The President's Perspective
by Jeff Olson


We’re back at it today and looking ahead to another busy month. It is after all, National Cooperative month. So, we’re taking advantage of the opportunity to be out in the community creating positive awareness for our movement. This week, and for the remainder of the month, we are back on the road with our legislative candidate “credit union difference” road show. We’ll be in front of state-wide candidates and lawmakers at the James Valley Chapter tonight in Jamestown, ND and at the Southeast 605 Chapter of Credit Unions on Thursday in Sioux Falls, SD. We are just 28 days away from the November general election, and it’s important that we have successful turnouts from credit union professionals and volunteers at these events. You can find upcoming chapter events on our website here.

Every election cycle, there are several initiatives that will appear on state-wide ballots. Most are cumbersome, complicated and very confusing to the general voting public. Many are written that in a purposeful way to confuse or mislead voters. Some, while they may have good intentions, are so poorly written that if passed, can have a negative consequence on the voting public. Many initiatives are attempts to bypass the legislative process, thus undermining the very legislators we voted for to debate and pass laws that provide good public policies. This is the case in both North Dakota and South Dakota this cycle. In North Dakota, this is Measure 1; and in South Dakota, it is referred to as Amendment W. They are both sponsored and heavily funded by the same out of state organization, and they both will have a very negative impact on credit union advocacy and how we interact with our lawmakers and community leaders.  

Our primary concern is that both measures, if approved, will be written into both our state’s constitutions.

In North Dakota, Measure 1 - VOTE NO. Here’s why:

  • This measure is an attempt by out of state elites to change and control ND’s Constitution and its citizens’ political engagement/involvement. Funding is coming from MA, CA, DC.
  • Has a provision which assures that it cannot be found unconstitutional and would override all other article of the ND constitution.
  • It is deeply flawed, ambiguous and constitutionally suspect.
  • It would radically change the ND Political Culture.
  • Creates an unelected and unaccountable commission.
  • Upends the election process in North Dakota.

The Institute for Free Speech (IFS), which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government says that the provision could violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; and it would impose and unjustifiably burden core constitutionally protected speech. The initiative also creates a new State Ethics Commission but does not prescribe its powers or limits. Deputizing citizens to enforce campaign finance laws can result in a complete free-for-all, where politically motivated and frivolous lawsuits run rampant. The IFS sites the issues in Colorado where the lawsuits got so out of hand that a federal judge ruled Colorado’s private enforcement system posed an unconstitutional burden on citizens’ First Amendment rights, and Colorado has since implemented a new enforcement system.

If that isn’t enough to convince you to vote against it, the North Dakota ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is opposing the measure as well, saying “though it’s being promoted as an ‘anti-corruption amendment,’ Measure 1 is actually so poorly written that it would institute a host of new restrictions and regulations on political speech and advocacy that would violate the First Amendment rights of all citizens.”

In South Dakota, Amendment W - VOTE NO. Here's why: 

The South Dakota Amendment W Revises the State Constitution and requires a statewide vote to fix AND to change rules. If Amendment W passes we’re stuck with it, and it can only be changed if we pass another statewide initiative to repeal it. If Amendment W passes:

  • The Legislature cannot change the Constitution.
  • The Governor cannot change or veto constitutional amendments.
  • Even the SD Supreme Court cannot change the Constitution.

Amendment W is similar to a proposal that was previously known as Initiated Measure 22 (IM-22) - which was found by a Circuit Court Judge to be in conflict with long established principles and the basic structure of a functional government. That Circuit Judge issued an injunction that prevented IM-22 from becoming law because he concluded that it was most likely unconstitutional.


Many of those same conflicting ideas are now on the ballot as Amendment W, which if passed will place those conflicts directly into the Constitution. This new article will be incompatible with the many other clauses of the Constitution, rendering the state’s founding document at best inconsistent and at worst dysfunctional.


Either way, it takes a statewide vote to make any revisions. For this reason, it will take a statewide vote to fix Amendment W when any of its eight pages prove to have unintended consequences. And, it will take a statewide vote to change campaign contribution limits that prove to be either too limiting or not limiting enough. We are strongly urging our South Dakota members to vote NO on Amendment W.


Really, what these two measures represent is a “Trojan Horse” that allows out-of-state interests to hijack our constitutions, dictating how we Dakotans interact and work with our elected officials on all levels. We encourage all Dakotans to carefully read these measures for themselves and to not be hoodwinked by misleading buzzwords like “anti-corruption.”  It’s no secret that Amendment W is a follow-up from the disastrous IM 22 that was passed by voters in 2016, which prompted Governor Daugaard to say that voters were “hoodwinked” by its out-of-state sponsors and that the Amendment was a “train wreck.”


Along with our partners at the Credit Union National Association, we are an ADVOCACY first organization. Engaging in fierce, bold 360-degree advocacy lies at the heart of everything we do for our members. More importantly, credit unions in the Dakotas have worked hard over the years to reach out and educate our members and volunteers on the importance of being actively engaged in governmental affairs and in the political process in general.  We believe that good government requires the participation of the people, its businesses, and especially those organizations such as ours that impacted by public policy.  Clearly these measures are a “solution looking for a problem,” and would drastically and negatively change how our association and members can engage in the political process. Please VOTE NO on North Dakota Measure 1 and NO on South Dakota Amendment W.


More added value to CUNA/CUAD Membership

Affiliated Members of CUNA and CUAD will soon get additional “best of class” federal and state compliance support. Last week CUNA announced that it selected Quantivate as the intended provider of a technology platform for a new comprehensive, integrated compliance solution for credit unions. If you recall, in 2017, the CUNA board proactively commissioned the development of an innovative industry compliance solution under the guidance of CUNA staff, leagues and compliance advisory groups. Our very own Amy Kleinschmit was an integral member of the task force that has been working on this solution.

This new platform will allow CUAD/CUNA members to manage state and federal compliance burdens in one place, and will allow credit unions, leagues, and CUNA to collectively manage compliance as a team. Stay tuned to the Memo as more details are released. As always, CUAD members may contact Amy Kleinschmit with any compliance related questions.

Have a great week and I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at upcoming chapter events this month.



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