Independence Inc. Candidate Questionnaire's 2012
November 5, 2012

In an effort to better inform voters with disabilities, their friends and families, this election cycle Independence, Inc. undertook an effort to ask candidates running for office directly about a few of the issues that people with disabilities may care about this election cycle. We decided to ask all the major candidates running for US House and Senate, the Governor of North Dakota, as well as all everybody running for North Dakota Legislative office throughout our service area four basic questions in order to allow them to present to us their vision of how they will address the issues facing people with disabilities.

Sadly, not every candidate responded to the multiple efforts by our office to get their input. The following is from US Senate candidate and current US Congressman Rick Berg, North Dakota Gubernatorial candidate and current North Dakota State Senator Ryan Taylor, and local candidates Louis Pinkerton (House District 40), Lynn Jacobson (North Dakota Senate District 2), and Robert Kibler (House District 38). We would like everybody for taking the time to fill out the surveys and sharing their views with us.

It is important to note that the following information is shared for informational purposes only and should not be seen as an endorsement of any candidate for any office.

Candidate Name:  Rick Berg
1. The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?
Answer: The disconnect between overall low unemployment in the community and underemployment among the disabled suggests that we have much work to do.  I believe we need a multi-pronged approach to address this issue:  (1) We need to continue training programs such as those operated by Independence Inc., (2) Greater outreach to the business community to educate employers and break down stereotypes, and (3) Continued advocacy with government leaders to understand the needs and challenges faced by the disabled and the organizations which exist to assist them.

2. We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer: The shortage of affordable housing – particularly in western North Dakota – is a challenge shared by all members of the community.  However, many of the issues surrounding housing are addressed at the State and Local level.  For example, transportation and other infrastructure policies are most often set in Bismarck and have a direct impact on housing availability.  Likewise, regulations such as zoning and housing codes are determined locally.  The Federal Government retains also a significant role in housing both in direct support through HUD as well as a large role in providing access to credit for affordable housing construction through the LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit).  As a Member of the House Ways & Means Committee with jurisdiction over the tax code, I have and will continue to support reauthorization of this vital program to encourage the construction of more affordable housing across North Dakota.

3. Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer: The Federal Government most directly supports state medical needs through Medicare and Medicaid.  The single greatest threat to these programs is the massive and rapidly growing federal debt – totaling over $16 trillion and growing at a rate of over $4 billion per day.  If we fail to bring this debt under control, interest on that ballooning debt will increasingly crowd out important national priorities like providing adequate medical care.  I’m committed to preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare, which is why I’ve voted consistently to reduce the debt.
4) What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer: Education is the key to removing barriers for the disabled.  We need more organizations such as yours which not only provide services – which are obviously important, but also to serve as a vital link in telling the story of the many successes and challenges overcome by the disabled every day in North Dakota.  People need to understand that the lives of young women, like Debbie Denatdeale, who you highlighted in the Spring newsletter, enrich and should inspire us all.
 

Candidate Name:   Sen. Ryan Taylor, Candidate for Governor

1)The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?

Answer: At a time when North Dakota has some great achievements – low unemployment, a massive surplus – we also have challenges that deserve our attention.
  As governor, my ultimate priority would be to ensure all North Dakotans maintain the unique and special quality life we have all come to know and expect.  I believe our friends and neighbors with disabilities want nothing more than that same quality of life and to overcome the barriers to independence that stand in their way.
  Education is one of the most important investments we can make in our future, and we must make sure all people have access to an appropriate, affordable, integrated education to develop the work and life skills necessary for a life of independence.  A governor’s budget reflects our priorities, and a Taylor budget would ensure programs assisting individuals with disabilities are represented and adequately funded.  This includes services ranging from Vocational Rehabilitation to public transportation systems, both of which are so important to low-income people and individuals with disabilities who simply want to get up and go to work each day.
  In a Taylor administration, all voices would be heard.  We would help promote employment first, enforce North Dakota’s anti-discrimination laws, and work to eliminate the misconception that people with disabilities are not as productive or as loyal as those without disabilities.

2)We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer:  Within our current housing incentive fund, only half of those dollars are specifically targeted to median-income earners.  I believe that if we are going to put public dollars into these kinds of programs, we should increase that target level to assist more of our people, especially those who most need the assistance.  In addition, any housing being built with public dollars should always include accessible units in order to increase housing options for folks with disabilities.
And for those who do have homes, we want to be sure they can stay in them.  We’ve proposed a property tax relief plan that is simple and broad-based, calling for a $100,000 reduction of the true and full valuation of a North Dakotan’s primary residence or agricultural property.  This reduction would be in addition to any homestead tax credit currently provided to elderly or low-income earners with disabilities.  In an effort to assist our renters, our plan also includes a credit to the renter’s income tax that is 15 percent of that individual’s annual rent, with a maximum credit of $900 per year.

3) Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer: I have a long history of strong support for making health care more accessible to our most vulnerable citizens, and my support, as governor, to meeting that goal would not change.
As governor, I would continue to advocate for expanding access to North Dakota’s Children’s  Health Insurance Program (CHIP), increasing Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) and support of these services through Medicaid dollars, and expanding the capacity of mental health providers here in North Dakota.
These services don’t come for free, and North Dakota deserves a governor who understands the challenges families face regarding access to affordable health care.  We know that an individual is better able to be self-sufficient and contribute to our state, communities and workforce when he or she has a healthy mind and body.
4) What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer:  North Dakota is growing and changing very rapidly and our state’s prosperity continues to rise, these benefits aren’t reaching all of our people.  We need to make sure that those who face the most challenges  – the elderly, our children, low-income, and individuals with disabilities – are not left behind.
I believe the most effective way to break through many barriers is education, and that’s why much of our campaign for governor focuses on making improvements in education, and that would include education for individuals with disabilities.  Without a proper, integrated education to learn life skills, finding employment and becoming an independent and active participant in one’s community is much more difficult.
Other Comments: 
Throughout this campaign, I have said that I’m running to be “The People’s Governor”.  I believe North Dakota is at a crossroads, and we need a leader who will stand up and speak up for ALL our people – young and old, rich and poor.  We need a governor who will leave a legacy long after this oil has been harvested, someone whose priorities and goals are set keeping the quality of life of all North Dakotans in mind.

During my ten years in the State Senate, I have been a proud supporter of improving opportunity and enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities.  As your governor, my door would always be open, and I would be a partner with you in meeting your mission by advocating for the freedom of choice for individuals with disabilities to live independently and by helping you remove those barriers that stand in anyone’s way.
 

Candidate Name :                            Robert Kibler   Dist. 38
1) The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?
Answer:
Administrative liaisons to negotiate jobs for people with disabilities.  Employers need to be educated/oriented, and know more about the means by which persons with disabilities can be productive and fit in.
2) We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer:
Zoning changes:  smaller frontage, smaller setbacks , denser housing foot print; enforcement of  federal law and a progressive interior/exterior design structure making accommodations for persons with disabilities and seniors user friendly building design.
3) Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer:
Increased funding for those agencies involved in ensuring access to healthcare for adults and children with disabilities and greater state support for agencies like the Family Village plus increased scope and mission.

4) What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer:
Physical access, enforcement of federal law, and higher state standards for access.
Other Comments:
I am quite sure that I fully support your mission.
 

Candidate Name        Louis Pinkerton, House District 40
1) The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?

Answer:
1. Educating persons with disabilities in skills sets that are most appropriate for jobs.
2. Remote or “work from home” being marketed to employers
3. Technology used to allow people with disability to be competitive for jobs.

2) We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer:
? Allow depreciation on housing for people with disabilities
? Develop housing options for persons with mental health disorders
? Better programs for “home-based” residential housing versus traditional nursing homes

3) Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer:
North Dakota spends very little on medical care for the citizens of this state- that needs to change.  No mental illness should be without needed medication-regardless of cost.

4) What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer:
? Mental Health Services needs more funding
? Better training and marketing of using employees with disabilities
? Cost of mental health medications and treatment
Other Comments)
Answer:
I am a member of the Minot Vocational Workshop, now known as KALIX, Board of Directors.  My granddaughter has Spina Bifida.  She is beautiful.  She just started school in West Fargo.  Her health needs are numerous, moderately severe, and expensive.
Candidate Name:
 

Lynn Jacobson, North Dakota Senate District 2
Answer:
Thank you for the opportunity to review your information.

1) The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?  
Answer:
I believe the best way to address the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is to provide a partnership program between Job Service and private originations such as yourselves that would match available skill sets with available job requirements.

2)We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer:
Housing availability is a problem for not only people with disabilities but also the whole cross section of those seeking housing in western North Dakota.
More supply will help but in the short term there will be a need for incentives to spur the development of community-based housing for people with disabilities along with those with fixed or low income.

3)Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer:
Affordable health care is a hot button issue especially at the Federal level.  I think everybody is in agreement that access to good health care should be available but of course this is disagreement as to who pays for it.

4)What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer:
I would see some of the biggest barriers would be the recognition by others that people with disabilities do have talents that can make them contributors to society if they are given a chance.  The challenge for all of us is to not “pre-judge” anybody.



Independence Inc. Candidate Questionnaire's 2012
November 5, 2012

In an effort to better inform voters with disabilities, their friends and families, this election cycle Independence, Inc. undertook an effort to ask candidates running for office directly about a few of the issues that people with disabilities may care about this election cycle. We decided to ask all the major candidates running for US House and Senate, the Governor of North Dakota, as well as all everybody running for North Dakota Legislative office throughout our service area four basic questions in order to allow them to present to us their vision of how they will address the issues facing people with disabilities.

