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North Dakota Legislative Review 1910


– [Narrator] Welcome
to a weekly review of North Dakota’s
legislative news. Now here’s your
host, Dave Thompson, with North Dakota
Legislative Review. – And this is North
Dakota Legislative Review. I’m Dave Thompson. Thanks for joining us. One of the more anticipated
bills of the session called the Prairie
Dog Bill passed in the state senate unanimously. What it does is provide a
new bucket for oil tax money that cities, counties,
townships can dive into to pay for infrastructure
projects like streets, things like that. It goes to the governor. The governor will make
the final decision whether or not he
signs it or vetoes it. Also this week, the
legislature did approve a bill that will raise
our driver’s license fees. They’re gonna double
’em from $15 to $30. This is the first increase
in driver’s license fees in 33 years and one of
the reasons they did is because DOT was
using other funds to help pay for driver’s
licenses being issued. And we also have the
bill that will end taxation of social
security benefits. Now North Dakota’s only
one of a handful of states that taxes those benefits, and the bill passed the
house; it’s in the senate. There is a bit of
shall we say pushback among some senators
who say income tax is low in North Dakota
probably because most everybody has skin in the game, and that was a quote
from the chairman of the senate finance
and taxation committee,
Senator Cook. This week started off
with an optimistic revenue forecast from the state. The next day, a slightly
different forecast was presented by the
legislative branch. Political correspondent
Chad Mira caught up with senate leadership
about these new numbers. – We saw two new revenue
forecasts come out this week, and joining me now
to talk about it all are Senate Majority
Leader Rich Wardner and Senate Minority Leader,
Senator Joan Heckaman. Thank you both very much
for being here today. Senator Wardner, I
wanna start with you and just get your
opinion overall of what we saw in the new
revenue forecasts this week. – Well first of all, we expect
it to be a little better than what our forecast
was in January, and that’s exactly what it
was, especially with Moody’s. However with IHS, it was
a little bit different. We were a little bit
surprised at their projections as far as sales tax
which were way down, and I don’t think
that one was correct. We’re gonna work
through that, and we’ll, we probably won’t
use that low a number as they had projected. – [Chad] And Senator
Heckaman, same with you. What was your overall impression and are you optimistic
about what you saw? – I am optimistic. I think one of the
things that was good is when we went in
before the forecast, we were looking at oil being
at about $45, $46 a barrel, and when they came
out, Moody’s came out, they have it about
$49 and $49.50, and that’s of course
that’s encouraging, and the number of barrels
per day is also at about the levels we expected and
maybe a little bit higher. So those are encouraging. The discouraging part of
course was the egg projections across both of the
revenue forecasts. I think that it’s gonna be
difficult for our farmers in the next couple of years,
but things look steady, and I’m encouraged that
we’re gonna have some funds to do things we need to do. – [Chad] You
mentioned oil prices, but also there’s a
little bit of difference in the oil production numbers that the two forecasts gave us. I believe the IHS Market
forecast predicted oil production to be
a little bit lower. Senator Wardner, what
kind of challenges does looking at the oil market
pose when we’re trying to set these numbers? – Well I think that they
were closer than you think. Actually, IHS for next
biennium was one point four, but they had it going
down to one point three. Now when you take
a look at Moody’s, they started at one point
four and they went up to one point four four. So they’re really pretty close, but we do not believe that
production’s gonna go down. We think it’s gonna
gradually ratchet up, and maybe they started
a little bit high, but I’m confident one point
four is a good starting spot. – Senator Heckaman, we
mentioned earlier the difference in the major tax
collections between the two. The one from IHS Market
came in about 7% or so under what we saw
from the state’s on the first forecast
we had this week. What do you think is
making up the difference between those two projections? – I would think the analysis
is a little bit different. You know when I listen
to both reports, I would gather that Moody’s
is a little more distinct as far as solid numbers. IHS Market is a little
bit more what I would call for the financial geeks. They predict a little bit more
and talked a little bit more about the intricacies of
each of the commodities, and Moody’s doesn’t do that. They take the numbers;
they plug ’em in. They give ’em to us, and they’re actually
probably easier for the appropriations
people to use. IHS Market gets a
little bit broader and a little bit
more in depth into why the soybean market is this, why the oil market is this, and what’s happening
in different parts of the country and the world. Those certainly have
an effect on the money that we take in in the
state of North Dakota, but as far as
appropriations people, they don’t have as much to do
with the work that they do. – [Chad] Senator Wardner,
does this give us any better idea of what
we can do moving forward when it comes to some of
the major spending issues we’ve been talking about, whether it be state
employee raises or some behavioral
health services? – I don’t think it changes much. I think we feel very
confident in the senate in our two and
three as we look for inflationary increases
