Legislative Report, May 14, 2013
Representative Rick Holman.
This week my reflection will just deal with just a few of the issues that I dealt with as sponsor or active participant; all are important for what they do to impact people.
For several years I have been a Board member with the North Dakota Area Health Education Center (NDAHEC) which works with the UND Center for Rural Health and has offices in Mayville and Hettinger. AHEC works with schools and young people to encourage them to consider health care as an occupational choice. In Mayville, Dr. Bill Krivarchka and Lois Karlstad staff the office with Katie Thompson doing educational outreach working out of Park River. A similar team led by Denise Andrist covers Western North Dakota. As with many good things, funding from the federal level has been decreasing setting up a need for support from another source. Together with Rep. Keith Kempenich from the Hettinger area, a bill was drafted to provide matching funds of up to $400.000 to continue the support for this venture which will help to maintain a quality healthcare workforce in rural areas by using the “grow your own” philosophy.
As part of the Human Services funding bill, an amendment was added to provide up to $100,000 for the Elder Blind Program which works to help seniors who have vision problems learn ways to compensate for what they have lost. By using a mentoring program and partnering with others with a like disability, this program is an efficient use of state funds and helps those with vision impairment maintain their quality of life.
Last summer, while serving on the Interim Taxation Committee, and working with Scott Rising and Legislative Council Attorney John Walstad, we developed a property tax relief bill which would gives an across the board ten percent reduction in property tax, by replacing locally generated funds with state funds. The bill was introduced to the legislative process in January. As often happens in the legislative process, the original bill was defeated but the concept resurfaced in another bill with a twelve and one-half percent reduction (200+ million) and is now part of state law as part of the final package of tax relief.
A disappointment was an unsuccessful attempt to amend the Human Services financing bill to receive partial state support for the Developmental Disability (DD) Recreational Centers in Grand Forks and Fargo. These activity centers provide daytime recreation and socialization for the many DD persons living in those communities. These centers provide not only organized activity, but also interaction with trained staff who can monitor the living conditions and health of those DD clients in independent living situations. Potential problems are often recognized before they become more serious.
I plan a more detailed description of the actions of the 2013 Legislative Assembly at a later date. Overall the session was successful and addressed many issues that had been on the back burner for a while. By using one-time funding continuation of those programs requires that they be revisited in subsequent legislative sessions.
Until next time……….Rick Holman. 701-238-1124 email@example.com