Report from the Sixty-Third Session of the North Dakota Legislature • Week 10
Representative Rick Holman March 18, 2013
Thanks to all who turned out for the Forum in Mayville last Saturday. We had two hours of discussion and covered a wide variety of topics. Our next Meet and Greet will be in Hunter on March 30 at the Hunter Café.
SB2004 for the Health Department has connections throughout the state with five divisions: They are: Community Health, Emergency Preparedness, Medical Resources, Health Resources, Environmental Health and Special Populations. The Department works to insure that we can breathe clean air and drink clean water. Our garbage is disposed of properly and we work in a smoke free workplace. We can be confident that the food we eat in restaurants is safe. Our children are immunized against diseases that once were life threatening. All this and more is done with 354 employees throughout the state.
SB2015 funds the Department of Corrections which has 815 employees to secure several locations. Locations are the new prison in Bismarck, the less secure facility south of Bismarck (The old State Farm), the Youth Correctional Center (YCC) in Mandan, a women’s prison in New England, and sex offenders in a separate building at the Jamestown State Hospital. Currently the state has about 1500 inmates and just over 5000 in community settings. Friday of this week, our committee will be touring the State Prison.
Getting less attention will be SB2010 for the Council of the Arts which has five employees, but has activities in nearly every community in the state. SB2005 funds the Indian Affairs Commission whose five employees work with issues unique to tribal populations. The five members in the Office of Administrative Hearings (SB2017) provide arbitration in situations when conflicts arise with state agencies. SB2024 provides funding from the Tobacco Settlement lawsuit for smoking cessation throughout the state, working with schools and colleges as well as adults to help people stop smoking and efforts with school children to keep them from starting.
We have a variety of bills related to abortion. It is a polarizing issue that creates passion. The problem for the state is that passage of the bills will put the state in a defensive position as any new laws will immediately be challenged in court following what has been done in similar situations in other states. Most legal scholars, even some opposing abortion, predict that the consequence of passing many of these laws will be that the state will have to fund the challenge and lose the case, wasting our tax dollars.
This week the Higher Education funding bill is being heard in the House Appropriations Sub-Committee. We have a great system of colleges providing education of many types with access for nearly all who desire a college education. Some members in the House, however, wish to remove control of colleges from the Higher Ed Board and give more to the Governor or Legislature, removing the independence that is required to have a successful system of Higher Education. With such a move the accreditation of our excellent system could be at risk. This, along with the problems with the Chancellor have created an unnecessary distraction when, in this time of population growth and increased wealth, we should be focusing strengthening and building the system for the future.
On Wednesday, March 20, the House of Representatives held a Memorial Service honoring the fifteen former legislators who have passed away since the last session. A program of music, poetry and prayer surrounded the reading the name of each departed legislator. Each family was presented with a memorial gift of thanks for the service of their loved one to the State of North Dakota.
You can get more information about the legislative process by going to the North Dakota Legislative Web page: http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013/regular and using the links provided.