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Letter: Sales tax revenue estimates weren't or couldn’t be provided to the Legislative Management Committee

Secretary of State Al Jaeger responds to The Forum's editorial "North Dakota voters will be shown a skewed fiscal picture of pot legalization."

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As the Forum’s editorial (Saturday, Sept 17) correctly stated , as the secretary of state I have no discretion over determining the fiscal impact of a measure placed on the ballot.

In 2004, the voters approved a constitutional amendment that the legislature could provide a procedure for determining the fiscal impact of initiated measures.

In 2005, the legislature adopted a state law (N.D.C.C. § 16.1-01-17) that requires the Legislative Management Committee to hold public hearings at least 30 days prior to the election and then provide the secretary of state with the fiscal impact of measures placed on the ballot.

In 2019, the legislature amended state law by requiring “a statement of the estimated fiscal impact” be placed on the ballot. However, to accomplish that requirement, the fiscal impact of the measure must be provided to the secretary of state prior to the deadline for certification of the ballot, which is 62 days prior to the election.

The secretary of state has no authority to determine the fiscal impact and must accept what is provided, which was officially determined by the Legislative Management Committee on Sept. 12. That was the 57th day prior to the election when ballots were already being prepared and proofread by county election officials.

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Al Jaeger serves as North Dakota's secretary of state.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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