A North Dakota lawmaker said Wednesday he was taken aback by the tongue-lashing he received from a fellow legislator during a recent meeting over wind turbine regulations.
The Emmons County Record newspaper reported Wednesday that Rep. Jeff Magrum, R-Hazelton, confronted fellow Rep. Mike Brandenburg, R-Edgeley, during a county commission hearing a week ago and yelled, "Who do you represent?" In an interview, Magrum confirmed the incident and said law enforcement officers asked him to sit down, which he did.
"He was screaming. He was out of control," Brandenburg said, adding that the outburst lasted several minutes.
At issue were proposals to increase setback requirements for wind turbines. The commission ultimately agreed to boost those buffer zones, but didn't go far enough for Magrum, who has raised concerns over wind farms' effect on property rights.
Magrum questioned why Brandenburg, a wind energy advocate, was speaking at an Emmons County hearing when he lives in LaMoure County. Both lawmakers represent District 28, which covers a wide area of south-central North Dakota, including all of Emmons County and part of LaMoure County.
"I just have a problem with legislators being lobbyists," Magrum said. "He wasn't representing county residents. That was a meeting for residents of the county."
Magrum later admitted he "didn't act appropriately."
"But I feel like sometimes you just have to speak up, whether it's appropriate or not," he added.
Brandenburg said he was invited by the commission chairman to speak. He said he tried to dispel some "misinformation" and argued setbacks pushed by Magrum and his son, who's a member of the county commission, were "unreasonable."
"I have every right in the world to speak in Emmons County," Brandenburg said, calling Magrum's conduct "very unprofessional."
Bob Harms, a wind energy lobbyist who has long been involved in state politics and attended the meeting, said he had "never seen anything like that."
Emmons County Commission Chairman Leonard Weichel declined to comment on the confrontation between the two lawmakers.
Lawmakers this year approved a resolution championed by Magrum seeking a legislative study on whether setback distances "provide adequate protections to nonparticipating landowners and their property."
Brandenburg also testified at a heated public hearing in Bismarck last December, speaking in opposition to the Burleigh-Emmons wind project proposed by PNE.