Workforce biggest challenge as legislative session begins in Bismarck

Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff
Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff

(Bismarck, ND) -- North Dakota's 68th legislative session kicks off Tuesday in Bismarck, with one major hurdle seemingly standing in state lawmakers way to declaring the expected 80-or-so day meeting a success.

Newly appointed State Senate Majority Leader David Hogue says the main focus of legislators in the state capitol is workforce.

"I think the consensus in the Senate and maybe across the entire state has been that workforce development, while it is always been a big issue, the problem that we’re trying to address is getting worse," said Hogue while appearing on WDAY's The Jay Thomas Show.

The concern, according to Hogue and other state lawmakers, is that workforce issues have now just gone beyond wanting quicker service at your local restaurant or wanting to speak to a hotel employee faster about an issue with a room.

"It’s now cut employers and all industries such that it’s affecting healthcare, it’s affecting the quality of education, it’s affecting national security guard even the military isn't immune to workforce challenges were seeing," said Hogue.

So, that is why a special committee has been formed to tackle workforce here in North Dakota. Hogue says the group has plenty of challenges to sift through as the session begins.

"We know there’s not a single bill that you can use to solve workforce problems," said Hogue. "We know that we’re gonna have to get people from outside the state try to attract them to move to the state, and we know that we’re going to try to attract people from outside the continental United States as well."

The 68th legislative session officially begins Tuesday afternoon.