Opposing sides unite to work against amendment measure

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BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakotans have a right to make change to the state constitution that only a few other states have. The people can propose a legislative change, gather signatures, and if enough people sign, the measure goes on the ballot for a vote.

In essence, bypassing the legislature.

Now, a senate resolution would add extra steps to the process on go through the legislature.

Dozens of people packed a meeting room at the capitol to say their piece on resolution that would change the constitutional amendment process.

Sen. David Hogue of Minot drafted the bill.

"You can talk about corn prices, you can talk about oil prices as being a risk to our economy. I think it's right in front of us. I think it's the way we can amend our constitution with a couple hundred thousand dollars and away we go," said Hogue.

Right now, the process is to get signatures, get it on the ballot and if it wins, it becomes law.

Hogue's resolution would send it to two subsequent legislatures to get it approved. The proposal isn't gaining traction with activists on the right or left. "That would basically make our constitution static and unchangeable and nothing should be static and unchangeable." said Waylon Hedegaard, president of ND AFL-CIO.

"We all believe the freedoms we have and the rights we have to do initiated measures to go around the legislature when they don't do the things we need them to do," Charles Tuttle, an activist.

Hogue brought up recent examples like Marsy's Law and the Measure one ethics commission voted on in November as out of state money funding successful changes. But for now, he'll have to wait and see if he will be successful.

Hogue offered an amendment that would give voters a chance to override the legislature if it denies a change.