The victory of people power over payday-lending bullies (in one day’s battle, not yet the war) and (from what I hear) the well-attended Bernie Sanders meetings in Sioux Falls and Rapid City (oh! late update! one in Spearfish, too!) are much bigger deals than the sigh of relief I want to share with you in this post. But permit me one more little happy dance about Referred Law 19, which passed an important milestone tonight: the petition challenge deadline!
A month ago this morning, my friends and I handed in petitions to refer Senate Bill 69 (the incumbent protection plan) and Senate Bill 177 (the youth minimum wage) to a public vote in 2016. A month ago tonight, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs called and said she had certified the petition for SB 69, now dubbed Referred Law 19. The following afternoon, she certified the petition for SB 177, now Referred Law 20.
308 signatures… a 2.2% cushion—that slim margin had me worried for the last 30 days. Under SDCL 12-1-13, anyone who wanted to knock Referred Law 19 back off the ballot had thirty days to research the petition and dig up 309 more invalid signatures than Secretary Krebs calculated we had.
I told myself I shouldn’t worry. The Secretary of State’s random sampling methodology overcounts errors. Challengers would need to find 2,844 bad signatures out of our count of 16,715.
But stranger things have happened, and I tend to live under the cloud of the worst-case scenario. So for thirty days, I waited for a grim call from the Secretary of State’s office, or a press release from some tricksters in some Republican office, saying, “Guess what we found?”
Then I sat down for supper tonight, and it hit me: it was after 6 p.m. No grim call. No tricksters. No challenge.
Whew—Referred Law 19 is safely on the ballot! And if no one took a swing at our 2.2% margin on the incumbent protection plan, it’s extremely unlikely that anyone is planning to spring a challenge on the 23.1% cushion on the youth minimum wage. (They still could: Secretary Krebs says the challenge clock starts ticking when she certifies the petition, and she certified the Referred Law 20 petition on June 30, the day after she certified the RL 19 petition, so the deadline to challenge 20 is end-of-business Thursday.)
So again, thank you, petition signers and circulators, for giving us enough good signatures to stave off any challenge. We have two referred laws on the 2016 ballot that we can kill with people power and that candidates can use to hold their incumbent opponents accountable.
Now, shall we start taking bets on what monkeyshines our Republican legislators may try to wreak on our referenda during the 2016 Session?