BISMARCK – A bill to create penalties for willfully submitting invalid signatures for a ballot measure passed the North Dakota State House Tuesday.
House Bill 1230 seeks to create a fine for a chairman of a ballot measure initiative committee if the committee willfully submits 30% or more invalid signatures for a ballot measure initiative. The fine would be two dollars per invalid signature.
Proponents said constitutional measures should be held to a higher standard, and those proposing them should be held accountable to ensure they’re processed correctly. Opponents said there are already laws against fraud and to punish submitting invalid signatures could mean punishing a simple mistake in the writing of an address or name.
The bill passed 61 to 30 and will be sent to the Senate for further consideration.
The House also narrowly defeated House Bill 1452 which would have created a 90% tax on monetary campaign contributions from nonresidents for ballot initiative measures.
“I’ve sat back and watched over the past several years, several initiative measures aimed at changing the constitution of North Dakota,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mike Motschenbacher, R-Dis. 47, Bismarck. “Way too many of these measures have something in common, and that is simply not right that we’re allowing them millions of dollars of out-of-state funds to come and change North Dakota’s constitution.”
“It feels like every few days we get one of these revenge bills, a crybaby bill, a sore loser bill,” said a freshman Rep. Nico Rios, R-Dis. 23, Williston. “If you’re upset you can’t spend the rest of your life here, I’m sorry. I’m sick and tired of seeing these bills. We shouldn’t be wasting time and resources on some of these things.”
The bill failed by a vote of 47 to 44, not meeting the required 48.