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Walsh County Press
Park River , North Dakota
February 27, 2013     Walsh County Press
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February 27, 2013

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PAGE 4 PRESS PERSPECTIVES FEBRUARY 27, 2013 FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK... BY ALLISON OLIA4B EDITOR, WALSH COUNTY PRESS Ladies and Gentlemen: From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (and then some) those in the school system have the power to control the safe- ty of our area children and grand- children and nieces and nephews and brothers and sisters. If your school board were dis- cussing something as serious as weapons in school would you want to know about it? According to a little gem called HB 1215, the 63rd assembly is look- ing to keep some serious safety se- crets. HB 1215 already has passed school board were discussing any- the House in North Dakota. one having any guns near my child Section 1 states: "Any discussion I would want to know about it. HB of policy relating to allowing con- 1215 is bad for our schools and bad cealed weapons license holders to possess a firearm or dangerous weapon in a school may be held in executive session under the proce- dure in section 44-09-19.2." After the Grafton school system did a school shooting procedure with some very realistic photos and some seriously terrifying reactions, I think the discussion of school shootings is hitting a little closer to home. We've taken for granted for far too long that schools are safe. If the for our kids. Secrets have no place in schools, especially when it comes to the safety of those small people. Contact your Senators, Walsh County: Dist. 10 Sen. Joe Miller,joet- or 701-331-1491 Dist. 19 Sell. Tom Campbell, or 701- 520-2727 Like" the Walsh County Press. on Face- book and check out our blog at http://walsh- countypress, wordpress, com dcilo, Hear at last! Hear at last! Hear at last! I'know I'm no Martin Luther King, but that is how I feel lately. As many of you know, I'm a bit hard of hearing. Maybe quite abit. Some say it was from shooting a ri- fle too much. Some doctors say it was from running those old John Deere two cylinder tractors at a young age. Morn always insisted it was because my ears were full of dirt. Maybe it's hereditary. I don't know. I suppose a lot of people probably said something that I•just didn't hear. Years ago I wrote about a round of golf with my deaf partner, Fred. The round would go like, "What did you get O n that hole?" "We got back on Wednesday"• "The roads were wet today?" "I don't think we have any roses!" And those golfing with us would shake theiraead and smile to them- Hat selves• For the most part they were nice people that didn't want to hurt our feelings. A few years ago I spent several thousand dollars on hearing aids. I wore them a few days and placed • them in their little box and sat them on the dresser. The3 have remained there for years• They did make things louder, but not the things I couldn't hear. They just made the unintelligible louder. Which does- n't do a person a lot of good. Now, with new technology, they developed an aid that really helps! The first morning I wore them out- side, I was feeding horses down at the barn. I kept hearing this chirp. Tips I assumed it was a gate moving around in the wind. It wasn't! Do you know sparrows make a sound? Really! I never knew that. I've heard crows and meadowlarks, but never a sparrow! Who would have thought? And Shirley is really happy! Which is worth more than gold...Well, it's worth a lot to me. Because now, when we watch TV, I am not constantly asking her, "What did they say?" Now on these hearing aids. I have a thirty-day trial before I have to pay for them. So I intend to try . them out in some social settings at happy hour this afternoon. Just for research. I'm getting on towards social security age and I don't want to invest in something unless I am dang sure it will work. I'm kind of like that horse that Billy was selling. Horse was fast! Billy said he was so fast that if you ran him home, he would beat his shadow to the barn by five min- utes! If you ranhim hard, the wind made your eyes water and the tears would sting your ears as they blew ott!. He was super fast! He had only one flaw, Billy said. He didn:t look too good. A neighbor of mine bought the horse. When he got him home, he realized the horse Was blind! , He drove out to Billy's and ac- cused him of being a crooked horse • trader. Billy vehemently denied it. "I told you he didn't look too good!" Listen! Shirley •is calling! Later, Dean The authority to • initiate and re- fer laws, often called "direct democracy", has been a constant ir- ritant to the Legislature but, in fact, it has saved the Assembly from some unpleasant job-threatening controversies. Take our century-long seesaw fight over alcohol. Prohibition was a hot topic in 1889. When it came time to submit the state's new constitution to the voters, convention delegates de- cided to let the electorate decide the issue separate from the consti- tution. Good thing. The vote tells us how important the prohibition issue was in 1889. In fact, some citizens ' felt prohibition was more important than the constitution,with 397 more folks voting on the prohibition question than voting on the adop- tion of the constitution. The constitution passed handily but the vote on