Legislative attack on term limits a slap in the face to voters
Lawmakers are working to change what people overwhelmingly voted for in ND.
A record 46,000 North Dakotans signed petitions to have a term limits measure placed on the November 2022 general election ballot. The result — 150,363 voters approved it with a 63.43% vote, applying term limits to our legislature and governor. This included majorities in every single legislative district and every county in the state.
Sadly, North Dakota legislators have proposed altering the eight-year (per chamber) House and Senate limits. House Concurrent Resolution 3019 attempts to change our limits to 12-year stints with four-year breaks; allowing up to 48 years between both chambers!
The term limits measure included language that prohibits the Legislature from altering or abolishing legislative term limits because they clearly have a conflict of interest. Article XV - Section 4 of the North Dakota state constitution reads: “...the legislative assembly shall not have authority to propose an amendment to this constitution to alter or repeal the term limitations established in section 1 [legislative term limits] of this article.”
Legislators take an oath to the North Dakota constitution, yet this resolution is unconstitutional and a flagrant disregard of the will of the voters. If allowed to go forward, and if it survives a legal challenge, this proposal would put the issue again before voters, who will almost certainly reject it.
The most egregious argument by many legislators is their claim that voters are simply not smart enough to have understood what they were voting on. Not only is this insulting, but it is also silly logic. If voters did not understand the term limits language, which was written on every ballot, then how can these same voters elect their legislators, whose voting records they almost certainly know less about?
There are few issues that are as bipartisan and popular as term limits. Evidence shows that term limits result in more fiscally sound state government and reduce bureaucratic control. They increase citizen knowledge of government, voter participation and the number of candidates running. Unfortunately, much of our political “leadership” is openly hostile to the idea, before it gets a chance to benefit the people of North Dakota.
Hendrix is the former chairman of North Dakota for Term Limits Measure 1 campaign.