North Dakota voters should toss Measure 1 and Measure 2 into the trash can in the Nov. 3 election. Both of these clunkers were hatched by the North Dakota Legislature.
Let’s start with Measure 1, which would amend the state constitution to expand the State Board of Higher Education from eight members to 15. Members would serve six-year terms, instead of four, and would be barred from serving consecutive terms.
Finally, Measure 1 would bar state legislators, state employees, or anyone working full time in an institution of higher education from serving on the board, whose members are appointed by the governor.
Quite simply, the proponents of Measure 1 haven’t made the case for expanding the board. They haven’t shown how the board overseeing the state’s 11 college campuses would function more effectively by almost doubling its size — and therefore bloating the higher education bureaucracy.
Measure 1 would also clutter up the constitution with the requirement that the board meet at least once a year with the head of each campus. That’s plain silly. This is busybody legislating.
Let’s repeat: There’s been no showing whatsoever that almost doubling the size of the board would lead to better governance of the university system.
We do know, however, that it would add to the cost of government. The official estimate is that the bloated board would add $147,000 in costs in every two-year budget.
Vote no on Measure 1.
Measure 2 is even worse — a naked power grab by the Legislature to usurp voters’ ability to alter the constitution by initiative petition.
The Legislature is seeking to gut voters’ authority by requiring legislative approval of any initiated measure to amend the constitution passed by voters. If legislators approve the measure, it becomes law. If not, it goes back to the voters at the next general election.
It practically gives legislators veto power over the voters who elected them. It allows legislators to interfere with the will of voters. North Dakota voters in 1914 rejected that form of meddling.
Legislators — and all other elected officials — are accountable to the voters. Measure 2 seeks to turn that upside down and make the will of the voters accountable to legislators.
Measure 2 is a misguided effort by the Legislature to guard against the influence of outside money in influencing attempts to amend the constitution. That’s a valid concern, given passage of Marsy’s Law, the horribly written victim’s rights law.
But inserting legislators into a decision that belongs to the voters isn’t the solution. Voters alone have the authority to amend the North Dakota Constitution. Protect the will of the voters and vote no on Measure 2.
This endorsement represents the opinion of Forum Communications Co. management.