Ralph Muecke was one of the strongest defenders of the initiated measure process over the last twenty years. This was based on the fact he was one of the most prolific grassroots petition circulators of initiated measures in North Dakota. But not only that: Ralph wanted to do his part to make sure that future generations have the same rights as he did (and did not have to jump through impossible hoops to practice those rights). To Ralph, this cause was not a partisan one. In fact, most of the time he ended up fighting his fellow Republicans on the issue. Ralph passed away in April 2020. We post his many letters to the editor regarding the initiated measure process here in his memory.
North Dakota is under attack! By who? You guessed it. By those the people elect to represent them in state government of course.
I’m talking about the current 2019 legislative session. We elect people to go to Bismarck to represent us in state government. Instead of representing our wishes and needs they try to legislate our rights away.
Our state is governed by a constitution which is drawn up for and by the people to protect the people from their government and to keep their government from getting too powerful.
But those we elect believe the people have too much power so they need to enact amendments that restrict our rights by giving themselves more power to restrict our rights, say nothing about violating the constitution and the oath they took to uphold it.
There are some 10 bills and resolutions under consideration. All if enacted, would cripple our right to amend “our”, the “peoples” constitution. These resolutions would have to be ratified by a simple majority vote of the people. It’s called giving us the shaft and making us feel good while giving it to us.
If we the people want to amend the constitution we have to go out and obtain signatures of 4 percent of the state's population to bring a proposed amendment to a vote and all that our legislators have to do is press a button on their desk to place a proposed amendment on the ballot for a vote. Is this fair?
If our legislators want to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot, shouldn’t they, like the rest of us, have to go out and obtain the required number of signatures just like we do?
Remember, the constitution belongs to the people, not those we elect.
I smell a skunk in the wood pile! This is the conclusion that I come to after reading the article about the committee created by the 2017 Legislature to recommend changes to the initiative and referral process in North Dakota.
This is bad news. The sole purpose of this group is to recommend changes, restricting the I&R process to the point of making it unusable when it comes to holding those we elect accountable. It’s all about taking away our rights.
It is made to sound like their proposals will enhance the process for the better. But knowing those we elect to represent us in the Legislature, it will be the opposite.
This committee was created by passing Senate Bill 2135 during the 2017 legislative session.
They are very careful not to mention that the passage of SB2135 is unconstitutional, the committee it created is also unconstitutional, the proposals created by this bill will also be unconstitutional. If the Legislature enacts any of the proposals of this group they will be unconstitutional as well.
Article III Section 1 of the state constitution explicitly states:
"While the legislative power of this state shall be invested in a legislative assembly consisting of a senate and house of representatives, The people reserve the power to propose and enact laws by the initiative, including the call for a constitutional convention; to recall certain elected officials. This article is self executing and all of its provisions are mandatory. Laws may be enacted to facilitate and safeguard, but not to hamper, restrict, or impair these powers."
Those we elect take an oath to uphold our state constitution. Apparently that oath doesn’t mean much when they want to take away our rights.
We the people have to protect and safeguard our rights. Those we elect will never do it for us.
Mark Twain was once quoted as saying: “When the legislature is in session, no man's life, liberty, or property is safe." I wonder if he fully realized what he was saying.
Case in point: The North Dakota Senate passed Senate Bill 2135, which now goes to the House of Representatives. If passed it would create a committee composed of Rino (Republican in name only) legislators and other Rino supporters to recommend changes to restrict and cripple the initiative and referral process.
What this really is is an organized witch hunt in search of a problem that only exists in the minds of those in public office who wish to distance themselves from accountability to the people that elected them.
They want us to forget that we the people are the government and that they are elected by us to represent us and our wishes. But it has come to the point where they think it is the other way around. As a result they have become a ruling monarchy, which is the very reason the Revolutionary War was fought. Instead of a government for the people by the people, it is rapidly becoming a government at the people against the people. Our wonderful “citizen” Legislature!
The framers of our Constitution were very intelligent people. They crafted a form of government without the flaws of their mother government. Likewise as more states joined the union, people became wiser and saw that they needed another recourse, another option to maintain accountability of those whom they elect to represent them in public office. Such as the right of initiative and referral.
