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Legislative Report District 13: Variety of bills presently being considered, more information available

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I will hit on a variety of topics briefly in this column, and I encourage anyone who wants more information to contact me for details.

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HB 1373 creates $1 million in support for Head Start programs. We have waiting lists for Head Start in many communities, and it provides excellent support for young children in preparing them to do well in school.

The Higher Education budget is being considered by Senate Appropriations. I hope that they will restore funding that was cut by the House. N.D. has a unique window of opportunity to attract excellent faculty and students, while other state are dealing with deficits and funding cuts. We can take our university system into the future or we can let the other states pass us by, as they recover from their economic problems.

Rural access to health care is dependent upon ambulance services and the extraordinary volunteers who staff them. HB 1044 would provide statewide funding to help keep them going. HB 1266 would provide for a trauma medical director who would establish best practices and training for physicians and hospitals to deal with accident victims. This is the last step in a process which has taken several years to evaluate our rural health care delivery and where it needs to be enhanced.

The Finance and Tax committee is considering many bills dealing with tax reductions and credits. We must be cautious about making changes too quickly and expecting the strong economy to carry us through. That includes both spending and tax cuts.

Roads and other infrastructure is a big issue throughout the state. Currently the recommendation for funding is $1.5 Billion.

New census data has shown that West Fargo has grown 73% to 25,830 in 2010. That's exciting. It does bring with it challenges, including providing adequate services. Our new fire and police station in Eagle Run is an example of meeting that need. The West Fargo School Board has approved a proposal for construction of new schools in our district. I do hope that voters will note the increase in students from 7200 now to an anticipated 9000 in 2015, showing the need to add new facilities to our already-crowded current schools. Please join me in learning all we can about the school proposal and then supporting the students and staff in our district with a "yes" vote.

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

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