State Dept. of Commerce Grants "Extension" Instead of "Renewal" Department of Commerce action violates the intent of the legislature for a renewal to

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State Dept. of Commerce Grants "Extension" Instead of "Renewal"

Department of Commerce action violates the intent of the legislature for a renewal to occur by May 1st, 2016 in order to let the legislature over-turn the desire of the Burleigh County Commission. This action essentially disenfranchises the Burleigh County Commission in the approval process.

May 6th, 2016

State RZ Letter

Sometimes the actions of government bureaucrats are simply shocking.

For those following the situation in Bismarck, you will recall that the Burleigh County Commission voted not to support a 5-year renewal of the Bismarck Renaissance Zone.

In response to the City of Bismarck's application to "renew" its Renaissance Zone, the North Dakota Department of Commerce rejected the "renewal" but granted an "extension" until August 1st, 2017 in order to give the legislature time to change the law and over-ride the power it gave to county commissions in the first place.

To translate the letter: the State Department of Commerce has decided it does not think the legislature was clear when it required support from the County Commission. As such, the State Department of Commerce has granted itself the power to give the City of Bismarck another year and 3 months, in order to give the city time to lobby the state legislature.

Abuse of Power

Bismarck RZ Letter 2

This action by the Department of Commerce contradicts their own directions to the Burleigh County, and is a huge over-reach in terms of over-ruling the power the legislature gave counties in this process.

Every local elected official and state legislator should be outraged at this action.

Regardless of whether you are for or against these sorts of programs, the idea that a state agency can have this sort of power should scare everyone.

City Knew It Needed County Support

Next Steps

The next steps in the process will involve the Burleigh County Commissioners taking pro-active steps to defend themselves in this process.

That will involve a number of possible things, not limited to the following:

1. Formally requesting an Attorney General opinion whether the State Department of Commerce has the power to grant an "extension" after the deadline for "renewal" has lapsed. As well as asking whether a state agency can ignore existing law in order to give an entity, in this case a city, the chance to lobby to change the law.

2. Taking legal action against the State Department of Commerce and requesting an injunction preventing the department from unilaterally granting an exemption to the renewal process.

Once again, it will be time for the public to show your support for the County Commission.

Click here for their contact information, tell them to fight the Department of Commerce's efforts to disenfranchise them and their constituents.

No Longer Just A Bismarck Issue

As for the public, it is time for you to get involved as well. This is no longer just a Bismarck issue. This is an issue of whether there truly is local control, or whether state bureaucrats can over-ride both the state legislature and local elected officials.

This would represent a terrible precedent in North Dakota.

Regardless of where you live or what you think of Renaissance Zones, this is an issue of over-reach by government bureaucrats. They are now over-ruling the will of your elected officials. That's a problem for everyone in North Dakota.

We'll have more on this next week.

-Dustin Gawrylow, Managing Director

North Dakota Watchdog Network

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