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District 14 Legislative Reports

January 20, 2017
Pierce County Tribune

The deadline for bill introduction has passed in the ND House of Representatives and the total number of bills introduced this session is 434, which is down 63 bills compared to last session. Yesterday we received Governor Burgum's budget guidelines. Although his budget aligns much closer to the legislative budget that passed in the House last week, there are some areas that he revised that have local consequences. The 1% increase in the per pupil payment was eliminated in his proposal as well as any inflationary increase for Medicaid providers. State employees will be required to pay 5% of the health insurance premiums as well. The Governor's oil production revenue nearly matches the legislative revenue projections.

Governor Burgum also agreed with Governor Dalrymple to continue funding Medicaid Expansion, as well as the proposed provider assessment for long term care providers. One other aspect of his budget is to move forward with the transfer of Social Service funding from local counties to the state. This transfer of financial responsibility will cost $275 million but will offer true property tax relief for property owners across the state.

Earlier this week we heard HB 1130 in joint committee with the House Human Services Committee. Long term care providers experienced a $26 million reduction in the allotment process that begins to take effect this month. This decrease will be detrimental to nursing homes across the state. The provider assessment will restore that funding to insure quality care for our nursing home residents. Because ND requires equalized rates, private pay residents will be included in the 5% assessment as well as Medicaid eligible residents. The federal government matches the state share in the assessment for Medicaid residents so that leverage is the main reason for this proposal to be considered. 44 other states utilize provider assessments in their long term care revenue mix. I am unsure when the Human Services Committee will bring this bill to the floor but it is one of the most controversial bills but also one of the most important decisions we will have to make in this session in regard to long term care.

I am prime sponsoring only two bills this session. HB 1371 will continue to allow radiology techs to practice between the modalities that are currently used. There is a proposal that would require each individual to be certified in each modality and that would be devastating to rural hospitals across the state. This bill has the support of the ND Hospital Association and has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

HB 1398 would allow communities that do not have natural gas service to be able to negotiate with the community rather than have the Public Service Commission set the rate for the natural gas service. The PSC would continue to have safety jurisdiction with the passage of this bill. This bill hasn't been scheduled for a hearing as yet as well.

We continue to work on the detail of the Human Service Budget in our sub section of the Appropriations Committee. We will hear public testimony on January 24 and 25 regarding the effectiveness and the need for the programs that the DHS administrates. We will continue to work on this budget well into February as this is the largest single budget in state government.

I look forward to providing an update as the session moves forward. In the meantime if you would like to contact me, please e-mail me at: jonelson@nd.gov. Thank you,

Jon Nelson

District 14 State Representative

As bill deadlines have come and (some) gone, the Senate has introduced 280 bills and the House's final count now sits at 434. This is the last week for Senate bills to be introduced, so we will know the exact number of bills introduced by the time of my next writing.

The Governor provided some additional direction this week as it relates to the revenue forecast. He is looking for a larger ending fund balance and a continued emphasis on reducing various budgets. There are still a lot of questions on the budget looking for answers.

Most of the bills that we have acted on in the Senate have generally been clarifications on agency bills that needed some cleanup. We acted yesterday on a bill that borrowed another $8 million from the Bank of ND to address security issues related to the protests. This brings us to a total of $25 million to address those concerns. We are still hoping that the federal government will provide some reimbursement.

There is a lot of discussion on issues from Daylight Savings Time to guns in schools to wearing masks at protests. These bills will all get hearings and votes in their respective chambers. That is the process.

Lastly, there has been some discussion about receiver hitches. There is no law that bans you from leaving them in your hitch. There have been at least two bills in prior legislatures that would have made it a crime to have your receiver hitch exposed. Those bills have never passed, and I have never supported them.

Thanks for all of your messages. Stay in touch.

Sincerely,

Sen. Jerry Klein

 
 

 

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