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Legislative Report District 13: Special legislative session addresses key issues including redistricting

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Although I have my phone numbers on the national "do not call" list, I recently have received several solicitation phone calls. I checked with the Attorney General's office and learned that one's numbers should remain on the list and the listing does not need to be renewed.

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However, some unscrupulous business may ignore that and call anyway. The calls which I have received have dealt with lowering interest rates on credit cards, as well as health coverage issues. In each case I told them that they were calling illegally, and the caller either just kept on talking or hung up. To assure that you are on the "do not call" list, call 1-888-382-1222 and enroll. Remember, there are certain calls that can be made, including from businesses with which you have done business in the past, along with some political calls.

The North Dakota legislature had a special session Nov. 7-11 during which four issues were addressed.

The law requiring continued use of the Sioux nickname and logo was repealed and a new one will not be named until Jan. 1, 2015.

Redistricting is required every ten years following the national census in order to assure "one person, one vote" in legislative districts. Some districts in the northeast corner of N.D. as well as through the central flyway areas have lost residents. Other districts, such as in our area, have gained significantly. District 13, which is primarily West Fargo north of I-94, has about 5000 more people than 10 years ago. As a result, district boundaries in the northeast had to be extended to include more people, and boundaries in West Fargo and Fargo had to be changed to get down to the proper number. Based on the population of the state being approximately 672,000 in the 2010 census and the fact that we have 47 legislative districts, the target number of people per district was 14,210. Fargo/West Fargo and Bismarck will each gain one district. The district numbers have moved from the northeast and from central N.D. District 16 is the new number here.

Disaster relief will provide help for flood-damaged communities throughout N.D. as well as areas affected by development in the Oil Patch. Tax credits for development of affordable housing were increased, and a rebuilders loan program was established to help N.D. citizens rebuild or replace flood-damaged homes. The maximum available is $30,000 for qualifying people in FEMA-designated districts. Some of the funding appropriated is federal funds and may not be available, but the legislature appropriated it so it can be used, if it is received.

Federal law requires that each state have a health insurance exchange, either a state-run exchange or the state will be required to participate in a federal plan. The exchange will permit consumers to go on-line and compare health insurance plans for purchase as well as qualifying people for federal programs, including subsidies for premiums. The Health Care Reform Review committee worked hard to prepare a conservative state plan, recognizing the problems inherent in having the federal government run things for us, but political pressures defeated it. We will just have to wait and see if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns federal health care or not and, if the entire law is not overturned, we will be required to have the federal exchange.

Three bills relating to the EPA which defend hydraulic fracturing in the oil fields and support the N.D. plan for dealing with haze were also passed.

It was a busy week, but we were able to complete these four large tasks largely because of the thorough and excellent work done by interim committees prior to the special session. The next regular session will begin in January, 2013.

Your legislators always like to hear from you. Senator Judy Lee, jlee@nd.gov, 282-6512; Rep. Kim Koppelman, kkoppelman@nd.gov, 282-9267; Rep. Alon Wieland, awieland@nd.gov, 282-9470.

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