North Dakota AFL-CIO Legislature Watch Week ending 3-1-19

Brothers and Sisters,

Coming out of Crossover with all the bills now revealed, you can’t fail to notice that our legislature has declared war on direct democracy and the ballot initiative system. SCR-4015 was heard last week, and we saw yet another attempt by the legislature to change our constitutional ballot initiative system so drastically that it would thereafter be impossible for citizens of North Dakota to ever change the constitution again.

This is a serious series of attacks.

SCR-4015 would double the signature requirements for constitutional measures and demand that half of those signatures be gathered from every county in the state! It would also force all signatures to be turned in 240 days before the election, double what it is now. This does not make it more difficult. This makes it impossible. This strips us of a freedom and duty that we have had for generations.

Understand that North Dakota has the best ballot initiative system in the nation. Our citizens have more freedom to initiate and pass legislation directly than those living in any other state. This is a central theme of our constitution and our heritage, but now that we have used that power to enact bills that our lawmakers have repeated refused to pass, the North Dakota Legislature wants to curb that power, and they want to curb it for good!

They and their allies take issue with the out-of-state money used to help these bills pass, yet have no problem taking the same out-of-state money to help themselves get reelected. In all their posturing about out-of-state money, they don’t seem to want to lessen the influence of this money as much as make certain that it all has to go through them.

They and their allies say that direct democracy is mob rule… arguing that the people don’t understand what they are voting on… that we are prone to being fooled by the money used to pass these bills. How can legislators legitimately think that when North Dakotans vote for them, they are the voice of God, both wise and just, but when those same people vote on issues directly, they are a senseless mob?

The idea of mob rule is part of the discussion about whether the United States is a democracy or a republic, that is whether citizens should have a more active role in their government, or should we be governed by a legislative elite where the only power we should have is to vote them out if we don’t like it.

They need to understand that we have consistently chosen a more direct role for ourselves and our children.

We need to refuse to fall for these attacks. We should not give up a single scrap of the freedom and responsibility that our grandparents handed to us as our birthright.  It is our duty to use our power responsibly and well, and we are going to use that power to stand against this legislative power grab.

We will never be governed well by people who think that they are our political superiors.

In Solidarity,

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