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District 22 Legislative Report: Legislative session gearing up, week of committee hearings conclude

The first full week of committee hearings has now been completed. Some of the proposed legislation has been sent forward for floor action. When passed by the originating chamber, the bills are sent to the second chamber at cross-over, which is scheduled for Feb. 25. The same procedure is again followed.  Should the two chambers disagree, a conference committee will be assigned and differences reconciled. The process works; it is a series of checks and balances prior to the final stage which requires the Governor's signature before becoming law. 

Legislative deadlines include: Jan. 17 was the last day for representatives to introduce bills; and Jan. 24 is the last day for senators to introduce bills. Feb. 7 is the deadline for re-referrals of bills in house of origin to Appropriations Committee.  Crossover date for bills is Feb. 25.

On Thursday, Jan. 13, the North Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association (NDEMSA) recognized the 2011 North Dakota Stars of Life.  Ken Habiger, Casselton Volunteer Ambulance, was among those so honored. This 62-year Emergency Medical Service (EMS) veteran began when ambulance services were operated by funeral homes. Appreciation for his leadership and dedication was confirmed by his peers when they presented him with this Star of Life. Congratulations go out to Ken. Thank you for your service, not only to the Ambulance Service, but to all the local activities.

The House Human Services Committee has two bills of particular interest to our rural communities. HB1044: a bill relating to ambulance operations and emergency medical services funding and provide an appropriation ($12 million, for the purpose of providing state assistance grants to emergency medical services).  The hearing is set for Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 8:30 a.m. in the Roughrider Room.

The hearing for HB1152: a bill to provide for a critical access hospital grant and to provide an appropriation ($18 million) is set for Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 10 a.m., also in the Roughrider Room.

There have been, and will be more interesting, challenging proposals to consider.  Currently the state has resources - but will we commit dollars to new programs and then not be able to sustain them? Will we be creating more debt for the next generation? Priority items for many include the infrastructure needs, flooding in the Devils Lake area, flood protection in the Fargo area, education, providing for our most vulnerable citizens, continuing to put away some savings for the future, and continuing to provide some tax relief. The list goes on. Balancing the budget may be difficult; but a necessity.

    We look forward to hearing from you - contact us by e-mail: Senator Gary A. Lee:; Representative Wes Belter:; and Vonnie Pietsch:; or leave a message for us at 1-888-NDLegis (635-3447) and TTY (1-800-366-6888) to reach a relay operator for hearing-impaired persons.