October 13, 2020


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

McKenzie County voters will be asked to decide the fate of creating a Senior Mill Levy, as well as deciding the fate of two statewide measures that are on the November General Election ballot.
County Measure 1 is back on the ballot again after McKenzie County voters said “no” to its passage by a 964-855 vote margin in the June Primary Election.
The approximate $155,000 in local funds that the passage of this one percent mill levy would generate would have a tremendous positive benefit to the senior citizens of McKenzie County as it would allow the county’s funds to be matched by state dollars. And those dollars could be used in a multitude of ways to allow the senior members of the county to continue to live at home. Plus the money would greatly benefit the Northwest Public Transit’s ability to serve all of the residents of the county.
County Measure No. 1 definitely deserves the support of McKenzie County voters.
But when it comes to the two state measures on the ballot, both need to be turned down by the state’s citizens.
The first ballot measure, which was passed by the 2019 North Dakota Legislature, would increase the membership of the Board of Higher Education from eight to 15, increases the term length from four years to six years, and would prohibit state legislators, elected state officials, state employees, and individuals employed full time by any institution under the board’s control from serving on the board.
Obviously, if people have been following the happenings at the Board of Higher Education over the past several years, it is apparent that things need to be corrected.
But increasing the size of the board isn’t the answer.
Measure No. 1 deserves a “no” vote.
Measure No. 2, which has also been put on the ballot by the Legislature, has been described as a power grab that would limit the public’s ability to initiate changes to the state’s Constitution.
The change being proposed in the measure is that if voters decide to approve a constitutional measure, the Legislature would have to approve the voter’s actions before it would become part of the state’s Constitution. If the Legislature rejects it, the issue would once again have to be passed by the voters.
The logic that the Legislature is using in wanting to change the initiative process is to limit the influence that out-of-state interests can have on initiating and passing changes to North Dakota’s Constitution. That is understandable considering that of the five constitutional initiated measures that have been on the ballot, three were 100 percent funded by out-of-state interests and the other two were more than 85 percent funded from outside the state
North Dakota has long held that it is the public’s right to either initiate or refer changes to our state’s Constitution. And that process has served the public well over the past century.
Measure No. 2 is not the right way to address the impacts that outside influence could have on the state’s Constitution.
Measure No. 2 deserves a “no” vote.