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Opinion: Tragic Veto of Carbon Monoxide Bill by Governor Burgum

The veto of a carbon monoxide bill this week by Governor Douglas Burgum was a tragic choice that will result in the injury and death of innocent citizens of North Dakota that could otherwise have been prevented. All this bill did was give the same protection to renters that homeowners were given by the adoption of the International Residential Code of 2012 which was added to the North Dakota Century Code in 2014. This law requires carbon monoxide alarms in new construction and in existing homes. It does not include rental property. The bill which Governor Burgum vetoed (HB1201) sought to add renters to those protected from the silent killer, carbon monoxide. You can't see carbon monoxide, you can't smell it, and it can disorient you so quickly, that you can't call for help. I know. My daughter was killed by carbon monoxide in her apartment in 2009—a beautiful, gifted human being whose life would have been saved had a C.O. alarm been present. I testified at the hearings in Bismarck in February but I'm from out of state, so why should the Governor care about me. But Governor, you owe an apology to the families of Harold Newman and Rodney and Janet Larson, residents of North Dakota killed by carbon monoxide in their homes in 2014. Their family members also went through the painful process of testifying in front of legislative committees—a difficult and courageous act. The house and senate both passed the legislation but the Governor undid the months of work and effort put into this bill, especially by Rep. Gary Sukut (Williston) by his veto. The Governor has shown his true colors with this veto, I just can't decide which is more appropriate: yellow, for his failure to protect some of the most vulnerable citizens in North Dakota—those who rent; or green for greedy, for choosing to favor wealthy landlords over tenants. Maybe both colors fit.

Governor, this was a test, a test about how much you care about all the citizens of North Dakota, not just the wealthy ones. Here is your grade F-, you failed—miserably.

Don Johnson

Windsor, CO.

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