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Berginski: Are some of these measures necessary?

By Staff | Oct 17, 2014

I’ve said this quite a few times already: I don’t care about most of the measures on the November ballot. Let me clarify that statement, so there’s no confusion.

There are measures on the ballot that are huge points of contention, like Measures 1, 5 and 6. Every single time I peruse the websites of each of the big North Dakota newspapers – you know, the Minot Daily News, the Fargo Forum, the Bismarck Tribune and so on – there’s not a day goes by where I don’t see a letter on each of the measures. And every letter I’ve seen brings out the same arguments, just phrased differently. With no new perspective on any of these issues, I start to skim over each letter, or if any of these measures come up when two or more people are talking, I tune out. (That being said, I will still vote on these measures.)

This isn’t about those measures. This is about three other measures that, in my opinion, really even shouldn’t be on the ballot.

Let’s take Measure 2, which, if approved, would forbid state and local governments from imposing “any mortgage taxes or any sales or transfer taxes on the mortgage or transfer of real property.” Why is this even on the ballot? Is this really even a problem in North Dakota? It isn’t now, nor has it been (at least not to my knowledge).

I’ve done a column on Measure 3 before, but for those who haven’t read it, let me break it down for you. What good will come from changing the governing body of our state’s higher ed system from a 9-member citizen board to a 3-member governor-appointed board? If you really think this will benefit students coming into college from around and out of the state, or even solve or prevent any past problems, then I have a bridge to sell you.

Measure 4, if approved, would do two things: One, it would force “initiated measures that are estimated to have a significant fiscal impact” onto a general election ballot. Two, it would “prohibit the approval for circulation of any petition to initiate a constitutional amendment that would make a direct appropriation of public funds for a specific purpose or require the legislative assembly to appropriate funds for a specific purpose.” We know the initiative and referral process is vulnerable, but this would bypass it altogether, altering the very fabric of representative democracy we cherish. There is very little reason why we should give up that kind of power, thus there’s little reason why it should be on the ballot.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing I’m not the Secretary of State, otherwise the ballot this November would’ve been a lot shorter.

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