Hello, NDU members!
It’s been a busy week at the Capitol. More and more bills are being amended, voted on in committee, and brought to their respective chamber for a vote. Stay tuned to your emails and text messages for Action Alerts and keep reading to learn about new developments relating to our issues of interest.
Didn’t catch our previous emails? Check our Issues and Action page to read about our priorities.
House Bill 1532, which would put public money in the hands of private schools, received an 8-6 “do pass” recommendation by the House Education committee and is on its way to House Appropriations. Each member of the committee who opposed HB 1532 shared our concerns about the ability of private schools to accept all students and the lack of accountability for public dollars once they go to private schools. Put plainly, private schools do not play by the same rules and regulations that public schools do. They are not required to accept all students, do not have the capacity to accommodate students with additional educational needs, and are not held to the same standards of accountability and transparency. Plus, every taxpayer dollar that funds a private school is a taxpayer dollar taken from public schools and other public institutions. For these reasons and more, we are opposed to HB 1532. Don’t just take our word for it. Click here to read an article about HB 1532 in the Grand Forks Herald featuring NDU member and Grand Forks Education Association President, Melissa Buchhop.
Both House Bill 1040 and Senate Bill 2239 received “do pass” recommendations in committee and are headed to their respective Appropriations Committees. As a reminder, HB 1040 would eliminate the defined-benefit pension plan by 2025 and replace it with a less stable, far more expensive defined-contribution plan. Closing the current pension plan would cost taxpayers $5.5 billion over the next 20 years! Senate Bill 2239 would invest in our current pension plan for 1/5th the cost of closing it. North Dakota United believes in investing in the current defined-benefit plan, rather than closing it. While we wait for additional discussion of these bills, take a look at this op-ed in the Grand Forks Herald from Kendal Killian, executive director of the National Public Pension Coalition.
Tomorrow at 10 am, join featured speaker Ryan Nagle and Prairie Action for Solidarity Saturdays! Solidarity Saturdays is a virtual space for North Dakotans to build communities of empowered and informed advocates so they can raise their voices, support each other, and work for justice and equity. This month the focus is on the state legislature and what they are doing- or not doing- for children in ND. Registration required.
Vouchers Action Alert
House Bill 1532 received an 8-6 “do pass” recommendation by the House Education committee, where many opposing legislators shared our concerns about the ability of private schools to accept all students and the lack of accountability for public dollars once they go to private schools. This bill is headed to House Appropriations as we speak. We are once again asking members to send a message to House Appropriations committee members that it is vital we keep public dollars in public education. Personalize your email to the committee and make it clear that you oppose HB 1532 below.
Pensions Action Alert
NDU needs all members to raise their voice on this issue to make sure the defined-benefit plan is available for future and current employees. Our legislators need to know we do not support the closure of the defined benefit plan and instead fully support investing in it to ensure our current plan serves public employees. Email members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee now.
Up next …
Legislative Organizing Calls
The future of North Dakota is in our hands. The best way to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of the legislative session is to tune in to our organizing calls every other Tuesday. These calls are not only an exciting way to interact with the team at the Capitol representing you, but also an excellent opportunity to ask questions about legislation that is on your mind. Join us via Zoom on February 21st at 6pm for the call.
Whether you have been involved for years or are interested in getting started for the first time, we will be providing advocacy trainings where members can learn more about the importance of their advocacy, how to get started, and some best practices. The same training will be provided every two weeks starting Tuesday, February 28th at 6pm, so choose the Tuesday that works best for you. You only need to attend once to get all the information!
We’re monitoring bills that relate to our top priorities. Stay tuned to your email for action alerts as the session progresses and head to our Bills of Interest page to stay informed on bills we’re monitoring.
If you have any questions, comments, ideas, etc. please contact us at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.