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North Dakota House lawmakers reject constitutional amendment hurdle, but other proposals remain in play

The North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Photo illustration by Troy Becker

BISMARCK — The North Dakota House unanimously rejected a proposal backed by Republican legislative leaders seeking to make it harder to amend the state's constitution Friday, March 29.

The House's 88-0 vote against Senate Concurrent Resolution 4015 doesn't end the debate over changing the process of enacting policy by petition. Bismarck Republican Rep. Rick Becker noted there are other similar proposals floating in the Legislature.

"Not all of them can pass. Not all of them should pass," he said, adding that some features of the Senate resolution were "too onerous."

The resolution would have required a 60 percent vote of the people to pass constitutional amendments, doubled the number of signatures required to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to almost 54,000 and pushed up the deadline for submitting petitions. The proposal also required a 60 percent vote of the Legislature for lawmakers to propose constitutional amendments to voters.

The Senate passed the resolution earlier this month.

On Thursday, a Senate committee considered a narrower resolution that would simply raise the threshold for passing initiated constitutional amendments at the ballot box to 60 percent. The House approved that proposal earlier this month.

The House is also waiting to act on a resolution seeking to give the Legislature input on constitutional measures passed by voters.

Voters would ultimately have the final say over whether to make it harder to amend the constitution since those requirements are written out in the state government's organizing document.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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