ND Catholic Conference: No on Measures 1, 3

Oct 6, 2018

The North Dakota Catholic Conference is the latest organization to oppose Measure One on the November ballot.

That measure would create a state ethics commission, would require more transparency in donations, restrict gifts to elected officials from lobbyists, and prevents officials from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving state government. It's a proposed amendment to the state's Constitution.

"This is a difficult issue for us," said Conference executive director Christopher Dodson. "No one's opposed to integrity."

Dodson said what matters is the actual language of the measure.

"The actual language, we believe, is a threat to churches and charities," Dodson said.

Dodson said the measure would require the charities and churches to disclose the names of every contributor, even if only a small amount of their contributions was used to influence government action, or speak out on a ballot measure.

"Churches and charities do not support or oppose candidates," Dodson said. "They don't contribute to public officials."

Dodson says churches and charities are not big lobbyists, but they do engage in the public square, and they do provide social services.

"This measure would sweep us in with all those supposed big corporations that are spreading money around," Dodson said.

Dodson said the Conference is concerned that people could use those donor names for harassment. He said the measure, while well-intentioned, just goes too far.

The Conference has also announced its opposition to Measure 3, which would legalize recreational marijuana.  Dodson said it’s an issue concerning children, families and the health of communities, because the measure sets no limits on the possession, growth or sale of marijuana.

"Most states that have legalized recreational marijuana allowed like an ounce, or a couple of ounces," Dodson said. "There's no limits here. We can't risk our communities, our children and their health."

Dodson said there are questions on the measure that would have to be resolved by Legislative action – and that takes a two-thirds vote by each chamber.

"That's a hurdle," Dodson said. "If there are problems with Measure 3, we can't just say the Legislature will take care of it."