back yard. One day, our 5 year old daughter found a dead bird, and she got very upset and started to cry. We did everything we could to comfort her and make her forget about the dead bird. My wife said that she should think about pretty flowers and swimming at the swimming pool. I said she should think about the little calves down at the farm and of riding motorcycle out in the badlands. She wouldn’t eat her supper, and we kept it up with happy thoughts about caterpillars, and butterflies, and thoughts of our upcoming trip to Denver. Finally, she started to eat and was much happier. Then her little 3 year old brother came up with something she could think about – dead birds.  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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