Rep. Rick Holman Legislative Report, ND District 20, June 24, 2015
The North Dakota Legislature only meets for a maximum of 80 days every two years. This year the House and Senate adjourned after 78 days with some unfinished business, requiring a one-day return on June 16th to fund one agency, the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). The problem was not with the main funding bill but with an amendment added because of anxiety about changing the health insurance carrier. Keep in mind, that the PERS Board draws up a plan and requests bids for state employee health insurance. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) has been the only bidder for over thirty years but this year Sanford Health also presented their bid which was significantly lower than BCBS for the same coverage. After careful scrutiny, the bid was awarded to Sanford Health. Some House legislators were not happy with the change and created an amendment to the PERS funding bill which forced us to come back in June.
A conference committee compromise pared down the previous amendment to enlarge the seven member board to nine with the addition of one from the majority party and one from the minority party; a questionable addition of two legislators to an executive function. I voted against the conference report, but supported the entire agency funding bill.
One of the reasons we can get by with meeting only every two years is that twenty-five Interim Committees, meet periodically to study and gather information. Each committee has responsibilities and can propose legislation for the next session but cannot pass any new laws. Here’s a brief summary of assignments for District 20 legislators for the next year and a half:
Senator Phil Murphy will serve on the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to study (1) Agriculture Department rules and policies and (2) Game and Fish licensing; the Energy Development and Transmission Committee to study (1) Oil and Gas tax allocation, (2) EPA regulations and (3) State energy policy.
Representative Gail Mooney will serve on; the Administrative Rules Committee; the Health Services Committee to study (1) Purchase of UND Pathology facility, (2) State death investigation procedures, (3) Public Assistance rules and (4) Dental Service shortages; the Human Services Committee to study (1) Behavioral health and addiction needs and (2) Family Caregiver supports; and the Political Subdivision Taxation Committee to study (1) Sales and use tax by contractors, (2) Economic development tax incentives and (3) The transfer of county social service costs to state funding.
As a result of my seat on House Appropriations, I will also serve on the Interim Budget Committee which meets quarterly to make funding adjustments to and receive reports from a variety of state agencies. I will also serve on; the Higher Education Committee to study (1) College course delivery methods, (2) Institutional mission, (3) College Administrative costs and(4) the Higher Ed system of governance. On theEducation Committee we will study (1) K-12 Content standards and assessments, (2) Career and Technical Education and (3) School use of seclusion and restraint procedures. Finally, the Judiciary Committee will study (1) Voter registration policies, (2) Verification of citizenship for voting and (3) Sex offender registration requirements.
There are a lot of issues being examined over the next fifteen months, some will lead to proposed legislation, others will not. The end result however is that all legislators will come back to the 2017 Legislative Session with more information and a better understanding of the many issues before them. For a complete list of all interim committees and assignments you can go to the following link. http://www.legis.nd.gov/ assembly/64-2015/committees/ interim
Rep. Rick Holman, ND District 20, firstname.lastname@example.org