As I write this, it is a beautiful, calm evening in Bismarck. Spring. Sweet, glorious spring. The sun and warmth seem to bring a sense of renewed energy to the Capitol as we launch full-speed into committee work.
There is an intensity that is different in this second half. Every bill has heightened significance as they’re debated and killed outright – or moved forward to continued work in sub or conference committees – while still others are set to engage in the battle for appropriations. The skill of multi-tasking is greatly appreciated!
Currently we’ve been taking action on bills that are primarily housekeeping in nature. Legislation that serves to clean up or improve existing statutes or processes make for fairly easy decisions. However, the vast majority require greater deliberation, and it’s these we’re beginning to wade into in both Human Services and Government & Veterans Affairs Committees. To date, we’ve plodded through 36 hearings in the two committees – a fair load to say the least!
A snapshot of legislation of particular interest includes:
SB 2238 – A bill that would provide for military-style caskets for indigent veterans. While ostensibly a no-brainer, the complexities of arriving at appropriate mandates that aren’t overly burdensome in cost or functionality in systems is essential to ensure consistency and availability throughout the state. As an appointed member of the sub-committee, we’re working with private and public organizations to arrive at manageable concessions that would allow for dignified burials for these individuals.
SB 2173 – Is an exciting concept – especially for those of us in the rural areas where drop-in clinics aren’t the norm. The idea of the bill is to provide for the ability to establish collaborative agreements that could be created between physicians and community pharmacists. This collaborative approach would allow pharmacists to provide agreed-upon services that are currently only available through the hospital or clinic setting, and could include such things as follow-up cholesterol and glucose screenings and Rapid Strep testing (to name just a few). The idea is to arrive at a partnership approach with physicians as a means to provide greater accessibility and convenience to the patient while alleviating workload burdens to the clinic and hospital settings. As luck would have it, a colleague of Hillsboro pharmacist Randy Haybeck was in attendance to share testimony on the needs and support of this concept – always great to have a “home-grown” perspective.
SB 2043 – Is another exciting rural-based program that would enable medical assistance via community EMTs, in tandem with primary healthcare providers, by allowing for billing and reimbursement capabilities. Theoretically, the concept would allow for paramedics to bring added value to the continuum of healthcare through home visits in their non-emergency time frames and could have the potential to cost-effectively address significant gaps of accessible service to patients in the rural areas of North Dakota.
SB 2259 – This “Right to Try” bill could have great and meaningful implications for terminally ill people in North Dakota as it would provide a pathway to the option of experimental drug options in critical cases. There was heartbreaking testimony from a Grace City mom who shared her frustration with the inability to receive approval of the application of a trial drug that could bring significant hope and course of treatment to her three young sons who suffer from a terminal genetic disease. Presently, FDA drug regulations require time consuming, strenuous criteria and protocols be met for the approval of experimental drug usage. The onerous process is not conducive to individuals faced with a terminal illness. The purpose of joining other states in this effort would be to shorten this approval process by removing barriers and limiting conditions.
Looking forward to visiting with you this coming Saturday at either of the scheduled community forums in Portland (morning) and Hillsboro (afternoon). Join us for great conversation, treats and a warm cup of coffee on a Traill County sunshiny day!
District 20 Representative