North Dakota, the third least populous state in the US, could have become a laboratory for examining the effects of conservative state constitutional amendments reducing the load on the taxpayer and expanding the protection of religious liberty. Unfortunately for those who wanted to watch the experiment, North Dakotans rejected two possible amendments to the state's constitution Tuesday, including Measure 2, that would have banned property taxes.
The movement for the ban emerged as North Dakota finds itself sustaining a boom in the energy sector, while running a budget surplus and collecting higher tax revenue in comparison pre-recession levels.
The proposal saw opposition though from private and public forces in the state who argued that such a ban would create business uncertainty considering it fails to plan on how to make up for the $812 million in annual property tax revenue. Revenue that the public sector now quickly reminds can’t be used for building schools or other public works projects.
Fox News reported on Tuesday night that North Dakota voters resoundingly defeated the tax proposal, Measure 2. Additionally, voters were against Measure 3 which would amend the constitution prohibiting government intervention with religious liberty. According the Christian Science Monitor, the Religious Liberty Restoration amendment would have added a clause to the state constitution stipulating that the government must have a “compelling interest” in order to “burden” a person whose actions or decisions are informed by religious belief and that the government should use the “least restrictive means to further that interest.”
With 70 percent of precincts reporting, The Bismarck Tribune reported late Tuesday that voters also said no to Measure 3 by a 64.5 percent to 35.4 percent margin. Still, the idea of North Dakota becoming democracy lab U.S.A. spurred an interesting discussion on "Real News" Tuesday: