Burgum signs legislation to improve social services delivery and outcomes, provide property tax relief for North Dakotans
Gov. Doug Burgum this week signed breakthrough legislation that redesigns county social services in North Dakota to improve the quality of services, increase the speed of delivery and reduce costs while continuing to provide property tax relief.
Senate Bill 2124 will reorganize the current system of 47 county social service units into no more than 19 human service zones. North Dakotans will now be able to obtain services at the closest social service office, regardless of where they live. All current access points will remain open, so those seeking services will notice few immediate changes. Behind the scenes, zones will be able to share staff resources, specialization and expertise.
“This landmark bill maintains all local access points to services while allowing us to respond better to community needs and promote innovation in service delivery,” Burgum said. “Social service team members will be able to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time working directly with citizens to address their needs.”
Senate Bill 2124 is the culmination of years of effort. Legislation approved in 2017 directed the state to provide property tax relief by funding social services and to study the design of social service delivery. SB 2124 resulted from that study, with collaboration between the Department of Human Services (DHS), North Dakota Association of Counties, state Legislature and county social service leaders, among other stakeholders. By continuing state responsibility for county human services funding, SB 2124 will provide more than $172 million in property tax relief.
“This is a transformational bill, but the changes it supports will be incremental,” DHS Executive Director Chris Jones said. “As our pilot projects evolve and roll out statewide in a zone structure, we will improve services and outcomes for North Dakotans.”
Governor signs proclamation as ND becomes fifth state to observe Patriots' Day
North Dakota became the fifth state to observe Patriots’ Day as an official state holiday with the passage and signing of HB 1169. Gov. Burgum signed a proclamation on Monday to celebrate the day.
HB 1169 was introduced by Rep. Austen Schauer. The law designates the third Monday in April as Patriots’ Day and directs the governor to issue a proclamation to commemorate the start of the American Revolutionary War and the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were the first battles of the Revolutionary War.
Jim Shaw of Fargo, a proponent of the bill, acted as the emcee for the event. Other speakers included Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler, Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckaman, House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, House Minority Leader Josh Boschee and Brig. Gen. Robert Becklund, deputy adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard. Secretary of State Al Jaeger joined the governor for the proclamation signing.
For more information about Patriots' Day and how our nation's history and founding principles are part of students' education in North Dakota, click the link below.
Listen to latest episode of 'Work Worth Doing' with Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand
North Dakota's wide variety of landscapes provides a friendly home for a diverse group of wildlife. Its abundant natural resources have instilled a culture of conservation and a love for hunting and fishing that spans generations of North Dakotans.
In the latest episode of "Work Worth Doing," Terry Steinwand, director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, joins Gov. Burgum to talk about what the department does to manage these natural resources and work alongside the state's hunters and anglers.
Other episodes, including a conversation with Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer on growing North Dakota's workforce, can be found in the archive on the governor's website.
Event at Capitol honors organ, eye and tissue donors and their families
Gov. Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Burgum joined the North Dakota Department of Health and LifeSource for an event honoring the individuals who provide a second chance at life to those in need through donation of their organs and tissue, and the families who carry on their legacy. Approximately 100 donor family members from 32 donor families honoring ND donors from 2014-2018.
LifeSource is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ, eye and tissue donation throughout North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. LifeSource CEO Susan Gunderson, along with donation recipient Mark Vanderhoff, thanked families for attending the event and shared stories about the positive effects of organ donation. The governor and first lady also expressed their gratitude for donors and their families.
"More than 380,000 adults in North Dakota are registered as organ, tissue and eye donors," Gov. Burgum said. "At 67 percent, that’s one of the highest rates in the nation."
Families in attendance received a medallion depicting the tree of life, the bird of peace and the bridge joining one life to another to honor the donation made by their family member.
Governor speaks to Health Impact Symposium on positive health benefits of vibrant communities
Gov. Burgum addressed a Health Impact Symposium jointly hosted by the Department of Health and the Commerce Department to discuss how the Main Street Initiative addresses health and well-being in North Dakota.
Burgum thanked the attendees for their efforts to move North Dakota up five spots to #13 last year in the America's Health Rankings by United Health Foundation. Despite this positive movement, the rankings found North Dakota still faces challenges regarding a high prevalence of excessive drinking, high occupational fatality rates and a high prevalence of obesity.
The Main Street Initiative is inherently designed to improve well-being, Burgum said, by focusing on three pillars: smart, efficient infrastructure; healthy, vibrant communities; and a 21st century workforce. Burgum stressed the interconnected nature of these pillars and encouraged attendees to have discussions with community leaders on how to best incorporate these principles when designing their communities.
Third annual Easter egg hunt draws hundreds of children to Capitol
Gov. Burgum delivered a pep talk -- and a few corny jokes -- to hundreds of children Sunday before they quickly snatched up more than 12,000 Easter eggs in about 20 minutes on the Capitol grounds.
This was the third year of the Bismarck Optimist Club hosting the free Easter Egg Hunt for children ages 10 and under. The eggs were filled with candy, stickers, toys and, in some cases, tickets for prizes. Gov. Burgum welcomed the participating children and adults and thanked the Optimists for putting on a great community event.