Monday, September 10, 2018

Counties Join in Opposing Legalization of Recreational Marijuana

North Dakota Association of Counties (NDACo) is part of a newly formed statewide group assembled to fight passage of recreational marijuana in the fall election. The board of directors of the North Dakota County Commissioners Association (NDCCA) and the NDACo Board both adopted resolutions to oppose Measure 3. Their action follows the North Dakota Sheriffs & Deputies Association. NDACo delegates will discuss this issue at the NDACo Annual Conference.

The committee, North Dakotans Against the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana, announced its formation Thursday, September 6th in Fargo and Bismarck. The committee is made up of representatives from business, health and law enforcement organizations. Former District Judge and Attorney General Bob Wefald is the chairman of the committee.

“We intend to do everything we can to educate North Dakota voters as to the many problems this measure will bring to our beloved state of North Dakota. Most importantly the measure to allow recreational marijuana will create bad law,” said Wefald.

“If you read and analyze the measure, as it is written, you will understand that if it passes it would make North Dakota the most liberal state for the regulation and control of marijuana,” commented Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

Five of the top concerns if Measure 3 passes are:

  • Laws prohibiting smoking marijuana in public places would be repealed. Therefore, marijuana could be used anywhere including: places of business, parks, and public buildings.  
  • Measure 3 does not restrict where or how much marijuana can be grown or where it can be sold.  Your neighbor could grow pot in their entire yard. A marijuana shop could sell near a school.
  • Measure 3 makes no mention of any special tax, therefore the sale of marijuana would only be subject to normal sales tax. There would be no tax structure to address the potential impact to county government.
  • Measure 3 requires expungement of marijuana-related records. This would be a massive, time consuming project for the state and local government at the property tax payers expense.
  • Legalization will lead to an increase in impaired drivers.

“Our role as law enforcement is to educate the public who count on us to protect them,” said Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney. “I encourage you to research this measure and be educated on it, because it should scare anyone that reads the information it contains.” Listen to Laney's comments in full here:

For more information on this issue visit

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

ND County Commissioners and Sheriffs Attend White House Meeting

North Dakota county officials took part in an unprecedented meeting at the White House. Six County Commissioners and seven County Sheriffs were invited to a meeting Thursday, August 29th.

North Dakota mayors along with city and county leaders from South Dakota and Wyoming were also invited to the White House event. The group heard from eight high ranking cabinet officials including Counselor to the White House Kellyanne Conway, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and U.S. Department of Energy Under Secretary Mark Menezes. The attendees were invited to a White House tour prior to the meeting.

The event was part of a series of meetings the White House has been holding for more than a year with county-level officials from around the country, state-by-state. President Trump started these meetings in an effort to strengthen relationships between counties and the federal government.

“By the end of the year, every county commissioner in the nation will have been invited to the White House. These meetings are unprecedented, never before has a President held such events. Thirty-four states have now been represented at the meetings,” said Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Douglas Hoelscher. “The President wants to do everything possible to push decisions back to county and city leaders. He wants to make this an ongoing dialog.”

Not only did attendees receive information from cabinet officials but they were given direct contact information for access to the various federal offices and encouraged to reach out regarding projects and issues. “It is up to us as county officials to continue and maintain the line of communication with these high-ranking individuals,” commented Cass County Commissioner Chad Peterson.

“It appears this administration is really trying to improve on relations with local government to make sure our needs and concerns are addressed on the federal level. Billings County has a lot of federal lands, so whether it be funding for PILT, roads and bridges or search and rescue we need to have the ability to make our concerns known to the top federal officials,” said Billings County Sheriff Pat Rummel.

“I am proud and humbled to be part of this discussion with high ranking cabinet members. Having an administration that will talk with us and not just at us is very important,” said Morton County Commissioner Cody Schulz. “We had the opportunity to visit about infrastructure, energy and agriculture policy. We need to stress that in a state like North Dakota, infrastructure is vital. We feed, fuel and heat this country. We need infrastructure to get our products to market, not just traditional infrastructure like roads and bridges but pipelines, transmission lines and broadband are important.” 
Under Secretary of Energy Menezes highlighted numerous efforts made by the Trump

administration to increase energy production in the U.S. He stressed that the President supports expanding energy infrastructure in energy states in order to become more energy prosperous.

Kellyanne Conway addressed the opioid crisis, announcing additional federal funding that will be provided to states to combat the opioid problem. She highlighted the success of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Days, which was responsible in collecting nearly one million pounds of pills on the most recent Take Back Day. She also addressed the importance of law enforcement seizures in attacking drug trafficking. She said in 2017 ICE officers intercepted fentanyl at a level that could have killed all of America.

“The cabinet officials we met with made it clear, this administration is about helping counties serve their citizens, not hinder them,” said Peterson. “We are already seeing how under President Trump’s leadership the United States Government is rolling back regulations and requirements that in the past had been placed on counties.”

Six County Commissioners and seven County Sheriffs attended the meeting. Commissioners attending the meeting were: Chad Peterson, Mary Scherling, Rick Steen all of Cass County; Nathan Berseth, Richland; Cody Schulz, Morton; and Cynthia Pic, Grand Forks. Sheriffs attending the meeting were Pat Rummel, Billings; Clayton Coker, Dunn; Sarah Warner, Hettinger; Gary Schwartzenberger, McKenzie; Steve Nelson, Ramsey; Terry Oestreich, Stark; and Chad Kaiser, Stutsman. North Dakota Association of Counties Government Affairs Specialist Donnell Preskey Hushka accompanied the group.  

Pictures from White House Visit available at this link: