Why Delay Enactment of Initiatives? Elected Officials Just Need to Think Ahead

I just heard Seth Tupper wonder aloud on Dakota Midday why we don’t delay the implementation of voter-approved ballot measures a little longer so state and local officials aren’t having to scramble to figure out how the new laws work, as we’re seeing now with Amendment S and Initiated Measure 22. Under SDCL 2-1-12, voter-approved ballot measures take effect the day after the official state canvass; this year, that meant our initiatives took effect on November 16, eight days after the election.

May I suggest that the ballot measures we just approved shouldn’t have caught anyone by surprise? Initiative sponsors have to submit their legal language to the Legislative Research Council, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State more than a year before the election. The public sees that language on petitions more than a year ahead of time. Elected officials manage to deal with hundreds of bills that pop up in the two-month Legislative Session, dozens that are enacted with only four months of prep time before July 1 enactment, and more than a few that have emergency clauses making them law sooner than that. Elected officials have more than enough time to read our relatively rare initiatives, talk to the sponsors and legal counsel, and figure out what they’ll have to do if the public makes those initiatives law.

Citizens have to wait long enough to realize their initiative will. We shouldn’t have to wait even longer to put our ideas to work just because some elected officials can’t be bothered to read our initiatives until the last minute.

32 Responses to Why Delay Enactment of Initiatives? Elected Officials Just Need to Think Ahead

  1. Agreed! I think the SDGOP is having to deal with the paradox of having won elections, but with a collar on! Why would the voters vote for us if they wanted ETHICS too? They must be asking themselves lots of questions.

  2. Leo, that paradox is something I have seen more and more. SD voters support issues that the candidates they elect do not, and voters do not support candidates who support issues the voters also support. I believe it is that sports team/party mentality. Republican party brand recognition is very strong, and seems to overshadow the candidates or specific issues.

    This may be the biggest test of that disjointed reality. When SD’s supported/elected candidates act to go against the will expressed in voting for ballot issues, how will the voters react? Does brand outweigh issues when they go head-to-head?

    In all the discussion of elected officials about how bad 22 is, I have not heard the realization that their is a corruption problem (or at least the perception of one) in the minds of SD voters and they want that addressed. No one has come forward to acknowledge that “we heard you.”

  3. Gutting dem values is occurring in Every Sense At Local State and Fed Levels. Raga Pres. AG In Bed W Fossil Fuels For Epa.Daugaard Refusing To Fund Im22.jackley Interpreting Marseys Law.Supreme ct Justice Denied Obama.we Are Being Slaughtered. We Dont Have Nationwide Strategies To Stop trump And His Party.

  4. Donald Pay

    This ain’t rocket science. Many states that don’t have a referendum provisions in their Constitution usually have an effective date that is within days or weeks of final signing by the Governor. Other states provide for effective dates in legislation. Other states use the beginning of a fiscal year or a calendar year as an effective date.

    States with referendum provisions generally have an effective date for legislatively passed laws after the final date allowed for submission of referendum petitions. Since initiative laws are already voted on by the public, there is no need for delay.

    The genius of South Dakota’s Constitution is that they hold the people’s lawmaking power as superior to that of the Legislature and the Governor. “Under God, the People Rule.” They would do well to remember that, and implement that people’s laws. Failure to do so could be an impeachable or recallable offense.

    Just an example from another state about effective dates. One of the most complex and controversial bills ever enacted in Wisconsin was Walker’s Act 10. There was a huge cry from Republicans because our Secretary of State took the fully allotted days (something like 20 days) to publish the act, after which the law is effective. Because of that the Legislature decided to change the law so that now laws go into effect 2 days after enactment. Wisconsin doesn’t have the referendum, something that is badly needed here.

  5. Measures initiated are bad. They are bad. Hopefully soon they will be initiated out of existence.

    Vote in your legislatures and then make them do things the right way.

  6. Two days, Donald? If Wisconsin can do it, so can we!

    O, getting people to recognize and vote on that disjoint Leo identifies is one of my fervent hopes. The more times the Governor tells a majority of voters they were duped, the more times that statement gets played in the media, the more votes smart Democrats can pick off. We need to embrace the will of the people and hang the lawsuit and budget resistance on the GOP, brand them as the party that refuses to listen.

