Legislative Report, Final/Week 18, Senator Murphy – 63rd Session
The most common refrain upon my re-entry to my other life this week has been something like “Long last day, huh?” Everybody had heard of the 4:35 a.m. Saturday exit. This surprised me a bit as so many seem not to pay attention to the Legislature; some not sure how it is different from Washington D.C. , others not even realizing that we are creating law and appropriating money. But I am glad when people do take notice. Without the dust having settled, I believe we spent the better part of $13 billion dollars. Over $4 billion is for ongoing expenditures, and at least as much would be Federal money that we decided to accept and put to use. Final figures will be available within a month or so, but we cannot be sure because in case you do not know, once the Legislature has adjourned the Governor has 15 days to act on bills that are left. He can sign them, veto them (if the Legislature has adjourned, the veto cannot be overridden) or let them become law without his signature.
If you consider reading this column as an accounting of my actions this past session, I am happy to report what I was able to accomplish: 2323 was my initiative to bring ND mandated reporting of vulnerable adults where abuse and neglect are concerned – it passed and was signed by the Governor. Strongly backed by the entire medical community and brought to my attention by a constituent while going door to door, this is an important beginning to build from. The idea for 2180 was also brought to me by a constituent and resulted in a new law that motivates township officials to process applications for building permits – I consider this to be a fairly minor law that should rarely be utilized. Perhaps the most important of my initiatives was the passing of Early Childhood Education for the first time in our state. I enlisted the help of our new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kirsten Baesler, to help me get the support to pass this idea because it has been tried for many sessions. She was enthusiastically on board. My next move was to recruit a prime sponsor from the majority party in both houses so that I could double my chances for passage. 1429 was foisted upon Rep. Heilman who accepted the challenge after a couple of days pondering. 2229 was the Senate version and was taken up by Senator Poolman, a fellow English teacher in the Bismarck schools. We got it done and I do consider this to be one of the most important bills to have passed this session. The future will be brighter as our children will now have the chance to compete with a firmer footing. The state will be building on this foundation to improve the future for our citizens as I have already heard Supt. Baesler speaking to this in the media.
I signed on to 15 bills all told that passed, including 1358 – the massive spending bill introduced by Rep. Skarphol to help out west. My greatest disappointments included not being able to prevent what I consider tragic language concerning WSI treatment of injured workers. This includes a different definition of pain that is compensable and another bill that I believe will make it more difficult for a worker to win a case for compensation. One cannot win them all. Thank you for sending me to Bismarck to work for our district and state –I love the challenge, exhausting as it is.