This is the weekly Legislative Assembly briefing from AARP North Dakota. If you have any questions, please contact Associate State Director for Advocacy Josh Askvig.
TAKE ACTION TODAY ON TWO BILLS: Decisions will be made soon
House Bill 1362: This Medicaid expansion bill will increase health coverage for low-income, uninsured North Dakotans. Even if you have already emailed your representatives, please send this message as this action will only go to the House Human Services committee members. An amendment has been made to remove Medicaid expansion from the budget bill because of HB1362.
House Bill 1332 was “hog-housed” and stripped of its original intent. The bill, as it is now written, would require all voters have a photo identification before being allowed to vote. There was NO opportunity for public discussion or debate on something that could have a significant impact on voting, especially for the state’s oldest residents.
COMING NEXT WEEK:
It is committee action time. We will be monitoring action on our legislative priorities of Medicaid expansion, home- and community-based services, elder abuse, and property taxes. On Monday, Feb. 18, amendments to HB1012 – the DHS budget, will be debated and voted.
See the full list of committee hearings for AARP-tracked bills: Committee Hearings Feb 18-22.
As things begin to move more quickly at the legislature, we are posting updates to our Facebook page almost daily and sometimes more than once a day. If you are on Facebook, you can “like” or follow us.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR:
The N.D. Disability Advocacy Consortium’s Disability Awareness Day is Thursday, Feb. 21. Various disability and aging advocacy groups, including AARP, will be at the Capitol to advocate on behalf of individuals with disabilities. Please join us Thursday!
THE WEEK IN REVIEW:
The tone of the session has shifted from committee hearings with public input to committee discussion, debate, and action. Thus, our time has been spent bouncing around from committee to committee. The theme for the week seemed to be prohibiting North Dakotans from having their say. Two bills we were watching were amended to disenfranchise seniors. Good thing we were watching.
SB2252 amendment – This “hog-house” amendment (when the original bill is deleted and replaced with entirely new language) changed the intent of the original legislation without opportunity to provide any public input. Further, the legislation would have weakened North Dakota standards against age discrimination and put us out of line with federal statutes protecting older workers in North Dakota. Lastly, we should not limit an individual’s ability to seek relief if they are unfairly discriminated against because age. Senator Schneider used our email during the floor debate against amendments to SB2252. It was widely recognized that these amendments were defeated because of AARP’s actions, mostly the emails from our members and volunteers!
HB1332 amendment - This was another “hog-house” amendment. This time the bill has been amended to require voter identification for anyone who wants to cast a ballot in North Dakota. This amendment was also proposed without opportunity for any public comment and input. We strongly reject these amendments and that is why we need you to take action now and tell your representatives to vote NO on HB1332.
Lastly, the Bismarck Tribune published this editorial on Wednesday, Feb. 6, against the state expanding Medicaid. Here is our response published on Sunday, Feb. 10. Please let us know if you see other articles or editorials opposing Medicaid expansion.
FRIDAY CALL REMINDER (INVITE A FRIEND!):
Every Friday at 2 p.m. Central Time, AARP North Dakota hosts a Legislative Update Conference call for volunteers, members, and all others interested in following and learning about AARP’s priority issues during the 2013 session. Keep informed and join the call toll-free: 1-866-215-3402; passcode 355-3648.
ND AARP Legislative Tracking List – The list of bills AARP is tracking during the 2013 Legislative Assembly.
Medicaid Expansion Leave Behind – 1-page handout on why North Dakota should expand Medicaid.
Legislative Buddies Resource Center – Find tips on advocating, legislative briefings, and other advocacy tools and materials.
AARP ND – The AARP North Dakota webpage, which has links to the latest legislative happenings and other important AARP information.
AARP ND Facebook page – Follow us on Facebook for immediate updates.
North Dakota Legislative Assembly Homepage – The Legislative Assembly page with links to find your legislators, information on bills being discussed and other important information about the 2013 Legislative Assembly.