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This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.

Up

The decision to open Farm Service Agency offices for three days during the government shutdown was a wise move. About 2,500 U.S. Department of Agriculture employees have been recalled to do a limited number of duties. Offices in Mandan, Dickinson, Williston, Linton, Mott, Selfridge, Minot and Jamestown were among those reopened across the nation. They are helping producers with existing farm loans, working to ensure the agency provides tax documents to borrowers and releasing proceeds from the sale of loan security. It’s essential for producers and needs to be done.

Down

There are efforts in the Legislature to seal certain criminal records. Drunken driving offenders with a single offense could have their records sealed if they don't have any convictions for criminal offenses in seven years under House Bill 1334. House Bill 1256 would allow someone convicted of any misdemeanor to apply to have his or her record sealed after three years. The bill would seal felony cases after five years. The reasoning is someone who hasn’t offended again can have a difficult time getting a job or housing if their record is public. It seems like a waste of time. If a person’s conviction has been written about or discussed on social media it always will be available. In the digital age nothing goes away.

Up

The Bismarck Airport continues to see increased traffic. For the last few years boardings have gone up. The airport posted a 3.5 percent increase in boardings in 2018. Statewide there was a 5 percent increase in passenger boardings. Nearly 2.2 million passengers traveled through North Dakota's commercial service airport terminals in 2018. The Bismarck Airport had its highest annual airline passenger count on record. The boardings are another positive economic indicator.

Down

It’s hard to believe that people would falsely claim their dog is a service animal, but they do. It’s done to gain entrance to a public place or get housing. These fraudulent activities make it difficult for those honestly using service dogs. House Bill 1259 would make it an infraction to falsely claim that a pet is a service animal and provides a $100 fine. This type of activity needs to be stopped.

Up

Gov. Doug Burgum set the right example by placing the flags of the state’s five tribal nations outside his office at the Capitol. Tribal members showed their appreciation during a ceremony on Thursday. It’s another step toward improving state-tribal relations since the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. The state and the tribes should be working to resolve problems and there are signs that’s happening. The state and the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation are moving toward agreement over sharing of oil tax revenue. Cooperation will benefit everyone.

Down

The oil industry continues to struggle with flaring as it flared 20 percent of Bakken gas in November, or 21 percent of gas statewide. The state’s gas capture target requires companies to limit flaring from Bakken wells to 12 percent as of November, but operators missed the state's target for the seventh month in a row. Meanwhile, the partial government shutdown has stalled talks with the Bureau of Land Management over changes to how flaring is regulated. A solution to the flaring issue is overdue.

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