Legislative Update

Terry B. Jones

District 4 Representative

Hello from Bismarck, 

It was nice to get back to work on Wednesday and do a few bills in the judiciary committee and the transportation committee.

The experience it is to be a legislator would be hard to explain.  I have heard it can be compared to the closeness that is developed in a military atmosphere during wartime.  The bond that is developed between members of a military unit is strong because of the hardships and experiences they go through as a unit.  I feel a similar bond with my fellow legislators because of the difficult and highly emotional experience it is to try to come up with the best solutions for problems and issues that are presented to us on a daily basis. I will continue to work hard to properly represent District 4.

I hear a lot of discussion from constituents and others about wanting term limits on our legislators. I would like to explain how I feel about term limits on state legislators.  I was a lobbyist for 6 years in Wyoming prior to moving to North Dakota.  I lobbied for an organization called the Wyoming Crop Improvement Association.  My focus was on agriculture, natural resources, and anything that would affect my fellow farmers.  When I arrived in Cheyenne I had a terrible attitude towards politicians and lobbyists. I thought they were there doing what they could for their own benefit and gain including back room deals and self-serving manipulation of the government. I look back on my attitude with shame because I have since learned how the system works for the people. I had thought I wanted term limits on my politicians so they would go to Cheyenne, do the job they were hired to do, and get out of there before they could be corrupted by the lobbyists and others. I was so naive.  

What I learned in the 6 years that I lobbied in Wyoming was that the problems in government that negatively impact citizens is generated and perpetrated mostly in the bureaucracies.  Their interest is mostly in growing their power and their budget.  It becomes their kingdom.  Their focus is how to make their jobs easier and their influence greater.  This usually comes at the expense of the citizens. The legislators are the representatives for the people and they are the ones trying to keep the bureaucratic growth and overreach in check.  It takes seasoned legislators to understand what is truly going on in the bureaucracies and fight against overreach and overgrowth that negatively impacts citizens.

This week in the transportation committee, SB2099 was presented to us as a way to save money in the highway patrol.  The bill was amending state law that requires a highway patrolman to give a person an envelope with their ticket. The envelope has all the information needed to pay the bond and in my experience it serves as a visual reminder to deal with the ticket.  We heard in testimony that most of the people were paying online and that only ¼ of the envelopes were being sent in with payment.  The highway patrol presented to the committee that it was a waste of money to give everyone an envelope. What we found in committee discussion was that it is not a money saving issue that brought this forward, instead it was a matter of convenience for the highway patrol.  It is hard for them to carry the quantity of envelopes they are required to carry in their vehicle with them. This is a small scaled example of how something that was going to make the agencies jobs easier at the expense of the citizens of North Dakota.  What the committee did was to accommodate the highway patrol by allowing them to give the person receiving the ticket the OPTION of taking an envelope or not.  This will reduce the number of envelopes the highway patrol need to carry while still giving those that are going to pay through the mail an envelope to do so.