This is Up and Down, where we give a brief thumbs up or thumbs down on the issues from the past week.
Voters in Mandan overwhelmingly showed support for K-12 education by approving a request for an $84 million bond issue. Seventy-eight percent of voters supported the proposal to build a new elementary school and a new high school to accommodate growing enrollment. The current high school is in need of serious repairs to address building code violations, and a new building makes more sense given the enrollment growth. The district plans to use $9.6 million of federal COVID-19 aid to reduce the property tax increase.
North Dakota lawmakers last week fast-tracked a resolution to oppose vaccine passports, approving the measure without holding a hearing. Vaccine passports are documents that verify that someone is vaccinated against COVID-19. It’s understandable that some view this as infringing on personal freedom and privacy. However, there are good arguments for public health benefits of vaccine passports. The topic was worthy of a hearing with public input rather than a rushed resolution.
A Bismarck church is leading a community effort to pray for rain as the state’s drought continues to worsen. McCabe United Methodist Church organized the idea and has invited other congregations to join in the effort. Church leaders have been asked to activate a prayer team or incorporate prayers into their services. Extreme drought continues to expand in North Dakota and covers three-fourths of the state. Church members are hoping a unified prayer response will bring relief for people affected by the drought.
It’s disappointing that the Legislature has sent a discriminatory bill to Gov. Doug Burgum under the guise of protecting female athletes. The Senate had come up with a compromise to House Bill 1298 that would have involved studying the impact of restricting transgender athletes. Instead, the Legislature approved a bill that will move forward with restricting transgender girls from competing in sports while possibly studying the issue at the same time. Burgum should veto the bill.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol held an open house last week for a new simulator designed to train law enforcement to handle high-stress situations. The use-of-force simulator at the Law Enforcement Training Academy Range in Bismarck is a video tool that can help train for real-world situations, such as a suspect reaching for a weapon. After each scenario, trainees are asked to justify the decisions they made.