Frequently Asked Questions

What does this measure actually do?
With a YES vote, North Dakota citizens apply two, 4-year term limits to the elected offices of North Dakota Governor, State House and State Senate. This will empower everyday citizens and reduce the power of the political class and “good ol boy” club in Bismarck. Link to full text here: www.northdakotafortermlimits.com/measuretext
Who is behind this?
A group of 42 North Dakota citizens signed legally-notarized affidavits, making up a sponsoring committee that was filed with the ND Secretary of State’s office on July 1st, 2021. Our campaign is composed of grassroots citizens from across our state, as well as several former and current elected officials. Many are experienced legislators who understand the importance of term limiting their positions. The Chair of the sponsoring committee is Jared Hendrix of Minot, a veteran of numerous grassroots efforts, political campaigns, and an elected Republican district chairman for District 38. Link (or list) sponsoring committee members: www.northdakotafortermlimits.com/ourteam
What happens to those currently serving in the legislature and governor’s office?
Our term limits only limit people on future service. This means that, if this measure passes in 2022, legislators seeking reelection in 2024 would be able to serve two more full 4-year terms in their respective chambers. Then, if they so choose, they could switch from the House to the Senate in the same district, or vice versa, and serve another two full 4-year terms in that position. Similarly, the current governor, who was first elected in 2016, would be able to run again in 2024 and potentially serve two more, full 4-year terms.
Does this ballot measure have anything to do with term limits for members of Congress?
Unfortunately, no. Due to a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court decision, we were unable to include term limits on Congress in this initiative. It only applies limits to the Governor and state legislature. However, US Term Limits is a national organization that helps to organize support for congressional term limits. For more information, visit here: https://www.termlimits.com/why-term-limits/
Is this measure being controlled or funded by out of state interests?
Our ground team is 100% North Dakotans, and no one from out of state represents or speaks for us. We are accepting donations from both in state donors and out of state donors. In order to successfully secure passage of this measure, our group solicited advice, guidance and financial support from US Term Limits, a 501(c)4 nonprofit that is solely focused on advancing the cause of term limits for federal and state-level politicians across the United States. We decided that we would seek assistance from those with the highest level of expertise and success on the issue of term limits. You can visit their website www.termlimitsnd.com for more information.
Which state legislatures have term limits?
As of April 2020, fifteen states have term limits. They are: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. For more information on state legislative term limits, go here: https://www.termlimits.com/state-legislative-term-limits/
Do any other governors have term limits?
North Dakota is in the minority of states with no gubernatorial term limits, and thus very little restriction on gubernatorial power. Each state sets its own term limits for governor. Currently, 14 of the 50 states do not have any term limits on governors. The rest have some sort of term limits. A majority of governors may serve two consecutive four-year terms. Other gubernatorial terms limits may include a lifetime limit or some minimum sitting out period before an incumbent is eligible for reelection. There are thirty-six states with term limits on the governor. They are: Gubernatorial Term Limits
States Term Limits
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia 2 consecutive 4-year terms
Indiana, Wyoming, Oregon 2 consecutive 4-year terms, 1 term pause
Montana 2 consecutive 4-year terms, 2 term pause
Arkansas, California, Delaware, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma 2 four-year terms a lifetime
Virginia 1 consecutive four-year term
Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin no term limits (NH and VT have unlimited 2 year terms, the remainder have unlimited 4 year terms)
For more details: https://www.termlimits.com/which-states-have-term-limits-on-governor/
Why is 8 years the limit and not more or less?
8 years is the traditional American term limit. It was proper for President George Washington, a man who could’ve been King, but who decided with conviction and principle to limit himself. He set the example for all Americans to emulate. Service longer than 8 years becomes less of service and more of a career, diminishing the key value of a “citizens legislature”.
Aren’t term limits each election?
While it is correct to assume that a representative’s job is on the line every election, no one can argue against the power of incumbency. Incumbents have big advantages, including higher name recognition, media coverage, fundraising opportunities, lobbyist connections, and mailing legitimate updates to the district. Term limits are the only way to provide for fair elections without incumbent advantages. By limiting the years of service, we open doors to new ways of thinking and reduce the “boss style politics” that can emerge in long political careers.
Why does this measure include only the North Dakota legislature and Governor?
The people of North Dakota are pragmatic and small steps are a good way to approach an issue. The legislature writes the laws, and the governor enforces them, making these positions the most impactful in state government. The legislature in North Dakota is set up as an extremely powerful branch. Therefore, we believe that starting term limits with these positions is both a reasonable and historically acceptable approach. Over time, we want to see a “culture change” in which more citizens see themselves as having a duty to be more civically engaged, and potentially become a voice for their communities. New voices can provide a fresh perspective.
Will North Dakota suffer by losing all of its experienced legislators overnight? How can a legislative body maintain its “institutional knowledge” with term limits in place?
Our state should be governed by citizen legislators. Institutional knowledge often doubles as institutional inertia that makes needed change difficult or even impossible. Replacing government experience with real world experience is a net gain for constituents across our state. In the 15 states with legislative term limits, there are many more candidates who run for office than in states without them. We believe there will be no lack of qualified individuals to run for legislature. Decades of experience in government is not a prerequisite to good representation. Strong people with solid principles and life experience can make a difference in one term. New blood breeds innovation. Legislators will still have experience with term limits, but the difference is their experience will be more in line with regular North Dakota citizens and less with lobbyists and bureaucrats. Lastly, there is arguably an even greater need for public servants at the local level in our counties, cities, townships and school boards. Those who are term limited in the state legislature but who still wish to serve their communities, will find no shortage of opportunities if they seek them out.
Can term limits unintentionally empower the bureaucracy and lobbyists who will hold sway over less experienced legislators?
Influence in government is based largely on relationships. Not all relationships are bad, but in general they do tend to structurally offer advantages to special interests. Term limits break up the relationships between elected officials, lobbyists, and the bureaucracy. Nobody has closer relationships or is more beholden to or influenced by lobbyists and bureaucrats, than long serving legislators. Obviously, there are exceptions in which representatives stand up to bureaucracy. However, the data and research in this field says on average that the opposite is true. For more detailed research and information, please visit: https://www.termlimits.com/term-limits-and-bureaucracy/ Voters must also ask themselves – if lobbyists gain more from term limits, then why are lobbyist groups typically the biggest donors against term limits measures? Bottom line – new legislators are closer to their constituents, less beholden to lobbyist influences, and therefore can focus more on the wants and needs of their District.
Will this result in North Dakota moving to annual sessions?
This measure does not change the session. There would be no need to change the operation of government. The session is limited to 80 days per biennium. Any proposed changes to how that time is divided is a wholly separate matter.
Has a ballot measure on legislative and gubernatorial term limits ever been attempted in North Dakota before?
There have been multiple measures related to term length and limits for various levels of local, state and federal officeholders over the last century. Most relevant, a 1996 measure appeared on the ballot, which included term limits for statewide officials, state legislature, and for members of Congress as well. That measure narrowly failed with 47.3% of the vote. In 2010, another citizen group began to put term limits on the ballot, but fell short of the needed number of signatures.
If this passes, can the legislature undo it?
No.The legislature has a clear conflict of interest and we have included language to prohibit ANY changes to the people’s term limits by the legislature. Any future change to term limits would be required to be initiated by the people.
Why is now the right time for term limits?
Nationally, support for term limits for members of Congress is overwhelming, and in most states that sentiment is true for state legislatures as well. We believe that we need bold, dramatic reforms in government that can realign the political power away from the political class, and back to the hands of the people. Recent polling data shows that North Dakota voters across the political spectrum want term limits.