Midwestern Legislative Conference Brings Policymakers to ND

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It's like professional development for legislators.

That's how one lawmaker described the Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC) taking place in Bismarck this week.

The Midwest Chapter of the Council of State Governments has invited policymakers from around the country to western North Dakota this week.

The state's leaders hope to learn from other states, while showing the rest of the Midwest how things are done in the Peace Garden State.

North Dakota's Bakken boom has been the economic envy of the nation for nearly the past decade. Other places may not have the oil, but want to mimic this state's economic policy.

"I hope that they will take back that you can work with industry and you can develop a resource. You do it in an environmentally responsible way and provide energy for a nation that for many years to come is going to need that energy," said Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota attorney general.

This state's lawmakers took members of the MLC on a tour of the oil field near Tioga, allowing them to follow the drilling process from well to train.

"It's absolutely a pleasure. I mean, what we have going on in this state, is transcending the world. I mean, we're talked about nationwide right now and that's because of government policies and the energy revolution, but most importantly, it's because of private business," said Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson.

Lawmakers representing 36 states and province, two countries and 80 million people will be at the Bismarck Event Center this week, focusing on energy and agriculture.

"It's really great because what we're doing here, people don't think about what party they belong to or if they're in the House or in the Senate. We try to melt away barriers in order to say what's the best solution for the people we serve," said Sen. Tim Flakoll, R-Fargo.

Dr. Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, was the keynote speaker Monday. He urged lawmakers to continue investing in space exploration and technology.

Aldrin spent time in North Dakota in the early 80s helping to develop UND's space education program. He said he was happy to be back while it was still warm.