Blues back off on billFinding themselves at the bulls-eye of controversy this week, lobbyists for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota this week backed off on a bill they’d been shepherding through the Legislature.
By: By Janell Cole, N.D. Capitol Bureau, The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Finding themselves at the bulls-eye of controversy this week, lobbyists for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota this week backed off on a bill they’d been shepherding through the Legislature.
On Wednesday, Blues lobbyist Rod St. Aubyn asked the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee to recommend Senate Bill 2306 be killed, and on Friday, the House granted his wish, voting 91-1 to do so.
Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm opposed the bill, saying it would dilute his authority to regulate insurance rates by granting hearing officers authority to make final decisions.
The bill proposed shortening the time the Insurance Department had to review a premium in-crease and Hamm said it would give BCBS an unfair advantage other companies wouldn’t have, decrease competition and increase premiums.
The Senate passed the bill 36-11 in February. The House IBL Committee was to hear the bill Wednesday morning, the day after it became known that BCBS CEO Mike Unhjem had been fired, in part for approving a Cayman Is-lands junket for employees.
St. Aubyn told the IBL that, “in the spirit of cooperation and to start better communications,” BCBS has started talks with Hamm “and offered to start a new chapter … (and) a better relationship.”
A bill paving the way for construction of the Red River Valley Water Supply Project, to bring Missouri River Water to the Red River in the event of a drought, passed the House Friday and now goes to the governor for signature.
Senate Bill 2298 allows the Garrison Diversion Conservancy District to issue bonds to raise the one-third of the project’s costs that will eventually be paid by water users. Earlier in the week, the House also gave final passage to a bill that renews the state commitment to foot one-third of the $660 million project. The final one-third will be federal money.
The House vote Friday was 86-6.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING BAN PASSED
One of two bills in the session banning human trafficking has now passed both houses.
Senate Bill 2209 passed the House Friday on a 93-0 vote and now goes to the governor. It had earlier passed the Senate.
There is also a similar bill still being considered in the Senate, House Bill 1185.
Cole works for Forum
Communications Co., which owns The Jamestown Sun