prohibition demon- strated the even split in the elec- torate. Prohibition was approved by 52 to 48 percent. The close vote was indicative of the long fight to come. [ 'DirectDemocracy'Saved [ It started as soon as the referral process was available. In 1916, a measure to tighten the noose on bootlegging was approved 55 to 45 percent, In 1928, a proposal to repeal prohibition was rejected 52 to 48 percent. In 1933, voters approved the sale of beer by'70 to 30 percent, but in 1-934 killed two proposals to broaden sale of alcohol by 58 to 42 percent and 56 to 44 percent. In 1936, the liquor folks won one - limited legalization of the sale of liquor by 53 to 47 percent. However, in 1937, a proposal to abolish all prohibition was defeated 56 to 44 percent. Now the "dry" forces went to work to curb the appeal of liquor sales. In 1938, dancing was pro- hibited where liquor was sold by 59 to 41 percent. An initiated measure to repeal the state's liquor control act in 1938 lost 62 to 38 percent. In 1942,-a measure to prohibit the sale of alcohol in restaurants was defeated in a 50-50 vote. again in 1950 and was again re- jected- more soundly- with 71 percent against. But the fight wasn't over. In 1952, the liquor industry proposed expanding liquor sales from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. That lost 58 to 42. A similar measure came back in 1954, this time proposing sales be- tween 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. This was defeated 56 to 44 percent. The Legislature now sitting in Bismarck has been entertaining a bill to allow Sunday morning liquor sales to start at 10 a.m. The proponents argue that they may In 1944, a measure to prohibit need to pick up a pack for after- the sale of alcohol in most com-;˘ noon football or a Sunday,picnic. mercial establishments was re- That is not a good argument. If jected by 51 to 49 percent, but the  imbibers ,can't think ahead on Sat- same measure came back in 1946 i urday as to what they want on Sun- and was approved by 51 to 49. In ' day aftemoon, maybe they're not 1948, the same measure was again up to another two hours of liquor on the ballot and repeal was again rejected 52 to 48. All were initiated measures. Also in 1948; a proposal to let local governments decide the liquor issue was soundly rejected by 60 to 40 percent. Local option was tried sales? If it passes, maybe somebody will refer it to a vote of the people - just for old times sake. But then perhaps zeal on the issue has cooled since the cork is so far out of the bottle. A hush-hush policy in the 63rd? Vatican officials believe they are "holders of divine truth, unaccount- able to worldly laws." Those words were part of a quote in a recent As- sociated Press article about the Pope's resignation. The story also sug- gested the Vatican is "overly s.ecretive." Many would acknowledge there is historical evidence of the church's policy of"hushing lips" in times of trouble, even if they don't believe Catholicism owns the market on divine truth with leaders not accountable to the laws of the lands. The article, however, provoked a thought of a similarity in some ses- sions of the 63rd North Dakota legislature. Imagine someone saying something like this: "Legislators are obsessed with secrecy because of- ficials are holders of divine truth, unaccountable to worldly laws." Some legislators are secretive. And some seem to believe they are above the law - usually the few who have forgotten or never understood the word "humility" and/or the concept of "servant leadership." Still, everyone knows there are good, hard-working legislators (it might even be a majority) who listen to constituents, put aside overly zeal- ous partisanships and act with the best of intentions. They do not profess to always know what is best for all North Dakotans, and they welcome and listen to opposing views. But consider the hearing for HB 1442 in the Government and Veter- ans Affairs Committee. The bill would establish a state ethics commis- sion, but the suggestion of such was highly objectionable to a few out- spoken members of the committee. The bill showed up not quite dead upon arrival, but it certainly was - and is -- on life support.The plug will likely be pulled and the "Wise Guys" are betting heavily it will soon. Cory Mock, D-42, Grand Forks, was targeted in his second attempt in calling for the commission; a similar bill was rudely dismissed in the last session. In Mock's introduction, he tried to convince legislatdrs the bill was not a "witch hunt." He said North Dakota was only one of three states that didn't havean ethics commission and the establishment of one would go a long way toward building trust between citizens and state of- ficials. He said he believes "the people" want an ethics commission. It all sounded good. But Mock and some other young Democrats have been pegged by some GOP critics as blatant partisans more interested in advancing their own careers and reputations than serving the people. It's more likely the small group is a little too aggressive and forthright for the establishment old guard. Whatever; that's another column and dis- cussion for another day. What was missed, ignored or purposely discounted in the HB 1442 hearing was a loud and clarion call by some for legislativ e self-policing. It's honestly hard to understand why ethical officials would be (or are) afraid of, and not in favor of, such scrutiny. A battle cry of"we don't