North Dakota Stands TALL For First Responders
The latest North Dakota Legislative session is soon coming to a close. Sure it's been fun writing about some of the outlandish bills that have been submitted over the last few months. But, just when I was thinking a primarily one-party governing body couldn't get their act together in time to pass a bill that truly reflects the will of the people, they just did! So enough with the silliness of the last few months, They've now passed some meaningful legislation that makes an immediate positive impact.
House Bill 1435 requires the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System board to offer health and pharmacy insurance coverage at no cost to the surviving spouse and dependents of an emergency responder who dies in the line of duty. Under the bill, “emergency responder” includes a peace officer, member of a correctional facility staff, emergency medical services personnel or firefighter who is employed by the state, a political subdivision of the state or an institution under the control of the state Board of Higher Education. The bill has a retroactive application date of Jan. 1, 2010, according to a press release from Burgum’s office.
Now we're getting somewhere!
North Dakota will now cover the cost of health insurance for the surviving spouse and dependents of emergency first responders. It's not time to argue why this has taken so long to be enacted. This is a time to applaud the Governor and Legislators that worked together to make it happen. Especially impressing is the retroactive portion that rolls the calendar back to 2010.
Reading the article from FireFighterNation.com, I learned that some of the greatest dangers facing today's fire fighters is in the newer materials used, not just in home construction, but in our furnishings as well. All these newer materials are exposing fire fighters to more carcinogens than ever before. I'm guessing carbon fiber put's off some pretty noxious smoke. Please do click the link and read the article yourself. This is an important first step in making a meaningful effort to show our appreciation for our friends, family, and neighbors that truly place themselves in harms way every time they punch the clock.
Lt. Mike Hanel of the Dickinson Police Department eloquently had this to add:
Every officer would agree that one final request that is most important — and more important than any memorial service, half-staff flag or name engraved at the National Memorial — is that their family is taken care of when they are gone.
The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 75-18 in the House and 43-4 in the Senate. It was introduced by Rep. Zachary Ista of Grand Forks and co-sponsored by Reps. Mary Adams, Ron Guggisberg, Pat Heinert, Mike Lefor, Corey Mock, Emily O’Brien, Matt Ruby and Steve Vetter and Sens. JoNell Bakke, Curt Kreun and Scott Meyer.
So for all the divisive bickering in politics, and all the snarky comments from folks like me, let's join together and say- North Dakota, good on you!