Variety. It’s the one constant, and the one word, that comes to mind to describe the daily activities of our weeks! It’s a typical day to bounce between oral cancer treatment options, to long-term care billing, to caregiver supports, to voter IDs. All are detailed, inevitably have multiple impacts to consider, and often include hours of testimony.
I was thinking about some of the bills we’ve seen in the last week or more in either the Human Services or Government and Veteran Affairs committees. They included: HB 1386 – is a bill that would require the North Dakota health council to develop and adopt rules relating to carbon monoxide levels within indoor ice hockey arenas. I thought this was a no-brainer – after all, how could we not support safe air quality – but I was wrong. It was determined that local building codes would accommodate this. It received a Do Not Pass out of committee and was promptly killed on the floor.
HB 1410 – is a bill to provide state funding for head start. Originally drafted with a $5 million appropriation, this was amended down to $4,900. While this may sound bizarre, this was actually a strategic move proposed by the committee chair to keep the bill alive through the first half of the session. With the crude oil prices still low, the theory is to buy it time enough to see if revenues rebound to bring the funding level back up. This is a good bill and would be the first time the state has invested in early education in such a significant way. We’ll all watch this one closely in the coming weeks.
HB 1430 – is the medical marijuana bill. The hearing was good, with compelling arguments for and against the value of the medicinal, non-mind altering, compounds of the marijuana plant known as CBD. I understand there are amendments pending that may bring the original bill concept down to a more palatable approach. If the amendments aren’t accepted, I would advocate for a legislative study to consider the legitimacy of the medical compounds from the plant for certain illnesses or conditions, since it seems logical this would be the only responsible way of managing outcomes. If an initiated measure makes it to the ballot and is approved by voters, North Dakota would be left to figure the complexities in very short orderHCR 3014, HCR 3015, HCR 3016, HCR 3017, HCR 3018, and then HB 1138, and HB 1441 absorbed most of our two-day committee time last week. Each of these deals with applying for a convention of states, adoption of balanced budget amendments, state processes for countermands and repeals of laws, and congressional approval of rules proposed by the Executive Branch. In listening to all the testimony, it seems clear the outcomes of a state-driven rebalancing of government would leave us with a vastly different form of leadership – one I’m not convinced would leave us in better shape than we are today.
We’re approaching the end of new bills and committee hearings and will now be moving to the appropriations side of things. The next couple weeks will be long and tense as we struggle to keep the money in the bills that need it. You can’t have effective services, roads, bridges – or much of anything – without the money to support it.
In the upcoming weeks we’ll have a series of community forums scheduled throughout the district. We hope to see you there, hear your concerns and address any questions you may have. Watch for newspaper ads in the near future! Till then… stay dry, warm and safe.
Representative Gail Mooney