Letter to the editor: Measure 2 would not be up for change after seven yearsI keep hearing that if the citizens of North Dakota pass Measure 2, it will “lock it in the Constitution with no changes for seven years.” Could someone tell me where in the state Constitution or set of state statutes that say it’s locked in for seven years?
By: Leon L. Mallberg, Dickinson, N.D. , The Jamestown Sun
I keep hearing that if the citizens of North Dakota pass Measure 2, it will “lock it in the Constitution with no changes for seven years.” Could someone tell me where in the state Constitution or set of state statutes that say it’s locked in for seven years?
The only thing I can find is if a legislative bill is passed and signed by the governor and the people refer it to an election and vote it down, then the Legislature cannot change the intent of the people for the next seven years without a supermajority. This is also true in the case of an initiated measure, where the people take matters into their own hands and pass a statute. The Legislature can only alter the intent of the statute within the first seven years with a supermajority.
With Measure 2, the people are considering a change to the state Constitution. That is the set of rules, so to speak, that govern the behavior of the Legislature. I remember when the majority leader of the House of Representatives said, and I quote, “Ah, the state Constitution is only a suggested guideline.” Oh really! With the change of the Constitution there is no seven years, etc. It is the law of the state, set by the people who pay the bills. The Legislature is compelled to comply with that law whether it’s seven years, 17 years or 57 years and even if 100 percent of them don’t like it. And we the poor average citizens thought we didn’t have any power! Our founding fathers (and mothers) knew what they were doing and I thank them for their intellect and foresight.
Now the opposition has rights to. For example, let’s say Measure 2 passes on June 12. On June 13 the opposition has the right to take out a petition to reverse the actions of Measure 2, gather 28,000 to 30,000 signatures of state voters and present that petition to the secretary of state at least 90 days before the November election.
Members of Keep It Local North Dakota, which opposes the measure, state they have 300,000 supporters so it should only take a couple of days to gather signatures. They would, in effect, be asking to change the constitution back to the property tax situation we’ve had since it was put it in place. This could all happen within the 2012 calendar year. Isn’t it great to know what we can do and who is really vested with authority!
Leon L. Mallberg