Week 16 Legislative Report, 64th Session, Senator Murphy
We started out on Monday voting for HB 1009 – the budget for the State Fair in Minot. It passed with an amendment for $750,000 to repair the asphalt driveway which had somehow become damaged. Soon, another bill, 1004 came up. 1004 is the Health Department Bill. In our state, a division of the Health Department you might expect is the Community Health Section. Senator Mathern introduced a floor amendment that would have reinstated what the governor asked for concerning suicide prevention grants to the tune of $350,000. While our rate of suicide per 100,000 people is the highest in the USA, the Senate voted it down. We also asked for reinstatement for the dental sealant program ($150,000) which also was refused. This on a budget of over $199,000,000. Asphalt over people. I voted for people over the parking lot repair but lost.
The same bill saw an attempt by Senator Triplett to put back in four employees from a different division of the Health Dept. called the Environmental Health Section. They are on call for spills, especially out west, which have increased from 141 in 2011 to 2,806 in 2014, including some backlog work. They cannot catch up and the Governor asked for 14 additional employees. The House cut it back to 6, the Senate moved it to 10. Senator Triplett figured if she could get it back to 14 like the Governor wanted, for a cost of less than the parking lot in Minot, the conference committee might split the difference between 6 and 14 and end up at 10. Now, we can almost expect 8. Where is the compassion for the damage out west? With a Republican governor trying to lead and almost every legislator west of the Missouri a Republican, one might think they could take care of their own. But instead of temporarily growing government to take care of the problems, they would rather continue the slow response to spoilage taking place. We tried to help our people, but at least the parking at the state fair should be smooth.
Also dealing in conference committee with the cosmetology board’s scope of practice – we had to drop braiding, for crying out loud, to get the House to concur with our differences. From that earth shaking problem to the next conference committee that day, which was 1095 – a pretty important bill concerning Water Resource District’s ability to move water projects forward over the objections of the minority of landowners after a majority of landowners have approved the project. Then a conference on how to treat Leonardite, a type of mineral which is oxidized lignite. Just was placed on a conference Committee for the Outdoor Heritage Fund. By the way, people are set to destroy the oldest remaining building, the gymnasium, of the first and oldest high school in ND, Bruflat Academy just two doors down from where I live in Portland. It will be replaced by a $300,000 building, $217,000 of which was funded by the newly formed Outdoor Heritage Fund. Congratulations, Norseman Archers!