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By Rep. Glen Froseth
As voters begin to seriously consider their voting options in the General Election on November 6th, little information has been published in regard to the five Measures that will be included on the ballot.
Early voting by absentee ballot began last week, therefore many voters will be casting their votes soon as they find it is more convenient to vote by absentee ballot or use early voting precincts, rather than wait for the actual election date.
The General Election ballot will contain three Constitutional amendments and two Statuatory changes.
Measure 1: This measure was referred to the voters by the Legislature and will repeal an archaic law that has been long outdated. It eliminates Article X, Section 6 of the State Constitution.
The Measure reads: “The legislative assembly may provide for the levy, collection and disposition of an annual poll tax of not more than one dollar and fifty cents on every male inhabitant of this state over twenty-one and under fifty years of age, except paupers, idiots, insane persons and Indians not taxed.”
The discriminatory language alone makes this a section of the Constitution that should be eliminated.
Measure 2: Another Constitutional Measure referred to the voters by signature petition adds the executive branch to the list of offices for which an oath of office is required.
The Measures reads: “The Legislative Assembly adopted House Concurrent Resolution No. 3009, which would amend Article XI, Section 4, of the Constitution of ND to require members of the executive branch to take the constitutional oath of office that is required of members of the legislative and judicial branches.”
This is sort of a symbolic practice that will do no harm. I do not think the state has had any problem whatsoever, over the years, with elected officials not honoring or abiding by the Constitution, but this Measure is harmless and I encourage its passage.
Measure 3: This Measure came as a result of a campaign backed by the N.D. Farm Bureau. It adds Section 29 to Article XI of the Constitution, which will read:
“This section would provide the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state. The section would provide that no law may be enacted which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production, and ranching practices.”
I believe the contributing factor to promote this Measure is how the expansion and activist federal government involvement has become. It will offer our agriculture industry some security in the right to farm in the future.
Measure 4: This is an initiated statuatory change that will prohibit smoking in all public places.
The Measure provides: “This initiated statuatory measure would prohibit smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes, in public places and places of employment in the state, including hotel rooms, bars, and gaming facilities. The measure would require the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of a public place to post smoking prohibited signs and require such persons to enforce the smoking prohibitions. It also requires state’s attorneys to enforce the smoking prohibitions.”
Measure 5: Another Measure was put on the ballot through petitions circulated by animal rights activists to strengthen the laws against animal cruelty.
The Measure reads: “This initiated measure would provide that it is a Class C felony to maliciously and intentionally burn, poison, crush, suffocate, impale, drown, blind, skin, beat to death, drag to death, exsanguinate, disembowel, or dismember any living dog, cat, or horse. These provisions would not apply to licensed or permitted hunting, trapping, and fishing, testing or treatments performed or under supervision of licensed veterinarians, lawful medical or scientific research, lawful activities to protect a person’s life or property or any other lawful activity exempt from the statuatory definition of ‘cruelty’ or ‘torture’.”
I personally believe North Dakota does not have huge a problem with animal cruelty, as the reported incidents average about 1.1 cases a year over the past two decades. Enforcement of this law may be difficult and at the present time, if animal cruelty does take place, usually someone knows about the incidents and will report the violations to proper authorities.