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North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance Agency Initiative, Measure 4 (2008)
The North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance Agency Administration Regulation Initiative, also known as Initiated Statutory Measure 4, was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in North Dakota as an initiated state statute, where it was approved. The measure provided for the appointment by the Governor of the director for the Workforce Safety and Insurance agency, the placement of its employees into the state personnel system and for the appointment of independent administrative law judges to conduct hearings and make final decisions.
|North Dakota Initiated Statutory Measure 4 (2008)|
Election results via: North Dakota Secretary of State, Official Vote of General Election, 2008
Text of measure
The language appeared on the ballot as:
This initiated statutory measure would add two new sections to Title 65 of the North Dakota Century Code.
This measure would provide for the appointment by the Governor of the director for the Workforce Safety and Insurance agency, the placement of its employees into the state personnel system, and for the appointment of independent administrative law judges to conduct hearings and make final decisions.
YES – Means you approve the measure as summarized above.
NO – Means you reject the measure as summarized above. 
The measure created and enacted two new sections to Title 65 of the North Dakota Century Code to read as follows:
| Workforce Safety and Insurance - Executive director - Governor to Appoint - Personnel. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, the governor shall appoint a director of workforce safety and insurance who shall serve at the pleasure of the governor. The governor shall set the compensation and prescribe the duties of the director. Each employee of workforce safety and insurance must occupy a position in the classified service and must be subject to the provisions of the state personnel system provided in chapter 54-44.3.
Appointment of administrative law judges - Hearings. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, workforce safety and insurance shall contract with the office of administrative hearings for the designation of administrative law judges who shall conduct evidentiary hearings and issue final findings of fact, conclusions of law and orders. Rehearings must be conducted as hearings under chapter 28-32.
In 2006, North Dakota's state auditor conducted an audit of the Workforce Safety and Insurance agency. That audit determined that "WSI does not have an adequate procurement system," "WSI has not established an adequate human resource management system" and "WSI management has not established adequate policies and procedures to provide appropriate leadership and accountability for the organization."
Additional investigations based on the audit resulted in criminal charges, some still pending, against WSI's executive director Sandy Blunt, who was subsequently fired by the board in December 2007.
The supporters of this initiated petition--local attorney Steve Little and chair Jean Wanner--believed that the WSI board has acted too slowly to correct problems at the agency, which is the motivation behind their wish to significantly alter the agency's overall management structure.
Adding fuel to the fire, in March 2008, four employees of the agency who had criticized it in public were terminated by the board, with the approval of interim CEO John Halvorson, who had himself been appointed to fill the vacancy left by the board's December 2007 firing of previous CEO Sandy Blunt.
A full list of the sponsoring committee members can be read here.
The then current Work Force and Safety and Insurance Agency (WSI) opposed the initiative.
In December 2007, it was discovered that WSI had paid private investigators $774 to put Jean Wanner, the primary sponsor of this ballot initiative, under surveillance. Attorney Steve Little uncovered this fact by reviewing agency billing. He believes that the investigators were hired to discredit Wanner because of her support of the initiative to change how the agency is governed. An WSI spokesman denies the accusation, saying that it's a common practice to place those that collect for workplace injury under surveillance in order to avoid fraud.
Path to the ballot
The text of the petition as it was circulated can be read here.
- North Dakota 2008 ballot measures
- 2008 ballot measures
- List of North Dakota ballot measures
- History of Initiative & Referendum in North Dakota
- North Dakota Secretary of State, Archived Election Results
- National Conference of State Legislatures State Ballot Measures Database
- North Decoder, a blog that frequently covers WSI and its management struggles
- North Dakota Secretary of State Archived Election Results, "General Election Results - 2008," accessed April 1, 2014
- North Dakota Secretary of State, "ANALYSIS OF THE STATEWIDE MEASURES APPEARING ON THE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT NOVEMBER 4, 2008," accessed April 1, 2014
- North Dakota Secretary of State, "Ballot Language Measure 4," accessed April 1, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- North Dakota Legislative Assembly, "CHAPTER 637 WORKFORCE SAFETY AND INSURANCE AGENCY ADMINISTRATION REGULATION," accessed April 1, 2014
- North Dakota State Auditor, "PERFORMANCE AUDIT REPORT Workforce Safety & Insurance," October 26, 2006
- [http://www.finanznachrichten.de/nachrichten-2007-12/9636796-n-d-fires-workers-comp-chief-020.htm Associated Press, "N.D. fires workers comp chief," December 6, 2007
- KXMC CBS Bismarck North Dakota, "Group Distributes WSI Petition," December 11, 2007
- Bismark Tribuen, "Grinsteinner fired at WSI," March 11, 2008
- Bismark Tribune, "Leader of WSI initiative followed by investigators," December 14, 2007
- KFYR-TV News: "ND Workers Comp Proposal Submitted For Ballot," August 5, 2008 (dead link)
- North Dakota Secretary of State, "Timeline of Statutory Initiative," accessed April 1, 2014
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