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Week 12 Legislative Report, Senator Murphy, 63rd Session

Week 12 Legislative Report, Senator Murphy, 63rd Session

This week I have been working to change language on a couple of Workforce Safety Insurance bills that landed (as they usually do) in my Industry, Business and Labor (IBL) committee.  One, 1163, has stated that “Pain is a symptom and is not a substantial acceleration or substantial worsening of a preexisting injury, disease or other condition.”  This language has befuddled the medical community at large, who have come in to testify that this is not the case.  The ND Medical Association weighed in against it, with only one doctor (the one WSI normally hires as an expert witness to testify for them) making a case for the language.  As I have previously mentioned in this space, we would become the only state in the union with this standard – it has been asserted that this bill simply does not reflect medical science.   While the committee did not agree to the amending language that I brought forth from a doctor that sits on WSI’s Board, they did accept some amending language from WSI.  Still, the language states that “pain alone is not a substantial acceleration or a substantial worsening.” 

Doctors tell me that even our most advanced MRI or other scans can sometimes not show the injury or problem causing the pain.  The bottom line is that many people (ever had a bad back?) with terrible pain that gets worse, even to the point of debilitation, will no longer be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits .  Welcome to North Dakota, workers!  Please do not get hurt while here.   Of course, what happens to these people is that they end up having BCBS paying if they have insurance.  If not, our social services take over.  We all pay one way or the other if these injured people cannot tap into the fund instituted for that purpose – WSI.

So, that is one bill on that one topic, but there are a couple of others related to it.  It seems to me that I write this column so that it provides some insight for you as to how the legislature operates.  Abortion and guns have gotten a lot of attention, but they do not come in to my committees so there is no time spent on these issues until we get to the floor when they are voted on.  We can meet on these issues as a caucus to get up to speed, but all legislators count on the committee recommendation that does deal in depth with whatever the topic is.

We were able to get some things moving for appraisers this week.  Appraising has to be done before a sale of house or property and the backlog has gotten to be a problem the last couple of years due to a shortage of appraisers as well as some new federal laws and state laws.  One of those roadblocks has been the difficulty of finding comparable sales information and this week we took some steps to help with that.  So if you have been waiting on an appraiser lately, maybe things will improve in the next year or so.

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