Three potential 2020 ballot measures in North Dakota would change the state’s initiative process

Three measures concerning North Dakota’s initiative process have passed one chamber of the legislature. In North Dakota, a constitutional amendment needs to be passed by a simple majority vote in both chambers of the state legislature to be certified for the ballot. If passed by both chambers, these amendments would go before voters for their approval or rejection in November of 2020.
SCR 4001 would require initiated constitutional amendments passed by voters to be submitted to the legislature for approval. If the legislature does not approve the measure, the measure would be placed on the ballot again at the next statewide election and would become effective if approved by the voters a second time.
HCR 3007 would create an additional method of direct democracy in the form of indirect initiated constitutional amendments and indirect initiated state statutes, which means legislators would consider and could vote to enact successful initiative petitions before they are sent to the ballot.
HCR 3034 would require constitutional amendments (both citizen-initiated and legislatively-referred) to appear on the ballot at the next general election rather than special elections or primary elections.
A citizen initiative to raise the state’s minimum wage may also appear on the 2020 ballot if proponents of the measure submit 13,452 valid signatures by March 14, 2019. The initiative would incrementally increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2021. Following 2021, the minimum wage would be adjusted according to the cost of living based on the consumer price index.
North Dakota has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. In the North Dakota Senate, 37 seats are held by Republicans and 10 seats are held by Democrats. In the House, 79 seats are held by Republicans and 15 seats are held by Democrats.
Historical facts of ballot measures in North Dakota:
  • A total of 71 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in North Dakota from 1996 to 2018. All appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years.
  • From 1996 to 2018, the number of measures on the ballot ranged from two to 15. An average of six measures appeared on the ballot during even-numbered years.
  • Between 1996 and 2018, about 56 percent (40 of 71) of the total number of measures that appeared on statewide ballots were approved, and about 44 percent (31 of 71) were defeated.

So far in 2019, Ballotpedia is tracking 135 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall in 31 states. Two initiatives directly related to initiative and referendum laws were also filed in Missouri and South Dakota. Topics include election dates, signature requirements, distribution requirements, pay-per-signature restrictions, campaign finance, legislative alteration, supermajority requirements, and subject requirements. In North Dakota, at least seven other proposals were introduced in the 2019 session concerning direct democracy.