Is the state’s Legislature active enough?
It isn’t as if the North Dakota Constitution is sacrosanct.
Whether through constitutional initiated measures or items voters decide on based on the Legislature, adjustments to the North Dakota Constitution are rare or few and far between. The debate might rage when it comes to the U.S. Constitution, although it isn’t uncommon for state constitutions to see changes made to them through different processes in different states.
For example, consider the initiated measures approved by voters in recent years, proposals by the Legislature to alter the constitution based on proposals to change how the Legacy Fund earnings are to be used and how the process of constitutional citizen initiated measures are accomplished themselves.
Perhaps it’s time (once again) for a debate about the Legislature and its biennium sessions themselves.
Items on the agenda for the Legislature being followed by Minot Daily News this session often ended up with numerous conference committee reviews – even items that on their surface didn’t appear to be terribly contentious or in need of that much debate, in our humble opinion, which would seem to bog down the entire short process of the biennium structure. On other occasions, potential legislation from two years ago has resurfaced or items on this year’s agenda are expected to come back in 2021. That’s a long period for items to be out of circulation, some of which could – emphasis on could – have more impact.
Maybe the biennium structure works best for North Dakota. Maybe tabled items are improved with two years of public commentary direct to legislators or via the media.
Or maybe not.
Perhaps the sessions should last longer.
Perhaps voters should have a chance to decide if another structure works, such as annual sessions – longer or shorter than the current ones. In many, generally much larger states, our system seems very strange. But, of course, North Dakota has never shied away from doing its own thing.
But is our system working the best it could for the people of North Dakota?
Minot Daily News is not recommending any change. Rather, MDN would like to see an ongoing discussion about it in which both legislators and voters can freely offer alternatives for discussion – should there be the will.