By a vote of 27-17, the North Dakota Senate recently passed SB 2327. If passed in both chambers and signed into law, it would create a new government agency called the "Department of Environmental Quality".
This new government agency would be created out of the existing Department of Health with a governor-appointed director and an 11 member advisory council. Those of you involved in agriculture will be interested to know that just one seat on the advisory council will be occupied by someone in the AG industry.
And because there is no fiscal note attached to the bill, it’s supporters have suggested that such a department would not grow government. When have you ever known a government entity to be created that didn’t take on a life of it’s own and end up costing the taxpayers more money than originally anticipated?
If you read the bill – and it’s 153 pages long – you will find what can only be described as bureaucracy. Yet, co-sponsor and bill carrier Sen. Kelly Armstrong (R – District 36) argued that creating such a department will ultimately reduce the size of government and result in greater efficiency.
One section of the bill even empowers the department with regulatory authority that allows them to be MORE stringent than the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That should make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. And wouldn’t this lead one to believe there is certainly potential for the newly created department to become more of a monstrosity than a mouse?
I tend to agree with Sen. Oley Larsen (R – District 3), who voted against the bill and said, "… we should reduce the size of government at all costs." We’ll see if the House does as well.
The bill has been introduced to the House, had it’s first reading prior to their mid-session break, and will be in committee on March 3rd.