Week 1 • Jan 8 – 11
What a great week! Afternoons were filled with joint sessions with the Senate as we watched the Governor and other elected state officials sworn in to office, listened to the Governor’s State of the State address, the State of the Judiciary address, the State of the Tribal Nation Address and listened to an update on the USS North Dakota – a nuclear submarine to be commissioned later this year. Wonderful, glorious – and quite humbling in all the presentation.
Committee meetings kept the mornings full as we listened to a variety of testimony on Human Services issues first thing Wednesday. Yours truly will be carrying bill HB 1089 to the house floor on Monday, January 13! Figured there was no point in waiting to dive in, and since this was a bill that was supported by our local long-term care providers and their state association, it just made sense. The amendment, if passed by both House and Senate, would allow North Dakota to have more than two geropsychiatric facilities. Currently statutes allow for only two such facilities which is proving to be inadequate based on current needs. In addition:
- HB 1087 dealt with fees which may be accepted by the Dept. of Health,
- HB 1110 dealt with the extension of Child Care Assistance eligibility from 15 days to 30 days. In each of these cases, we found that the families of North Dakota would be better served with these changes and each passed unanimously.
Government and Veterans Affairs Committee listened to an interesting hodgepodge of items that ranged from parking on the Capitol grounds to adjustments in the ND PERS retirement structure. Of the following, HB 1057 received a Do-Pass, while the others remain in committee.
- HB 1055 dealt with changes to parking on Capitol grounds and was a request to allow parking tickets to be issued as a way to help modify parking on the grounds.
- HB 1056 pertains to the National Guardsmen called upon for disaster assistance. In cases where they may be away from their normal work for more than two weeks, they may be required to pay out of pocket for their health insurance provisions.
- HB 1056 asks for the state to provide the service member with $100 per every two weeks on duty to help accommodate these additional costs incurred.
- HB 1057 provides for recognition based medals to be awarded to the National Guardsmen of North Dakota for years of service or special achievements, eliminate a twenty year limitation for the ND legion of merit medal and to provide a state flag to retiring National Guard members.
- HB 1058 addresses a provision for employees receiving benefits through the ND Public Employees Retirement System (NDPERS). With the Affordable Care Act about to come into law, certain portions of the statute that insures benefit availability to retirees will become unnecessary. The amendment in 1058 would allow retirees greater flexibility in the continuation of their health benefits and would ultimately show a savings to both state and local government entities.
In future reports I’ll leave the details of specific bills to updates in the website & email blasts, but wanted to show the diversity of the committees. Looking into next week the bills coming up look to be equally – if not more diverse – and should prove to keep me on my toes!
The mornings start around 6 am and the days ended around 8 pm. Drinking lots of Airborne and Gatorade! Restocked over the weekend and am ready to go!
Larry Syverson, ND Township Officers President came by for a quick visit this week. He’ll be here for the duration and will keep us on task. If you would like to join us for a day at the Capitol – or would just like to share a thought or two, give us a call, email or text. We’d love to show you around and help make it a memorable experience.
Til next week – Rock on!