need it,.. we are already ethical" suggests an invitation to argue since anyone who has studied ethics knows there are at least 50 shades of grey - or in- terpretations of what is or is not ethical. North Dakota could be one of the most ethical states, but how do we know or make such an assessment? Just saying it doesn't make it true. Most government officials her e probably act in an ethical manner most of the time, at least according to theii" own standards. But the recent past has proven some 'legislators have been susceptible to charges of ethical breeches. Somewhat reluctantly, bill supporters pointed out situations where legislators faced issues of domestic abuse and unpaid taxes. Im- proper legislative travel, "cover ups" and other financial matters weren't mentioned at the hearing, but concerns have previously been raised. An ethics commission would be a positive step for the state -- but ItB 1442 is flawed. There are many questions, including selection of mem- bers, reporting processes, penalties and the secretive nature of investiga- tions. A justificAtion for the bill was poorly formed as an avenue of seek- ing to silence the messenger - the media - even if temporarily, so the innocent could remain untarnished until proven otherwise by the com- mission. In the next go-round, a sub group ofbi-partisan and diverse officials should unite to write a bill with a clearer code of conduct, processes and transparency. Seeking a more diverse commission- including one or more representatives from outside of government - would be advised. A rea- sonable and acceptable compromise and consensus could be hammered out. Unfortunately it might never happen as there seems to be too much animosity, pointing of fingers and possibly even paranoia. What transpired in the HB 1442 hearing was a brief witch hunt as a small angry group treating Mock as "The Witch." Leading questions in- dicating bias were routinely and repetitively asked in challenging tones. Personal feelings and personalities echoed loudly. Tough questions were asked, as they should be, but with very little respect. Clichrs and sound bites overshadowed the topic: "Electors are an ethics commission"... "we have ethics already by the way we behave and con- duct ourselves" ... "this is a solution in search of a problem." Survey findings in support of a commission were demonized by op- ponents - as well as methodology and the organization responsible for the research (The Center for Public Integrity). Mock was grilled and the bill was mocked by opposition legislators. It was suggested Mock had even acted unethically, possibly demonizing all Republicans, in an uncomplimentary e-mail not related to the bill. Mock brought some of the verbal abuse upon himself with the earlier e-mail and the fact that of the eight names at the top of the bill only one was a Republican; and with due respect, it was not a "big name" in the GOP pecking order. HB 1422 should nc move forward. But some committee members on attack should have colsidered an oft-included ethical component or ob- jective - "do no harm." The most harm came in the successful attempt to sidetrack the watchdog movement toward enhanced ethics. Finally, some members of the legislature would be well served if they worked on improving their bed-side manners. John lrby decided to retire early in late 2011 as editor of the Bismarck Tribune• He is now a free- lance writer, private investigator "and management consultant• He can be reached at johnrober- Extension Exchange The Scoop on Snow Shoveling Safety Once again the weather reports have left us withan accumulation of snow. In my opinion we've seen enough of the white stuff, but it is only February in North Dakota so I'm resigned to enjoying the pris- fine beauty each snowfall leaves be- hind. I can say that because I'm not of- ten the one manning the snow shovel in Our household (although this week I've noticed only a path from house to car, no real evidence of a sidewalk). Shoveling piles of snow can be vigorous activity so be- fore grabbing your shovel after a major snowfall consider the fol- lowing: Think Twice Those most at risk for a heart at- tack include anyone who already has had a heart attack; individuals with a history of heart disease; those with high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels; smokers; and individuals leading a sedentary lifestyle. Talk to your doctor before you tackle that new mound of snow. If the snowfall is particularly heavy and wet be aware of your limitations. Researchers have re- ported an increase in the number of fatal heart attacks after heavy snow- falls. This rise may be due to the sudden demand that shoveling places on an irldividual's heart. Snow shoveling may cause a quick increase in heart rate and blood pres- sure. One study determined that af- ter only two minutes of shoveling, the heart rates of sedentary men rose-- to levels higher than those normal- ly recommended during aerobic exercise. The weather can make shoveling more difficult. Cold air makes working and breathing hard, which adds some extra strain on the body. Shovelers also are at risk for hy- pothermia a decrease in body tem- pei'amre, if they are not dressed cor- rectly for the weather conditions. The good news is that 15 min- utes of snow shoveling counts as' moderate physical activity. We all should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity of some kind on most days of the week. A 170-pound