Joining Burgum for the event to honor children of military service members were Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller; Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard; State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler; Secretary of State Michael Howe; North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Chris Jones; sponsors of Senate Bill 2182 and House Bill 1132; Minot Air Force Base commanders Col. Daniel Hoadley of the 5th Bomb Wing and Col. Kenneth McGhee of the 91st Missile Wing, and Col. David Castor, commander of the 319th Mission Support Group Command at Grand Forks Air Force Base; and dozens of military children from across the state who were honored during the ceremony.
“We know that when an individual swears an oath to serve our state and nation, the family, including the children, serve alongside them. We in uniform, could not do what we do without the support and sacrifices of our families,” Dohrmann said. “Military youth can expect to face all the typical challenges of non-military children, but they will also face challenges somewhat unique to having a parent in the military – frequent moves both within the United States and around the world, parents deployed for long periods of time and the anxiety that goes with that, and making new friends every two to four years, to name a few. Today we recognize their service and celebrate their resilience and courage.”
Senate Bill 2182 allows child care providers who serve military families to bypass DHHS licensing if the provider is already certified through the Family Child Care program administered by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The bill emerged from the work of the governor-appointed Task Force for Military Issues in North Dakota (TF MIND), which is chaired by the lieutenant governor and has members from across the state with a focus on communities with the largest military footprint: Minot, Grand Forks, Fargo and Bismarck.
“This bill is another important step in our efforts to make North Dakota the most military-friendly state in the nation,” Burgum said. “By exempting DOD-certified Family Child Care providers from the state licensing process, we’re recognizing that DOD standards are as strict or stricter than state standards while also eliminating duplication that causes delays in being able to provide much-needed child care services. We are deeply grateful for the collaboration by DHHS, the North Dakota National Guard, TF MIND and all the legislators whose work will benefit military members and their families as they protect our nation and defend our freedoms.”
House Bill 1132 gives military-connected children the option of beginning their education virtually at a North Dakota school before they arrive in the state. They also may complete their semester virtually if their parent is reassigned before the school year is finished.
An estimated 2,000 airmen transition into the Minot and Grand Forks Air Force bases each year. Most of those transfers happen during the summer, when school is not in session, but they do occur during the school year.
Baesler, who is the daughter of a Korean War combat veteran, said HB1132 will “reduce the stress on military families and children that result from these duty station transitions.”
“We must be dedicated to making North Dakota as welcoming as possible for our military children and their families, and this bill helps to accomplish that,” Baesler said.
Today’s bill signings are a continuation of the administration’s efforts to make North Dakota the most military-friendly state in the nation. Last week, Burgum signed a bill that exempts military pay from state income tax for active duty, National Guard and Reserve members, building on legislation signed in 2019 that exempts military retirement pay.
North Dakota currently has about 5,500 Guard and Reserve members with 2,400 spouses and 4,200 children, and nearly 7,300 active duty service members primarily at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and Minot Air Force Base with 2,200 spouses and 4,300 children, according to the Department of Defense.
Senate Bill 2182 passed the Senate 47-0 and the House 91-1. The bill was introduced by Sen. Judy Lee of West Fargo and co-sponsored by Sens. Michelle Axtman of Bismarck and Doug Larsen of Mandan and Reps. Brandy Pyle of Casselton, Matt Ruby of Minot and Cynthia Schreiber-Beck of Wahpeton.
House Bill 1132 passed the House 90-0 and the Senate 47-0. The bill was introduced by Pyle and co-sponsored by Reps. Claire Cory, Zachary Ista and Corey Mock, all of Grand Forks, Donald Longmuir of Stanley, Shannon Roers Jones of Fargo and Ruby, and Sens. Randy Burckhard of Minot, Dick Dever of Bismarck, Scott Meyer of Grand Forks and Mark Weber of Casselton.