On Monday, March 27, the North Dakota Senate failed to pass HB 1491, 23-24, with only Republicans voting against it. HB 1491 would have earmarked $6 million to help provide school lunches for children from low-income families. It would not have covered all school children, just those with families who might appreciate the help. At the time, Republicans like state Sen. Mike Wobbema argued that North Dakotans shouldn’t have to pay for “parents being negligent.”
On Thursday, April 6, only five business days later, the very same “Republican-dominated” North Dakota Senate held a vote and passed SB 2124, 26-21. This bill raises the amount of money North Dakota senators and their staff can be reimbursed by the state for meals. It’s like lunch money that North Dakotans pay for! For adults!
Oh, and the bill also directs the office of management of the state to “establish a policy to set the lodging reimbursement at an amount equal to ninety percent of the rate established by the United States general services administration for lodging reimbursement in this state. A political subdivision may reimburse an elective or appointive officer, employee, representative, or agent for actual lodging expenses.”
Guess who voted to get themselves some free meals?
As North Dakota’s InForum reports, “The other Republican senators who voted for Senate Bill 2124 and against House Bill 1491 are Randy Burckhard, David Clemens, Bob Erbele, Judy Estenson, Curt Kreun, Judy Lee, Randy Lemm, Larry Luick, Don Schaible, Terry Wanzek and Mike Wobbema.” You remember Wobbema—Wobbema is the state senator who began his bootstrapping speech not five business days earlier, saying, “I’ll be the ogre in the room,” and followed that up by arguing:
“We talk about personal responsibility as one of the major principles that the Republican Party stands on. Yes, I can understand kids going hungry, but is that really the problem of the school district? Is that the problem of the state of North Dakota? It’s really the problem of parents being negligent with their kids.”
As a reminder, the $6 million that Republicans like Wobbema rejected to provide school-age children with food assistance in school was the compromise from the original Democratic-proposed $89,500,000 for universal free lunch in the Peace Garden state.
Senate Minority Leader Kathy Hogan, a Democrat representing Fargo, told reporters she “thought today’s vote was very self-serving.” Here’s what Republican Majority Leader David Hogue—who voted against kids school lunch but for a raise to his own lunch money—said when pressed on the … disconnect:
“I don’t have a good answer for you as (to) why we do it sometimes and not others.”
All disrespect to Hogue, but that’s 100% your job: to know exactly why you choose to allot money for one thing and not another. If you have some kind of magical philosophy that appeals to your constituents, you should be able to articulate it publicly since you are a politician.
Adding more hypocrisy to the fire, Republican Assistant Majority Leader Jerry Klein, who also voted against helping ease the financial burden many families in his state face, told reporters that there was no “correlation” between his contradictory votes. In fact, Klein explained that because of inflation, buying meals has become more expensive, so he needs a higher per diem.
Sadly reporters didn’t simply tell Klein to repeat back to himself what he just said.
Let’s watch maroon-suit-hypocrite Wobbema explain once again how children from low-income families need to take some “personal responsibility” for their food budget, while taking a handout for himself.
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