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North Dakota Pharmacy Ownership Repeal (2012)

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The North Dakota Pharmacy Ownership Repeal did not make the 2012 ballot in North Dakota.

The law, which the initiative proposed to overturn, was first approved in 1963. It required that pharmacists have a majority ownership of most North Dakota pharmacies.[1]

Ballot measure supporters first filed the initiative in 2010 to repeal North Dakota's pharmacy ownership law with the secretary of state's office on October 8, 2009.

On July 6, 2011 supporters filed the initiative for a second time in hopes of qualifying it for the 2012 ballot. The effort was organized by Duane Sand.[2][3] The proposed initiative was approved by Secretary of State Al Jaeger for petition circulation on July 15, 2011. Proponents have one year to collect a minimum of 13,452 petition signatures in order to qualify for the 2012 statewide ballot.[4]

Background

In February 2009 the North Dakota House of Representatives reviewed and rejected a bill that proposed repeal the provision that requires pharmacies to be majority-owned by pharmacists. It was argued that the law prevents stores and hospitals from opening their own pharmacies in North Dakota.[5]

2010 effort

A similar measure was proposed in 2010 but did not appear on the ballot. After reviewing the submitted petition signatures, it was determined that the initiative had exceeded the signature requirement by 91 signatures, however, supporters failed to submit a list of sponsoring committee members with the petition sheets. Failure to supply that list of sponsoring committee members, election officials said, would prevent the measure from going on the ballot.[6] Supporters requested a review, however, on August 19, 2010 Secretary of State Al Jaeger officially announced that the measure would not appear on the 2010 ballot.[7]

2011 legislative bill

In early 2011, House Bill 1434 was filed in the North Dakota Legislative Assembly. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Karen Kresbach and Representatives Thomas Beadle, Stacey Dahl, Mark Owens, Roscoe Streyle and Blair Thoreson. The proposed bill would amend the state's pharmacy ownership laws. Beadle argued that more competition in the pharmacy business would drive down prices and create more jobs in the state. Beadle added, "I'm not arguing that we ought to prefer chain stores over independent retailers. I'm arguing the citizens have the right to choose for themselves wherever they feel is best."[8][9]

Support

The 2011 effort was organized by Duane Sand. However, Bismarck physician Eric Thompson, who was chairman of 2010's campaign, is also heading the new initiative campaign. "We believe that this will provide lower prescription drug prices for the general public," said Duane Sand, organizer of the 2011 initiative.[2]

Supporters of the 2010 effort included a group called North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare and North Dakotans for Lower Prescription Drugs. As of April 2010 the North Dakotans for Lower Prescription Drugs said supporters had collected approximately 13,000 petition signatures, exceeding the minimum requirement.[10]

Path to the ballot

See also: North Dakota signature requirements

2012 initiative

In order to qualify the initiative for the 2012 ballot supporters are required to collect a minimum of 13,452 valid signatures. According to reports, supporters plan to use volunteers to circulate petitions.[3]

The proposed initiative was approved by Secretary of State Al Jaeger for petition circulation on July 15, 2011. Proponents have one year to collect a minimum of 13,452 petition signatures in order to qualify for the 2012 statewide ballot.[11]

2010 initiative

Initiative supporters were required to collect a minimum of 12,844 valid signatures by August 4, 2010.[5] In November 2009, repeal supporters said they were aiming to collect approximately 20,000 signatures by December 30, 2009.[12] As of August 6, 2010, reports by the secretary of state's office stated that the proposed pharmacy initiative may not qualify for the ballot after all. After reviewing the filed signatures, it was determined that the initiative had exceeded the signature requirement by 91 signatures, however, supporters failed to submit a list of sponsoring committee members with the petition sheets. The committee list, according to officials, would withhold the measure from the ballot.[6][13][14]

Disqualification challenged

See also: Thompson v. Jaeger

On August 17, 2010, Bismarck physician Eric Thompson, chairman of the initiative campaign, submitted a letter to Jaeger as a request for Jaeger to reverse his decision and refer the measure to the November 2, 2010 statewide ballot. According to a report by the Associated Press, Jaeger said he would not discuss the filing until it was discussed further with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. Thompson argues that although state law requires the circulation of the entire petition, it does not explicitly require the sponsors list to be attached. In the letter, Thompson noted that the sponsor's list was "at most, a minor compliance issue."[15]

On August 19 Secretary of State Al Jaeger officially announced that the measure would not appear on the 2010 ballot. Supporters have the option of filing a legal challenge, however, a court decision would have to be made prior to the September 8 deadline to certify measures for the November ballot.[7]

Just prior to the court hearings, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said, "Not circulating the petitions in their entirety is more than a mere technicality. The failure to include the names and addresses of the sponsors raises serious questions regarding the integrity of the initiative process."[16]

The North Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments on September 1.[17][18]

Thompson v. Jaeger addressed if its legal for the Secretary of State to require the initiative's sponsors to disclose the names of persons that serve on a campaign's leadership committee as part of turning in signatures. The North Dakota Supreme Court ruled that sponsors of initiatives must disclose the names of persons that serve on the campaign's leadership committee by a unanimous 5-0 vote on September 7, 2010.[19]

See also

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References

  1. Associated Press,"Summary of N.D. ballot initiatives," August 4, 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 Associated Press,"Foes of ND pharmacy ownership rule again seeking voter repeal," July 6, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead,"Pharmacy petition affidavits ready," July 6, 2012
  4. The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead,"Pharmacy petition language approved," July 16, 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Bismark Tribune,"Effort begins to put pharmacy measure on ballot," October 9, 2009
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead,"Pharmacy measure petitions incomplete," August 6, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 Associated Press,"Jaeger: ND pharmacy measure won't go on ballot," August 19, 2010
  8. Associated Press,"Struggle resumes over ND pharmacy ownership rules," February 16, 2011
  9. North Dakota Legislative Assembly,"HB 1434," accessed February 22, 2011
  10. The Forum,"Pharmacy change advocates continue gathering signatures for statewide vote," April 18, 2010
  11. Associated Press,"North Dakota Secretary of State Jaeger approves pharmacy restrictions petition for circulation," July 15, 2011
  12. Prairie Business,"Opponents of North Dakota pharmacy ownership law launch signature campaign," November 3, 2009
  13. Associated Press,"Many ND ballot measures falling short for now," August 4, 2010
  14. Associated Press,"Advocates scramble to salvage N.D. pharmacy measure," August 9, 2010
  15. Associated Press,"Backers of pharmacy measure seek spot on ND ballot," August 17, 2010
  16. Grand Forks Herald,"North Dakota AG: Pharmacy measure shouldn't make November ballot," August 27, 2010
  17. KFGO,"Stenehjem to argue pharmacy case," August 23, 2010
  18. Associated Press,"Pharmacy ownership measure now in North Dakota Supreme Court's hands," September 1, 2010
  19. Legale "Text of Thompson v. Jaeger," September 7, 2010