“Term Limits” Petition hits Sec. of State’s Office

Bismarck Capitol
Bismarck Capitol(kfyr)
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 3:36 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A petition has been submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office which would put term limits on state lawmakers and the Governor’s Office.

Over the next two weeks, Secretary Al Jaeger will provide the petition’s sponsoring committee with the proper formatting to allow signature collection.

If the petition is approved for circulation, the committee will have a year to collect 31,164 signatures for it to be printed on a ballot.

Of the 42 members who have signed the petition, seven are current lawmakers, three of whom have served more than eight years in their respective chambers.

However, the petition says the clock would start on the January after voters approve it, meaning no current lawmakers would be removed from their seats.

“When I was asked to be on it, I said I would much rather have it be retroactive because it seems kind of a cop-out to say, ‘I’m in favor of term limits, but not for me.’ So if we’re going to do it, I wanted it to be retroactive. And yeah, it would’ve pushed me out. That’s okay. I’ve worked hard. I’ve done plenty here,” Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck said.

Some have concerns over the body losing institutional knowledge on issues and procedure.

The petition says if a member serves eight years in one chamber, they are allowed to serve another eight years in the other one.

Some lawmakers said they can see both sides of the argument.

“Sometimes, you just get people in there who just from my perspective maybe aren’t pulling their weight in the legislature. They’re just sort of collecting the paycheck and they’re not doing as much as they need to be doing,” Sen. JoNell Bakke, D-Grand Forks, said.

Many state legislative races ran without candidates for major parties, and current lawmakers say that’s because there’s not enough interest in serving in the legislature.

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