Port: Tension in the Legislature after lawmaker and Sanford Health employee is appointed to PERS Board


MINOT, N.D. — The name of the North Dakota Public Employees Retirement System, or PERS, can be a little bit misleading, because PERS does a lot more than handle retirement system. They also handle other benefits our state’s tens of thousands of public employees enjoy, such as vision, dental, and health insurance coverage.

It’s a very consequential state agency, and it’s governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees of which two members must, by law, be members of the legislature. These members are appointed by Legislative Management.

The current appointees are Rep. Greg Stemen, a Republican, and Rep. Gretchen Dobervich, a Democrat. Both are from Fargo.

It’s Stemen’s appointment that has raised some eyebrows. He’s an employee of Sanford Health, which also provides health insurance to PERS employees, and perhaps “raised eyebrows” is putting it mildly. Sen. Kyle Davison, a Republican from Fargo, had some sharp words about the appointment during a Friday, Jan. 6, meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“I was going to ask it right away, but thought I’d take a deep breath to see if I could calm down a little bit, but I didn’t. Do you think it’s appropriate for someone that’s employed by Sanford health to be on the board of NDPERS?” Davison asked Scott Miller, the executive director of PERS.

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