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Voters to decide four state measures June 12 - writer outlines details

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opinion Fargo, 58102
West Fargo Pioneer
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Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

Measure No. 1 - Legislator Eligibility for Office

Under the present Constitution, legislators are prohibited from being appointed to any state office for which the salary has been increased. Since the legislature routinely gives across-the-board raises to state employees, all legislators are automatically excluded from consideration for a state office when they provide these raises.

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Adoption of Measure #1 would make it possible for legislators to be appointed, provided the office under consideration did not get a raise higher than that given all state employees.

Since legislators are some of the most qualified candidates for state appointments, this restriction has kept many of them from considering careers in the executive branch and  has denied the executive branch of their services.

This is a good amendment and deserves a YES vote.

Measure No. 2 - Repeal of the Property Tax

This proposed constitutional amendment would abolish the property tax for all county, city, school, township and other local governments and require the legislature to make up the $800 million annual loss with state taxes under a formula to be devised later.

Every political subdivision probably would be required to submit its annual budget to some legislative entity for funding at the state level. Or the other option would be a blanket formula that would be a "one-size-fits-all" in which some local governments would get more and some get less than what they now get in property taxes.

In either case, local control would be sacrificed. This measure has no redeeming qualities and should be defeated with a big NO vote.

Measure No. 3 - Religious Right to Act or Not to Act

Under this measure, an individual may decide whether to act or not to act on the basis of "sincerely-held religious belief" unless the government demonstrates a substantial compelling interest to require otherwise.   It should be assumed that the meaning of a "sincerely-held religious belief" would be a matter of frequent dispute and could include any form of real or unreal professed faith.

The measure also covers withholding benefits, assessing penalties, exclusion from programs, and access to facilities, whatever all of that would mean in implementation.

At this juncture, this measure is a pig-in-the-poke.  We have heard a variety of speculations about the possible applications but we have heard nothing about the specific intent of this measure. What will it be used for?

The sponsors must have clear intentions but they have not explained how this would be applied in North Dakota.  They have not proved their case for adopting this national one-size-fits-all-states measure. It deserves a NO vote until the need can be demonstrated.

The Constitution already guarantees us religious freedom.

Measure No. 4 - Fighting Sioux Logo

There has been considerable confusion about this measure because it refers to the law that was passed in the 2011 special session repealing the law requiring the Sioux Logo at the University of North Dakota.

The measure would be easiest to understand if we kept our focus on the law. The real question on the ballot is this: shall the law repealing the Sioux logo be kept - yes or no.

A YES vote says that we want to keep this law that eliminates the logo; a NO vote means we don't want to keep this law but want to go back to the law that required use of the logo.

A NO vote would have devastating consequences for the new Division I athletic program at UND. The NCAA will proceed with its mandates, regardless of what happens to this measure.

Therefore, a YES vote is needed to save the University's athletic program. .

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