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GUIDE TO STATE BALLOT MEASURES


This is my take of the ballot issues for 2016.  Your opinion may differ.


Constitutional Amendment R - TECH SCHOOL GOVERNANCE

A Constitutional amendment relating to the authority of the Board of Regents   

A yes vote changes the constitution – A no vote leaves the constitution as it is

I believe a YES vote is in the best interest of South Dakota:

1.  Currently technical schools are controlled by the K-12 school board in their community.  

2. State law allows them to separate from the K-12 system, but is unclear who they would report to.  

3. This amendment would set up a board to oversee the states four technical schools rather than having them report to the Board of Regents since they offer diplomas and associate degrees rather than bachelors or higher like institutions controlled by the Regents.


Constitutional Amendment S - MARSY’S LAW / VICTIMS’ RIGHTS

An amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to expand the rights for crime victims

A yes vote changes the constitution – A no vote keeps the constitution as it is

I believe a NO vote is in the best interest of South Dakota:

The amendment would require the court system to notify victims of updates in defendant’s criminal cases and give victims more ability to speak in court hearings.

1. The state’s notification system currently provides notifications to victims of violent crimes, domestic violence and driving under the influence,

2. The amendment would expand that group to include victims of any crime, attempted crime or act of juvenile delinquency.  

3. The SD Bar Association opposes this amendment, saying it will increase costs and tie up resources needed to prosecute serious crimes.

4. This proposal should have been brought to the legislature as a bill where it could be amended to perhaps make both victims and attorneys happy with it.  Bringing it as a Constitutional Amendment is dangerous if the Bar Association is right. as it is very difficult to correct once it is written into the Constitution.


Constitutional Amendment T -  REDISTRICTING REFORM

An amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to provide for state legislative redistricting by a commission

A yes vote changes the constitution - A no vote keeps the constitution as it is

I believe a NO vote is in the best interest of South Dakota:

1. An independent commission wouldn’t be accountable to voters as the positions are un-elected and the board uses an imposed quota system that wouldn’t be representative of the state’s electorate.  

2. Republicans are 46% of the electorate, but would only be 33% of the board.   As proposed the two minority groups will control 2/3 of the board.

3. The present process is reviewed by the Federal Department of Justice and the current plan was found to be in compliance with federal law.

4. This measure would force an additional redistricting in 2017 at a cost of $100,000 to $150,000.

5. This amendment was brought by the Farmers Union to try to change the makeup of the legislature.  


Constitutional Amendment U - PAYDAY LENDING INTEREST RATE CAP (18 PERCENT)

A yes vote changes the constitution -  A no vote leaves the constitution as is

I believe a NO vote is in the best interest of South Dakota:

1. This amendment would allow unlimited interest rates for all loans as long as there is a written contract.

2. Since this is a Constitutional Amendment it severely limits the ability to control interest rates in the future.  

3. In the event that Initiated Measure 21 fails, this amendment will have no effect on current law.

4. If passed, it would prevent IM-21 from being implemented even if it were to pass.


Constitutional Amendment V -  NON-PARTISAN ELECTIONS

A yes vote changes the constitution -  A no vote leaves the constitution as is

I believe a NO vote is in the best interest of South Dakota:

If approved, the amendment would create a single primary for state races in which candidates appeared on the ballot without party designation. The two candidates with the most votes would move on to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

1. This amendment is brought by Democrats who believe they would win more elections if you didn’t know their political affiliation.  

2. The parties have vastly differing ideologies and with the party affiliation listed on the ballot you at least have a general idea of the candidate’s belief system.  

3. Proponents point to Nebraska as an example of how this would work.  However, this measure goes far beyond the legislature only system there.  Senators from Nebraska say, once they are seated, everyone knows who is Republican or Democrat anyway, it’s only the voter who may not know.

4. Proponents complain that Independents can’t vote in the Republican primary.  The point is that it is the Republican primary and Republicans should be able to select their candidate.  If Independents want to vote in the Republican primary, it is a simple process to change their registration.

