Governor Doug Burgum presented his budget for the next biennium to North Dakota legislators on December 5.
Here are some of the highlights, prioritizing issues AARP North Dakota will be working on during this session:
- Gov. Burgum proposes changes in how social services are delivered in the state. He would like to see the current structure of 47 administrative areas changed to 19. He was quick to emphasize that “touch points” would not change, meaning the current offices in counties would still exist. He insisted that more flexibility in the system is necessary and this is one way to create that.
- State workers receive a salary and retirement benefit increase in the governor’s proposed budget.
- $750,000 will go to help solve a health care workers shortage in the state, targeting a shortage of nurses.
- He proposes a reimbursement increase of one percent per year during the biennium for health care providers.
- Home and Community Based Services provided by the state see a $6 million increase in the proposed budget and eliminate some of the qualifications needed to receive state assistance. Some of that additional money could go to improve the Aging and Disabilities Resource Link. This is an online resource for people who are looking for services to help them remain in their home. The increase was proposed by the Department of Human Services as an optional budget request.
- $20 million is proposed to reinvest in the Housing Incentive Fund, which was not funded last biennium and is currently out of money. The fund helps attract developers/builders to invest in low-to-moderate priced housing.
- Gov. Burgum continues to focus a lot of attention on behavioral health issues and dedicated $19.1 million to increase access to behavioral health care, specifically in the home setting.
- One issue AARP will not engage in but was interesting to hear, Gov. Burgum proposes $5 million from what the state earns in interest from the Legacy Fund to go into building a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.
The complete budget can be found at the website of the Office of Management and Budget by CLICKING HERE. Pages 167 – 169 outline the budget proposals for the Department of Human Services, an area where AARP North Dakota pays close attention.
Legislators will begin introducing bills between now and the start of the session. One bill we know we will support is called the CARE Act. It’s primary goal is to create a partnership between people who provide unpaid care for their loved ones at home and hospitals. Look for more information on that important bill to come soon.
Finally, we encourage you to check this site often for updates throughout the legislative session. We’ll have multiple updates every week as legislation works its way through the chambers and to the governor’s desk.
JOIN OUR WEEKLY LEGISLATIVE UPDATE BY PHONE
Join a weekly conference call during the 2019 legislative session to stay up-to-date on what is happening at the legislature and how you can help us advocate for issues important to North Dakotans 50 and older. The conference call will be held every Friday at 2 p.m. Central Time. Join by phone by dialing toll free at 1-866-215-3402 and enter pass code 4815771.
HOW TO MAKE IT OFFICIAL
Below are two ways you can sign up to become an official AARP North Dakota Legislative Volunteer:
AARP ND Legislative Volunteers Brochure – a brochure outlining the AARP ND Legislative Volunteer Program and the registration form to sign up.
Or, email Advocacy Director Mike Chaussee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAREGIVING – AN AARP NORTH DAKOTA LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY
AARP North Dakota will introduce a bill to provide assistance to the state’s more than 62,100 unpaid family caregivers. We call it the CARE Act.
The CARE Act does three primary things – it includes family caregivers (appointed by patients) in the care, it requires hospitals to attempt to notify the caregiver when their loved one is transferred or discharged, and it asks hospitals to teach the caregivers about the tasks they be asked to perform at home. It’s a no-cost, high reward bill that has passed in 40 states/territories across the U.S.
Here are some helpful websites for research you want to conduct about family caregivers:
- AARP Caregiving site
- National Alliance for Caregiving
- AARP Public Policy Institute updates us on CARE Act implementation across the country. This is encouraging stuff!
- The fate of The CARE Act (Senate Bill 2215) during the 2017 Legislative Session.
- See how your senators voted by clicking here: (it passed the Senate, 27-16)
- See how your representatives voted by clicking here: (it was defeated in the House, 23-66)
RESOURCES FOR AARP ADVOCATES
North Dakota State Legislature Website – There is a tremendous amount of access provided by the state. You can access bios and contact information for your legislators (There’s even a clever search tool if you don’t know who they are.), search and read every bill, and download a map of meeting rooms.
If you really want to dig deep into the legislative site, click here for a detailed tutorial to discover how each legislator voted on a bill.
Here’s a civics class refresher on how a bill becomes a law – This is specific to North Dakota where we are unique in that every bill is guaranteed three public exposures. First, every bill is required to have a public hearing in committee. Then, every bill receives a public committee vote before heading to the floor for a public vote of the assembly. If it passes, the bill goes through the same procedure in the other chamber.
Thinking about testifying before a committee? You should! Legislators tell us all the time they appreciate hearing from real people, not just paid lobbyists. So, it’s vital that AARP members and other constituents tell legislators about how bills will affect them. Here are some tips about how to Testify Before a ND Legislative Committee.
Knowing AARP’s stance on an issue can be helpful when you’re preparing to make a call, write a letter, or gathering evidence for your testimony. The following links to AARP resources can help you in your preparation. (Note: This list will change from time to time.)
Long Term Scorecard – This is a comprehensive comparison between states on how they perform when it comes to long-term care for older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers. North Dakota ranks 37th overall (out of 51). The detailed breakout is interesting as the Scorecard measures states in about 25 different areas. North Dakota ranks as low as 50 and as high as two, depending on the indicator. Make sure to click on North Dakota on the map on the front page to see the detailed analysis.
North Dakota Legislative Volunteer Handbook – Handbook of tips and tools to help our advocates be successful.