N.D. House defeats bill revamping Administration Committee on Veterans Affairs
BISMARCK -- A bill that sought to overhaul the Administrative Committee on Veterans Affairs died in the state House on Wednesday. The defeat of House Bill 1379 comes after weeks of opposition from veterans. The committee now consists of 15 vetera...
BISMARCK -- A bill that sought to overhaul the Administrative Committee on Veterans Affairs died in the state House on Wednesday.
The defeat of House Bill 1379 comes after weeks of opposition from veterans.
The committee now consists of 15 veterans from the five veterans organizations in the state. The bill sought to give more authority to the governor, revamp the makeup of the committee and reduce the membership to nine.
Rep. Bill Amerman, D-Forman, said legislators kept changing the wording of the bill and the makeup of the committee.
"We really didn't know how we should change it," he said. "I felt, if we don't know how to change it, why should we change it?"
He told the House to kill the bill, saying the state's veterans have fought enough and shouldn't have to continue the fight if the bill moved to the Senate.
Rep. Bette Grande, R-Fargo, apologized for the first draft of the bill not being in proper form and the misinformation that's resulted.
She said the goal was to improve services for veterans, create a chain of command and add accountability. Changing the makeup of the committee would allow veterans who don't belong to one of the five organizations to get involved, she said.
As the commander in chief, the governor should be the one to appoint the commissioner of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Grande said. She also thinks there needs to be a long-term strategic plan that's bigger and wide-ranging for all veterans.
"Is the current system broken? No, it's not broken," she said. "But it has cracks in it, and some of my veterans have fallen through those cracks and I don't like it."
Rep. Ralph Metcalf, D-Valley City, said veterans were not brought in for the original discussion of the bill.
"I believe that, as veterans, people that have defended this country for years and years and years and who will continue to defend this country, (they) have the right to be asked about how they are going to be governed," he said.
The House killed the bill on a 24-69 vote.
Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Herald.