Sadly, what has happened in all 23 states that have the initiative and referral process is that it has come under attack by those the people elect to represent them. We elect people to government who are supposed to represent us and our wishes. But instead, after they are elected they try to pass legislation distancing themselves from the people, restricting our rights in the legislative process. Almost every legislative session bills are introduced that little by little if passed would restrict the initiative and referral process to the point where it would become unusable.
This is how far we have strayed far away from the form of government established by our founding fathers. They say that the right of initiative and referral has been “abused.” They resent the idea of government for the people, by the people. They also fail to mention that any initiative placed on the ballot by the voters and passed would take a super majority to change it during the next seven years, but can be voted down by two-thirds majority of both houses of the Legislature. So what is the big deal? They don’t want anyone looking over their shoulder. They are of the Nancy Pelosi mentality: They have to pass it before we can really find out what’s in it. Make no mistake about it, they want to kill the initiative and referral process completely and for good! Then to add insult to injury they want to appropriate $50,000 for the study. I thought they were so short of money.
They also say that the process is too easy. Anybody who says that has never conducted a petition drive or collected signatures. It takes a lot of work and a lot of shoe leather. I know because I’ve worked different petition drives from top to bottom. It’s something you only do because you feel the issue is important enough to sacrifice your time and energy.
The best solution to this problem would be for we the people to do an initiated measure that would require our legislators to go out and collect the required number of signatures to place any initiated measure restricting our right of initiative and referral on the ballot for the people to vote on. That would put an end to bills such as SB2135.
At present all our lawmakers have to do is secure a simple majority (50.1 percent) and press a button on their desk to place any proposed amendment on the ballot. This is hardly fair, is it?
Please contact your represenatives and tell them to vote an emphatic no on Senate Bill 2135. As I said earlier Senate Bill 2135 is an organized witch hunt, a solution looking for a problem.
A measure of utmost importance to be voted on in the June 10 primary election is Measure 1.
The measure is a proposed constitutional amendment placed directly on the ballot by the 2013 Legislature. It pertains to the initiative and referral process in North Dakota.
If approved by the voters, it would extend from
90 days to 120 days before an election the deadline to submit signatures to the secretary of state for verification to place an initiated measure on the ballot.
It is totally unnecessary. The current 90-day period for verification to place any measure on the ballot is plenty adequate.
North Dakota is one of only 23 states in the union that have the initiative and referral process. The framers of the constitutions of these states saw the need to have another recourse when those they elect turn a deaf ear to the people they are supposed to represent.
Sadly, the initiative and referral process in all 23 states that have it has come under attack by those whom the people have elected to represent them. They want to eliminate accountability and distance themselves from the people who elected them. Both parties are to blame.
In North Dakota, it’s the RINO Republicans who want the voters to approve this amendment.
The real purpose of Measure 1 is to place enough restrictions on the initiative and referral process to render it impossible to use, or do away with it completely.
On June 10, be sure to vote no on Measure 1. Don’t give up your right to hold those accountable whom you elect to represent you.
Alert! Our North Dakota Legislature is now in session. Which once again means we are in danger of losing more of our rights.
We are supposed to have a government for the people, by the people and of the people. We elect men and women as senators and representatives to go to Bismarck to represent our interests. But instead when they get down there, we find out they are attempting to legislate our rights away. It doesn’t take long to see that this is not accidental but intentional.
I am referring to our initiative, referral, repeal and recall process here in North Dakota. North Dakota is one of only 23 states in the union to have this process, which is under attack in all of them by the people elected to represent citizens. North Dakota is no exception.
So far, there are two House concurrent resolutions, HCR3005 and HCR3011, Senate Concurrent Resolution 4006 and Senate Bill 2183, which has to be very unconstitutional. There could be more coming.
Space here does not permit me to go into detail on these resolutions and the Senate bill. But they all have three things in common: 1. Taking away our right of initiative and referendum by making it increasingly difficult to obtain the signatures necessary to place a measure on the ballot and actually increasing the number of signatures needed to do so; 2. These resolutions and bill are only solutions looking for problems that are nonexistent; and 3. They are totally unnecessary because adequate safeguards are already in place to prevent fraud and abuse.