Plus, a guide to starting a referendum!
I’d like your input. Yesterday, Governor Dennis Daugaard signed two odious laws:
- Senate Bill 69, the petition reform bill that the Legislature perverted into an unconstitutional attack on Independents and voting rights; and
- Senate Bill 177, the youth minimum wage.
Both bills are affronts to voters. SB 69 takes away most voters’ rights to sign Independent petitions. It also moves nominating and party-organizing petitions three or four weeks earlier, making it harder for voters to get full slates of candidates on their ballots. (See my full summary of the bills provisions here.) SB 177 meddles in the initiated measure voters passed last November to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour. SB 177 cuts the minimum wage one dollar for workers under age 18, starting July 1.
My poll question for all of you is, “Should voters refer SB 69 (petition reform) and/or SB 177 (youth minimum wage) to the 2016 ballot?” Your choices (at the top of the near right sidebar):
- Refer SB 69.
- Refer SB 177.
- Refer both!
- Refer neither!
Mark your selection, and leave your thoughts in the comment section to this post. At the time of this posting, we already have 56 votes. I’ll keep this poll open until breakfast time Tuesday, when we will discuss the results.
One thing to consider: if petitioners refer a law to a public vote, that law is placed on ice until the voters approve it at the general election. Refer SB 69 to a vote, and the candidate and party petition rules don’t change for the 2016 election. Refer SB 177 to a vote, and under-18 workers keep the $8.50 minimum wage this summer and get the cost-of-living adjustment next summer. Even if voters approved both measures, the new petition rules wouldn’t come into play until the 2018 election, and young minimum wage workers wouldn’t take a pay cut until a couple weeks after Election Day in November 2016.
Some commenters have asked about the legal nuts and bolts of starting a referendum. Here’s the process:
- Get a blank petition. Here’s the referendum petition template. A Word version is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
- Fill out the following information (per SDCL 2-1-3.1):
- Title of the referred law (in the case of SB 69, “ENTITLED, An Act to revise certain provisions regarding elections and election petitions“; in the case of SB 177, “ENTITLED, An Act to establish a youth minimum wage.”
- Effective date of the referred law (July 1, 2015).
- Date of the general election at which voters will decide the referred law’s fate (November 8, 2016).
- You can see an example of a petition with this information filled out in this petition from 2012 referring the Governor’s education reform package, that year’s HB 1234.
- Prepare a “notarized form that includes the names and addresses of the petition sponsors.”
- Prepare a statement of organization for a ballot question committee (per SDCL 12-27-6; I’m looking for the sample form for 2012’s referral of HB 1234).
- Submit the above documents to Secretary of State Shantel Krebs before circulating. Secretary Krebs has to say “O.K.” (she’ll give you a letter) before you go get signatures.
Note that Steps 3 and 4 indicate that a referendum has to be started by a specific group of sponsors. You don’t want two or three or twenty different individuals each filing their own opening petition and statement of organization; communicate, coordinate, and submit one unified opening petition as one ballot question committee. Once that’s done, you can circulate independently all you want, as long as every circulator has a copy of the same petition form.
Remember when you circulate that the petition sheet in your hand has to have two sides: the front has the title, instructions, and eight signature blanks; the back has twelve signature blanks, the name and oath of the circulator, and the spot where a notary must stamp the sheet after you have finished collecting signatures on that sheet. When you print blank petition copies, these two pages must be on the same sheet, front to back, not on two separate sheets of paper stapled together (at least, that’s how I’ve always been told it must be done; let me know if you hear otherwise!).
My recollection from 2012 is that referendum petitions should not circulate until after the Legislature adjourns, which this year takes place on March 30. So we all have a good week to check the poll results above and talk before taking the referendum plunge.