Public Safety and Quality of Life
North Dakota is consistently ranked in national surveys as one of the best places to live. Numerous publications and agencies have ranked our state high in categories ranging from happiness and well-being, to business and careers. Since 2007, North Dakotans per capita income grew faster than any other state in the nation. And despite an economic slowdown in 2015, personal income growth was still among the top ten. We continue working to do all we can to maintain the high quality of life we expect in North Dakota. That means not only providing infrastructure to meet our needs, but also ensuring we have the resources necessary to keep our growing communities safe.
In 2015, Congress passed the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking, strong legislation I cosponsored to help victims of human trafficking and child pornography. The measure also includes an amendment I introduced that will ensure that North Dakota has access to federal funding to help victims the law enforcement officers who are working to stop the abuse.
The Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act, introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), creates a Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund paid for through fines on persons convicted of child pornography, human trafficking, child prostitution, sexual exploitation and human smuggling offenses. The fund will increase the federal resources available for human trafficking victims and law enforcement by up to $60 million over five years. It will provide block grants to help states and local governments develop and implement victim-centered programs that train law enforcement to rescue trafficking survivors, prosecute human traffickers and restore the lives of victims.
I also worked to include an amendment in the bill that would help North Dakota victims of human trafficking. North Dakota in recent years has been the fastest growing state in the country in terms of both population and income. Because of its rapid growth, the state has only recently seen an increase in human trafficking issues and has just begun gathering data.
The DOJ, however, asks for two years of data from program applicants in support of their request. North Dakota law enforcement can show that human trafficking and exploitation are real problems in the state that need to be addressed in a timely manner. My legislation makes clear that applicants cannot be disadvantaged from receiving federal funds if they have only recently begun collecting information on human trafficking victims.
I will continue to work through legislation like this and annual appropriations bills to provide victims with the support they need and to empower our law enforcement to prevent these crimes, protect victims and prosecute offenders.
As North Dakota’s economy and population grows, so do the needs of its communities. This is especially true in terms of public safety. We are working with local, state, and federal officials to ensure that law enforcement has the resources they need to keep our communities safe. It is critical that programs such as the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant and the Regional Information Sharing System (RISS) are fully funded to help state and local law enforcement to prevent and respond to crime.
As one of the founding members of the bipartisan U.S. Senate Law Enforcement Caucus, I will continue to facilitate communication and coordination among local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Furthermore, to help improve public safety in the western region of North Dakota, I have worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to create a permanent office in Williston, which opened last year. I am currently working with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to establish a permanent presence in the region.
Housing and Infrastructure
North Dakota’s unprecedented growth means we have a higher demand for housing than ever before, particularly in the western part of the state. I have worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to secure funds to develop quality housing in our cities and rural areas.
I have worked with corporations like Montana Dakota Utilities (MDU) and federal agencies such as the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) to ensure we have safe energy infrastructure throughout North Dakota. In addition, this infrastructure will reduce flaring and make available more home heating fuel.
There are a variety of events and attractions enjoyed every year by North Dakotans and visitors to North Dakota. Our state celebrated 125 years of statehood in 2014, an event marked in part by a major expansion and renovation of the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck – a project I worked to start as governor. Another attraction is Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which covers more than 100 square miles of North Dakota Badlands in western North Dakota.
Some of North Dakota’s many annual events are Norsk Høstfest, North America’s largest Scandinavian festival; the Fargo Marathon; Big Iron, a farm equipment showcase attracting more than 85,000 people from around the world; and the United Tribes International Powwow.