    That said, Governor Daugaard did try to acknowledge the will of the voters by saying the IM22 vote shows some desire for campaign finance reform. But how does he affirm the validity of a desire expressed by a vote while maintaining that people voted wrong? That balance seems a shade too tricky for easy campaigning.

  7. Darin Larson

    Let me get this straight. Lawmakers in our state can’t trouble themselves to read initiated laws in the 365 days before the election. What excuse next? The dog ate their homework?

    Hearing this just makes me angry. This is just another phony excuse like when the governor tells us that we are too stupid to understand we were scammed by the proponents of IM22 while at the same time he tries to scam us with his threat of cutting education funding. Can’t these people find some valid arguments to make? Corruption must be worse than suspected if they are stooping to make these false and infantile arguments.

  8. Stace Nelson

    Remember those times President Obama delayed Obamacare provisions, without actually changing the law via Congress? What about this http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-delays/

    IM22 & Marcys Law highlight a deep problem in the IM process. The measures should be printed in their entirety on the ballot without “interpretetion.” Laws are supposed to be such that the common man/woman on the street can readily understand them.

  9. I think o is right in that voting/being Republican is like team allegiance. Parents are Republican, Grandma and Grandpa voted red since they can remember, it is an identity thing.

    Seems like many people I know do not like the way our state government has gone, and are pissed about the corruption and national embarrassment our electors bring us at times. They voted for term limits, and really do want change.

    But you mention voting Democratic and they roll their eyes and make gagging noises. They want change, but are not brave enough (yet) to defy their comfortable tradition.

  10. mike from iowa

    Laws are supposed to be such that the common man/woman on the street can readily understand them.

    Well you wingnuts certainly failed that test, didn’t you. Worse yet, your party doesn’t follow their own written laws.

  11. I don’t doubt for a second that voters in South Dakota did exactly what they intended on Initiated Measure 22 to curtail corruption in our state. I call it the RID effect – Republicans, Independents and Democrats united for one purpose!

  12. Remember those times when our constitution said “advise and consent” and republicans said NO?

    Without dem lawyers, republicans can do what ever they want. We must take them on at every step. We must have a national strategy, a public one, and a private one the republicans will have a harder time undermining. This is a political war and if we don’t join the fight, everything important is lost.

    I know, we can’t afford it. I know, it’s a red state and troy and stace will tell us to be nice, but agreeing with their republicanism, where wrong, is never gonna happen. the difference is, the republicans are NEVER going to agree with us no matter how reasonable we are. e.g. Mitt Romney’s Obama Care. 30 mill people are perhaps in danger of losing health care. Daugaard doesn’t care. He is blaming the Indians for not helping him out so the State could legislatively address (but certainly not vote for) expansion of Medicaid.

    now the very health care system, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Obama Care are threatened, and it is destabilizing the country. Between 50 and 90% of the population believes there should be no repeal and replacement. Republicans have VOTED 60 plus times to repeal and replace. Those few but vital angry male and female white low income voters in MI, WI and PA are going to get crucified over lack of medical cale alone. Paul Ryan is going to put a nail right thru these folks’ heart.

    Jackley doesn’t care. He’ll prolly serve Christie as AG and continue his climb to high office. He is a big player in RAGA, the republican attorneys general nat’l association. Like former RAGA president, AG Scott Pruitt, OK, he sees he can be a fed. department head, like Pruitt now in line for EPA. Talk about a fox in the hen-house. Rounds must be very happy. I’m sure he and DAUGAARD ARE PLENTY PISSED OFF AFTER THE SLAPPING AROUND THE Obama admin. HAS GIVEN THEM OVER their MISHANDELING AND GROSS CORRUPTION/FRAUD IN EB5, and likely behind the scenes so far in MCEC/Platte murders. The Indians have slapped Daugaard around for their racist policies and PUC support of the Baakan pipeline at Cannon Ball, and even their victory at Black Elk Peak.

    The republicans are moving swiftly to take over those huge portions of our national budget that actual serve social protection for the down and out. They are greedily usurping every opportunity and there is no one to stop them except democrats. wise up people.

    Seth tupper’s republican sympathies are just the tip of the ice berg in SD. We need a loud, aggressive press and a loud aggressive democratic party right now. Progressives, you are democrats so get over your “mini-van” aversion, modernize with us, and join the fight. Voting for trump or spoiling Hillary’s election was just naive. Standing Rock’s is historic. Standing with Sitting Bull’s people and their sovereign rights is the right thing to do.

  13. Donald Pay


    When the Legislature mails every voter in the state a printed version of every bill, or provides nearly a year for the public to understand the provisions of a bill, then you can complain about complex bills written in language that the Legislature requires to be written in language worked out by the LRC.

    You know there is this new contraption called the internet. It has made it very easy to read and understand bills and initiated measures.

  14. Stace, are you suggesting that voters did not know what they were doing on IM22? Weren’t you a “NO” on everything? What did you do to educate your constituents on ballot measures, or at least inform them of your position on each and every one of them?

  15. owen reitzel

    The Republicans have had more then enough time to come up with a plan for more transparency in Government and to fight corruption. Nothing that I know have has ever come forth.

    What are your plans Stace to fight this? What do you have in mind?

  16. Seth Tupper

    Cory: I was thinking mostly about Marsy’s Law. This was my thought: We allowed only eight days between approval and effectiveness, and we thus incited mass chaos as police chiefs, sheriffs, state’s attorneys, public defenders, judges, highway patrol troopers and others each applied their own interpretation to the law’s language. A widespread public-records crackdown ensued. We then finally got an opinion from the attorney general about what the law actually requires, and he basically said that a lot of people were interpreting the law incorrectly.

    I just thought it might have been better if the effective date of Marsy’s Law had been delayed a couple of weeks or a month or whatever, like the delay of roughly four months that you referenced for bills passed by the Legislature. If we’d done that, maybe we could’ve gotten the AG’s opinion first and avoided all the chaos and the (apparently) unnecessary crackdown on open records that resulted from the initial, knee-jerk reactions. If more time had passed between passage and effectiveness, maybe cooler heads would’ve prevailed.

    Sure, we can all read the ballot measures well in advance of the election. But it seems unrealistic to expect that public officials and citizens in general will do much advance work to comply with a ballot measure that might not pass. That work of compliance reasonably doesn’t begin until after a measure has been approved, and when we only allow eight days for that work to happen, it just seems like an arbitrarily small window that we might want to widen a bit. That’s all.

    It could be a bad idea. As you said, I was wondering aloud, which is always dangerous and is even more so on live radio.

  17. mike from iowa

    I’d be willing to bet any plan to fight corruption agreed to by wingnuts would include massive amounts of arms and permits to carry them anywhere/everywhere. Next there has to be massive amounts of abortion restrictions. Then LGBTs would have to be numbered and the same with Muslims and registered both state and nationally. Then it would be campaigning for re-election time.

  18. owen reitzel

    You might be right mfi but we’ll see what Stace does and if the GOP will go with it

  19. Stace: printing the ballot measure text in toto on the ballot is impractical, since that would make the sheets too big to run through the voting machines. I have no problem with providing copies of each ballot measure in a booklet to each voter.

  20. Seth, do keep thinking aloud! We like it!

    The Attorney General could stand to be more proactive. He could have issued that official opinion (and state’s attorney Mike Moore could have asked for it) much sooner. If we’re worried that the AG’s opinion could be interpreted as electioneering, he could draft it, then have it in the chute for release the morning after the election… although maybe a clear explanation from the AG on how he intends to interpret and enforce a ballot measure if it passes would be useful information for voters pre-election.

    We might need to clarify the statute about using public resources to sway elections. Local officials perhaps saw this coming but didn’t say anything for fear that they’d be accused of swaying votes, but local officials ought to at least be able to address the facts of the issue, how a law would be interpreted and enacted.

    I agree that we can’t put all sorts of mechanisms in place and spend money. But note that the compliance at the local level didn’t take that long to implement. They just stopped issuing certain public records. They decided pretty quickly what they were going to do and they did it. Nobody had to build a building or a new highway. Pennington County and Brown County are moving pretty quickly to hire new staff. The only people dragging their feet are the Governor and the Republican Legislature, who don’t want to give up their free lobbyist lunches or face a toothy ethics commission. Government can move pretty fact when we tell it to.

    Ah, and while I’m thinking of IM22, note that that law gives the state extra time to act on certain issues. The Governor has until January 31, 2017 to appoint the ethics commission. The SOS has until 2018 to get the new campaign finance reporting system ready to go. Candidates don’t have to submit the new CF reports until 2018. Candidates can’t start applying for Democracy Credits until July 2017, and we don’t start distributing them until 2018.