and salary increases. I think it substantiates that, and so we don’t, I don’t
look at a lot of changes, but it looks like it’s going
to give us the flexibility we need to do what we
were going to do anyway. – [Chad] Do you agree with
that, Senator Heckaman? – Well I think it also gives
us a little bit more revenue that our caucus is pushing
for a three and three instead of a two and three. We feel that the funds
are going to be there, and that we have the
opportunity to do that. You know, the last few
years that we’ve been very conservative in
everything that we’ve done, and there’s a lot of needs
out there that we feel that we can meet now after we
see these revenue forecasts. – Okay, Senate Minority
Leader Senator Joan Heckaman. Senate Majority Leader
Senator Rich Wardner. Thank you both very
much for your time. – [Rich] Thank you. – And our guest this week
on Legislative Review, State Senator Kathy
Hogan from Fargo. She’s a democrat and
probably is recognized as one of the more
insightful leaders when it comes to the issues of human services and
behavioral health. Senator, thank you
for being here. – Thank you for inviting me. – And since you heard him talk, and Senator Wardner’s
also been one who’s been shall we say tooting the
horn for behavioral health. – Exactly. – How do you think the issue
is faring in this session? – We’ve had excellent
hearings on behavioral health over the last six
or eight weeks. We’ve had major
consumers and advocates and also providers come in, and so on the table, we have
about 15 major proposals, some from the governor’s
office and the Department of Human Services, many from advocates
and consumers, and so now we’re in the
process of deciding, based on the new
revenue forecast, what can we really begin to
do to address the crisis. – Now you mentioned
this because the 2013, the biennium came up
with the Shulte report. There was another
report that led up into this legislative session, and there seems to be
at least a realization among everybody that
behavioral health is really a forefront issue
in North Dakota. – It is, it is, and for
the first time really, we have a detailed roadmap
called the HSRI Study, and it has 13 very
specific recommendations, and we have detailed
plans in almost all those recommendations
now to move forward to address the unmet needs. – So what, what’s job number one that’s really on
the table right now? – I think that’s
always a tough issue because how do you compare
the needs of a child with a serious mental illness
with an adult who’s suicidal? And so we often
don’t prioritize, but what we know we
need to do is we need to expand our children’s
behavioral health services, so many of our programs
are looking at expanding what’s called targeted case
management for children so that we can serve children, and then also expanding
behavioral health services in schools. We’ve been working very
closely with the education committee to address
the behavioral health crisis in the schools, so I think those two initiatives
for children are critical. The second one, the second
big area that we’re looking at is expanding free through
recovery work that we did on justice reinvested
into non-DOCR clients so that we can prevent
people from going to prison so that they don’t
have to be incarcerated first to get services, and that expansion I
think is very exciting. – Yeah when you mention that, and it was more than anecdotes. Judges were sentencing people
– They were. To prison because
that’s the only place they could get
behavioral health. One of the barriers
seems to be work force. – Work force is a huge problem, but we’ve done some very
creative things by expanding the use of peers and the
peer recovery supports. We have excellent
testimony on it. If we provide treatment
providers with the good, solid peer support and the
case management system, which is a little more flexible
than traditional treatment, we can help people to
the road to recovery. – Peer support kinda
sounds logical to me because you’re
talking with people who have gone through it. – Exactly. – And they can relate. – And many states have
had very good success with peer supports, and there’s lots of
pieces of peer supports. You have to train
and certify them to make sure that
they’re qualified, but then you also need
to provide reimbursement and supervision, so it’s
building an infrastructure that’s new in the state, and we started with
recovery reinvented, but now I think we’re
really ready to move on, not just with addiction,
but with mental health and with children and families. – Does it surprise
you that you just said we’re ready to move on. Are you surprised we’re
now at this point? – No, I think we’ve
been building the steps. I’ve always said it’s
a 10,000-piece puzzle, and now you know, I really
think we’re filling in some of the major puzzle pieces, and the master plan
is what’s important and the roadmap that
the HSRI Study provides really gives us a
blueprint so we can really implement it. One of the pieces the
governor’s recommended is an expansion of
major crisis response because there’s no
crisis system really for behavioral health issues, and he’s got major in his
budget and in his proposal, major expansion of
crisis supports with many of us are supporting. And then of course
there’s the discussion about the state hospital, and he had proposed
a new state hospital which we didn’t
quite agree with, but what we did have was the
ability to study that issue and look at a thing
called the IMD Waiver, so perhaps we can use local
hospitals for hospitalizations and not need to send people
to the state hospital. So there’s a lot of
very creative ideas on the table still. – Okay, well the
state hospital issue was very interesting because
that was a DOCR issue too Yes.
