Stockmen’s Association opposes Measure 1
At a special meeting in Bismarck this week, the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) Board of Directors voted to formally oppose Measure 1, a constitutional amendment on this year’s ballot, and join an opposition coalition, North Dakotans for Sound Government.
“The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association has long supported transparency in government and elections. In fact, it was instrumental in legislation now in statute that provides more timely reporting by sponsoring and measures committees,” said NDSA President Dan Rorvig, a rancher from McVille, N.D. “Measure 1, however, has some critical flaws that make it a confusing and dangerous proposition for North Dakota. As such, we are asking voters to vote ‘no’ when they cast their ballot in the next week.”
Rorvig explained that organizational leaders have a series of concerns about the measure. Among them is the creation of an unelected ethics commission, which would have broad legal authority to write its own rules regulating public policy development and over the expenditure of taxpayer dollars. Its mission is so vague that budget officials with the Office of Management and Budget were unable to estimate the measure’s fiscal impact.
The measure could also discourage grassroots civic engagement, Rorvig said, requiring everyday citizens to disclose expenditures of more than $200 in testifying at the legislature on an issue important to them, for example.
Another shortfall is that the measure is extremely broad and would require reporting of the “ultimate and true sources of funds” … to … “influence state government action,” Rorvig explained. This has been interpreted as requiring individuals, businesses, charities, trade associations, labor unions, the media and even churches to turn over their membership, dues, donor, customer and advertiser lists. “We don’t think that is appropriate,” he said.
As a constitutional amendment, Measure 1 would be difficult to change, as the legislature would be unable to fix its problems, Rorvig concluded. “The measure may be well intentioned, but it is seriously flawed,” he said. “North Dakotans should reject this measure.”
The NDSA is an 89-year-old beef cattle trade organization representing approximately 3,000 North Dakota ranch families.
–North Dakota Stockmen’s Association