As much as I’m sure some state legislators would love it to, the issue regarding their gutting of the State Auditor’s office is not going away. I think it’s safe to say that there’s a significant number of the electorate who are unhappy— and that may be putting it mildly. It’s an understandable response to a pathetic move by the majority of the 66th Legislative Assembly.
One illustration of the blowback is developing in the form of a movement to hold a referendum on the legislation. We shared a post on our Facebook page three days ago about the effort. The Facebook page devoted to the cause goes by the name of “Audit the Swamp“. If you haven’t seen it already, you should. Aside from the worthwhile cause and the catchy name, I think you’ll love the cartoon character who represents the movement— a cactus. Undoubtedly, this is in reference to the $5 million lawmakers approved for the expansion of a cactus greenhouse in the Peace Gardens. But I digress.
Apparently the disappointment of the people has caught the attention of lawmakers. While Rep. Keith Kempenich (R – District 39) has at least been honest in admitting that a lot of legislators have issues with State Auditor Josh Gallion’s aggressive approach to actually doing his job — and therefore desired to “reel him in” — it seems some of Kempenich’s colleagues at the Capitol are looking for ways to put out the proverbial torches of an angry citizenry. This is illustrated by the news today that Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner says it’s a possibility the Legislature could be called back to deal with the issue.
Wardner says that because the amendment stripping the State Auditor of his authority was slipped in during a conference committee late in the session, he didn’t know about the details of it and others didn’t either. Earlier this week, I wrote about the fact that not a single Senator voted against the effort. According to the Associated Press article:
“Wardner said he and House [Majority] Leader Chet Pollert have scheduled a meeting with state Auditor Josh Gallion next week to discuss the issue and how it will affect the agency. Pollert said he hasn’t considered recalling the House and wants to meet with Gallion first.”
I must admit, I’m highly skeptical when it comes to the idea of the Legislature actually reconvening to right their wrong. For one reason, do we honestly believe that the same people who overwhelmingly supported this are going to suddenly do a 180 and repeal it? Even if by some miracle they did, is Governor Doug Burgum going to go along with it? Especially after defending his decision to sign the bill that stripped the authority in the first place?
If the Legislature actually did reconvene, there’s one solution — and one solution only — to this situation. And that’s to repeal what they did in its entirety. Tinkering with it is unacceptable. They need to restore what they took away from our State Auditor. So, our message to State Auditor Josh Gallion is simple— don’t give an inch. Hold your ground. The people are on your side. And that’s something the two Majority Leader’s coming to meet with you don’t have.
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