On the Record: Governor Candidates Weigh in on a Beer Economy

On the Record is a weekly column where you get a chance to get to know our Governor candidates. Without a Democrat in the race, leadership for the next four years will be decided at the June primary election. That makes it our job to get to know these guys now.

Each Thursday we’ll ask a question of our Governor candidates, the following Thursday we’ll publish their answer and ask a new question. Candidates are free to provide a written answer, a Youtube video, or a Soundcloud audio clip.

This week’s question:

Here on The Minot Voice, the argument has been made that more local beer would be a good thing. That argument leads to this week’s question: Would North Dakota’s culture, economy, and our small towns be better served by local breweries? And if so, what can we do to from a regulatory standpoint to encourage investment in this growing industry?

Next week’s question:

The need to reduce state spending is widely accepted, but in business, life, and government, sometimes a smart investment will deliver improved outcomes or efficiencies that justify the spending. If the legislature appropriated a million dollars for the Governor to invest in improving some aspect of our state government’s operations or services, where would you prioritize that spending and what outcomes would you aim to achieve?

Last week’s question:

We asked the candidates about their first priorities if elected. Read their answers here.

On the Record is a weekly series that allows you to get to know our Governor candidates side-by-side, on a single issue, in their own words. Navigate the tabs and answers by clicking or touching each candidate’s name. And when we do get a Democratic candidate, they’ll be given the opportunity to answer as well.

Mr. Rick Becker on a building a beer economy…

More local beer IS a good thing. As Ben Franklin famously said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” The important question is, to what extent should government involve itself into private commerce because it is a “good thing”?.

We should not subsidize brewers, but we should decrease regulatory impediments to local brewers and brewpubs/taprooms. That is the approach that needs to be taken with every industry.

During the 2013 Legislative session, I supported senate bills 2103 and 2284, which created the license and allowance for domestic (local) brewers, as well as allowing them to distribute their own product without the requirement of going through a third party distributor. In 2015, I was a co-sponsor of SB2325, which allowed a brewer to have more than one taproom.

But again: No subsidies. If the demand is there, and government isn’t blocking you, you will likely be successful.

For full disclosure, I own bars in Bismarck, (Lüft and Humpback Sally’s) and we proudly serve local brews.

— Rick Becker


Rick Becker for Governor

On every issue affecting North Dakota, Rick has a solution that gives people the greatest degree of choice and liberty, keeps money in the taxpayers pockets and is best for North Dakota families.


Mr. Doug Burgum on a building a beer economy…

Brew pubs should be regulated by local authorities; city health, restaurants, and alcohol control boards should be making local decisions. Any time we can have locally owned, unique entrepreneurial enterprises, it adds to the vibrancy of a community. Whether it be locally brewed alcohol or other products and services, there are important principles that need to be fostered across North Dakota. These principles are:

First, creating value-added to the products grown and produced in North Dakota. Second, creating and maintaining a vibrant and safe community in which people want to work, live, or visit. Third, local interest and investment are essential and can be fostered by the State through assistance in learning the business aspects of the venture, providing a showcase annually to examine new developments and learn from and network with others (much like the great work done by Pride of Dakota), and accessing programs currently available for such investments.

Diversifying our economy benefits North Dakota’s small towns as well as its cities, and it’s more important than ever. Just this week the Wall Street Journal reported that North Dakota has gone from being number 1 in economic growth to number 50. We are last. We face a new reality in North Dakota, and it is time for us to take control of our economic future through both a fiscally conservative reset to correct runaway spending and a reinvention of how jobs are created in the state. It is time for fresh ideas and bold thinking that will propel us to being the most exceptional state in the nation.

— Doug Burgum


Doug Burgum for North Dakota

With your help, we can continue to diversify our state’s economy, create long lasting jobs, and generate opportunities for our citizens to flourish and succeed in North Dakota.


Mr. Wayne Stenehjem on a building a beer economy…

Our state’s government, under Republican leadership, has fostered a business climate that has made North Dakota a great place to do business.

We have seen in a number of North Dakota cities, small, local breweries have become vibrant additions to those communities that spur passionate followings. Often these local breweries exemplify the unique identity of the communities they’re located in.

In North Dakota, brew pubs and tap rooms are regulated by the state Tax Department. In addition, these small businesses must receive a local permit in the city or township they’re located in. Further, the federal government requires that if you make beer for more than family or personal use, a brewing operation must be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

As governor, I will continue to be a champion of our free enterprise system and encourage businesses of all kinds to thrive in our communities. Notwithstanding local and federal permitting regulations, on a state level, I will continue to assure our regulatory and tax structure are predictable and fair for small businesses to succeed. That’s how government helps business: by fostering a climate that spurs investment and growth. I will do this, because it is what I’ve been doing my entire career.

— Wayne Stenehjem


Stenehjem for Governor

I’ll use the experience I gained in my years in the legislature to continue to work hard for ND as your governor.

Josh Wolsky

Editor and Publisher of TheMinotVoice, Developer of the #ForMinot Network,  Co-Host of #GoodTalk Minot, Advocate and Friend of the Souris River, Former City Alderman, and clearly -- all things #MakeMinot. Go ahead, don't wait for permission!

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