North Dakota House Kills Another Transparency Bill


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

Rob Port is the editor of 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.

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  • Lianne

    Now, Rob, don’t be so hard on them. they DID pass with a vote 90-1 on 1225 that in Kleins’s own words increases transparency.

  • Roy_Bean

    You almost get the idea that “keep it local” has reinvented themselves as “keep it secret”.

  • Lianne

    And they passed 1132! ;-)

  • Guest

    1132 is just a study to see if transparency is “feasible” and they’ve already been told the cost just to study it will be millions of dollars! Wanna guess the outcome of the study even before it takes place?! I will. About $20 million and 50 new employees. The government paid lobbyists will make 100% sure that no transparency efforts will move forward.

    • Lianne

      The amount to do the study was reported to be $6.8 million. They are asking for compatible computers in each county so that the legislators would receive detailed accurate information to study property tax reform. The reported that now waht they is is marginal. $6.8 million for that, but not a sales tax exemption for clothing from 2nd hnad stores.

  • Guest Observer

    Think of the all money government entities could save by having a central database to put legal information into as opposed to putting it in the local dead tree media (newspaper) which does cost plenty.

  • jimmypop

    did anyone read the law and ask what it would it actually cost local government to and implement? and seriously, printing minutes in a local paper it a joke to begin with so lets make MORE people do it.

    anyway, just more ‘conservative’ big government telling locals what to do and how to spend their money….

    • Lianne

      It was a bill that would have put electronic transactions on the same level of transparency as checks are and have always been. It was brought about because Rep, Andrist asked the AG i if they were not one and the same. The AG came back and said no. Maybe what they should have passed is a bill to prohibit any electronic transactions.

      • jimmypop

        more good ‘conservative’ leadership from bismarck.

        all this did was waste money and centralize more state government…. if you want you local bills online….as your city folks to do it. ask your park board to do it. if they dont listen, elect new people. you dont need another law….. these people in bismarck are crazy. they create all these rules for local government when they should be focused on themselves.

  • camsaure

    Well I guess our ND RINOs do have a lot to hide and be ashamed of.

  • Mike Peterson

    I do find irony in Rep. Corey Mock voting against this.