The most blatantly arrogant attempt by lawmakers to place themselves above voters will be on the ballot as Measure 2. The measure would give the Legislature a say in final approval of citizen-led constitutional measures. It seems North Dakota lawmakers believe they’re smarter than the voters.
A refresher on how we got here. SCR 4001 passed the 2019 Legislature and adds additional barriers to citizen-led constitutional measures. The process approved by 31 Republican Senators and 63 Republican Representatives would give the Legislature the power to say whether or not they approve of the citizen’s vote. Zero Democratic lawmakers voted for the resolution. If the Legislature deems the public knowledgeable on their measure vote, they would allow it to become law. If lawmakers deem the voters were too dumb and there must have been “confusion” at the ballot box, the Legislature can reject the voters’ approved measure. Under Measure 2, the attempted change would then need to be voted on a second time by the public. A redo that will cost more money.
Why are these ND Republican legislators anti-voter? Proponents will attempt to make the case they are saving you from outside influences a.k.a. “out-of-state money” at the ballot box. They don’t reject the out-of-state money for their own campaigns often filtered through PACs. They’ll also claim they’re defending North Dakota’s Constitution. In reality, they’re really trying to save themselves from you, the voters.
These politicians are still angry at voters for passing an ethics commission. Lawmakers rejected ethical oversight time after time. Voters took it into their own hands. Legislators did all they could to defeat that measure in 2018. They lost. It angered and scared them. In the 2019 session, they did all they could to water that ethics commission down. For example, they appointed Rep. Jim Kasper as their lead in the House on ethics.
Gaining control over the citizen initiative and referral process has long been a desire of the Legislature. Attempts to shift how, when, and where signatures can be collected along with other changes have found their way into bill form over the years. Many of those have been turned away until this point. Voters should soundly reject this latest attempt before them.
The ultimate irony in all of this is how legislators view voters. While they run all over the state saying how wise voters are to elect them and keep them in power, they also seem to think voters are too dumb to understand a measure and what their vote means. Measure 2 puts that misguided belief in writing.
Your vote is your power. Voters should think long and hard on whether they want to minimize that power to a Legislature routinely out-of-touch. These legislators believe they’re smarter than you. They are not. In fact, had they listened to voters at the ballot box over the years, perhaps some of the recent budget volatility could have been avoided. Instead, they ignored you. Lawmakers are hoping you’ll agree that they are more intelligent than you. Prove them wrong.