District 41 Issues
The 2019 Legislative session will require a representative with a focus on the people of District 41 and their issues.
1. Diversify North Dakota's economy
Agriculture and energy production are always going to be significant parts of our economy. We need to continue to be leaders in these fields.
We also need to recognize that these industries are commodities-based, with highs and lows in market prices that are beyond our control. Commodities drive booms and busts in our economy, making it difficult to predict our budget from biennium to biennium.
We need to foster a diverse range of industries to help insulate our economy and budget from market prices. Fortunately, Fargo is leading the way with innovative small businesses, research projects, and technology companies.
We need to do all we can to foster these enterprises, both with state programs like Operation Intern as well as our educational institutions to guarantee we have the talented workforce to build on these great ideas.
2. Lower property taxes
Solving the property tax issue will require laser-like focus.
North Dakota's legislature has reduced corporate and personal tax rates in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015, all the while only offering a temporary "buy down" of property taxes. They also reduced the top-line Oil Extraction tax (set by the citizens of North Dakota in the 1980s). As oil prices rebound, this reduction will cost all of us untold millions of dollars in coming years.
Now we're left with a property tax "pilot program" that will be the first thing to go if the budget remains a challenge. We don't need more passing of the buck.
The state must focus on its responsibilities and craft solutions that lower property taxes permanently. The House should concentrate on lowering burdens for local government, so that they can lower our property taxes.
"Social services was a smaller percentage of your property tax bill than it is in a lot of other counties. So you save some money on that, but you'll lose the 12 percent and it ends up being an increase,"
— Mike Montplaisir, Cass County Auditor
3. Modernize government
At all levels of government, we need to increase transparency so we can rest assured our representatives are working for us.
This starts with ending the practice of gerrymandering. We need an independent commission to draw election lines because politicians should never be choosing their voters. Voters should be choosing their politicians.
North Dakota is one of the only states in the country without an ethics commission. How do we know if politicians are acting unethically if we only have their word? If the last year in national politics has shown us anything, it's that wrongdoing can only be found if you look for it. We need to ensure that our elected officials are representing the people and not just the PACs.
We need to apply technology to make all levels of government and education more efficient. Technology will allow North Dakota to deliver services faster to its people and spend less money all at the same time.
Our governor has spoken at length about reinventing government, he needs partners in the House of Representatives to see that vision through.
4. Net Neutrality
I started Simply Made Apps and employ people right here in Fargo. Our product, Simple In/Out, works because our customers can install the apps we build on their phones. If Net Neutrality laws do not prevent AT&T or Verizon from disallowing our service on their networks, then my employees and I are out of business.
My business is not alone, many growing internet companies call North Dakota home. These businesses can compete around the world because the internet works the way that it does.
"Removing Net Neutrality laws risk stifling North Dakota's technology ecosystem and that of the greater Silicon Prairie."
— Brandon Medenwald
We need to enforce the core tenets of Net Neutrality that have served the internet well since its founding but are now threatened by large ISPs that have conflicts of interest. Your internet service provider should not be allowed to block or slow a specific site (like Netflix) that you'd like to use to extort more money from you or software companies. No blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization.
I support only allowing government contracts to internet service providers in our state that support Net Neutrality.
5. End the blue laws
I believe it's time to let North Dakotans choose for themselves when to rest, worship, work, and shop. North Dakota’s current prohibition on Sunday morning shopping is arcane, unfair and unenforceable.
North Dakota doesn’t dictate to farmers when to farm, hospitals when to practice medicine, or restaurants when to feed people. All businesses, not just a chosen few, should be allowed that same freedom.
I'm a big believer in family time and rest. But families these days have complicated schedules, and a one-size-fits-all approach excludes many North Dakotans.
I trust that the people of North Dakota can choose what is best for themselves, their families, and their businesses. I want more flexibilities for North Dakota businesses and families, not less.
6. Stop playing games in Bismarck
We have serious issues in our state, and they deserve serious conversations. We need our legislators to focus on the residents of District 41. Instead in this last session, we had state-run casinos and NDSU land swaps. We need a change.
The House hasn't listened on property taxes, giving us temporary buydowns and now a "pilot program" instead of arriving at permanent solutions.
The House hasn't listened on medical marijuana, first rejecting it and even after North Dakotans approved it without them, they've still managed to mangle the people's intentions further. All the while, people with severe and chronic pain issues have been forgotten.
We need listening, not land swaps. I intend to listen and address the needs of District 41, and not the agendas of outside interests with deep pockets.
“We need a problem solver with a fresh perspective, and that's what I intend to bring to the state legislature.”
— Brandon Medenwald