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United Way

Missouri Slope Areawide United Way 2018 campaign co-chairs Dale Pahlke, left, and Cindy Schaaf, center, and executive director Jena Gullo announce a record-breaking dollar amount at the annual banquet on Thursday afternoon in Bismarck. Pahlke announced an amount of $2,875,000 to a round of applause and pledged another $25,000 he would raise with help from friends.

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

Up

The Missouri Slope Areawide United Way raised a record $2.9 million during the last year. The money went to a variety of projects to help people in the community, especially the less fortunate. The United Way took the lead in creating a new homeless shelter. It provided 15,716 nights of emergency shelter to 762 men, women and children from October 2017 to December 2018. United Way also provided backpacks for kids, tutoring for students and numerous other programs. Without the United Way it’s doubtful these needs would be met.

Down

House Bill 1497, introduced by Rep. Jeff Magrum, R-Hazelton, would allow someone to use deadly force when confronted with damage to property or theft on their property. Magrum told the Tribune said the bill’s intent is to eliminate the duty to retreat or avoid force in defense of property. The Tribune agrees with the North Dakota Sheriff's & Deputies Association, which opposes the bill. Donnell Preskey, representing the association, testified the association believes the bill expands the current law for deadly force "to be used in almost any kind of incident that homeowner or person encounters." The Tribune feels the present law is adequate and we shouldn’t provide approval for people to shoot someone for a minor crime. The bill should be rejected.

Up

Former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., introduced and worked hard to get Savanna's Act approved by Congress. The bill specifically addresses missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. The bill passed the Senate, but was blocked in the House as the congressional session ended. Now, Sens. Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven, North Dakota Republians, are co-sponsoring Savanna's Act and reintroduced it in Congress. Some supporters of Savanna’s Act have been critical of Cramer because they feel he didn’t do enough for the bill during the last session. The Tribune believes supporters should put politics aside and be happy that Cramer and Hoeven are giving the bill another chance. We believe the bill is valuable legislation and are pleased the senators are backing it. Hopefully, Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., can give it a boost if it reaches the House.

Down

The U.S. Postal Service can drop its "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." The service suspended mail delivery for Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota because of weather conditions last week. We understand the concern for postal workers, but the decision to drop service in three states seems extreme. It makes more sense to allow local offices to make weather-related decisions. Conditions weren’t the same across the three states. In the Bismarck-Mandan area private delivery services were still doing business during the cold weather. There no doubt was some important mail that was delayed.

Up

The North Dakota House did the right thing when it rejected House Bill 1505, which would have allowed legislators who live outside of Bismarck to claim taxpayer-funded reimbursement for meals during regular, organizational and special sessions. The bill had a two-year price tag of nearly $401,500. The bill was easily defeated, 85-6. Legislators no doubt realized the public wasn’t excited about the proposal, especially since most people don’t have meals provided by their employers.

Down

The Bismarck School Board last week selected Jason Hornbacher, principal of Dorothy Moses Elementary School, to be the district’s next superintendent. He appears to be a good choice. He was one of four finalists, all from North Dakota or with North Dakota ties. That’s also good. The fact all the finalists have roots in the state calls into question a recent law that allows entities filling positions to keep job candidates secret until finalists are selected. The argument behind the law was that releasing candidates’ names scared away qualified applicants, especially from outside the state. Bismarck didn’t have a problem getting local, qualified candidates to apply. The law, which the Tribune opposed, doesn’t appear to have drawn more qualified candidates from out of state.

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