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Politics & Government

Legislative leaders hoping the 'PERS' issue will be less contentious than two years ago

ND Legislature

With the state senate rejecting amendments the House put on the Public Employees Retirement System bill, the Senate's GOP leader said he’s hoping to avoid the stalemate on that issue two years ago that ended up in a special session.

The House amendments would have made the PERS board an advisory board only. It would have the director of PERS be an appointee of the Governor. And it would give the Legislature’s Employee Benefits Committee more of an oversight role. Two years ago, a similar issue over governance caused a short special session.

"We do not want that to happen again," said Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson). "We're working hard to not end up in a confrontation where we have to come back after the session is over and wrap up some work."

Wardner said the PERS bill will likely be in a conference committee – along with the House bill that would move the health insurance policy for state employees to a self-insured system.

"We're going to try to work together," Wardner said. "We're going to listen to that bill, look at the good points about self-insuring versus what we have now."

The tussle between the House and Senate two years ago came after the PERS board decided to change health insurance companies – dropping Blue Cross Blue Shield for Sanford Health.

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