Legislative Update

Terry B. Jones

District 4 Representative

Hello from Bismarck,

March 27, 2021

This week in my two committees we only covered 11 bills.  The workload is noticeably reduced on most of the legislative members.  It is interesting to me to see the personalities showing up in my fellow legislators.  When we were so busy trying to study bills, debate topics, and work on legislation, it was difficult to see the human side of my colleagues.  I enjoy going to meals and visiting with them and getting to know them on a more personable level.  The citizens in North Dakota are well represented by good intentioned, hard-working, and intelligent individuals.  I can say with confidence this is the cream of the crop from North Dakota.

This week in Judiciary committee we worked on a bill dealing with changes to our constitution through initiated measure.  (SCR4005)  We had a citizen come in that I was very impressed with.  He was well studied.  He has attended all of the meetings dealing with initiated measures that he could.  I could tell that he had studied the issue thoroughly.  I remember thinking to myself, ‘I hope this guy will continue on this road and become a legislator to help us represent the citizens of North Dakota.’  As he presented his testimony, I recognized a lot of my past self in him.  I could tell he was concerned that legislators were corrupted and self-serving.  I thought back to my starting in politics when I believed politicians were bad and lobbyist was a 4 letter word.  I am embarrassed now as I look back at how foolish and uninformed I was.  I have had to apologize over and over again to people that I insulted and misjudged.  I have learned that the legislators who are serving, are doing so out of a deep desire to do what is right for the citizens of the State of North Dakota.  If they are here for other purposes they will not last because this is a difficult service that can only be provided by someone who is deeply committed to what is good for the State and its citizens.

Lobbyists, I learned, are critical to the success of this process.  As citizen legislators we cannot be experts in every field, and we rely on honest and forthright lobbyists to give us the best information to make decisions with.  A good lobbyist will give you the up side of the argument and tell you why they want you to support a specific effort.  They will also tell you the down side so you will have the information you need to make a proper decision.  A lobbyist has to be brutally honest, because if they give a legislator bad information and that legislator stands in front of 93 colleagues and embarrasses themselves by giving misinformation to the body that is then exposed through debate, he/she will never trust that lobbyist’s information again. A lobbyist that is unreliable is unemployed.

As I tried to assure the concerned citizen testifying on the initiated measure bill, that we were trying to do what was right, I was disappointed that I made him mad.  I will have to work on my communication skills to prevent this from happening in the future.  He left mad and that made me feel bad.

The resolution passed out of committee with a do not pass recommendation mostly because the bill required 60% of the people’s vote if it was initiated by the legislature but an initiated measure to change the constitution initiated by the people would only require 51% of the people’s vote.  The North Dakota constitution is a sacred document and changes that are made to it should have a higher standard than is used for amending statutes.  We have seen several measures change our constitution that have had a lot of out of state influence that I feel should not have been passed by such a low threshold.  I am sure this issue will be brought back again until someone gets it right and we can all agree on what properly protects our state’s most important document.

It is a pleasure to serve District 4.  Thank you so much for electing me and as always, if you have any concerns or questions please send me a message or call.

Terry B Jones  

[email protected]