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New law assists families of fallen first responders

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 3:49 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - On Monday, Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., signed a bill that would cover the cost of health insurance for families of emergency responders who die in the line of duty.

The bill was in honor of the latest fallen officer, Cody Holte.

Sixty-five names line the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Memorial of those killed in the line of duty. In May, Grand Forks officer Cody Holte’s name will be added to the wall. Holte was shot in May of 2020 while on duty.

The bill signed into law on Monday honors him and other fallen officers.

Mandy Holte stood behind Burgum as he signed House Bill 1435 in honor of her late husband, Cody.

“The Grand Forks Police Department will never be the same, nor will the law enforcement community ever be the same,” said Grand Forks Police Chief Mark Nelson.

The bill will cover the cost of health insurance for surviving spouses and dependents of those lost in the line of duty.

“It’s a small step that recognizes we owe the families of our fallen heroes both an immense debt of gratitude, but also actual, tangible protections,” said Representative Zachary Ista, the prime bill sponsor.

Burgum says the bill recognizes the sacrifices North Dakota first responders make every day.

“Just as their loved ones protected and cared for the health and safety of their community, we can show that we care as well by taking care of this one burden off their plate when the unthinkable happens,” said Burgum.

The bill has a retroactive date of 2010.

It will benefit the families of Bismarck fallen Sgt. Steven Kenner and Burleigh County Deputy Bryan Sleeper.

For Grand Forks representatives, the bill hits close to home.

“It’s my hope this law honors his legacy and serves as a tribute to him, his family, and all those who serve,” said Ista.

Holte and the others will always be remembered, their name on a memorial, but the bill offers real help for those left behind.

The bill also includes correctional facility staff, emergency medical services personal, and firefighters who are employed by the state.

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