- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - A state commission on Wednesday approved Secretary of State Al Jaeger’s emergency funding request to help his agency cover overtime, temporary help and other costs associated with a spate of measures on the Nov. 4 ballot.

North Dakota’s Emergency Commission, a six-member panel that includes the governor, legislative leaders and Jaeger, unanimously voted to increase funding to review the measures from $8,000 to $15,000.

Voters will decide eight measures this fall, the most on a ballot since there were nine in North Dakota’s 1996 June election, Jaeger said. November elections in 1980 and 1990, and a 1989 special election each had eight ballot measures.

Jaeger, a Republican who was first elected in 1992 to the office best known for supervising elections, said it’s not unusual for his office to request additional funding to cover costs of reviewing measures. Most of the money usually appropriated for the task is not used and returned to state coffers, he said.

The secretary of state’s office, like other state agencies, operates on a two-year budget cycle. Jaeger said there’s no way of forecasting what will be on ballot when budgets are crafted.

“Who knows what’s going to happen in two years?” Jaeger said. “To have people devoted to review petitions is not a good use of resources.”

The extra funding this year will help cover the costs of one temporary employee, overtime for permanent staff and printing and postage costs related to petition review, Jaeger said.

North Dakota’s fall lineup of measures includes four that were placed by the Legislature as amendments to the state constitution.

Measure 1 would requires a “right to life” at “any stage of development;” Measure 2 would bar the state or any political subdivision from collecting mortgage taxes or any sales or transfer taxes on the mortgage or transfer of pieces of property; Measure 3 would create a full-time three-member commission to replace the existing eight-member Board of Higher Education; and Measure 4 would requires all ballot initiatives with a significant fiscal impact to be on the general election ballot. It also would bar ballot measures that appropriate funds for specific purposes.

Voters also will decide four initiated measures, which allow residents to bypass the Legislature and put proposals directly to a vote.

Measure 5 would create a conservation fund supported with oil tax revenue; Measure 6 would provide for equal parenting rights and “parenting time” in child custody cases; Measure 7 would amend the state’s pharmacy ownership law to allow national retailers to operate pharmacies in North Dakota; and Measure 8 would require schools to start classes after Labor Day.

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