5. This amendment would require a major overhaul of all of our election laws and greatly increase the cost of running for one of the constitutional offices.

6. Constitutional officer candidates are currently selected at the party conventions, but would now require a statewide primary where they would need to reach thousands of voters rather than the current few hundred delegates.


Referred Law 19 - ELECTION REFORM

A yes vote lets this law go into effect - A no vote prevents it from taking effect

An act to revise certain provisions regarding elections and election petitions

The law would move up deadlines for submitting nominating petitions, prohibit non-Independent voters from signing nomination petitions of Independent candidates and restrict the circumstances under which a political party could replace a candidate that has withdrawn.  This law was passed by the legislature at the request of the Secretary of State.


Referred Law 20 - YOUTH MINIMUM WAGE

An act to establish a youth minimum wage.

A yes vote lets this law go into effect – A no vote prevents it from taking effect.

The law would reduce minimum wage for non-tipped employees under 18 years of age from $8.55 an hour to $7.50 an hour.

1. This law was passed by the legislature and would create a financial incentive for employers to hire younger workers, especially in small towns and rural areas.  

2. It also recognizes that federal rules limit what jobs youth under 18 can perform which limits their worth to an employer.

3. The youth minimum wage is still higher than the federal minimum wage by 25 cents per hour.


Initiated Measure 21 - PAYDAY LENDING INTEREST RATE CAP (36 PERCENT)

An initiated measure to set a maximum finance charge for certain licensed money lenders (36 percent)

A yes vote lets this law go into effect – A no vote prevents it from taking effect.

1. Under this bill, the maximum interest that could be charges for a $500 loan for two weeks would be $6.90.  Proponents say that if the measure passes, banks or credit unions would fill the void.  The truth is that no one will make these loans with their high default rate and low return.

2. The measure would kill the payday lending industry, eliminating an option for small ($500 or less) short term loans (often for two weeks) and South Dakota jobs.

3. It does nothing to limit bank overdraft which might be the end result of passing this measure.

4. There is also a risk that if licensed lenders are eliminated, an unregulated industry might evolve.

5. You must decide if eliminating these loans helps or hurts low income people with no established credit.  My guess is it does a bit of each.


Initiated Measure 22 - CAMPAIGN FINANCE AND ETHICS OVERHAUL

The measure would limit how much PACs, political parties, and individuals can give to candidates. Each registered voter would get two $50 credits to give to any candidate of their choosing. State employees would be prohibited from working as lobbyists for two years after leaving state government

A yes vote lets this law go into effect - A no vote prevents it from taking effect

I believe a NO vote is in the best interest of South Dakota:

1. This bill is 34 pages long and includes 70 sections.  

2. It provides $12 million to fund candidates.  If everyone participated, the $12 million specified would only cover ¼ of the potential credits.

3. It creates a new commission that is authorized to setup offices and hire staff outside the normal budgeting process.    

4. The reporting requirements will greatly restrict political speech and many of these provisions are likely unconstitutional.  If they are found to be unconstitutional, the state will likely be required to pay the legal expenses of both sides.

5. Ethics committees are often used to cast doubt on the integrity of a candidate or office holder.  An example was in Alaska where Sarah Palin had to spend over a million dollars defending herself even though none of the complaints were found to be valid.

6. This measure is being sponsored by out of state groups who do not reveal their donors, yet this measure would require South Dakota groups to list their top five donors when engaging in free speech.   

7. To pay for it, either existing programs will need to be cut or taxes raised.


Initiated Measure 23 - FORCED UNION DUES

An initiated measure to give certain organizations the right to charge fees

A yes vote lets this law go into effect - A no vote prevents it from taking effect

I believe a NO vote is in the best interest of South Dakota:

1. This is a very deceptively written measure.  

2. It would require people to pay union dues even if they choose not to belong to the union and object to how their money is spent.

3. It effectively eliminates the Right to Work laws in South Dakota

4. Since 1980 states with Right-to-Work laws have created twice as many new jobs as states without such laws.  

5. Since 2012, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia have joined the list of states with Right to Work laws.  We would be foolish to go in the other direction.