BISMARCK – The North Dakota Senate Judiciary Committee wants the initiated measure that implemented terms limits for legislators and the governor to be repealed.
By a 5-2 vote Monday the Judiciary Committee gave a Do Pass recommendation to House Concurrent Resolution 3019 and forwarded the resolution to the full Senate for further consideration.
Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Dis, 46, Fargo, the primary sponsor of HCR3019, told the committee the initiated measure approved by state voters last November “has a number of constitutional flaws” and “treats legislative members unequally.”
The measure, which passed with an overwhelming 63% majority, restricts legislative members to two 4-year terms per chamber for a total of 16 years, and limits the governor to two 4-year terms. HCR3019 would increase that number to 12 years in each chamber and expand term limits to additional public offices, such as Attorney General and Secretary of State, to two terms.
The “unequal” issue raised by Kasper has to do with the timing of the requirements of the initiated measure which results in legislators in ½ the state’s districts caught in mid-term, meaning their eight-year limit would be up two years into their next four-year term.
“The current eight-year ban is unworkable and unreasonable,” said Kasper. “This was brought forward by an out of state group of meddlers and millionaires. Let’s take our state back from these interlopers.”
Committee Member Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Dis. 19, Edinburg, said “I think term limits is the ballot box”, adding “I will vote against this resolution. What I don’t like is that we had a vote.”
Sen. Bob Paulson, R-Dis. 3, Minot, and vice-chairman of the committee, responded that voters “didn’t know”, adding, “I think it makes a lot of sense to me why folks didn’t understand what they were voting on.”
It has been alleged that some citizens who signed petitions that led to the initiated measure on term limits reaching the November ballot thought they were signing petitions aimed at members of the United States Congress.
The claim was flatly rejected by Jared Hendrix, Fargo, former chairman of the Term Limits Petition drive.
“It passed with 63% of the vote with the language on every ballot,” testified Hendrix. “Everyone had the opportunity to read it and vote on it.”