– in that this domino effect, moving the women out of
the New England facility to the MRCC in Bismark, moving
the MRC people to Jamestown, using the old Jamestown
state hospital for a prison. Part of it already is
a prison of course. – Of course. – And then building
a new facility, but it almost was kinda
sprung on legislators at the last minute, and there was a lot
of concern about that. – I think we have to
have a common vision. We can’t just have someone
give us a blueprint without understanding
the details, and there are implications
for the facility in New England
and all the staff. The other issue is
things like New England is often the only addiction
provider out there, and so it has secondary
impacts on communities. So we need to really think
through those major changes, and I think this next
interim, we’ll do that. – Yeah one of the things
I heard discussed is that you use the New England
facility specifically for addiction treatment. – Yes. – And that’s still
on the table perhaps, but maybe not this session. – Maybe not this session, but I think we have
to plan that together. – And when you talked
about the blueprint, the blueprints are not
one of those things that we get it done now
and we’re done. – Nope. – This is not, this
is kind of like a evolving, growing thing. – Absolutely, it’s
a living animal. It’s a living animal. – Well another thing that
came out of human services that I really have
to ask you about was this whole idea
about reinvention. The zones was part of that
and how interesting that is because that seems to
be almost a revolution rather than evolution. – Actually I think I
disagree with you on that because the idea of
consolidating county-based social services has been
on the table since the 70’s since a report called
Touche Roche, and so– – Okay, now I remember. – So it’s been
kinda talked about, but over the last four
years there’s been a growing working group
about looking at how we can provide more efficient
county-based social services, both effectively with
good quality service at the local level but
perhaps by consolidating some service units, and so senate bill 2124
establishes human service zones and that the current proposal
is between 16 and 19 zones, and those zones will be
managed by the locals, and the employees will be local, but there’ll be a consistency
so all of the zones will have the same core service. – One of the things I heard
originally when it came out, some pushback saying
are we as local counties going to lose some services? Will they have to
drive to get services? That’s, that’s,
– Apparently that’s – That’s been a very hot
issue, the driving for service, and one of the pieces in
the bill is all current access points the
client get services have to be maintained. So the small jurisdictions
will still have an office open. So we’ve addressed a
lot of those concerns. The exciting thing
about this is we’re also more than just looking at
administrative structure. We’re looking at
service delivery. There’s been a pilot project
on child protective service to say how can we be more
responsive, lower time frames, and we’re actually reinventing
all of the core services provided by the counties which
hasn’t literally been done many of them in decades. – That’ll be exciting to watch. That’s going to unfold
probably more of a study on the next biennium. – In the next biennium
and maybe over four to six years. We’re starting with
child welfare services, but financial
assistance services, and some things may end up
being state-administered. It’s got flexibility to
provide specialization, at the same time assuring
a core delivery service. – But this also
gives you an example of just how big an
issue human services is. It is the largest budget
– It is. – In the state government,
and by design it is. – It is, and the
county-based delivery system was established in statehood. It was established as counties were responsible
for poor relief. We want to maintain a local
buy-in and a local understanding because I think when
you have local services, you’re more responsive. – And of course last session, there was the state
quote takeover endquote of social services being
completely funded by the state which resulted in
