Do Local Governments Need Lobbyists?

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Let’s not kid ourselves. North Dakota’s cities and counties already have lobbyists. They already spend our tax dollars on political purposes. The Association of Counties and the League of Cities are very active at the state legislature opposing and supporting bills, and both spent money on opposing an initiated measure (Measure 2, to abolish property taxes) in the last year.

So taxpayer-funded lobbying and political activism on behalf of local government is already happening. But now a bill, SB2313, would give cities and counties explicit authorization “expend…funds to retain a lobbyist.”

Despite the fact that this is pretty much already happening, this bill is a mistake. If anything we should be going in the opposite direction and cracking down on the use of taxpayer dollars on political activities.

The taxpayers shouldn’t have to fight their own tax dollars when it comes to legislation or initiated measures.

“But what about cities and counties needing to communicate their interests to the legislature?” Well, what about it? Why do we elect mayors and city council members and county commissioners? One part of their job is coordinating with other elected leaders, including the legislators from their areas.

What’s actually ironic about this is that we were told that if Measure 2 passed, and if property taxes were abolished in North Dakota, that local governments would have to hire lobbyists to get what they need from the state legislature. Well, Measure 2 was defeated, and here they are pushing to hire lobbyists anyway.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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