North Dakota AFL-CIO Legislature Watch Week - Crossover Edition

 Sisters and Brothers,

It’s Crossover!! This is the halfway point in the legislative session where all the bills are finished in the chamber where they originated and now pass to the opposite chamber for more consideration. I’ll admit that it feels good to be half done.

But… there was some serious controversy in the last week and none worse than the Senate’s passing of Senate Concurrent Resolution 4001 against the unanimous recommendations of the committee. This bill would make it so difficult for citizens to change our constitution through an initiated measure that it would then be virtually impossible stripping the rest of us of any role in the process. As a whole, the legislature continues to disparage most citizen led initiatives as they freely admit that the legislature alone is the most legitimate source of legislation and law. With that attitude, it’s easy to slip into the idea the all other sources of legislation should be inhibited.

In a state with the best ballot initiative system in the nation, this is simple arrogance. Time after time, the issues brought to the ballot by citizens are the same issues that the legislature has repeatedly ignored. From medical marijuana to an ethics commission, in most cases the people bring forth ballot initiatives that the legislature has repeatedly refused to address.

Though not strictly a labor issue, keeping our ballot initiative system intact is critical to all North Dakotans. We must stand against this legislative arrogance and keep the Powers Reserved to the People unchanged. Period!

In addition, giving our state government more transparency and a functional ethics commission is essential for working people’s rights. Keep an eye on both the good SB-2148 and the bad HB-1521. Both passed their chambers last week. It’s in all of our interests that the Senate version is championed and the terribly weakHouse version is left to whither.

We will be asking for help on all these issues in the immediate future, so stay alert.

Waylon Hedegaard
President/Secretary Treasurer
North Dakota AFL-CIO
[email protected]
(701) 595-3334