Oregon man brings veterans cause to N.D. Capitol

BISMARCK—An Oregon bicyclist determined to raise money and awareness for combat-wounded veterans is going to state Capitols across the country to spread his message.

On Thursday, Scot King of Remember The Wounded Ride took his cause to the North Dakota Capitol.

Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley is the highest official in the eight states traveled so far who agreed to hear about the cause, King said.

“We need to bring awareness of the plights of the families of these combat-wounded veterans,” said King, a 47-year-old Portland native who began his cross-country journey May 7. “I feel our men and women in uniform deserve everything, and their families right now are suffering, especially the combat-wounded veterans’ families.”

Jeff Zent, a spokesman for the North Dakota Governor’s Office, said people stop by on occasion, hoping to meet the governor and lieutenant governor. King asked if either was available for a picture, and Wrigley agreed.

Wrigley said he was impressed to hear about King’s journey.

“During our brief chat, I did learn that he has quickly picked up on the fact that North Dakota is bursting with patriotic pride, and we are heartfelt in our support for military members and veterans,” Wrigley said in a statement.

King, who served in the Marines from 1986-90, has now dedicated his life to this cause and hopes to raise $1 million in the next two years. So far, he’s raised $4,500.

This year, he plans to hit 31 states, with the remaining 17 next year. King said he chose to ride his bike instead of drive to every state Capitol to show his dedication and earn respect.

“Anybody can get in a car and drive it to state Capitols,” he said. “Not everybody can get on a bicycle and ride to every state Capitol.”

He will also attend an event at the Bismarck Elks honoring combat-wounded veterans at 7 p.m. today.

Learn more about King’s journey and his cause here.

Submitted photo:

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear Teri,

Just wondering how the North Dakota Lottery is making out? Is the lottery making a profit after expenses, and how is the profit being used?

Thanks,

David Jenson

Thompson, N.D.

Thanks for writing! I chatted with Lottery Director Randy Miller to find out what’s new. Here’s what he said:

“The lottery continues to receive broad public support in the play of our games. Fiscal year 2011 ticket sales through May 31 are $21.4 million.

“We’re estimating to transfer approximately $5.4 million to the general fund at the end of the fiscal year.

“In addition to that, we’re also looking at transferring $422,500 to the multi-jurisdictional drug task force grant fund. Also, each year, $200,000 goes to the compulsive gambling prevention and treatment fund.

“We’re pleased with our sales. Players are continuing to support us and the lottery. We have five games: Powerball, Mega Millions, Hot Lotto, Wild Card 2, and 2 by 2. Last year was our record-setting sales year for the lottery at $24.4 million in sales.”

The Lottery Division is also updating its website and working to enhance social media communication, he said.

The breakdown of each $1 lottery ticket can be found at http://www.lottery.nd.gov/. Here it is:

• Prizes: 52 cents.

• Contracted services: 10 cents.

• Retailer commissions 5 cents.

• Administrative/operating expense: 3 cents.

• Marketing/advertising expense: 3 cents.

• Compulsive gambling prevention and treatment fund: 1 cent.

• Multi-jurisdictional drug task force grant fund: 2 cents.

• Prize reserve pools: 1 cent.

• State general fund: 23 cents.

Dear Teri,

Is it legal to drive down the road with your plug in your boat?

Sandra Sackett

Grafton

Thanks for writing! I contacted the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Here’s what Nancy Boldt told me:

“Yes, it is. Most people take them out … there’s no requirement to leave it in or out.”

Do you have a question for a North Dakota state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, ND 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

Today’s Ask Your Government

Dear readers,

One of my blog readers asked the following:

“I understand anyone can get the e-mail addresses of everyone who’s purchased a hunting/fishing license through North Dakota Game and Fish. Friends of mine have been included in spam mail as a result. Is that true, and why would a state agency be allowed to do that?”

Here’s what Kim Molesworth of Game and Fish said:

“Most North Dakota Game and Fish Department information is subject to North Dakota open records laws and available to the public upon request. However, the department is able to protect an individual applicant’s email address and has established a policy to not release this information.”

I had a legislator suggest I use my column to explain legislative lingo since not everyone understands their jargon. Here are some frequently-used terms:

Hoghouse amendment: John Bjornson of Legislative Council explains this is an amendment to replace the entire context of a bill with new text. A regular amendment has line-by-line instructions to make changes in the bill.

“Generally, hoghouse amendments are discouraged because it’s difficult to discern the changes in the bill because everything is new again,” Bjornson said. “But sometimes they’re actually preferred because they can improve the clarity for the reader as well.”

Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo, also provided some terms and definitions:

Putting lipstick on a pig: You can try to amend the bill to make it better, but it is still a bad bill that only appears to be OK.

Camel’s nose under the tent: It might start with only a little program or amount, but it will grow and grow.

Death by fiscal note: Good idea, but too costly.

Sen. Curtis Olafson, R-Edinburg, defined this term:

Sometimes you have to shoot your own dog: When a legislator votes against a bill that he or she introduced.

Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, provided these terms:

Conference committee: A committee of six legislators: three House members and three Senate members (two from majority party and one from minority party in each chamber). A conference committee is assembled if the House and the Senate pass different versions of the same bill to reconcile the differences.

