Get the news from the capitol
This week marked the filing deadline for House bills. The Senate deadline for bills is 5pm on Monday. These deadlines indicate a clarity of direction for the session because all proposed legislation will be introduced. Here is the updated tracking grid so you can view all of the bills we are following.
A high priority bill for NDWN is HB 1386, a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity to anti-discrimination policies. We encourage you to begin reaching out to your House member to support the bill – those opposed to the bill already have. Use the simple message that all people deserve housing and job protections. Include a personal anecdote to make the message compelling. No hearing has been set, but we’ll watch and be ready to respond.
On Tuesday, NDWN joined the North Dakotans for Dental Access coalition to support HB 1256, legislation that would help increase dental access across the state by allowing dentists to expand the oral health team through hiring dental therapists. Thousands of North Dakotans do not receive regular, routine dental care because there is not enough access to providers in rural areas or, for many people with low-incomes, in urban centers. This important legislation not only strives to improve access to quality dental care in the state, but also women’s economic status by providing an additional career path that is predominately populated by women. Almost 96% of dental hygiene students are women, and HB 1256 offers a career ladder with additional education and training for them that would increase their salaries. Contact House Human Services members to urge a Do Pass recommendation.
HB 1203 had a hearing today. This is probably the most egregious bill of the session – giving drivers a license to kill because protesters annoy them. We urge you to contact the Transportation committee members to give a strong Do Not Pass recommendation. And of course, let your house representatives know they need to vote no on HB 1203, if not for basic human decency, then consider school zones and bicyclists.
On Thursday, House Appropriations heard testimony on Medicaid Expansion. NDWN participates in a large coalition to ensure ND continues Medicaid Expansion. This week Governor Burgum announced his support for continuing Medicaid Expansion. Currently almost 20,000 North Dakota lives receive health insurance through Medicaid Expansion. This coverage has led to individuals seeking more affordable preventative care rather than much more costly acute care. Additionally, it has an economic impact of over $540 million that goes toward employing individuals in local community healthcare facilities. Continuing Medicaid Expansion ensures that North Dakota receives its 95% federal funding match to assist in the expense of covering these vulnerable individuals age 18-64, with incomes under 138% of the federal poverty level. Without continued expansion some facilities could face closure, all North Dakotas will see higher insurance premiums, and individuals would certainly see more wait times and less affordable access to healthcare. The bills heard on Thursday may not be the vehicle that continues Medicaid Expansion, but we work closely with partners to ensure it continues. We will keep you informed along the path so that you may act when a clear path emerges.
We are going to be very active on a few important bills. We’ll be asking for a state Earned Income Tax Credit to help alleviate poverty, exempt feminine hygiene taxes as the medical necessities that they are, ask the state to continue the funding for SANE nurses that we won last session, add clarity and definition to the work of the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, and making sure ND’s voting rules are voter friendly.
Be sure to reach out to the people representing you so they know where you stand.
Next week’s hearings of note: