You may have recently read or heard reports that the 66th session of the North Dakota legislature concluded its business and has adjourned. For some of us, it’s welcome news that comes with a sigh of relief. One of our responsibilities as the stewards of your cooperative is legislative advocacy. Laws and regulations can have a profound effect on the operation and success of our cooperative, so it’s vital that we closely monitor state and federal attempts to change the rules under which we operate.
By working with our industry partners and trade associations, we engage with political leaders in Bismarck and Washington on your behalf. When speaking on behalf of the cooperative we represent, we bring credibility. Policymakers know that we represent constituents who have skin in the game and will be affected by the issues we bring to them. Because of that, we as a cooperative family speak collectively with a loud voice when addressing our politicians. I would say that voice was heard clearly this year in Bismarck.
Our industry was successful in helping to defeat bills that would be detrimental to our operation and supported the passage of those we believed would be helpful. In North Dakota, there were bills on net metering, easements and energy project siting that were successfully killed, each of which would have had a detrimental effect on your cooperative. There were also changes to railroad crossing permits and carbon dioxide sequestration enacted that will ultimately have positive impacts for us. On the national front, there are always issues with regulation, taxes and infrastructure that we are working on.
Just as we depend on our members to support our issues and speak up when called upon, we depend on our industry partners and trade associations to be our eyes and ears and take the lead on our political advocacy efforts. Quite frequently, NRECA, the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and Minnkota Power Cooperative, our wholesale power supplier, do much of the heavy lifting for us and we depend on them mightily. Rest assured, we are right there supporting the efforts of the group to guard against any detrimental political or regulatory action and to support positive change.
When it comes to political parties, we are completely blind. Whether Democrat, Republican, right, left or middle, the issues that affect your cooperative are all that matter to us. We support the political leaders who support the legislation that is in our cooperative’s best interest.
One of the ways we show this support is through the political action committees to which cooperative members donate – ACRE and REPAC. ACRE, or the Action Committee for Rural Electrification, is the federal political action committee, or pac, and REPAC, or Rural Electric Political Action Committee, is the North Dakota pac. These two groups make contributions to candidates for state and federal offices who will speak for and protect the interests of electric cooperatives and their member-owners. These dollars go to our political champions regardless of which political affiliation they belong to and are funded by individual contributions from co-op directors, employees and our member-owners. If you would like to help support the candidates that support our cooperative, consider contributing to one or both of these political action committees.
In just a few weeks, Harrison Stockeland, a high school sophomore from Grand Forks Central High School, will represent Nodak at the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. He will join other cooperative member students from across North Dakota and the rest of the country for a week in Washington, D.C., learning more about cooperatives and how our government works. For decades, this program has been churning out future political and cooperative leaders who better understand how the cooperative business model works. We would like to congratulate Harrison and wish him the best as he travels to and from Washington, D.C.