Flurry of Activity from Legislature on Day 70 of 80-day Session
Posted by KSJB News on 4/18/2017 2:21:00 PM.
BISMARCK, ND - (KSJB/KSJZ) - North Dakota lawmakers missed their self-imposed goal of ending the current session in 70 days.  With 10 days of work still allowed under the state constitution, they can spread the work out by not gaveling into session and meeting in conference committees. Still, there were a number of stories out of the Capitol on Tuesday...

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Legislature has passed a measure that establishes protections for confidential drug informants.

The action Tuesday comes more than three years after 20-year-old college student Andrew Sadek was found dead in a river with a bullet in his head and a backpack of rocks tied to his body.

His parents, Tammy and John Sadek, have lobbied lawmakers to pass legislation so that informants can be better informed of their legal options to understand the risks they may be taking.

The legislation now goes to Gov. Doug Burgum. The bill clarifies the rights of people offered the role as a confidential drug informant, including their right to an attorney.

It also requires a written agreement with an informant. Law enforcement agencies also must undergo training before using them.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Legislature wants a study of the state's initiated and referred measure process.

The Senate and the House approved the measure on Monday that creates a 19-member commission to study whether any state law or constitutional provision should be amended. The study also will look at potential limits on out-of-state funding.

That portion was spurred after a California businessman put roughly $2.5 million into a successful North Dakota ballot measure that incorporate victims' rights provisions into the state constitution.

The process allows citizens to bypass the Legislature and put a proposed law or constitutional amendment directly to voters if enough petition signatures are gathered.

The North Dakota Constitution includes the right of initiative and referendum, which is a process that voters may use to repeal new laws.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Legislature has passed a bill that would extend criminal penalties for anyone who attacks health care and emergency workers with a bodily fluid.

The House passed the measure 76-16 on Tuesday. The Senate gave it a unanimous vote Monday.

It's already a crime in North Dakota for an inmate or someone in police custody to strike a peace or correctional officer with bodily fluids. The measure now makes it a crime to assault health care and emergency workers.

Violators could face up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has signed a comprehensive measure that regulates the state's voter-approved medical marijuana initiative.

The Republican signed the bill Monday night. The Senate and the House earlier had gotten the needed two-thirds majority to amend the citizen initiative.

The measure, called the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act, won 65 percent voter approval in November. It allows the use of marijuana as medicine for people who suffer from debilitating illnesses.

The voter-approved version allowed far more freedom for citizens to grow and smoke the plant. Lawmakers removed provisions for growing it.

BISMARCK, ND - (KSJB/KSJZ) - In an emailed statement, North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jon Godfread applauded Gov. Doug Burgum's signing of a bill that protects patients from massive air ambulance bills by requiring hospitals to notify patients, in non-emergency situations, which air ambulance providers have contractual agreements with the patient’s health insurance company. 
In many cases, the air ambulance does not have a contract with the patience's insurance company.  When there's no contract, the patient is held responsible for the cost of the flight.

Godfread says the Insurance Department received 28 complaints totaling $1.66 million in charges for air ambulance services from 2013 to January this year. The costs arise from a practice called "balance billing" in which a patient is billed for all costs not covered by the insurance company.

Based on those complaints, each ambulance ride had cost the consumer an average of $59,287..

In his statement, Godfread says, “It’s important to know that these lifesaving flights often come with life-altering bills. These consumers did not have the option or ability to choose their provider and, now because of the choices made by someone else, are left facing bankruptcy."

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