State House Resurrects Amendment On Expensive Ballot Measures

On election day 2014 the North Dakota delivered a bloodbath for eight measures on the statewide ballot. All but one of them failed, including Measure 4 which would have amended the state constitution to require a) that measures with a “significant” cost in tax dollars go on the general election ballot and b) constitutional amendments directing the state to make an appropriation be banned outright.

I thought it was good reform. Expensive statutory measures should get the full scrutiny of the general election ballot, and I don’t think it’s wise policy to put spending requirements in the state constitution. But perhaps reflective of public backlash against too many measures on the ballot, the public defeated it.

But House Majority Leader Al Carlson, who was the primary sponsor of HCR3011 in the 2013 session which became Measure 4, is bringing the issue back. He didn’t like the amended version of his bill which ended up on the ballot, and he wants another shot at it.

Here are the changes to law in what is now HCR3047:

hcr3047

As you can see, the legislation doesn’t prohibit constitutional amendments direct appropriations and it defines specifically the fiscal threshold ($20 million) for measures that must be placed on the general election ballot.

Honestly, I liked Measure 4 better, but this is at least a step in the right direction. This resolution passed the House today with no debate on a 71-17 vote.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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