It’s hard to believe the middle of June has already arrived! In so many ways, it feels that the 2013 Legislative Session just closed, but here we are – a little over a year later. Interim work has been progressing steadily during this period, and we’re drawing closer to items to report back to Legislative Management – and to you. With that, it seems like a good time to begin ramping up reports prior to the 2015 Legislative Session.
I sit on two Interim Committees that parallel my appointed Standing Committees: Human Services and Government Services. Both have tremendous impact on the people of North Dakota concerning a fair number of important and complex issues, and I’ve appreciated the ability to work seamlessly from one session to the next on the same subject matters.
The Government Services Committee met recently on Thursday, June 12, and it’s expected that we’ll wrap up committee work soon. The focus of the work has been in three areas: a study of facility needs for Bismarck State agencies; a study on property uses for the James River Correctional Center and State Hospital; and a study of all current benefits available to North Dakota veterans. Each is important, but the latter is crucial to ensuring a fundamental baseline assessment for future legislation related to state provided veteran benefits.
This particular meeting was especially interesting since it was held at the North Dakota National Guard’s Camp Grafton in Devils Lake. Adjutant General Sprynczynatyk, staff and soldiers were quintessential hosts and tour guides, and made quite an impact on all legislators in attendance. Camp Grafton is an amazing jewel of North Dakota – and of the United States for that matter. With state of the art facilities, they train countless troops from across the country, partner with civilian organizations as an emergency training facility, and so much more. Really – a remarkable testament to the men and women dedicated to the camp, and to their country.
The meeting’s location perfectly set the stage for a full agenda entirely related to veterans services, and the connections made will no doubt go a long way to support work on their behalf. Testimony included updates on the service dog training program and veteran’s higher education programs. Reports were presented by the Adjutant’s office on the publication of all North Dakota Veterans, ND Cares Task Force on veteran homelessness definitions, and updates on coalition partnerships involving veteran behavioral health and suicide prevention efforts. All-in-all, great information and testimony.
The Government Services Committee will wrap up in the next couple meetings, but until then, you can find meeting minutes that include links to testimonies, reports and submitted information by going to the state’s Legislative Branch website at http://www.legis.nd.gov/assembly/63-2013/committees/interim/government-services-committee – an excellent resource tool on committee work.
The next report will be on the Human Services Committee with a quick review of what we’ve been working on there. Some really great work on Behavioral Health has been underway since early this year, as well as Traumatic Brain Injury and Home and Community-Based Services.
‘Till then, have a great week! And, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to share what’s on your mind or share important issues.
Representative, District 20