Sen. Heidi Heitkamp gave her thoughts on the upcoming election season at the Burdick Dinner Saturday, Sept. 15th.
As North Dakota is a farming state, Heitkamp expressed interest in getting a farm bill through Congress that would help North Dakota farmers despite the trade restrictions and tariffs the president has put in place. “We were just at (North Dakota State), and we’re meeting more and more young producers, many of them NDSU grads; we want to make sure they have an opportunity to be on the farm and make their living on the farm,” Heitkamp said.
She also noted the farm bill the Senate is working on would be a permanent program for beginning farmers and ranchers, to which she’s trying to hold on to and provide funding for.
Something that may pass this November is Measure 3, the legalization of recreational marijuana. However, Heitkamp said there is still information just coming out about Measure 3. Not enough information has been gathered about growing medical marijuana to come to a conclusion about the outcomes of farming recreational marijuana. Heitkamp continued to say that no matter what, ” It’s never going to replace our big commodity crops, not even our pulse crops.”
When it comes to higher education, Gov. Burgum has pushed to make more coursework available online to cut costs and open up opportunities. Heitkamp thinks online classes are worthwhile and increases accessibility, but they’re not a replacement for the physical classroom experience. “I think one of the things that’s so important is that human interaction,” Heitkamp said. “I don’t think you’ll ever, or should ever, see online education replace classroom education. I don’t think that’s a trend that’s good for high-quality education, but it certainly can be incredibly helpful and give people access when they didn’t have access before.”
“Student debt has exceeded all consumer debt except mortgage debt. It’s at $1.5 trillion, and that (debt) on students is really limiting student opportunities, ” Heitkamp said. “I’m really concerned about the level of student debt. One of the things I worked on when I was first elected was working on interest, not forgive debt, but get interest rates so low that (students) won’t be repaying interest when you’re repaying debt.”
Although North Dakota had a debt-refinancing program for students, Heitkamp thinks that program can be helpful, but ultimately reducing the cost to students is a solution she plans to work toward.
Heitkamp thinks the chances of the Democrats taking the House this election season are even better, as a product of the first midterm of President Trump.
According to Heitkamp, it will greatly depend on the young people’s vote, and all the blue trends that have been seen in different states this primary season can be at least partially attributed to young people voting. “I think young people voting is important no matter how they vote, and I think citizenship is absolutely critical,” Heitkamp said.
If elected, Heitkamp hopes to works across the aisle to achieve some of the items mentioned above.