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The Pierce County Tribune recommends...
November 4, 2016

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U.S. President

With just days to go before the Nov. 8 election, many voters continue to struggle with a difficult decision: Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president?

North Dakotans can focus on one thing. It is that Clinton is uniquely unqualified for the presidency.

On farming and energy, both critical to our state, Clinton is wrong.

She is comfortable with the regulatory stranglehold on agriculture and private property rights begun by President Barack Obama. One weapon being wielded in that assault is the proposed Waters of the United States rule, which could result in farmers being told they cannot continue the same stewardship of the cropland that has served their families, our economy and the land itself so well.

Energy production has been a boon for many North Dakotans. Clinton's vendetta against fossil fuels would wreck the industry. Clinton makes no secret of her desire for new, burdensome regulations on the oil and gas industries. She is even more vocal about her dislike for coal, boasting, "We're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business."

There are many reasons to worry about a Clinton presidency. They range from her dishonesty to the disastrous foreign policy she oversaw, from her plans for tax increases to her disdain for personal liberties such as those enshrined in the Second Amendment. Add to those her vision of a virtual amnesty for the 11 million or so illegal immigrants in the United States, her refusal to take rebuilding the armed forces seriously, and her plan to make the Obamacare fiasco even worse.

On issues ranging from healthcare to education, Clinton's philosophy is that the answer always is more government. Her lies, on issues such as the Benghazi attack and illegal use of private email servers while secretary of state, mean she cannot be trusted.

All Americans should fear a Clinton presidency. But we in North Dakota have much more reason than others to worry and to vote against Clinton on Nov. 8.

Governor

It is a challenge for North Dakota to replace Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Dalrymple has helped the state manage the growth that came with the Bakken boom and he has guided North Dakota through the ensuing slump although the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the latter. Furthermore, state Republicans strayed from what at one point seemed linear succession from Dalrymple to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

Instead, voters perhaps reflecting the national disdain for the GOP establishment overwhelmingly backed businessman and tech mogul Doug Burgum. It is Burgum who should have the opportunity to lead North Dakota into the future.

Doug Burgum has the potential for innovation and the appreciation for private sector principles that North Dakota will need in the years to come.

U.S. Senate

Sen. John Hoeven is probably North Dakota's highest-profile elected official. That should continue with his re-election to the United States Senate next week.

To much of the country, Hoeven is the face of North Dakota and that is a blessing to residents of the state. A gentleman in the truest sense of the word, the affable Hoeven relates to the people of North Dakota individually and collectively as his neighbors and as those he more than capably represents. As governor for a decade and now the Senate since 2011, Hoeven has distinguished himself as this state's most effective and most respected leader. He has been a leader in agriculture, energy and small business, which is the backbone of our state and nation.

In one term, Hoeven has championed the issues of greatest significance to North Dakota with successes even in a Congress, and under an administration, at times at odds with the fundamental values and priorities of this state. Hopefully in his second term, Hoeven will be able to help empower fellow Republicans in the Senate to more strongly assert themselves on core conservative issues that they have too mildly advanced in recent years, which has left many deeply troubled with the party establishment.

Hoeven absolutely deserves that opportunity and deserves our support.

U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Kevin Cramer's public service career prior to his elevation to Congress in 2013 obviously prepared the outspoken advocate for all things North Dakota for the rigors of Washington. Even in the structure of the House of Representatives, in a short few years, Cramer has shown himself to be a fearless elected official in a political environment where "timid" is too often the order of the day. Cramer's tireless efforts have kept the issues important to North Dakota on the front burner in the House and there is no reason to anticipate anything less in the years ahead.

Further, Cramer's future also looks bright, which is a good thing for this state. It's also recognized in D.C., where he was assigned to the Energy & Commerce Committee. E&C is one of two, the other being Ways & Means, exclusive committees in the House and has the broadest jurisdiction of any committee in Congress. It has oversight of energy, healthcare, communication and technology, and commerce.

Kevin Cramer's return to the House is best for North Dakota's future.

Ballot Measures

Measure 1- The North Dakota Residency Requirement for State Legislators Measure: Vote NO - While on the surface, this measure seems obviously reasonable, it is in the application that it falls far short. If passed, a legislator would be required to step down from office if moving out of the district from which he was elected, and replaced by an appointee of his party (as opposed to being ineligible for re-election and thus replaced by voters). Voters should not be removed from the process of choosing their representatives so easily and political parties should not be so easily appointed that power.

Measure 2- The North Dakota Allocation of Oil Extraction Taxes Measure: Vote NO - This vital and wisely initiated fund should remain accessible only as previously permitted, without change. There is a scent here of a potentially slippery slope toward opening this fund up for unintended purposes.

Measure 3- The North Dakota Crime Victims Rights Initiative: Vote NO - This is a solution in search of a problem, given that North Dakota has laws already in place that in some cases are stronger than those included in this complicated and convoluted measure. If change needs to be made, it should happen through the legislative process so that it could be tailored specific to the needs of North Dakota. The measure's name posits that victims do not have rights in North Dakota, which is deceptive. The constitution should not be trifled with just for minor tweaks to existing law, not all of which are necessarily improvements.

Measure 4- The North Dakota Tobacco Tax Increase Initiative: Vote NO - There will always be a "good cause" for which to raise "sin" taxes and there will always be social engineers itching to try to force behavior on people using economics as their weapon. Given that cigarette smoking is more common in lower economic classes, it is particularly easy for government to single out that vice than others. Social engineers point out studies that show that poor smokers will give it up if smoking is more expensive. Anyone who has ever known an addict, or who has spent some time in poor neighborhoods, knows how utterly ridiculous this is. If we are going to escalate taxes on vices, let's start with alcohol, given its prevalence in the state and the problems it causes. Next should be sugared pop and fast food because of their association with diabetes and heart disease. And so on. Raising taxes under the guise of doing "good" is a tiresome deception at odds with North Dakota's independent values.

Measure 5 - The North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative: Vote NO - Medical marijuana presents a challenge. On one hand, there is solid evidence that there is a role for marijuana in addressing a number of chronic ailments and that in the not-too-distant future, the federal government and medical establishment are likely to recognize this. On the other hand, North Dakota is already combating a drug crisis and the common abuse of prescription painkillers demonstrates that physician oversight is not effective. While it seems that permissive policy is inevitable in the long term in this country, for North Dakota at this time, it is simply too dangerous to introduce medical marijuana.

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