North Dakota AFL-CIO Legislature Watch Week ending 2-8-19

Last week was a tougher week at the Capital in regards to Labor rights. The firefighter and police collective bargaining bill, HB – 1463, was voted down on the house floor with a vote of 23 yays and 64 nays. This seems bad but it was worse last session, and the good part about this is that the enemies of Labor had to pull out the stops to achieve this vote. Inside friends tell us that the pressure to vote no was immense, especially on the Republican members who wanted to vote yes and several of these changed their minds.

The house still voted it down, but they had to listen to 25 different firefighters up there telling their stories and making their needs heard. Members wearing firefighter jackets and shirts were in the back of the room every week in plain sight and they were noticed.  All these waves are good for both our emergency responders and the rest of Labor.

In a particularly anti-Labor move, Representative Jim Kasper spoke in both the committee and on the floor about HB-1463 and twisted what was said in different conversations and testimony with the firefighters. It was sad to see both the firefighter’s words and needs politically hacked to that degree with the some of the things said twisted around to mean the exact opposite. Representative Kasper proved himself no friend of working people and we need to remember this.

In other sad news, Representative Karla Rose Hanson’s Family Leave bill, HB-1509, was also voted down on the house floor. This well-thought-out bill would have created a program much like unemployment where both employee and employer would pay a small amount into every week as an insurance to help them through times when they have to deal with a sick or dying loved one. This would have benefited those workers with spouses, parents or children with life-threatening diseases and allowed them a portion of their salary to survive on while doing their family duty.

And the last on to fall was Representative Marvin Nelson’s worker’s compensation fix which would have helped with many issues at that agency. It was overwhelmingly voted down on Friday.

HB-1193, a bill, which will prohibit any city in North Dakota from raising their own minimum wage, has it’s hearing last week. The North Dakota AFL-CIO was the bill’s only opposition amid several business interests clamoring for it, and this will very likely get passed.

The highlight of the week was Senator Oban’s Senate Resolution urging congress to pass the Butch Lewis act and protect pensions across the United states. Whether the committee passes the resolution or not, it was good for them to hear the testimony because many of them have no idea that an impending pension crisis exists.

The ad hoc ethics and transparency committees have been meeting for both the Senate and the House, each working through their own separate bills. Even though the Measure 1 ballot measure passed last fall by a significant margin, the opponents of ethics still want to argue about the measure and can’t seem to move past the election with most of their testimony focusing on how honest the legislators are is and how unnecessary ethics and transparency are in North Dakota.

They will both be meeting again this week.

This coming week is a slower as we approach crossover and many bills have either moved into appropriations or been defeated, but there is still a great deal happening.

Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
[email protected]
(701) 595-3334