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Editorial: February 2019

Getting engaged with state Legislature

Editorial BY JOSH KRAMER


Josh Kramer, executive vice president and general manager, NDAREC

I am composing this editorial on the heels of wrapping up the 2019 annual meeting of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives.

 While our meeting provides a great venue to highlight the previous year’s accomplishments, it also serves as a launching pad of momentum and energy for the future. The meeting creates opportunities for our members to initiate important conversations about how to improve the quality of life in our state. We also discuss the wide variety of issues that impact the members of North Dakota’s electric cooperatives.

Public policy, whether you engage in that realm, or choose not to, impacts us all. It is imperative that NDAREC and others continue to connect regular people with decision makers. Our recent annual meeting provided that opportunity. We welcomed 100 public policy leaders, including state legislators, statewide officials, our governor, and our congressional delegation and their staff members for key interaction with our membership.

Our members often ask me, “What should I talk to our state’s leaders about?” My response is, “Just have a conversation. Talk about where you come from. Talk about your kids, your schools, your communities, your roads and your cooperative. Just get to know and understand each other.” Through these conversations, we learn from one another and develop an understanding and appreciation for the magnitude of issues we face together as leaders and policymakers, urban and rural residents, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives, moderates, progressives and North Dakota citizens.

When it comes to legislation concerning electric cooperatives and our members, it is our responsibility as an organization to effectively advocate on behalf of our membership.

To prepare for our legislative work, NDAREC and our member cooperatives debate and adopt resolutions declaring our values and preferences on key public policy matters.

In North Dakota’s 66th Legislative Assembly, NDAREC is currently tracking nearly 70 separate pieces of legislation, which impact how we do business, and how we serve our member-owners. Some bills have good provisions for us, some have provisions we don’t believe would serve us well. Among these is a bill about fees railroads charge for right of way crossing and another about how electric utilities compensate consumers for electric power those consumers feed back into the power grid by operating small scale solar power or wind power generators.

We encourage our members, and all North Dakotans, to stay engaged in the work of this year’s Legislature. You can use this link to follow the work of the Legislature and see how to contact your legislator: www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/66-2019.

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727; email to jkramer@ndarec.com.