Minot Senator proposing a major study of initiatives and referendums

Jan 9, 2017

Sen. David Hogue (R-Minot).
Credit Courtesy ND Legislature

A state Senator from Minot has introduced a bill creating a commission to study the state’s initiative and referral process.

"I want us to look at where the system could be better -- that's all," said Sen. David Hogue (R-Minot). "Many stakeholders are saying it isn't functioning the way we would want it to."

Hogue said he though rather than the Legislature taking a look at it, and then putting something on the ballot, why not do a comprehensive study.

But some who have been involved in gathering petition signature to put those measures on the ballot say this is part of an effort by lawmakers to make the process more difficult.

"It's an attack on the powers reserved to the people in the North Dakota state Constitution," said ND Watchdog Network managing director Dustin Gawrylow. "It has a specific goal -- creating restrictions and hurdles for anyone who wants to use the process."

Gawrylow said he believes some of this is a reaction to Marsy’s Law – which was primarily funded by a California billionaire. He said maybe there should be limits on measure that spend money – but he would reject any effort to increase the number of signatures required to get measures on the ballot.

The bill will be heard Friday morning (1-13) in the Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.