person shov- eling for 30 minutes will burn about 250 calories. Shovel Safely Be heart healthy and back friend- ly when shoveling this Winter. Even if you exercise regularly and are not at risk for heart disease, shoveling improperly could lead to a strained back. If you've been inactive for months and have certain risk factors, use some common sense before tak- ing on the task of snow shoveling. Avoid caffeine or nicotine before beginning. These are stimulants, which may increase your heart rate and cause your blood vessels to con- strict. This places extra stress on the heart. Drink plenly of water. Dehy- dration is just as big an issue in cold winter months as it is in the summer. Dress in several layers so you can remove a layer as needed. Synthetic fibers help wick away per- spiration better than natural fibers. Warm your muscles before shov- eling by walking for a few minutes or marching in place. Stretch the muscles in your arms and legs be- cause warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured. Pick the right shovel for you. A smaller blade will require you to rift less snow, putting less sWain on your body. Begin shoveling slowly to avoid placing a sudden demand on your heart. Pace yourself and take breaks as needed. Protect your back from injury by filling Correctly. Stand with your feet about hip width for balance and keep the shovel close to your body. Bend from the knees (not the back) and tighten your stomach muscle' as you lift the snow. Avoid twisting motions. If you need to move the snow to one side, reposition your feet to face the direction the snow will be going. Most importantly, listen to your body. Stop if you feel pain. For more information about nutrition and health, visit the NDSU Exten- sion Service website: edu/extension. Stay warm and be safe! Extension on Ag around the state Ag producers have time to file Agricultural producers normal- ly would have until March 1, 2013, to file their tax returns without penalty if they have not made esti- mates. "Because of the recent enactment of the American Taxpayer ReliefAct (ATRA), the Internal Revenue Sery- ice has to have time to test their soft- ware and design forms, so they have given producers more time to file," ays Ron Haugen, North Dakota State University Extension Service farm economist. "Producers have until April 15 to file without penalty, but they need to include Form 211 OF with their re- turn for this waiver," he says. "To qualify, at least two-thirds of the tax- payer's gross income must be from farming in either 2011 or 2012. More guidance from the IRS will be forthcoming. The North Dakota St:ate Tax Department also recog- nizes this waiver." Items to note for 2012 income tax preparation; The 179 expense election for 2012 was set at $500,000 retroac- tively because of the ATRA. Gen- erally, the 179 expense election al- lows producers to deduct up to $500,000 of machinery or equip- ment purchases for the year of the purchase. There is a dollar-for- dollar phase-out for purchases of more than $2 million. It is scheduled to remain at $500,000 for 2013. The additional 50 percent first- year bonus depreciation provision is in effect for 2012. It is equal to 50 percent of adjusted basis after 179 expensing. It only applies to new property that has a recovery period of 20 years or less. It is scheduled to remain in effect for 2013. The standard deduction is $11,900 for those who are married and filing jointly. The deduction is $5,950 for singles. The personal exemption amount is $3,800. Long-term capital gains and qualified dividend income is taxed at a 0 percent rate for individuals in the 10 or 15 percent tax brackets and at 15 percent for those in the mid- dle brackets and 20 percent for those in the top income bracket. The annual individual retire- ment account contribution is $5,000 for 2012 or $6,000 for individuals 50 or older. The annual gift tax exclusion is $13,000 and is set to increase to $14,000 for 2013. The 2012 Social Security wage base is $110,100. The business mileage rate for 2012 is 55 1/2 cents per mile. Crop insurance proceeds, if re- ceived in 2012, may be deferred to 2013 if you qualify. You must use cash accounting and show that, under normal business practices, the sale of damaged crops would occur in a future tax year. A livestock deferral can be made by those who had a forced sale of livestock because of a weather-re- lated disaster. Remember that qualifying farm- ers can elect to compute their cur- rent tax liability by averaging, dur- ing a three-year period, all or part of the current year elected farm in- come. This is done on Schedule J. North Dakota farmers who elect to use income averaging for federal purposes also may use Form ND- 1FA, which is income averaging for North Dakota income tax calcula- tions. Information on agricultural tax topics can be found in the "Farm- ers Tax Guide," publication 225. It is available at any IRS office or can be ordered by calling (800) 829- 3676. Any questions about these topics or further updates should be addressed to your tax professional or the IRS at (800) 829-1040 or Call the North Dakota Tax Department at (877) 328-7088 or go to http://www. answers to North Dakota income tax questions. Editor's Note The Around the County eolurnnn was not available,this week. It will return as soon as possible. ,t Dates to Remember: 2-27 Walsh County Livestock Association Directors meeting, Alexander House 6:30 meeting