October 26, 2022 (Bismarck)-Leaders from nearly twenty-five different organizations met in Bismarck today to denounce term limits and urge voters to vote “no” on North Dakota Constitutional Measure 1, which is on the general election ballot. Last week, DakCU President/CEO Jeff Olson addressed why the Dakota Credit Union Association is opposing Measure 1 in a feature article which you can see here.
Constitutional Measure 1 would limit state legislators to serving eight years in the state House and eight years in the state Senate. Contrary to what many believe, Measure 1 applies only to North Dakota state legislators and the Governor. It has no impact on Congress or D.C. politicians. It also adds a new section to the state Constitution that cannot be removed or overturned without another ballot measure.
The entities opposed to Measure 1 represent numerous different industries from across the state, including agriculture, education, business, construction, energy, medical, credit unions and more. The measure has also been rejected by Democrats and Republicans alike.
“Our organizations representing businesses across the state are concerned about the consequences should it pass. Due to mandated turnover, additional time and money will be used to train on procedures and issues. This would impact progress and productivity at the cost of the taxpayers. We are coming forward with a unified voice. Policy isn’t made in a vacuum – it’s responsive and intuitive. We need leaders who are thoughtful and can dig in where appropriate to represent the needs of their constituents, while not feeling the pressure of a countdown clock,” stated CEO Arik Spencer of the Greater North Dakota Chamber. Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber President and CEO Shannon Full added, “Measure 1 would present severe challenges for our state, region, and our members. We strongly urge our North Dakota voters to reject this measure.”
Aimee Copas, Executive Director of the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, stated that “dedicated and caring legislators who strongly support the best education system possible for our kids are incredibly important to our state and future workforce. Experience in our elected officials at the capital is critical to the future of our youth. Remember, our part time dedicated legislators have inherent term limits – every 4 years, we as citizens have the obligation to vote them in or out.”
Russ Hanson, Executive Vice President of the Associated General Contractors of North Dakota, echoed this sentiment adding, “this is a solution in search of a problem. In essence, every election is a term limit by allowing the voting public the right to elect who they want to represent them.”
Numerous agricultural groups have also decried term limits. “Legislative term limits will have terrible unintended consequences for the rural citizens of our state, primarily by affecting our ability to find good candidates who will look out for production agriculture,” said Pete Hanebutt, Director of Policy for ND Farm Bureau. North Dakota Stockmen’s Association added that, “term limits take power away from elected leaders and empower the bureaucracy of state government, putting agencies over the legislative branch and limiting voters’ impact on policy that affects them.”
Measure 1 has also been criticized by both Democrat and Republican legislators. “In North Dakota, we are part-time, citizen legislators who spend only 80 days of every two years enacting laws. We don't have policy staff, so experience and knowledge are essential to good lawmaking,” said House Minority Leader Josh Boschee (D-Fargo). “As retiring Majority Leader, I agree that having knowledgeable lawmakers is crucial to passing budgets and policies that are best for our state. The combination of institutional knowledge along with new ideas provides the best results for the people of North Dakota,” added Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson).
In the upcoming 2023 legislative session, at least 21% of the legislators will be new. The turnover from 2011 to 2023 is around 72%. Only 15 states have legislative term limits and six states that had passed term limits have repealed or overturned them.
The following groups have come out opposed to Measure 1 (to date):
Greater North Dakota Chamber
Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo Chamber
The Chamber Grand Forks/East Grand Forks
Minot Area Chamber EDC
Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC
Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce
Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce
North Dakota Medical Association
Association of General Contractors
North Dakota Petroleum Council
Lignite Energy Council
North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders
North Dakota Stockmen's Association
North Dakota Auto Dealers
Homebuilders of Fargo-Moorhead
North Dakota Association of Builders
North Dakota League of Cities
North Dakota Association of Counties
North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives
North Dakota Farm Bureau
North Dakota Famers Union
Dakota Credit Union Association
North Dakota Hospital Association
Red River Valley Sugarbeet Grower's Association
ND Grain Grower's Association
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