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House passes modification of term limits, and extending days for the Legislative Session

The North Dakota House has approved a Constitutional measure, to amend the new term limits article.

That article —which passed in the general election last year – limits legislators and the Governor to eight years in office – or two four year terms. The new measure – sponsored by Fargo Republican Representative Jim Kasper – would lengthen that to 12 years for lawmakers, the Governor, and the other executive branch offices. It would also allow legislators to serve another 12 years, after being away from their chambers for four years. They could also serve 12 years in the other chamber.

Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) is the main sponsor of HCR 3019.

"Assume you are a business owner with 94 employees," Kasper said on the House floor. "Let's further assume that the law of North Dakota is that every eight years, you must fire 100 percent of your employees, and replace them with all new employees. And you can never, ever rehire those first employees again, that you fired after eight years of service. This is exactly what the current term limits measure requires."

Opponents of Kasper’s proposal say when voters okayed the term limits bill, they put in a prohibition, so that legislators could not propose changes to term limits. Rep.resentative Lori VanWinkle (R-Minot) argued Kasper’s measure is unconstitutional.

"This resolution is a slap in the face to the people who voted for it (term limits)," VanWinkle said. "Consider this — the very legislators the people elected from the same ballot with the term limits measure — are working against them with this resolution. I see what we are doing here today as an abuse of our influence and our position."

The measure passed 63 to 29 – and will now be considered in the state Senate.

The House also passed a proposed Constitutional measure that would lengthen the Legislative session from 80 days to 100 days. An additional 20 days could be added, with a two-thirds vote of each chamber. Supporters say that would allow legislators to meet in the off-years, if necessary.

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