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Get to know the Measures appearing on the November ballot

The following measures appearing on the North Dakota general election ballot in November 2016 were researched and collected by the Cavalier County Republican for public information.

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Posted on 10/8/16

By Melissa Anderson

Measure One

The North Dakota Residency Requirement for State Legislators Measure is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment.

Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 4010, the legislation for Constitutional Measure 1, was introduced into the North Dakota Legislature on January 13, 2015. A simple majority vote in both chambers of the state legislature was required to refer this amendment to the ballot. In April 2015, the North Dakota Senate approved the amendment, with 44 senators voting “yea” and three voting “nay.” The North Dakota House of Representatives approved the legislation with 75 representatives voting “yea” and 17 voting “nay.” The measure was enrolled on April 23, 2015.

Constitutional Measure 1 would also apply to legislators that are appointed rather than elected. Currently, the North Dakota Constitution requires state legislators to live in the districts from which they are elected for 30 days prior to election day. Consequently, it is possible for an individual to serve as a legislator in a district that is not their current residence.

The ballot summary is as follows: “This measure would require a member of the legislative assembly to be a resident of the district from which selected and would prohibit an individual from being seated in the legislative assembly if the individual does not live in the district from which selected.”

A “yes” vote supports requiring that state legislators remain residents of the legislative districts that they serve in for the entirety of their term and starting at least 30 days prior to the election.

A “no” vote opposes this proposal to require that state legislators remain residents of the legislative districts that they serve in for the entirety of their term, allowing legislators to potentially move their residence to other districts at any point during their time in office.

Measure Two

The North Dakota Allocation of Oil Extraction Taxes Measure is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment.

The North Dakota Constitution requires that 10 percent of revenues from oil extraction taxes be placed in the state treasury’s foundation aid stabilization fund. While Constitutional Measure 2 would not change the percent of revenues that is to be deposited in this fund, it was designed to change how the funds may be expended. Currently, the constitution states that the foundation aid stabilization fund can only be expended by order of the governor and only to offset foundation aid reductions due to a revenue shortage. Measure 2 would instead allow the governor to order expenditures due to reductions in state aid to school districts due to revenue shortages. It would also add a section that would allow the legislature to appropriate funds to be used for other education related purposes when the foundation aid stabilization fund exceeds 15 percent of the general fund appropriation for state aid to school districts.

According to the North Dakota Constitution, a majority vote was required in one legislative session of the North Dakota Legislature to qualify Constitutional Measure 2 for the ballot. On April 28, 2015, the North Dakota Senate unanimously adopted the amendment, with 47 voting “yea.” The North Dakota House of Representatives adopted the amendment on the same day with 68 voting “yea.”

The ballot summary is as follows:“This measure expands the educational purposes for which the foundation aid stabilization fund may be used.”

A “yes” vote supports authorizing the legislature to allocate excess revenues from oil extraction taxes from the foundation aid stabilization fund for education purposes.

A “no” vote opposes authorizing the legislature to allocate excess revenues from oil extraction taxes from the foundation aid stabilization fund for education purposes, thereby continuing to only allow the governor to expend principal from the stabilization fund.

Measure Three

The North Dakota Crime Victims Rights Initiative is an initiated constitutional amendment.

North Dakota’s current laws regarding fair treatment standards for victims and witnesses were passed in 1987 by the legislature at the request of the governor and attorney general. While current law provides similar protections as the proposed amendment, they are state statutes and are not protected by the constitution. If Initiated Constitutional Measure 3 is passed and incorporated into the state constitution, it would make any future changes to victim rights laws more difficult to enact, as any proposed changes would require another ballot measure. If the measure does not pass, victim rights laws could be more easily changed in the future through legislative action.

Initiated Constitutional Measure 3 was designed to add the rights of crime victims to the state constitution to include the following:

• Require that they be given the option to be present at all criminal proceedings, including plea, sentencing, and release.

• Ensure they are given restitution before the government.

• Require they be promptly notified if the accused is released or escapes.

• Prohibit unreasonable delays during the offender’s trial.

• Allow victims to refuse a deposition or interview request from the defendant’s representation.

The proposed amendment would add a new section to Article I of the North Dakota Constitution.

The petition title is as follows: “This initiated measure would add a new section to Article I of the North Dakota Constitution to provide a number of rights for victims of crimes in this state in a manner no less vigorous than protections afforded to criminal defendants, including the rights of crime victims to be treated with respect, to be free from harassment, and to be protected from the accused. The measure would provide for the safety of crime victims in bail and release decisions and in protecting information that might be used to harass or locate crime victims. Crime victims would have the right to be present at certain court and related proceedings and to be heard concerning such matters as release, plea or sentencing of the accused, and parole and pardon matters and to be notified of any release or escape of the accused. Crime victims would have the right to provide information about the impact of the offender’s conduct and to receive relevant reports or records including pre-sentence reports. The measure would also require prompt return of victims’ property when no longer needed and to timely restitution.”

