Secretary of State’s Office: Combatitive sports, elections, bill filings, business registrations, contractor’s licenses and so much more.

Al Jaeger

Al Jaeger

While it isn’t an everyday thought, have you ever wondered?  That is, what does the Secretary of State and that office do?  It is a simple question and not unusual.  But, be prepared for a long answer because the office has over forty different and widely varied duties.
As a starting point, most people are surprised to learn that the Secretary of State serves as the Commissioner of Combative Sports and regulates professional boxing and mixed fighting style events.  Since January 1, 2011, the commission has supervised twenty-one events.

Probably the duty that creates the most public awareness is that the Secretary of State serves as the state’s chief election officer.  Not only does the office coordinate statewide elections and train election officials, the Secretary of State certifies the election of statewide and district candidates, files oaths of office, accepts campaign contribution statements from candidates, political parties, and political action committees, and reviews proposed statutory and constitutional initiated petitions and referred actions of the legislature for placement on the ballot.

The Secretary of State also files all legislative bills adopted into state law, legislative resolutions, and the official acts and proclamations of the Governor.

Since the Century Code (state law) requires a business to first be registered with the Secretary of State prior to a state agency or board issuing a license or permit, business in North Dakota really does begin with this agency.  The agency files the legal documents required by state law for 24 different business entities such as corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, trade names, etc.

One of the agency’s licensing duties is the issuing of licenses to contractors.  Since the first of the year, the agency has issued over 1,700 such licenses.  In addition, the Secretary of State commissions notaries public, licenses professional employer organizations, and registers home inspectors, lobbyists, and charitable organizations.

In partnership with the state’s fifty-three county recorders, the agency maintains the central database that contains approximately 300,000 filings related to various lien documents associated with the uniform commercial code, livestock and agriculture loans, and state and federal taxes.

The Secretary of State serves on and is the secretary of the Emergency Commission, is a member of the Board of University and School Lands and the Board for the State Historical Society.  He is also the publisher of the North Dakota Blue Book and the custodian of the state’s Great Seal.

The office has an exceptional, conscientious, and caring staff.  Almost one-third of them have over twenty years of experience inside the agency.  Nevertheless, it is a lot of responsibility and work for an agency of only twenty-seven people.

Now, with the state’s thriving economy, the agency has had challenges.  For example, the average monthly number of business registrations jumped seventy percent beginning July 2011 when compared to the twenty-four month average ending in June 2011.  Nevertheless, the agency is committed to providing the best services possible within the staffing and financial resources appropriated to it by the 2011 Legislative Assembly.

To learn more about the office, visit the Secretary of State’s website at www.nd.gov/sos.

Al Jaeger is North Dakota’s Secretary of State.

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