North Dakota House Kills Another Transparency Bill

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The North Dakota House doesn’t have a lot of love for transparency this session, it seems. Coming on the heels of a defeat a bill, introduced by Rep. Blair Thoreson, creating a statewide database for local government spending the House has voted down another transparency bill.

HB1255, also introduced by Rep. Thoreson, would have changed existing law requiring the publication of checks written by local governments to include electronic transactions. When the law was written the government spent money, exclusively, through checks. But times have changed, and for a lot of good reasons governments use electronic transactions too, and HB1255 would have merely updated existing laws to include the new sort of transactions.

The North Dakota Newspaper Association, which legislators tell me was something less than enthusiastic about the statewide database of local spending (lest we citizens get our information from some place other than a newspaper), was in favor of HB1255. Yet, the House killed even this small adjustment to existing transparency laws.

Here’s the video, in which bill carrier Rep. Alex Looysen argues that the Political Subdivisions Committee didn’t wan to pass they bill because they weren’t sure if the public wanted so much detail on local government spending (keep in mind, the publication of checks is already required, but the AG has ruled that electronic transactions aren’t checks under current law).

So, the legislature isn’t sure how much details North Dakotans want in published checks, but they also won’t vote to create an online database of spending that would allow citizens to access that data at any time.

You almost get the idea that these people are against transparency.

Here’s the break down of the vote:

Yeas: 30

Anderson, Beadle, Becker, Bellew, Belter, Boehning, Brandenburg, Delzer, Devlin, Froseth, Grande, Headland, Heller, Kasper, Kempenich, Klein, Koppelman, B., Kreidt, Larson, Louser, Maragos, Nathe, Pollert, Porter, Rohr, Ruby, Schmidt, Streyle, Thoreson, Toman

Nays: 61

Amerman, Boe, Boschee, Brabandt, Carlson, Damschen, Delmore, Dockter, Dosch, Drovdal, Fehr, Frantsvog, Glassheim, Gruchalla, Guggisberg, Haak, Hanson, Hatlestad, Hawken, Heilman, Hofstad, Hogan, Holman, Hunskor, Johnson, D., Johnson, N., Karls, Kelsh, J., Kelsh, S., Kiefert, Klemin, Koppelman, K., Kretschmar, Kreun, Laning, Looysen, Martinson, Meier, Mock, Monson, Mooney, Muscha, Nelson, J., Nelson, M., Onstad, Oversen, Owens, Paur, Rust, Silbernagel, Skarphol, Steiner, Strinden, Sukut, Trottier, Vigesaa, Wall, Weisz, Wieland, Williams, Zaiser

Absent and Not Voting: 3

Keiser, Sanford, Schatz

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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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