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Author Topic: North Dakota's subtle advantages  (Read 2214 times)

JasonPSorens

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North Dakota's subtle advantages
« on: July 10, 2003, 04:28:39 pm »

In preparing the ND ballot argument, I examined a few things I had not previously thought about that heavily favor North Dakota.

North Dakota has the best constitutional safeguards of local autonomy that I have ever seen.  Local governments are still not sovereign (they aren't anywhere), but they enjoy strong protections for their existence and structure.  I'll just quote directly from Article VII of their constitution:
Quote
Political Subdivisions

Section 1.  The purpose of this article is to provide for maximum local self-government by all political subdivisions with a minimum duplication of functions.

Section 2.  The legislative assembly shall provide by law for the establishment and the government of all political subdivisions.  Each political subdivision shall have and exercise such powers as provided by law.

Section 3. The several counties of the state of North Dakota as they now exist are hereby declared to be the counties of the state of North Dakota.

Section 4.  The legislative assembly shall provide by law for relocating county seats within counties, but it shall have no power to remove the county seat of any county.

Section 5.  Methods and standards by which all or any portion of a county or counties may be annexed, merged, consolidated, reclassified, or dissolved shall be as provided by law.  No portion of any county or counties shall be annexed, merged, consolidated, or dissolved unless a majority of the electors of each affected county voting on the question so approve.

Section 6.  The legislative assembly shall provide by law for the establishment and exercise of home rule in counties and cities.  No home rule charter shall become operative in any county or city until submitted to the electors thereof and approved by a majority of those voting thereon.  In granting home rule powers to cities, the legislative assembly shall not be restricted by city debt limitations contained in this constitution.

Section 7.  The legislative assembly shall also provide by law for optional forms of government for counties, but no optional form of government shall become operative in any county until submitted to the electors thereof at a special or general election, and approved by a majority of those voting thereon.

Until one of the optional forms of county government is adopted by any county, the fiscal and administrative affairs of the county shall be governed by a board of county commissioners as provided by law.

Section 8.  Each county shall provide for law enforcement, administrative and fiscal services, recording and registration services, educational services, and any other governmental services or functions as may be provided by law.  Any elective office provided for by the counties shall be for a term of four years.  Elective officers shall be elected by the electors in the jurisdiction in which the elected officer is to serve.  A candidate for election for sheriff must be a resident in the jurisdiction in which the candidate is to serve at the time of election.  The office of sheriff shall be elected.  The legislative assembly may provide by law for the election of any county elective officer, other than the sheriff, to serve one or more counties provided the affected counties agree to the arrangement and any candidate elected to the office is a qualified elector of one of the affected counties.

Section 9.  Questions of the form of government to be adopted by any county or on the elimination or reinstatement of elective county offices may be placed upon the ballot by petition of electors of the county equal in number to twenty-five percent of the votes cast in the county for the office of governor at the preceding gubernatorial election.

Section 10.  Agreements, including those for cooperative or joint administration of any powers or functions, may be made by any political subdivision with any other political subdivision, with the state, or with the United States, unless otherwise provided by law or home rule charter.  A political subdivision may by mutual agreement transfer to the county in which it is located any of its powers or functions as provided by law or home rule charter, and may in like manner revoke the transfer.

Section 11.  The power of the governing board of a city to franchise the construction and operation of any public utility or similar service within the city shall not be abridged by the legislative assembly.
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JasonPSorens

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Re:North Dakota's subtle advantages
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2003, 04:31:21 pm »

North Dakota also has the best initiative, referendum, and recall process in the nation, has term limits, and elects its judiciary in competitive elections - Idaho is the only other candidate state that does this.  This is important because we need to avoid Montana's situation, in which a leftist supreme court strikes down any voter initiatives it doesn't like.
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etphonehome

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Re:North Dakota's subtle advantages
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2003, 04:35:49 pm »

Jason, that information is good to know. For those of you who have researched this more fully than I, how do these North Dakota protections compare to those in the other nine states? Are there some states where local autonomy may not be guaranteed in the Constitution, but it has still been protected throughout the history of the state? I know that the lack of a Constitutional guarantee does not necessarily mean that local autonomy is never practiced, so I'm just wondering what information the other FSPers here could provide.
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JasonPSorens

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Re:North Dakota's subtle advantages
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2003, 04:38:32 pm »

VT is known for having the strongest town meeting government in the nation.  But it's not protected by the state constitution, so it's been eroded substantially in the last 20-30 years.
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Rearden

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Re:North Dakota's subtle advantages
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2003, 09:16:19 pm »

VT is known for having the strongest town meeting government in the nation.  But it's not protected by the state constitution, so it's been eroded substantially in the last 20-30 years.

I should point out that NH has the same form of town meeting government, and IT IS protected by the NH state constitution, at least in terms of unfunded state mandates.

[Art.] 28-a. [Mandated Programs.]  The state shall not mandate or assign any new, expanded or modified programs or responsibilities to any political subdivision in such a way as to necessitate additional local expenditures by the polit  ical subdivision unless such programs or responsibilities are fully funded by the state or unless such programs or responsibilities are approved for funding by a vote of the local legislative body of the political subdivision.


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RhythmStar

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Re:North Dakota's subtle advantages
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2003, 09:23:11 pm »

Quote
Section 7.  The legislative assembly shall also provide by law for optional forms of government for counties, but no optional form of government shall become operative in any county until submitted to the electors thereof at a special or general election, and approved by a majority of those voting thereon.

Until one of the optional forms of county government is adopted by any county, the fiscal and administrative affairs of the county shall be governed by a board of county commissioners as provided by law.

Now that is a promising section indeed for those who like the 'intentional community' idea for bringing the free market to governance models.

RS
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