North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance Agency Initiative, Measure 4 (2008)
The initiative changed the management structure of the Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI) agency--an agency run by the North Dakota government that administers and oversees the state's workers compensation program for injured workers.
|Measure 4 (2008)|
Election Results via: The North Dakota Secretary of State
Previously, a board of directors appoints and oversees WSI's top manager. The goal of this initiative was to return oversight of the agency directly to the governor.. The ballot measure also restored state civil service protection to the agency's employees and established an independent administrative panel of law judges to conduct hearings and make final decisions.
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.
The 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.
Wanner has been collecting workman's compensation for injuring her wrist at TMI Systems Design Corp.
Supporters filed 15,544 signatures on the Aug. 5, 2008, deadline and it was subsequently approved for the ballot.
- North Dakota 2008 Initiatives
- Campaign finance requirements for North Dakota ballot measures
- North Dakota Initiative and Referendum Law
- North Dakota signature requirements
- Petition drive deadlines in 2008
- Ballot language
- Initiative timeline
- North Decoder, a blog that frequently covers WSI and its management struggles
- Measure would return North Dakota workers comp control to governor Bismarck Tribune, September 28, 2007
- ND ballot measures won't be ready for June ballot Grand Forks Herald, March 9, 2008
- State Auditor Report on WSI
- North Dakota's Workforce Safety and Insurance board votes to fire Blunt Associated Press, December 6, 2007
- Group Distributes WSI Petition, KXTV, Dec. 11, 2007
- Grinsteinner fired at WSI Bismarck Tribune, March 12, 2008
- Leader of WSI initiative followed by investigators, Bismark Tribune, Dec. 15, 2007
- KFYR-TV News: "ND Workers Comp Proposal Submitted For Ballot," Aug. 5, 2008