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Chris Murphy, Published October 18 2012

North Dakota measures intend to clean up existing laws

FARGO – Spring is not the only time for cleaning. The upcoming Nov. 6 vote on Measures 1 and 2 offers a chance to clean up two sections of the North Dakota Constitution.

Measure 1 would repeal Section 6 of Article X, which has been part of the state constitution since it was first adopted in 1889.

Section 6 allowed the Legislature to levy a poll tax, which has never been done. In 1964, the U.S. Constitution was amended by Article 24, which prohibited the federal government or any state from levying a poll tax.

“Essentially, repealing Section 6 removes a provision of the state’s constitution because the ratification of the 24th Amendment made it a non-issue,” North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said. “It’s a provision that can’t be imposed because of the 24th Amendment, and they (legislators) thought it would be good to take the language out of the constitution.”

The Senate and House agreed with the sponsors of the resolution and voted to place the proposed amendment on the ballot on respective votes of 46-0 and 92-0.

Measure 2

When the constitution was adopted, Section 4 of Article XI did not include members of the executive branch when stipulating who was required to take an oath of office. It only referred to members of the legislative and judicial branches.

In 1890, the Legislature adopted a law that required all civil officers, which included every elected official, to take an oath of office. Since 1890, all executive branch officials have been required to take an oath of office.

Measure 2 will officially add the executive branch to Section 4 of Article XI, even though the executive branch already takes an oath of office.

“Why the executive branch was left out of the constitution in 1889, who knows?” Jaeger said. “This just puts the rule in concrete, even though it’s already implemented.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548

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