North Dakota Referral and Initiative Reform Amendment, Measure 4 (2014)

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Measure 4
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Article III, Section 2
Referred by:North Dakota Legislature
Topic:Direct democracy
Status:Defeated Defeatedd
2014 measures
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June 10
Measure 1Approveda
November 4
Measure 1 Defeatedd
Measure 2 Approveda
Measure 3 Defeatedd
Measure 4 Defeatedd
Measure 5 Defeatedd
Measure 6 Defeatedd
Measure 7 Defeatedd
Measure 8 Defeatedd

The North Dakota Referral and Initiative Reform Amendment, Measure 4 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of North Dakota as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure, upon voter approval, would have required that initiated measures estimated to have a significant fiscal impact be placed on a general election ballot and prohibited initiated constitutional amendments that would make a direct appropriation of public funds for a specific purpose.[1]

The amendment was introduced into the North Dakota Legislature as House Concurrent Resolution 3011.[1]

Election results

North Dakota Measure 4
Defeatedd No135,89956.59%
Yes 104,245 43.41%

Election results via: North Dakota Secretary of State Office

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text was as follows:[2]

Constitutional Measure No. 4
(House Concurrent Resolution No. 3011, 2013 Session Laws, Ch. 522))

This constitutional measure would amend and reenact section 2 of Article III of the North Dakota Constitution. This measure would require that initiated measures that are estimated to have a significant fiscal impact must be placed on the general election ballot. The measure would also prohibit the approval for circulation of any petition to initiate a constitutional amendment that would make a direct appropriation of public funds for a specific purpose or require the legislative assembly to appropriate funds for a specific purpose.

YES - means you approve the measure summarized above.

NO - means you reject the measure summarized above. [3]

Constitutional changes

Measure 4, had it been approved, would have amended Section 2 of Article III of the Constitution of North Dakota to read:[1]

Section 2. A petition to initiate or to refer a measure must be presented to the secretary of state for approval as to form. A request for approval must be presented over the names and signatures of twenty-five or more electors as sponsors, one of whom must be designated as chairman of the sponsoring committee. The secretary of state shall approve the petition for circulation if it is in proper form and contains the names and addresses of the sponsors and the full text of the measure.

The legislative assembly may provide by law for a procedure through which the legislative council may establish an appropriate method for determining the extend of the fiscal impact of an initiative measure and for making the information regarding the fiscal impact of the measure available to the public. A measure determined to have a significant fiscal impact must be voted on at a general election.

If a petition to initiate a constitutional amendment would make a direct appropriation of public funds for a specific purpose or would require the legislative assembly to appropriate funds for a specific purpose, the petition may not be approved for circulation.[3]



The following officials sponsored the amendment in the North Dakota Legislature:[1]


  • Sen. David Hogue (R-28) argued, "With our newfound prosperity, we think there are a lot of organizations like (Measure 5 proponent) Ducks Unlimited who see our surplus as an opportunity to divert money for their special purposes."[4]
  • Rep. Al Carlson (R-41) stated, "I would say that it’s probably good management of the taxpayers’ dollars. It’s not a power grab."[4]




Lloyd Omdahl (D), former North Dakota Lieutenant Governor, said the amendment illustrated that "legislators question the intelligence of the voters." He elaborated:

Measure 4 on the November ballot is the latest attempt by the North Dakota Legislature to restrict citizen use of the initiative process by which voters can propose measures for a vote of the people.

If passed, it would prohibit the secretary of state from putting on the ballot any citizen proposal that would direct the expenditure of money for a specific purpose. Apparently, legislators question the intelligence of the voters.

This is the latest in a never-ending series of attempts by the Legislature to make it more difficult for citizens to use the initiative. In the past, most attempts have been aimed at raising the number of signatures required for filing petitions...

This time the Legislature wants to be sure that it has exclusive control over the huge surpluses in the state treasury. It is afraid that citizens who see neglected needs will win the support of the electorate to appropriate money.

The Legislature should be reminded that these surpluses would not exist without the adoption in 1980 of a measure initiated by the people to add a 6.5 percent tax on oil production. The Legislature was doing nothing about the puny oil tax it had levied 25 years earlier.

Let’s look at the Legislature’s track record.

First, there is the Legislature’s mismanagement of the money from the tobacco settlement in which North Dakota was awarded more than $800 million. Even though former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp won the lawsuit, the Legislature was quick to grab the money for programs other than fighting tobacco addiction.

To get the Legislature back on track, Heitkamp and other tobacco fighters initiated a measure directing the Legislature to spend tobacco settlement money on tobacco addiction. The voters approved the measure...

By proposing Measure 4, the Legislature is telling North Dakota citizens that they should not to be trusted with money. Many citizens feel the same way about the Legislature. That is why we have provisions in the state constitution for the initiative and the referendum. [3]

—Former Lt. Gov. Lloyd Omdahl (D)[5]

Other arguments against the measure included:

  • Dustin Gawrylow of the North Dakota Watchdog Network said, "We agree that it’s bad in principle to use ballot measures to spend money and grow government. But we also think the genuine purpose of ballot measures is to be able to limit and restrain the Legislature, and this measure takes away the people’s ability [to do that]."[4]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the North Dakota Constitution

According to Section 16 of Article IV of the North Dakota Constitution, the legislature had to approve the bill by a simple majority in order to place the measure on the ballot. HCR 3011 was passed by the North Dakota House on April 22, 2013. The bill was passed by the North Dakota Senate on April 24, 2013.[7]

House vote

April 22, 2013 House vote

North Dakota HCR 3011 House Vote
Approveda Yes 54 60.67%

Senate vote

April 24, 2013 Senate vote

North Dakota HCR 3011 Senate Vote
Approveda Yes 29 61.70%

See also

Suggest a link

External links