property tax relief – It did. – So there’s some benefit
there for counties and for county taxpayers. – Yes, but we want to
maintain the integration so that things like
law enforcement, if you remove a child for
a child protection issue, you still have to have
a solid relationship with your state’s
attorney and with your law enforcement and police, so you have to have those strong
working relationships also. – Since you’re a member of
the human services committee. – Yes. – You’ve probably looked
at some of these bills to tweak our medical
marijuana bills. – Yeah, and that’s
been interesting for me in medical marijuana
because I wasn’t part of the detailed working
group last time, so this is all new for me, and we’ve had five bills
that we’ve had hearings on, and they’ve been
fascinating to me. One is what we kind of call
the technical amendments changes, just changing
pieces of the law that didn’t make sense, and that’s a technical
correction kinds of bills. The second bill has to
do with the physician or the prescriber who
certifies previously had to say that
they would benefit, and many providers said
they couldn’t verify that because there wasn’t
medical evidence, so we’re taking some of
those requirements out. We’re taking requirements
that they have to specially certify dried
leaves and flowers, so we’re looking at
all those things, and now we’re looking
at things like should we add
edibles or should we, or should we add
other conditions? – I have to ask you. What are your
constituents saying to you about the rollout of
medical marijuana? – Well there’s a lot of
frustration about the delay and the really long,
slow delay in this. When I went dor-to-door,
it was often the number one
thing people wanted. When is it gonna be available? And I think people are
now beginning to realize we have it available finally, and many of these
tweaks will make it much more accessible. It’s one thing to be available, but if you can’t
get a prescriber to
sign a certificate. One of the creative
things we did this week was the veteran’s hospitals
not allowed to sign a certificate by federal law. And so we worked on an
amendment to allow a consumer to send their medical
records in and get certified with a medical
documentation without the signature of a provider. So we’re working on all of, there’s a thousand little
tweaks that we’re trying to do to make it both
available and accessible. – Have you also expanded
the number of maladies or… – We have a list. We’ve had I think a this point, there’s about 19 requests. We haven’t acted on that
bill in committee yet. That’ll be Monday or Tuesday, and so I think we clearly
are looking at some. There are some on the
lists that there’s pretty clear medical evidence
that we shouldn’t add, so those are the decisions
we haven’t made yet. – So what do you think
the endgame is for
medical marijuana? – I think it’s a
work in progress, and I think we will be back in
two years with more changes, but I’m really pleased
with how both the advocates and the medical community
have worked together on this. It’s been a very
collaborative process. – I’m gonna change gears
for because this week, the Prairie Dog bill
was passed about the local infrastructure. Just wondering how
you feel about that. – I think that’s another
example of when the stakeholders really get together
and work on something in a collaborative way, the details of that have changed
over the last six months, but the process has been very
collegial and bipartisan, and local governments
and state governments have worked together
to find a plan that I think is
mutually agreeable. So you voted for it.
– I did. – It now goes to the
governor’s office, and it’ll be up to the governor. I know the governor had some
initial reservations about it, but any, have you
heard anything? – I have not heard
anything about that, but I think those
projects that we’re collaboratively together, we
really do get to consensus. I think most people
don’t realize that 80% to 90% of our
bills are unanimous, and so I think if those
big bills that can happen. It creates a much more
collaborative session. – Let’s put that on the
table because it was a unanimous vote in the senate. – It was. – With one person absent,
it was 46 to nothing, It was.
