Auditor initiative won’t make signature deadline

Photo courtesy: MGN
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BISMARCK, N.D. - Riley Kuntz of Dickinson tried to refer to North Dakota voters three pieces of legislation: the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library funding, a law exempting more legislative records from open records laws, and a section in the state auditor’s budget. After he failed to get enough signatures for the library and records petitions, Kuntz says he won't get enough signatures for removing language from the state auditor’s budget that requires him to check with an interim legislative committee before conducting performance audits.

In order to get to the ballot, he would’ve needed to collect more than 13,000 signatures.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem issued an opinion in June saying the language was likely unconstitutional.

“The bill diminishes the independence of the State Auditor’s office and instead entrusts an inherently executive power in the legislative branch. The ability of the executive branch to function, independent of the Legislature is a core tenet of the three-branch system of government,” read Stenehjem’s opinion.

At the Legislative Audit and Fiscal Review Committee meeting on July 17, state auditor Josh Gallion told legislators he would not follow the law, instead choosing to follow the AG’s opinion which he says governs the actions of public officials until the state supreme court steps in.