Week three rounded out to be a full week in Bismarck. Leaves me wishing for a personal assistant to make sure I’m heading in the right direction at the right time! We’re fortunate to have two very good people keeping us on track in the caucus office. Cynthia Kaldor, our assistant to the Minority Leader and her assistant, Elise Jahraus are really indispensable in the art of moving out information, updating calendars and in general – keeping our entire caucus in a forward momentum. The newly implemented Google calendar has become critical to the process and has become an invaluable tool for us all.
Both Human Service and Government/Veterans Affairs Committees were a flurry of bills and testimony, leaving barely a moment to spare the entire week. Some of the highlights of committee work included the continuance of funding for a dental care program for underprivileged children, regulation of tanning facilities, medication administration in North Dakota schools, DNA privacy, abortion with relation to sex selection or genetic disposition, signage implementation from the No Smoking Measure passed in November, and lengthy discussion on semi-retired teacher contributions to the teacher’s fund. Wide variations in topic – LOTS to process. All are important and require our full and deliberate attention – as it should be.
Thursday was Sunshine Day at the Capitol – and yes, I think the sun even shone for awhile! Caucus leaders had a press conference for all of us sponsoring a bill to “shine a little sunshine” into our government. Each of the bills, including HB 1444 which is mine, is geared toward creating greater transparency in funds received during and after campaigns. It’s a simple idea – accountability to the public for money (or in-kind donations) received by their elected officials. In the afternoon we shared a few minutes of catch-up with Tribune Managing Editor, Tom Monilaws, who was at the Capitol for the NDNA Sunshine Day (yes! there really is a Sunshine Day!) before winding the day down.
We had a few visitors this past week… Neil Johnson of Agassiz Drain stopped by the Capitol and sat through the House Session early in the week. Later we were visited by the Cat in the Hat (PBS Television) and Clifford the Big Red Dog. It was great fun to watch as a troupe of elementary school kids came through to see characters they’d clearly grown up with. Thursday evening we found ourselves visiting with the crew from Traill Rural Water – Jerome Olson, Mike Amundson and Don Overmoen – as they gave an overview of the rural water project underway for the communities of Traill.
As the week wound down it was great to get home for a day to see the family and catch up with a little sleep. Saturday was our first town hall meeting in Thompson – it was great to meet some new friends and connect back in our area. Mayor Karyn Gill Hippen is thinking a “Thompson Day” at the Capitol might be in order! We’re looking forward to the next Coffee Time at the Country Hearth in Hillsboro on February 9th… join us if you can. We’d love to see you!
Till next time – take care and stay warm!
Rep. Gail Mooney
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