Voters unlikely to grant Legislature power over initiated measures

Sometimes one can’t fathom the group thinking of the North Dakota Legislature.

For example, why would North Dakota voters approve a measure that effectively empowers the Legislature to vote on a voter-initiated constitutional measure that had already won the support of the majority of voters?

That’s the process in the pipeline after senators on Monday approved House amendments to a resolution that allows the Legislature to vote on an initiated measure following voters’ approval.

Who does this advantage and how? It certainly doesn’t seem to benefit voters – at least not those who voted for the measure in the first place.

Additionally, the legislation doesn’t provide oversight by the Legislature for initiated constitutional measures – exactly. Following an approval by voters, a measure would then go to the Legislature for a vote. If the Legislature gives a thumbs-up to the measure, the process would advance as it has traditionally. However, if the Legislature votes against the measure, it would then go back on the ballot for voters to approve for a second time. At that point, voter approval is the final word.

What is the purpose of forcing voters to take to the ballot box twice on the same issue?

Do supporters of the resolution believe that the position of the Legislature would change the minds of voters who had already supported a voter-initiated measure? Don’t legislators routinely share their positions on initiated measures with their constituents through the entire process?

Adding an extra step – a repeat one, nonetheless – to the initiated measure process simply creates a hurdle that needn’t be.

Legislators have a point in that some initiated measures that voters have or could approve might not eventually be the best option. They have a particular perspective because they are responsible for implementing such measures and are often aware of complications or pitfalls that will emerge in implementation.

Let them make their cases during the initial process.

It’s hard to imagine voters in the state will support a plan that would ultimately make more complicated an essential function of North Dakotans’ participation in the legislative process.

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