Verification vote: A method of voting in the chamber where members use the electronic voting system, but a formal record of the vote is not kept and members may not see how individuals voted.

A verification vote may also be called a “black board” vote because you cannot see how members voted during this procedure.

Do you have a question for a state government official or agency? Send us your question, and we’ll do our best to find an answer.

E-mail politics@wday.com (Subject: Ask your government).

You may also write to Teri Finneman c/o Forum Communications, Press Room, State Capitol, Bismarck, N.D. 58505.

Please include your name, town and a phone number to reach you for verification.

Legislative update: pharmacy, social host, Internet hunting, divorce

BISMARCK—Chain retailers may not want to think about opening pharmacies in North Dakota just yet.

The House Industry, Business and Labor Committee gave a 10-3 do-not pass recommendation to the idea on Wednesday.

House Bill 1434 deletes wording in North Dakota law that requires pharmacies be majority-owned by pharmacists licensed in the state. This would have allowed retailers like Target and Walmart to open their own pharmacies in the state.

Committee Chairman Rep. George Keiser, R-Bismarck, said he voted against the bill based on testimony that current law serves the state’s residents well.

Rep. Thomas Beadle, R-Fargo, said he sponsored the bill on behalf of more than 40 constituents who want to see the law changed.

This same issue came up during the 2009 Legislature and failed to make it on the 2010 ballot due to a flaw in the way petitions were circulated. North Dakota is the only state in the nation with this law.

The bill now goes to the House floor for a full vote.

Social host

The state Senate killed the “social host” bill on Wednesday that would have punished those providing a location for underage drinking.

Senate Bill 2257 states someone who possesses or controls private property may not knowingly allow minors to drink on that property. They must also make a reasonable effort to stop the underage drinking, including calling the police.

Those who violated the proposed law would face a $500 fine.

Sen. Margaret Sitte, R-Bismarck, called the bill a “well-intentioned effort to find a solution to underage drinking.” However, the Judiciary Committee had concerns and many questions about putting the responsibility on property owners, she said.

“What we’re doing is shifting the responsibility from the guilty underage drinker to the property owner,” she said.

Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Dotzenrod, D-Wyndmere, said the bill was a result of a series of meetings that involved residents, law enforcement and legislators in southeastern North Dakota.

He said North Dakota has a problem with underage drinking, and other states and cities have similar social host regulations.

“I do think eventually we’ll go this way,” he said.

The bill failed on an 11-34 vote.

Internet hunting

The North Dakota Senate voted Wednesday to ban Internet hunting.

Senate Bill 2352 bans hunting wildlife in real time using Internet services to remotely control firearms and discharge live ammunition, thus allowing someone not physically present to kill wildlife.

This also includes using any remotely-controlled device to hunt.

The bill also bans hosting an Internet hunt, enabling someone else to hunt through the Internet, and importing, exporting or possessing wildlife that’s been killed by an Internet hunt.

A violation of the proposed law would be a Class C felony.

The Senate passed the bill on a 43-2 vote. It now moves to the House.

Divorce study

North Dakota senators think it’s worthwhile to study divorce.

On a 41-4 vote, the Senate approved a 2011-12 interim state study looking into the physical, emotional and financial effects associated with divorces involving dependent children.

The study asks for legislative policy solutions, including divorce reform legislation and marriage education.

Sitte of Bismarck said there’s data showing divorce costs the government money due to increased use of food stamps and public housing and increased juvenile delinquency. She said it’s in the state’s interest to study the matter.

However, Sen. Carolyn Nelson, D-Fargo, said there have already been a number of family law studies.

“We’ve discussed this topic. I don’t think we need to discuss it again,” she said.

The bill now moves to the House.

N.D. bill seeks to ban Internet hunting

BISMARCK—North Dakota may soon join other states in banning hunting through the Internet.

Senate Bill 2352 would ban hunting wildlife in real time using Internet services to remotely control firearms and discharge live ammunition, thus allowing someone not physically present to kill wildlife.

The bill also bans hosting an Internet hunt, enabling someone else to hunt through the Internet, and importing, exporting or possessing wildlife that’s been killed by an Internet hunt.

A violation of the proposed law would be a Class C felony.

Sen. Dave Oehlke, R-Devils Lake, said a constituent proposed the bill after learning about Internet hunting occurring in another state.

People pay big money to do Internet hunting, which is similar to playing a Wii game, Oehlke said.

“But it’s no game. And this type of activity, frankly Mr. Chairman, in my perspective, is enough to make a billy goat puke,” he said.

The North Dakota Wildlife Federation and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department also supported the bill

Paul Schadewald of Game and Fish said they aren’t aware of instances of Internet hunting in the state now.

Foster Ray Hager, a lobbyist for the Cass County Wildlife Club, said they support the bill because Internet hunting could reach North Dakota.

“We just feel that pushing a button on a computer to kill an animal somewhere in some other state is not really considered hunting as far as North Dakota sportsmen’s go,” he said.

No one opposed the bill. The Senate Natural Resources Committee did not take immediate action.