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GF Legislator: Telecommuting by state employees could generate a lot of discussion in 2021 session

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The chairman of the Legislature’s interim Information Technology Committee believes there will be a lot of discussion about telecommuting, during the 2021 Legislative Session.

Because of the pandemic, Governor Burgum allowed a number of state employees to work from home. And he hints he may have some proposals to allow that telecommuting to continue.

Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks) said it has raised a number of questions.

"Would there be any limitations or restrictions on where a person could telecommute from?" Mock said. "If you work from home, must you live in the state or city, or will there be flexibility with that physical location?"

Mock said there was some heartburn about the possibility of a large number of employees not residing in North Dakota, and how that would affect recruitment and retention bonuses. He said he’s torn over the issue.
Mock said the state invests a lot in terms of attracting people to live here.

"If we embrace some of those policies, and allow more employees to work off-site, do we face any potential discrimination claims, if we do not allow them to work in Moorhead, MN, instead of Fargo?" Mock said. "Then if it's Moorhead, why can't it be Minneapolis, or Omaha, or Tampa, or the Cayman Islands?"

Mock said it will be a complicated discussion for Legislators.

"We don't want to invest money in workforce development, whie at the same time, encourage public employees to start working from locations outside of our own state," Mock said.

Mock said he expects a lot of discussion about that issue, both in policy committees and in appropriations.

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