Grand Forks Herald

North Dakota voters could decide if they want to require more signatures and a more statewide approach when citizens want to put issues up to statewide vote.

Rep. Al Carlson, R-Fargo, has introduced House Concurrent Resolution 3011, which would require any citizen initiated measure that would potentially cost more than $20 million, should it pass, to be placed on a general election ballot. Measures with less than a $20 million impact could still be put on a primary or general election ballot.

Taking advantage of last year’s petition signature scandal, some legislators have proposed to tighten up the procedure by which citizens can initiate laws, refer acts of the Legislature and amend the North Dakota Constitution.

New provisions proposed in House Concurrent Resolution 3011 include:

Ӣ Require that measures costing more than $20 million be submitted in a general election.

Ӣ Outlaw payment to petition circulators for gathering signatures.

Ӣ Raise the number of signatures for the referral and initiative from 13,000 to 18,000.

Ӣ Require that a minimum number of signatures be obtained in at least 27 counties.

Lawmakers want voters to decide if Minnesota should become a right-to-work state like its neighbors in North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

A bill to put the right-to-work issue on the November ballot is being authored by state Republicans Sen. Dave Thompson from Lakeville and Rep. Steve Drazkowski from Mazeppa.

Thompson, a freshman senator, said his bill is finished and will be introduced today.

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North Dakota’s population growth during the last decade will require supporters of five initiative petitions to gather more signatures to qualify for the statewide ballot, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Thursday. The North Dakota Constitution says the minimum number of signatures needed for an initiative petition depends on the state’s population, as counted by the most recent federal census.

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Supporters of abolishing North Dakota property taxes may begin gathering petition signatures to put the idea on the ballot. Secretary of State Al Jaeger has approved the ballot initiative for circulation. It would change the North Dakota Constitution to eliminate property taxes, starting in January 2012. The Legislature would have to use state taxes to replace the property tax income of local governments, and figure out a way to distribute the replacement money. The measure needs almost 26,000 petition signatures by Aug. 4 to get a spot on the November general election ballot.

A petition with 1,004 signatures on it calling for a vote on UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation is now in the hands of tribal Chairman Charles W. Murphy, the chairman confirmed Monday. Nickname supporters from the tribe, following the earlier example of their compatriots at the Spirit Lake Dakotah Nation, produced the petition.

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