Written by, Mason Sisk (Assistant to the House Majority Leader)
We are still moving at a nice pace at the capitol. The policy committees are close to finishing hearings on the remainder of their bills for the session. The appropriations committee will continue to work on budget bills as we get closer to the end of the session.
After a floor debate that was just short of an hour, the House voted to officially defund the smoking prevention program known as BreatheND. The responsibilities of the agency will be absorbed by the health department to streamline government. We are still committed to smoking cessation and funding for tobacco prevention in our local public health departments.
House Concurrent Resolution 3033 was given an 11-2 DO NOT PASS recommendation by the House judiciary committee. This resolution would place a constitutional amendment measure on the 2018 primary election to allow up to six state owned casinos. Amendments were offered to allow private ownership regulated by a gaming commission established by the legislature. No amendments were adopted, however, the bill was re-referred back to the judiciary committee for further work.
SB 2206, a bill to shift the funding responsibilities of county social services from the counties to the state, had a hearing in the House finance and tax committee this week. Funding for social services is currently coming from local property tax and this bill aims to provide property tax relief. The committee has not yet taken action on the bill.
The industry, business and labor committee held a hearing this week to add a self-funded health care plan option for NDPERS. Self-funded insurance works by pooling insurance premiums into a reserve fund, which pays claims and administrative costs. This is a popular option for large corporations across the country. North Dakota is the only state without the option of a self-funded plan. The committee has not taken action on this bill yet.
A few weeks ago, we passed a bill through the house that would repeal Sunday closing laws. This this bill was defeated by a slim margin in the Senate this week.
A topic that has been widely publicized is SB 2320. This would legalize a syringe exchange program across the state. The bill would allow drug users to exchange used needles with clean ones to combat the spread of viral diseases as part of a public health response. The bill also states that law enforcement may not stop, search, or seize an individual participating in the program.
*Mason Sisk is serving as the Assistant to the House Majority Leader.
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- See Also: Grande’s Ramblings: Thoughts on the “B”, the Hanson effect, poor fan behavior, ode to seniors
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