Chamber Champions Needed to Support and Protect North Dakota's Business Climate
GNDC's vision is to have the best business climate in the nation. The work done in the legislature is essential to this vision. We look at all bills with close scrutiny to determine if they will benefit business and improve our global positioning. GNDC stands in support of those bills as they are good for North Dakota - they create opportunity, they benefit businesses which in turn creates success for citizens and communities. Everything isn't always roses though, there are times when we have to get up and oppose bills that harm our business community or create burdens, which would cause damage to our business climate. We appreciate the legislators that also stand up against those bills; they are protecting North Dakota with common-sense regulation, fair and equitable tax structures, and smart, strategic investments. We caught up with Chamber Champion, Representative Todd Porter, who hasn't been shy about being vocal for businesses.
REPRESENTATIVE TODD PORTER
GNDC: You’ve been vocal on the House Floor about business health care mandates, GNDC is typically against these types of mandates as well. Why have you been speaking up?
Rep. Porter: A main cost to businesses is insurance and small businesses can’t afford to pay more for health insurance. I spoke up on the mandate on vitamin d because it’s similar to the other health insurance mandates, it’s currently covered for those that need it. If this becomes a mandate, insurance companies will raise their costs to compensate for the additional anticipated coverage of people that aren’t prescribed due to necessity. This does not block coverage, these mandates would shift more cost burdening business. Previously, I opposed a bill that changed the age of mandated mammogram coverage from 50 to 40 years old. This wasn’t opposing care or restricting services to any specific individuals. Women who were under the age of 50 that needed or were prescribed this procedure because of their history or a doctor’s concern still received covered care. There weren’t restrictions or additional burdens placed on those needing care. However, if the change occurred, insurers would prepare for every policyholder to utilize the procedure. In doing so, they would reflect this possibility in their costs. We know this cost would then shift back to employers.
You are the chair of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee – we all know what happened with Texas earlier this year. Are you seeing bills that ensure North Dakota is not placed in a similar position?
Texas relied heavily on a renewable portfolio that couldn’t weather the storm. This led to trouble due to the inability to generate. In North Dakota, we have problems too, we have a transmission bottleneck. Our baseload is coal and wind has a must-run. This leads to the creation of power being sold at a lower cost than it is created. This is why there is no new generation. This is a worry for businesses involved. In my committee, we are looking at policies that impact the whole picture. We want to enact policies that balance the grid portfolio. We need decisions that prompt and guaranty grid reliability, not impact our baseload. Consumers will be impacted by these policies at the state level and those implemented by President Biden. The 80s and 90s have already demonstrated there are other factors to consider. SB 2313 is a bill that we are working on and have pushed out of committee with a “do-pass” recommendation after a few amendments. There is no perfect fuel source, but this bill prompts reliability which is what North Dakota needs.
GNDC hasn’t been shy about touting our favorite bills, do you have a favorite?
All of the ones I voted for! Without thinking too much about all the bills, I have always supported ongoing investment in career academies that focus on providing for the future of our state. Soccer moms have got it figured out and are doing it right – don’t wait until high school to start introducing kids to things, that’s too late. Get them involved in different things now. They will figure out what they like or are good at or more importantly what they don’t like. That’s important to our workforce. One bill I don’t like that got through is HB 1323. It’s not about where you stand on the masks, that bill should have died because it took away local control and doesn’t allow local governments to make decisions.