– So that tells you something. – How do you feel about the
Theodore Roosevelt Library? – Well I think over the
last two or three years, we desperately
underfunded core services, and we have to first
and primarily fund our education, our
higher education, our healthcare kind
of delivery system, long term care DD. I think if when we get
done with the budget of core essential
government services, then I think if there
are resources available, I think we should look
at how we can work to establish the library. I really like Senator Mathern’s
proposal on the endowment because I think
first we do needs, and then we look at how this is going to be
sustained long term, and so I think we need
to work that project collaboratively like
we’ve done on the other two or three projects
we’ve already talked about. – You think there’s a chance
that that could be done? – I think there’s always hope. – Okay, then I have
to ask just briefly about the idea of raises
for state employees. Right now the senate’s plan
has been 2% the first year, 3% the second year. House’s plan was two and two. Democrats are supporting
three and three. Do you think their
three and three might still be a
part of the mix? – I think the other
piece that’s in the senate plan
is an $80 minimum, and the $80 minimum I
think is a critical piece. I’d like to have
it be 100 or 200 because for the low end workers who are making $1000
or $1100 a month, a 2% raise is literally nothing, and I think to acknowledge
those individuals who have really
sacrificed over the last two or three years,
that minimum I think is a critical piece
first to target that, and then ideally, I’d like to
do three and three if we can, but I think the
consistencies with long erm care providers, with
all of our contract people, is also a critical principle. – Alright. Senator Hogan,
thank you very much. – Thanks, nice to be here. – Our guest Senator
Kathy Hogan from Fargo. Grocery stores in small towns
can struggle to stay open, and that leaves
people struggling to get healthy, fresh food. As our political correspondent
Chad Mira tells us, some lawmakers want to find
some ways to fix that problem. – [Chad] Fewer than 100
people live here in Driscoll. Even fewer work here,
especially after Norm’s Grocery closed down a few years ago. – [Jeff] It’s a huge impact. – [Chad] Representative
Jeff Magrum. – When people have to
travel for groceries, they tend to buy all
their other products at a neighboring community. – This is where Norm’s
Grocery used to be. You can see a window boarded
up, closed sign in the window. There’s still stuff
inside when you peek in that has been left
there for years. Now the post office though
is in this building. The cafe next door,
they’ve both been forced to close since then. All that’s left here
in Driscoll is the bar across the street and
a motel down the road. For many in Driscoll, that
means a half hour drive to Bismark to shop,
and they’re not alone. According to SCR 4013,
15% of grocery stores in towns with fewer
than 2100 people have closed since 2013, and not having a
grocery store nearby can be bad for your health. – It’s sort of a
quality of life issue. – [Chad] Senator Jim Dotzenrod
sponsored the resolution in hopes the state will
study the issue to find ways to get good food to rural areas. – Trying to find food in
the quantities and quality that you might normally expect, to try to get that into some of these rural areas is showed up at a number of different places. – [Chad] It would
look at anything from how stores can
stay profitable. – Small town stores just
don’t have the volume. – [Chad] To how to keep
products on the shelves. – They don’t move enough
fruits and vegetables, so they can’t keep the
fresh things on hand. – [Chad] And if
the state can help. – Chad Mira joins us right now, and Chad, given that package, I think that’s
probably a tough nut to really come up with
a simple solution. – Right, and that’s why
they wanna do this study before making any
legislation about the issue. They wanna study it for
the next couple of years. This is something that,
if this resolution passes, we’ll hear more about in
the following biennium. So it’s an interesting
issue because it’s one of these issues
where you hear about a lot. You don’t necessarily talk
about in terms of groceries, but getting services to
rural areas in North Dakota. We see with the social
service redesign. We see it with the grocery
stores in this study, but also a lot of
behavioral health proposals, so this is kind of
another extension of how do we make sure
people who don’t live near one of the big cities
in North Dakota are still able to thrive? – And your earlier story
about the revenue forecast. Well that basically
means the puzzle can come together now. – Right, so it
gives us a good idea of what kind of money
we have to work with. However, we have two forecasts, so lawmakers are still
gonna look at both, and then come up with
their own projection somewhere in the
middle between the two. It’s something leadership
is working on together, and we don’t know
where those numbers are gonna quite fall, but we have a better
idea now that we’ve seen both of those forecasts. – As the people in the
legislature will tell you, it’s not two halves; it is
a three period hockey game, that we’re in the second period. Now the revenue
forecasts are in, but everybody’s gotta watch that conference committee
thing coming up. That’ll be interesting, too. And of course you’ve got
these revenue forecasts which will play into that. – It always does. It plays a big role, and also in the
presidential library real quick that you brought up, we’ll see if that has any factor in funding for the
presidential library. Senator Hogan mentioned
Senator Mathern’s proposal. What it would do is require a
3% raise for state employees as well as some additional
funding for other things before the state
agrees to give money for the presidential library, so with a little bit
better of a forecast, maybe some of these proposals
are still an option. – Alright. Well thank you very
much for joining us for North Dakota
Legislative Review. I’m Dave Thompson. (dramatic music)

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