  21. Richard Schriever

    On the other hand, how do state officials deal with having to make adjustments to their performance requirements whenever anything is enacted by the legislature. Maybe there should be a two-year delay before implementing any legislative active – to give officials time to adjust and prepare to those acts??? Seriously???

  22. Richard Schriever

    Voter booklets with full IM and referral language sent to every registered voter is standard practice in California. But then, they are a rich liberal state.

  23. Donald Pay

    Maybe there could be a reasonable conclusion here that involves some compromises. I can see where there needs to be a bit of lead time to get initiative sponsors, executive agency heads and Assistant AGs together to try to iron out any questions or concerns before an initiative is effective. In some cases there may need to be rules put in place to fully implement the provisions of the initiative. So, in a spirit of massive compromise, I would suggest that initiated laws go into effect as now, but with delayed implementation until the January 1. This would give time for any necessary discussions, rulemaking, etc.

    In exchange for this change, the timelines for submitting initiatives and much of the bureaucratic stuff done beforehand needs to be modified. There is no need for initiatives to be submitted so early. Often South Dakotans want to bring legislation to the Legislature first, before fully committing to an initiative. As someone who supported a number of initiatives, I really valued the legislative process, the discussion of the fine points of legislation, and the ability to amend legislation to make it better. That is why groups that I was involved with participated fully in the legislative process before bringing an initiative. With the current timelines, the ability to fully participate in the Legislature is lost.

    So, I would make the deadlines for submitting initiative petitions more like June 30.

    There’s a compromise proposal. Would this work? Have at it.

  24. Actually, if the law requires administrative rules, it is impossible to start and finish the administrative rules process even if all the required rules are already drafted (thinking ahead).

    It isn’t about “compromise.” It’s about good governance.

  25. Donald Pay

    I think the rules part would be easy to finish. Is it 45-days, or is it 30 days? Then rules review could happen right away. They speed up rules for special interests all the time. Might as well do it for the people.

  26. Porter Lansing

    Is Mr. Jones asserting that “compromise” is not also good governance? Of course he is. But only when it shines his boots, not ours.

  27. Roger Cornelius

    Voters have been waiting years, if not decades, for a way to tamp down corruption.
    Would IM22’s full implantation at the time have been able to stop Gear Up or EB-5 or to at least have them fully investigated?
    Voters wanted action to be taken on state corruption and supported IM22, taking a few days to implement the law should not be a problem given the time we have had to wait for it.
    Those that are in opposition to IM2 are doing nothing short of supporting corruption.

  28. Donald, how about everyone and everything that goes on the ballot has to have a petition in by June 30? You give me that extra eight months to launch and complete an initiative petition drive, and I’ll happily set a clear ballot measure implementation date of January 1 following the election… although I’m still open to emergency clauses, if initiative sponsors want to take that chance.

  29. Stace Nelson

    @Owen The first step in dealing with a problem is acknowledging it. #2calling it what it is. #3 Addressing it with corrective measures. Remind me what happened when that was done with the South Korean Dairy Daugaard was pushing onto Hanson County, with the corruption of LRC.

    @CAH 30+ pages of multi subject legislation, pushed through the IM process, broken down to a half page definition? Our AG & SOS dropped the ball in an unforgivable fashion. This mess should have been challenged and required to be broken down into single subject measures with tax increase provisions in measures that require funding. This mess does nothing to prevent or address the EB5 or Gear Up corruption. Ironically, as you noted, it does impact the Democrat’s Blue donation program.

  30. owen reitzel

    @Stace. I believe that IM22 has done that. It might not be perfect but it’s a start and that what the Republicans have not done. They haven’t done anything and I feel the people want something, anything done. To call the people who supported stupid just isn’t right.

    Not that it makes any difference but it was a Irish dairy I believe.

  31. Roger Cornelius

    IM22 was about addressing Gear Up, EB-5 and other acts of corruption and scandals through the implementation of the Ethic Commission.

  32. Stace, the initiative process does not work like the Legislative process. It isn’t meant to. In the Legislature, it is far easier to break down bills to single subjects and pass them piece by piece. Every time you break an initiative into another bill, you have to collect another 20,000 signatures.

    And apparently, according to Judge Barnett, the voters cannot appropriate any money to fund their grand ideas. We shall always be at the mercy of the Joint Appropriations Committee.