Sadly, not every candidate responded to the multiple efforts by our office to get their input. The following is from US Senate candidate and current US Congressman Rick Berg, North Dakota Gubernatorial candidate and current North Dakota State Senator Ryan Taylor, and local candidates Louis Pinkerton (House District 40), Lynn Jacobson (North Dakota Senate District 2), and Robert Kibler (House District 38). We would like everybody for taking the time to fill out the surveys and sharing their views with us.

It is important to note that the following information is shared for informational purposes only and should not be seen as an endorsement of any candidate for any office.

Candidate Name:  Rick Berg
1. The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?
Answer: The disconnect between overall low unemployment in the community and underemployment among the disabled suggests that we have much work to do.  I believe we need a multi-pronged approach to address this issue:  (1) We need to continue training programs such as those operated by Independence Inc., (2) Greater outreach to the business community to educate employers and break down stereotypes, and (3) Continued advocacy with government leaders to understand the needs and challenges faced by the disabled and the organizations which exist to assist them.

2. We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer: The shortage of affordable housing – particularly in western North Dakota – is a challenge shared by all members of the community.  However, many of the issues surrounding housing are addressed at the State and Local level.  For example, transportation and other infrastructure policies are most often set in Bismarck and have a direct impact on housing availability.  Likewise, regulations such as zoning and housing codes are determined locally.  The Federal Government retains also a significant role in housing both in direct support through HUD as well as a large role in providing access to credit for affordable housing construction through the LIHTC (Low Income Housing Tax Credit).  As a Member of the House Ways & Means Committee with jurisdiction over the tax code, I have and will continue to support reauthorization of this vital program to encourage the construction of more affordable housing across North Dakota.

3. Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer: The Federal Government most directly supports state medical needs through Medicare and Medicaid.  The single greatest threat to these programs is the massive and rapidly growing federal debt – totaling over $16 trillion and growing at a rate of over $4 billion per day.  If we fail to bring this debt under control, interest on that ballooning debt will increasingly crowd out important national priorities like providing adequate medical care.  I’m committed to preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare, which is why I’ve voted consistently to reduce the debt.
4) What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer: Education is the key to removing barriers for the disabled.  We need more organizations such as yours which not only provide services – which are obviously important, but also to serve as a vital link in telling the story of the many successes and challenges overcome by the disabled every day in North Dakota.  People need to understand that the lives of young women, like Debbie Denatdeale, who you highlighted in the Spring newsletter, enrich and should inspire us all.
 

Candidate Name:   Sen. Ryan Taylor, Candidate for Governor

1)The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?

Answer: At a time when North Dakota has some great achievements – low unemployment, a massive surplus – we also have challenges that deserve our attention.
  As governor, my ultimate priority would be to ensure all North Dakotans maintain the unique and special quality life we have all come to know and expect.  I believe our friends and neighbors with disabilities want nothing more than that same quality of life and to overcome the barriers to independence that stand in their way.
  Education is one of the most important investments we can make in our future, and we must make sure all people have access to an appropriate, affordable, integrated education to develop the work and life skills necessary for a life of independence.  A governor’s budget reflects our priorities, and a Taylor budget would ensure programs assisting individuals with disabilities are represented and adequately funded.  This includes services ranging from Vocational Rehabilitation to public transportation systems, both of which are so important to low-income people and individuals with disabilities who simply want to get up and go to work each day.
  In a Taylor administration, all voices would be heard.  We would help promote employment first, enforce North Dakota’s anti-discrimination laws, and work to eliminate the misconception that people with disabilities are not as productive or as loyal as those without disabilities.

2)We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer:  Within our current housing incentive fund, only half of those dollars are specifically targeted to median-income earners.  I believe that if we are going to put public dollars into these kinds of programs, we should increase that target level to assist more of our people, especially those who most need the assistance.  In addition, any housing being built with public dollars should always include accessible units in order to increase housing options for folks with disabilities.
And for those who do have homes, we want to be sure they can stay in them.  We’ve proposed a property tax relief plan that is simple and broad-based, calling for a $100,000 reduction of the true and full valuation of a North Dakotan’s primary residence or agricultural property.  This reduction would be in addition to any homestead tax credit currently provided to elderly or low-income earners with disabilities.  In an effort to assist our renters, our plan also includes a credit to the renter’s income tax that is 15 percent of that individual’s annual rent, with a maximum credit of $900 per year.

3) Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer: I have a long history of strong support for making health care more accessible to our most vulnerable citizens, and my support, as governor, to meeting that goal would not change.
As governor, I would continue to advocate for expanding access to North Dakota’s Children’s  Health Insurance Program (CHIP), increasing Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) and support of these services through Medicaid dollars, and expanding the capacity of mental health providers here in North Dakota.
These services don’t come for free, and North Dakota deserves a governor who understands the challenges families face regarding access to affordable health care.  We know that an individual is better able to be self-sufficient and contribute to our state, communities and workforce when he or she has a healthy mind and body.
4) What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer:  North Dakota is growing and changing very rapidly and our state’s prosperity continues to rise, these benefits aren’t reaching all of our people.  We need to make sure that those who face the most challenges  – the elderly, our children, low-income, and individuals with disabilities – are not left behind.
I believe the most effective way to break through many barriers is education, and that’s why much of our campaign for governor focuses on making improvements in education, and that would include education for individuals with disabilities.  Without a proper, integrated education to learn life skills, finding employment and becoming an independent and active participant in one’s community is much more difficult.
Other Comments: 
Throughout this campaign, I have said that I’m running to be “The People’s Governor”.  I believe North Dakota is at a crossroads, and we need a leader who will stand up and speak up for ALL our people – young and old, rich and poor.  We need a governor who will leave a legacy long after this oil has been harvested, someone whose priorities and goals are set keeping the quality of life of all North Dakotans in mind.

During my ten years in the State Senate, I have been a proud supporter of improving opportunity and enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities.  As your governor, my door would always be open, and I would be a partner with you in meeting your mission by advocating for the freedom of choice for individuals with disabilities to live independently and by helping you remove those barriers that stand in anyone’s way.
 

Candidate Name :                            Robert Kibler   Dist. 38
1) The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?
Answer:
Administrative liaisons to negotiate jobs for people with disabilities.  Employers need to be educated/oriented, and know more about the means by which persons with disabilities can be productive and fit in.
2) We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer:
Zoning changes:  smaller frontage, smaller setbacks , denser housing foot print; enforcement of  federal law and a progressive interior/exterior design structure making accommodations for persons with disabilities and seniors user friendly building design.
3) Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer:
Increased funding for those agencies involved in ensuring access to healthcare for adults and children with disabilities and greater state support for agencies like the Family Village plus increased scope and mission.

4) What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer:
Physical access, enforcement of federal law, and higher state standards for access.
Other Comments:
I am quite sure that I fully support your mission.
 

Candidate Name        Louis Pinkerton, House District 40
1) The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?

Answer:
1. Educating persons with disabilities in skills sets that are most appropriate for jobs.
2. Remote or “work from home” being marketed to employers
3. Technology used to allow people with disability to be competitive for jobs.

2) We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer:
? Allow depreciation on housing for people with disabilities
? Develop housing options for persons with mental health disorders
? Better programs for “home-based” residential housing versus traditional nursing homes

3) Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer:
North Dakota spends very little on medical care for the citizens of this state- that needs to change.  No mental illness should be without needed medication-regardless of cost.

4) What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer:
? Mental Health Services needs more funding
? Better training and marketing of using employees with disabilities
? Cost of mental health medications and treatment
Other Comments)
Answer:
I am a member of the Minot Vocational Workshop, now known as KALIX, Board of Directors.  My granddaughter has Spina Bifida.  She is beautiful.  She just started school in West Fargo.  Her health needs are numerous, moderately severe, and expensive.
Candidate Name:
 

Lynn Jacobson, North Dakota Senate District 2
Answer:
Thank you for the opportunity to review your information.

1) The state of North Dakota, and specifically the 11 counties served by Independence Inc., has some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. However, studies have continued to show that employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than the rates of those without disabilities. How do you feel this problem can best be addressed?  
Answer:
I believe the best way to address the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is to provide a partnership program between Job Service and private originations such as yourselves that would match available skill sets with available job requirements.

2)We have an extreme shortage of affordable; community based and integrated housing options for people with disabilities throughout our service area. What policies or programs would you support to help change this?
Answer:
Housing availability is a problem for not only people with disabilities but also the whole cross section of those seeking housing in western North Dakota.
More supply will help but in the short term there will be a need for incentives to spur the development of community-based housing for people with disabilities along with those with fixed or low income.

3)Health care access is an issue that affects all North Dakotan’s, but specifically adults and children with disabilities.  What policies will you support to fully ensure access to much needed medical treatment, including access to mental health treatment, throughout our state?
Answer:
Affordable health care is a hot button issue especially at the Federal level.  I think everybody is in agreement that access to good health care should be available but of course this is disagreement as to who pays for it.

4)What do you see as the biggest barriers facing people with disabilities in North Dakota in 2012? How do you feel these barriers can best be removed?
Answer:
I would see some of the biggest barriers would be the recognition by others that people with disabilities do have talents that can make them contributors to society if they are given a chance.  The challenge for all of us is to not “pre-judge” anybody.





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