This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up and thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
For the last 26 years the National Association of Letter Carriers has held a food drive in an effort to eliminate hunger. Carriers leave a bag with homes in advance to be filled with food and left at mailboxes on the designated pickup day. Last Saturday was that day. It’s more work for carriers, many who carry heavy mailbags. The carriers do their food drive in the spring when many food banks and pantries are low on stocks. Last year, 47,000 pounds of food were collected in Bismarck, while 11,000 pounds of food were collected in Mandan. The carriers should be commended for their efforts and we look forward to next year’s food drive.
Ed Schultz has “reinvented” himself a number of times on radio and TV. He has called football games, had a radio talk show, appeared on MSNBC and now serves as an anchor on the Russian government-funded Russia Today television network. Schultz says he’s free to say what he wants on the Russian show. However, his defense of Vladimir Putin makes that claim ring hollow. He has defended Russia’s annexation of the Crimea, said Russians consider Putin “a progressive Democrat” and attacked the United States’ human rights record. Schultz is entitled to his opinion, but it seems he molds it to fit the latest job.
Mandan’s old ice rink has been renovated and now boasts batting cages, two multipurpose courts and one wood court. The Pepsi All Seasons Arena is owned by the Mandan Park District. The park district and Mandan Public Schools worked together to develop the plans. The arena serves the school district and the rest of the residents of Mandan. The total renovation cost was $1.2 million, with the park district and schools splitting that in half. The boys and girls basketball booster clubs each gave $75,000 to install the wood floor. It was truly a community effort to help the community.
A fight over an effort to reform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could stall the 2018 farm bill. The draft legislation of the $100 billion Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 cleared the House Agriculture Committee on a party line vote versus the bipartisan support the farm bill usually garners. Democrats say work requirements attached to SNAP eligibility are a non-starter and they vow to fight the entire bill. The farm bill is too important for the nation to become bogged down in a fight over SNAP. Democrats and Republicans need to reach a compromise so the farm bill can advance.
North Dakota continues to be a leader in drone research. Last week, the state Department of Transportation was among 10 entities selected for the federal Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program, which U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said will gather data to "form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace." Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford said, "This collaboration allows us to develop policy that will one day serve as a blueprint for the rest of the country." The DOT listed several possible drone activities under the program, including reconstructing traffic crashes, expediting emergency responses during floods and inspecting pipelines. It bodes well for the state’s future to be involved in the drone program.