A “yes” vote is a vote in favor of incorporating existing state statutes related to crime victims’ rights into the state constitution.

A “no” vote is a vote against adding a crime victims’ rights section to the state constitution, and maintaining existing crime victims’ rights laws in state statutes.

Measure Four

The North Dakota Tobacco Tax Increase Initiative, also known as Initiated Statutory Measure 4, is an initiated state statute.

Measure 4, if passed, will increase the tax on cigarettes from 44 cents per pack to $2.20 per pack and to increase the tax on all other tobacco products from 28 percent of the wholesale purchase price to 56 percent of the wholesale price. As of July 2016, only three states had lower tobacco tax rates than North Dakota: Georgia with 37 cents, Virginia with 30 cents, and Missouri with 17 cents. North Dakota is also one of 14 states that has not increased their tobacco taxes in at least 10 years. As of July 2016, the average state cigarette tax was $1.65 per pack, ranging from 17 cents in Missouri to $4.35 in New York. North Dakota’s three neighboring states have significantly higher cigarette tax rates: South Dakota with $1.53, Montana with $1.70, and Minnesota with $3.00. The definition of “tobacco products” would also be expanded to include liquid nicotine and electronic inhalation devices.

Half of the new revenues generated from Measure 4, if passed, would go towards creating a veterans’ tobacco trust fund. The remaining revenues would be dedicated to a community health trust fund for a comprehensive behavioral health plan, county-level health services, and chronic illness prevention and control programs. No revenue from the increase would be allocated to tobacco prevention or cessation programs.

The petition title is as follows: “This initiated measure provides for a new veterans’ tobacco trust fund in North Dakota Century Code Chapter 37-14 to fund certain veterans’ programs. It would also create and amend provisions in Chapter 57-36, including creating new definitions of inhalation devices, liquid nicotine, and tobacco products; prohibiting dealers from being distributors and requiring distributors to keep additional records; setting requirements for registration of liquid nicotine dealers and regulating the alteration of liquid nicotine; and providing increases in the excise tax for tobacco products and in the levy and assessment of taxes on cigarettes. The measure would allocate revenues received by the tax commissioner among the State’s general fund, the veterans’ tobacco trust fund, and the community health trust fund, and would provide an appropriation. The measure would also increase the separate and additional tax on cigarette sales and create an inventory tax on cigarettes and tobacco products. Finally, the measure would repeal two provisions of current law related to an excise tax on cigarettes and the exemption for taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products given to occupants of the State’s veterans home and the state hospital.”

A “yes” vote supports increasing taxes on tobacco products and using the generated tax revenue to fund veteran services and health services.

A “no” vote opposes increasing taxes on tobacco products and using the generated tax revenue to fund veteran services and health services.

Measure Five

The North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Initiated Statutory Measure 5, is an initiated state statute.

North Dakota Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative is also known as the “North Dakota Compassionate Care Act.” Under the specifications of the measure, patients would need identification cards listing specific criteria. If successful, the measure would create a state-regulated medical marijuana program for patients with specified debilitating conditions and written certifications from their doctors. Registered patients could obtain medical cannabis from a licensed nonprofit compassion center, or, if they lived more than 40 miles from one, they could securely cultivate a limited amount of cannabis for their medical use.

In order to participate in the proposed program, patients would apply to the Department of Health for a registry identification card. The application would require a fee and a written certification from a doctor confirming the patient has a qualifying condition. The patients must show that they are likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of marijuana. Qualifying condiditons include cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, PTSD under certain circumstances, agitation of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis, chronic back pain (including neuropathy or damage to the nervous tissues of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity), glaucoma, epilepsy, a medical condition that produces cachexia or wasting, severe and debilitating pain that has not responded to previously prescribed medication or surgical measures for more than three months or for which other treatment options produced serious side effects, intractable nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.

The petition title is as follows: “ This initiated measure would add a new chapter to Title 19 of the North Dakota Century Code creating an Act providing for the medical use of marijuana for defined debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, glaucoma, and epilepsy. To participate in the program, the Act would create identification cards with specific criteria before they can be issued by the Department of Health for patients, caregivers, compassion centers and other facilities. The Act would create procedures for monitoring, inventorying, dispensing, and cultivation and growing of marijuana to be regulated and enforced by the Department of Health. A qualified patient could be dispensed up to three ounces of usable marijuana. For violations, the Act would authorize the Department of Health to provide for corrective action, suspension, revocation, appeal, hearings, and referral for criminal prosecution. The Act would require the Department of Health to submit an annual report to the legislature regarding program statistics.[3]”

A “yes” vote supports legalizing the use of medical marijuana to treat the defined debilitating medical conditions within the measure and developing certain procedures for regulating medical marijuana growing, dispensing, and usage.

A “no” vote opposes legalizing the use of medical marijuana to treat defined debilitating medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, glaucoma, and epilepsy, keeping the state’s full prohibition of marijuana use.