On February 25, the North Dakota Senate passed SB 2183 by a vote of 31-16. This is the bill that says no one may circulate an initiative petition, or a recall petition, unless the individual has lived in the state for at least two years.
Republican Senators supported the bill by a margin of 29-4, but Democratic Senators opposed it by a margin of 2-12.
The bill, if signed into law, will probably be held unconstitutional. North Dakota is the only state that has ever won a court ruling upholding a ban on out-of-state circulators. That decision was Initiative & Referendum Institute v Jaeger, 241 F 3d 614 (2001, 8th circuit). But that decision says the ban is constitutional because without it, the state would have a difficult time prosecuting fraud because out-of-state circulators (so the court said) would be out of reach of subpoena in case there is an investigation into fraud. But obviously that rationale has no relevance to a North Dakota resident who happens not to have lived in North Dakota for at least two years. North Dakota is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, and a significant share of North Dakota’s adult population moved into the state in the last few years because jobs have been plentiful in that state.
The Secretary of State, Al Jaeger, does not support this bill and points out that it is not even necessarily easy to know precisely when various individuals moved into North Dakota. Residency is a very imprecise term.