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Effort to repeal pharmacy law resurfaces

BISMARCK -- Opponents of the state's pharmacy ownership law expect to file affidavits today with the North Dakota secretary of state to put the issue on the 2012 ballot.

Duane Sand, who is organizing the effort, said he will submit the petition and sponsoring committee affidavits this morning, the first step to bringing the issue to the general election.

The secretary of state and attorney general then have five to seven business days to approve the petition.

Sand said he hopes petitions can be circulated as early as next week.

He said he has been working with the secretary of state's office to make sure the format is correct and to avoid repeating mistakes.

A petition drive last year failed because organizers neglected to include a list of the measure's sponsors when they circulated petitions. The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled the petitions were invalid.

A total of 13,452 petition signatures will be needed to get the repeal measure on the ballot.

Volunteers will circulate petitions in "every corner of the state," including at the North Dakota State Fair July 22-30 in Minot, Sand said.

Eric Thompson, a Bismarck physician, is serving as the spokesman for the group because he wants his patients to have access to discounted prescriptions from large retail chains.

"I think the people of North Dakota will vote in favor for this archaic law to be repealed," Thompson said.

The North Dakota Pharmacists Association wants to keep the pharmacy ownership law. Michael Schwab, executive vice president for the organization, was not available Tuesday for comment.

Sand recently met with a subcommittee of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce to discuss the repeal effort.

Craig Whitney, president and CEO, said the subcommittee will also meet with the opposing side before making a recommendation on whether the chamber should endorse the repeal.

However, Whitney added, "The chamber is always interested in competition and free enterprise."

Amy Dalrymple is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.