Concern over lack of southwestern North Dakota representation on state House energy committee
As legislators gear up for the upcoming session, members of the state's House of Representatives Energy and Natural Resources Committee were appointed last week and none are from southwest North Dakota.
"I think the people out here should be gravely concerned about that," said Rep. Shirley Meyer, D-Dickinson.
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee is a policy committee dealing with matters involving water, oil, hunting, coal and other natural resources, Meyer said.
One of Meyer's requests in speaking with both the majority and minority leaders was to have a House member on the Natural Resource Committee from western North Dakota, she said.
"I raised a great deal of concern," Meyer said. "I discussed it with both the minority leader and majority leader and it was just foolish. That was one of my requests. They said well, 'That just isn't going to happen.' "
Legislators notate their committee preferences and from there, choices are based on things like seniority, Meyer said.
Final decisions are up to legislative leadership which consists of Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, who serves as the House Majority Leader, and Rep. Jerry Kelsh, D-Fullerton, who serves as the House Minority Leader, Meyer said.
The closest representatives to western North Dakota serving on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee are from Bismarck and Mandan.
Meyer said in speaking with leaders, she strongly encouraged placement of a southwestern legislator on the committee.
"I made the point to all of them, both leaderships, 'You have to have someone on Natural Resources," Meyer said. "They said, 'Well we do have someone on from Bismarck."
Carmen Gilbert of Camp Crook, S.D. cites the lack of western North Dakota legislators appointed to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as "craziness," according to an e-mail from Gilbert.
Meyer said she requested a position on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but wasn't chosen.
Sen. George Nodland, R-Dickinson, said he is pleased with the committee results.
Nodland said one western North Dakota membership on one particular committee isn't detrimental.
"I'm more concerned about that all of us western legislators are on the same story ... we're all very concerned about what is going to happen for western North Dakota and we're very happy of the Governor's proposal. His proposal is much better than I thought it would be."
Gov. Jack Dalrymple recently proposed about $958 million toward "oil country" infrastructure needs, according to a previous Press article.
Carlson was unavailable for comment.
A call to Kelsh went unreturned.