'Marsy's Law' could mean $4 million budget impact over the 2017-2019 biennium

Sep 30, 2016

Retired district judge and former ND Attorney General Robert Wefald at the announcement of "No on 3."
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

The state’s Office of Management and Budget said an initiated Constitutional measure on the November ballot would cost North Dakota taxpayers nearly $4 million in the 2017-2019 biennium.

The measure – dubbed “Marsy’s Law” – would put rights of crime victims in the Constitution.

That estimate was given to the Legislative Management Committee – and it will be posted to the Secretary of State’s Website. OMB also said if it passes, it would cost $1.1 million to implement in the remainder of the current two year budget period.

"Where are you going to get that money, as they're already cutting budgets," said retired district judge and former North Dakota Attorney General Robert Wefald, who chairs the group "No on 3." His group opposes the measure, saying North Dakota already has good law on victim’s rights, and putting it in the Constitution makes it much harder to make changes to those laws.

"I think it's a significant financial impact on the state," Wefald said in an interview. "It's money we don't have, for a bill we don't need."

Marsy’s Law supporters disagreed with the cost estimate. They said it assumes all crime victims will sign up for notification services – and they said that hasn’t happened in other states.