Gov. Doug Burgum today signed House Bill 1435, which will cover the cost of health insurance for surviving spouses and dependents of emergency responders who die in the line of duty.
Joining Burgum at the official bill signing were Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, representatives of law enforcement, firefighters and other emergency responders, state legislators and Mandy Holte, wife of Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte, who was killed in the line of duty on May 27, 2020.
“House Bill 1435 acknowledges the incredible sacrifices made by the family members of our courageous law enforcement officers, firefighters and other emergency responders every time their loved one walks out the door to go work,” Burgum said. “Now, along with thanking them with our words, we can show our gratitude with our actions. This bill ensures that the families of those emergency responders who make the ultimate sacrifice will have their health insurance costs covered. Just as emergency responders protect and care for the health, safety and well-being of our communities, we can show we care by taking this one burden off of their plate when the unthinkable happens.”
House Bill 1435 requires the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System (NDPERS) board to offer health and pharmacy insurance coverage at no cost to the surviving spouse and dependents of an emergency responder who dies in the line of duty. Under the bill, “emergency responder” includes a peace officer, member of a correctional facility staff, emergency medical services personnel or firefighter who is employed by the state, a political subdivision of the state or an institution under the control of the state Board of Higher Education. The bill has a retroactive application date of Jan. 1, 2010.
The bill passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 75-18 in the House and 43-4 in the Senate. It was introduced by Rep. Zachary Ista of Grand Forks and co-sponsored by Reps. Mary Adams, Ron Guggisberg, Pat Heinert, Mike Lefor, Corey Mock, Emily O’Brien, Matt Ruby and Steve Vetter and Sens. JoNell Bakke, Curt Kreun and Scott Meyer.