Published October 26 2010
Forum editorials: Vote ‘yes’ on Measure 1; ‘no’ on Measure 2North Dakota’s successful stewardship of revenue generated by oil and gas production will be enhanced by putting the “Legacy Fund” in the state Constitution. North Dakotans should vote “yes” on ballot Measure 1.
The fund will be a permanent savings account for the state. It will be filled and replenished by oil and gas tax revenues. Thirty percent of oil taxes would go into the fund. Principal and earnings could be spent until 2017, while the fund builds up. Then earnings would be available. In addition, the Legislature could spend up to 15 percent of the principal in any biennium with a two-thirds vote of both chambers.
The fund is not the same as a proposal voters defeated in 2008. That measure would have set aside a specific dollar amount rather than a percentage of revenues. Also it would have taken a 75 percent vote by the Legislature to spend the principal. The Legacy Fund is a more balanced formula for spending and saving.
The new fund’s provisions would not affect existing oil trust funds.
The Legacy Fund is an excellent mechanism to ensure wise management of the state’s oil and gas wealth. It will lend stability to funds generated by an industry that is notoriously unstable. The fund can be a major factor in ensuring stability to sources of support for vital state programs. It has the support of farm and education organizations. Most legislators like it because it will provide a reliable revenue stream long after the oil industry slows down.
The fund’s “legacy” is a brighter economic picture for future generations. It’s smart management of natural resource dollars. North Dakotans should vote “yes” for Measure 1.
‘No’ on Measure 2
Measure 2, the so-called high-fence hunting ban, is not about hunting. Nor is it about property rights. Nor is it an invitation for the anti-hunting crowd to get a foothold in North Dakota. Nor is there evidence it’s a threat to traditional hunting in the state.
Measure 2 has the potential to be a legal nightmare. Despite claims the language is iron-clad, the measure is ambiguous enough to have lawyers salivating over the prospect of going to court should the measure pass. That potential should send proponents of the measure back to the drawing board.
High-fence, or canned, “hunting” is not hunting in the tradition North Dakotans cherish. Shooting animals raised on game farms in fenced enclosures – no matter how large the enclosure – is akin to plinking fish in a shallow stock pond. It’s an insult to North Dakota’s hunting tradition. “Hunters” who brag about a trophy elk or deer bagged inside the fence are worthy of scorn. They are shooters, not hunters.
That being said, Measure 2 is a flawed instrument. If North Dakotans want to control or limit high-fence operations, Measure 2 is not the way to go. Vote “no.”
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.