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Gov. Burgum asked North Dakotans how to cut needless regulation. Here’s what they said

The Republican governor’s initiative was primarily aimed at allowing state employees to bring forward regulation-reducing proposals, but an online submission form gave the public a chance to weigh in.

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Illustration by Troy Becker
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BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called on members of the public to identify needless regulations that could be struck from the state’s law books. About 30 people responded with ideas that ranged from cutting property taxes to simplifying access to death records.

Burgum issued an executive order last month creating the "Red Tape Reduction Working Group,” which is made up of officials from 35 state agencies.

The Republican governor’s initiative is primarily aimed at allowing state employees to bring forward regulation-reducing proposals, but an online submission form gave the public a chance to weigh in.

Former Republican state Sen. Joe Miller took full advantage, making five entries to the red tape group.

Miller, a fiscal conservative, suggested North Dakota eradicate income tax, merge the state treasurer’s office with the tax commissioner and eliminate a milk marketing board.

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The Walsh County farmer told Forum News Service he has been disappointed with Burgum’s tenure in Bismarck, but he thought the red tape initiative was “probably the best idea I’ve seen him come up with.”

Miller said his red tape submissions came from his reflections on state government after leaving office in 2016. He hopes Burgum takes the initiative seriously and continues supporting it.

Mark Peterson, a Grand Forks resident, made one of the longest posts, in which he laid out a series of proposals for lowering property taxes.

“Property tax is restricting one from truly owning their home, so how about a compromise if it can't be abolished or suspended indefinitely until such time as a future legislature deems it necessary to bring (it) back?” Peterson asked.

Other submitters grumbled about taxes on off-road vehicles, requirements for becoming a childcare center director and the difficulties of getting a concealed weapon license.

One lengthy response criticized the “burdensome” process for obtaining a title for an untitled vehicle.

"I'm not super at computer searches," the submitter wrote. "The whole process is mess," adding it's no surprise people forgo the requirement and simply drive the car until the sheriff stops them.

Mike Nowatzki, a spokesman for Burgum, said the governor is glad some North Dakotans accepted the invitation to propose legal changes. Nowatzki said he didn’t know if Burgum read the submissions.

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Once submissions come in from state agencies, the working group will look over all of the recommendations and prepare a comprehensive "Red Tape Reduction Act" for the Legislature's consideration next year, Nowatzki said.

Though the public submission period has ended, Nowatzki said residents can send regulation-slashing proposals to the governor’s office at https://www.governor.nd.gov/contact .

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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