Petition drives led to the referral of eight measures passed by the 1989 North Dakota State Legislature. The December 5, 1989 special election allowed voters to repeal or uphold each of the eight measures.
Measure #1 was a constitutional amendment that allowed the governor to reorganize North Dakota's executive branch. Measure #2 introduced a retirement plan for state legislatures. Measure #3 was a fuel tax increase. Measure #4 was a sales tax increase. Measure #5 was a mandatory seat belt law. Measure #6 permitted electronic gaming. Measure #7 was an income tax increase. Measure #8 created a statewide health-education program.
The Y.E.S.S. ("You Expect State Services") Coalition was formed to encourage voters to vote yes to support measures #3 (a fuel tax increase,) #4 (a sales tax increase,) and #7 (an income tax increase) at the special election. These three tax measure were supported because of the revenue that would be applied to social services and education including medical assistance, family service programs, special education programs, and maintenance of roads and bridges. The coalition represented groups including the AFL/CIO, school districts, hospitals, city governments, and higher education institutions.
Y.E.S.S. Coalition efforts included fundraising, public speaking, soliciting voters, publishing newsletters, advertising, and providing rides and babysitting on election day.
All eight measures were voted down. As a result, general funds were reduced by $98 million.