Emergency Commission Makes $16 Million Gift to Oil, $0 for Sick Leave to Slow Pandemic

BISMARCK, ND — Today, the six-member Emergency Commission voted to allocate $221 million in returned CARES Act money meant to help North Dakotans through the COVID-19 pandemic and with the economic recovery. The allocation included a $16 million handout to oil companies, but $0 for an Emergency Sick Leave Fund that would help North Dakota workers stay home when they’re sick or quarantine without risking their financial security. 

Paid Sick Leave is proven to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. Rep. Karla Rose Hanson and Sen. Erin Oban proposed an Emergency Sick Leave Fund, a data-driven solution to slow the spread of the virus and protect our economy. The all-Republican Emergency Commission refused to consider it, even though sick leave is proven to benefit workers, businesses, and public health.

Sen. Tim Mathern (Fargo) said: 

“This money is supposed to help North Dakotans recover from the pandemic and support working families, not serve as another handout to an industry that is already at full workforce. This is more of the same insider spending that gave us the world-leading COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a misuse of taxpayer dollars in the middle of a crisis.”

Rep. Karla Rose Hanson (Fargo) said: 

“Public health and a healthy economy go hand in hand. We proposed the Emergency Sick Leave Fund because paid leave is proven to slow the spread of disease, so we can have healthy workers, confident consumers, and a strong economy. We are seeing uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 in North Dakota, and families have burned through their employer or federal sick leave benefits. When people have no choice but to go to work when they’re sick or have been exposed, we risk further outbreaks and business closures.”