LETTER: Measure 1 is a new face on rejected ideas
As I’ve listened to the discussion on SB 2351 and now Measure 1 I’ve noticed that there is a point of view that has been absent from the debate. That point of view is how the results of the November 2014 election apply to this issue.
There were two questions on the ballot that are very similar to the question before us today. The first was the proposed clean water, parks, and recreation amendment.
We all saw and heard a thousand different advertisements from a hundred different angles but the underlying idea was the same. The ads planted a seed in the voter’s mind as to what could be accomplished with the large sum of money that would be invested. Whether the ads featured an Olympic hockey player promising skating rinks in every neighborhood or a grandfather promising that this was the way to ensure that future generations will have good fishing holes, they all claimed that financial investment was the key to conserving North Dakota’s resources.
On the other side of the issue was a large coalition of North Dakota based groups that had a far different idea. Their thought was that true, long-term conservation is best entrusted to family agriculturists who are tied to the land in a way that a corporation never could be.
There is no common ground between these two views and the citizens of North Dakota were asked to decide which direction the state will go. The question was this: which is more important to the future of our resources, money or people? After the votes were counted there could be no questioning the results. By an overwhelming margin, nearly 80 percent of the voters wanted local control of the land by the families who tend it as it has always been in our state.
The second measure on the ballot whose idea runs in very close parallel to SB 2351/Measure 1 was the proposed change in pharmacy ownership.
The supporters of expanding corporate ownership claimed economic benefits of corporate efficiency over that of any other structure. With the promise of $4 prescriptions, the voters were told that the existing law holding back corporations is actually holding us back financially. By changing this law, we would have to give up some local control of our pharmacies but we were assured again and again that the benefits would far outweigh any negative consequences.
Those opposed to expanding corporate ownership had serious doubts. They argued that increasing corporate influence could not and would not provide the benefits that were being advertised and that the loss of local control would make the situation worse, not better. The opponents of the measure claimed that having pharmacies owned by local people who are tied to the community is the best ownership structure for the long term.
Again, the voters were presented with two sides of the issue and were asked to decide which argument was valid and correct for the future of the state. In a landslide vote, 75 percent of the voters chose local control over the promise of corporate efficiency.
Five short months after the voters of N.D. sent such a clear message, the Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that defied the election results. They missed the message that North Dakotans trust the stewardship of our resources to family-owned agriculture, not monetary interests, and if given the choice between local control or corporate investment, local control is always the priority.
Please join me in voting “NO” on Measure 1.