North Dakota Read Bills Before Vote Initiative (2012)
This initiated measure would add a new section to chapter 54-03 of the North Dakota Century Code requiring that legislators certify that they have read and that they understand each bill before voting in favor of it and that each bill be posted on the Internet for four days prior to a floor vote on the bill, except in an emergency.
Text of the measure:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA:
SECTION 1. A new section to chapter 54-03 of the North Dakota Century Code is created and enacted as follows:
Read the bills and allow citizens to read them too - before the vote.
- No vote in favor of the passage of the bill shall count unless the legislator certifies, in writing before the vote, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has personally fully read the entire contents of the bill, and has taken steps to understand it and its ramifications to the best of his or her ability.
- No vote which will pass or defeat a bill shall occur until four days after the entirety of the final version of the bill has been posted on the Internet for citizen review. Any alterations or amendments to the bill require a reposting and restart of the review period. This requirement shall not apply to emergencies involving state security of natural catastrophe.
The measure is proposed by Jerrol LeBaron of California. In order to be eligible for the ballot, LeBaron was required to first acquire 25 sponsors in the state. David Wolfer, a retired Bismark businessman and chairman of the campaign, said,"The primary function of a legislator is to know the laws he's going to pass...I'm motivated to see that that job gets done properly."
Sen. Bob Stenehjem argues that there is no need for the initiative and that lawmakers are aware of the details of the bills they are signing. "Show me what problem we have in North Dakota. We don't have a problem. What he ought to do is go to a state where they have a problem," said Stenehjem. According to the North Dakota Constitution, lawmakers have to finish their session in 80 days. The deadline, said Stenehjem, will be harder to meet should the initiative be approved.
Media editorial positions
Editorial boards opposed
- The Forum is opposed to the proposed "Read Bills Before Vote Initiative." In an editorial, the board said,"It’s a foolish and unworkable notion. It’s unnecessary because North Dakota’s system requires that every bill be heard in open committee. Every bill, no matter the committee recommendation, must be reported to the floor of one chamber or the other or both for further debate. No bill can be scuttled by a committee chairman or heard behind closed doors...The proposed measure is seriously flawed. The folks who have signed on to this stupidity haven’t done their homework."
Path to the ballot
- See also: North Dakota signature requirements
After being approved for circulation, supporters must collect and submit a minimum of 12,844 valid signatures by August 4, 2010 in order to move the proposed measure to the 2010 ballot. The measure was officially filed with the North Dakota Secretary of State on March 9, 2010.
- Associated Press,"Measure requires ND lawmakers to read bills," February 10, 2010
- Associated Press,"Initiative requires reading of bills," February 10, 2010
- Associated Press,"Measure: Leaders must read all bills," March 9, 2010
- Associated Press,"‘Read before vote’ measure circulates," March 19, 2010
- North Dakota Secretary of State,"Initiative Petition full text - read bills," March 10, 2010
- Associated Press,"ND measure requires lawmakers to read, post bills," March 10, 2010
- Associated Press,"ND state Senate leader disputes need for measure," March 10, 2010
- The Forum,"Forum editorial: Really bad measure for ballot," March 16, 2010
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