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GUIDE TO STATE BALLOT MEASURES

 

VOTE NO ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT W, This proposal creates a new Article in the South Dakota Constitution and declares the article superior to all other sections of the Constitution. It creates a 7-member tribunal to oversee things such as ethics, conflicts of interest and government contracts.  Voters don’t choose the ethics tribunal, they’re not elected, and they would have the power to adopt rules that govern 11 sections of law without any oversight by any elected officials.

It would lower campaign contributions and put them in the constitution like the 5 cents a mile legislators got paid for the special session on September 12, 2018.

It removes the State Accountability Board and creates a new 7 member board which has no oversight except the courts, and even that is limited.  It requires the legislature to fund the board, allows the board to create, investigate, and enforce ethics rules that can only be changed by the courts.  Complaints will be accepted anonymously, thus denying the person or group the ability to confront their accuser.  This is a violation of the 6th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

It removes the ability of the legislature to make any changes to a measure that was approved by the voters.  In the case of IM 22, my wife is an RN employed by Sanford for 35 years.  She is retired, but still works 2 or 3 mornings a month teaching RNs to start IVs.  IM 22 declared her compensation to be a “GIFT” because Sanford has a lobbyist and I’m a State Senator.  The IM required one of us to resign or I was subject to a $2,000 fine and a year in jail.  Approximately 80% of the legislature faced similar circumstances.

Amendment W is not limited to state officials, it includes all state, county, city, and school district employees.  That includes teachers and law enforcement personnel.  I for one do not want an unelected board with no expertise to second guess these hard working public servants.

As with IM 22 the Attorney General believes portions of this measure may well be found to be “Unconstitutional”.  It is opposed by the Chamber of Commerce, SD Retailers, Americans for Prosperity and the SD Republican Party to name a few.


VOTE NO ON INITIATED MEASURE 24, which bans contributions to ballot question committees by non-residents, out of state political committees and entities that have not filed with the Secretary of State for the four years prior to making a contribution. This provision says that some out of state entities can contribute, but others can’t.  If this passes and is challenged it is likely to be struck down, based on the Citizens United ruling.  The Attorney General says IM 24 is likely to be challenged on constitutional grounds and taxpayers would have to foot the bill


VOTE NO ON INITIATED MEASURE 25, which seeks to increase the state tobacco tax by $1.00 per pack of 20 cigarettes, as well as drastically increasing the tax on other tobacco products. IM 25 allocates millions of dollars per year to the unelected Board of Technical Education but lacks accountability to taxpayers to make sure the funds are not wasted. (Visit https://noim25.com)  In addition, it puts the full burden on the backs of a small portion of the population.  One result is that people will likely purchase cigarettes adjacent states that have much lower taxes.


VOTE YES ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT X, which would increase the number of votes needed to pass a constitutional amendment to 55%. Currently, a simple majority (one vote over 50%) is needed to change the South Dakota Constitution. The State Constitution can only be modified by a vote of the people; the Legislature can’t make any changes to the Constitution. If a flawed amendment to the Constitution passes, the only remedy is to attempt to fix the error at the ballot box the following election cycle. That means the flawed amendment is the law of the land for at least 18 months. There is nothing the Legislature could do about it. Changes to the Constitution should face a higher standard than changes to state laws.  Marcy’s Law is a good example of a flawed constitutional amendment that caused problems for law enforcement and unnecessary expense for counties.  It took 19 months to correct, even with the support of the original proponents.


VOTE YES ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT Z, which would limit initiated measures and constitutional amendments to a single subject.  This is already the case for bills in the legislature.  It would give the voters the ability to vote separately on the different provisions of bills like IM 22.  It was 34 pages 70 sections and was an all or nothing proposition.  Amendment W this year is six pages and also covers multiple topics.