Committee looking at laws governing initiatives, referendums

Jul 31, 2017

Initiated and Referred Measures Study Commission chairman William Neumann (7/31/17).
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

A special commission has begun looking at North Dakota’s initiative and referendum process.

The Initiated and Referred Measures Study Commission was created by the 2017 Legislature. And it is to make recommendations to the 2019 Legislature on any changes in laws and procedures governing those citizen-initiated ballot measures.

"One of the things that some people have said is they're a little worried that the purpose of this commission is to try to squelch public participation in the government of North Dakota," said the Commission's chairman, former state Supreme Court Justice William Neumann. "That is simply not true."

Neumann suggested the Commission could devote one of its meetings to hearing from people interested in the topic.

"I believe that the people should have opportunities for direct input, yes," said committee member Ellen Chaffee, the former president of Valley City State University. "I'm always in favor of improving things. But I do believe we need to have direct input by citizens."

The Commission plans to hold up to 6 meetings.

It's made up of 19 people -- six of whom are state legislators.