Once again the North Dakota Legislature has failed to lead. Their failure will inevitably lead to initiated measures in the next election. This reluctance to act has repeatedly forced citizens to take up clipboards, gather signatures, raise money, and campaign to get public policy changed on their own. This cycle is also why lawmakers want to tighten up the citizen’s ability to pass initiated measures.

There will likely be at least two initiated measures brought because legislative rejection. Just days ago, the legislature defeated a resolution to let people decide whether ND should allow sports betting. It will end up on the ballot regardless of the Legislature’s rejection.

Perhaps more pressing is legalizing pot. The Senate overwhelmingly rejected HB 1420. The bill was an attempt by Republican Rep. Jason Dockter to get ahead of an inevitable initiated measure and allow lawmakers to set standards for recreational use. Though some of the limitations in the bill were a little more strict than necessary, Dockter should be applauded for his efforts.

When the citizens take up the issue of recreational pot again – and I predict it will pass – lawmakers will have only themselves to blame when they’re upset with the loose standards. It will be done because of their failure to lead. In their short-sightedness, lawmakers let that opportunity go up in smoke.

Tyler Axness
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