Bolin, Haggar Promise Bills to Restrict Initiative and Referendum

Rep. Don Haggar and Senator-Elect Jim Bolin repeat for that Sioux Falls paper the threat they made to AP back in November: they want to kill initiative and referendum.

Well, they won’t say that in so many words. But under the guise of fighting big money and out-of-state influences, they propose a variety of measures to make it harder to put measures to a statewide vote, such as…

  1. Raising the number of votes necessary for the Legislature to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot;
  2. Requiring signatures from 2% of voters in every Senate district;
  3. Increasing the signature threshold from 5% of votes cast for Governor in the last election to 5% of voters registered.

Tinkering with the Legislative vote requirement for constitutional amendments seems utterly gratuitous: out of three proposed amendments in 2015 and five proposed amendments in 2016, the Legislature placed only one on the 2016 ballot, Amendment R, the vo-tech governance revision that barely passed muster with the voters. Sen.-Elect Bolin seems to think that he and his fellow legislators are far more sensitive to out-of-state influence than we the rabble; surely Bolin and his colleagues can resist the machinations of outside influences without tinkering with constitutional vote thresholds.

Raising the signature requirements for initiative and referendum petitions will do nothing to stop outside money from hijacking our ballot. Bolin and Haggar’s proposed limitations will actually give big money more dominance over our ballot:

…Michael Card, a political science professor and associate provost at the University of South Dakota, said requiring more signatures or signatures from a geographically broader group of South Dakotans wouldn’t solve the problem.

“More signatures, that just favors more money,” Card said [Dana Ferguson, “Should It Be Tougher to Put Questions on S.D. Ballots?that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.12.13].

The answer to Ferguson’s headline question is NO. Bolin’s and Haggar’s proposals will only shut grassroots South Dakotans further out of the political process… which, of course, is the long-standing intent of the Republican Party, which hates voters’ willingness to overrule SDGOP priorities.


32 Responses to Bolin, Haggar Promise Bills to Restrict Initiative and Referendum

  1. mike from iowa

    requiring more signatures or signatures from a geographically broader group of South Dakotans wouldn’t solve the problem.

    Neither does repeatedly sending wingnuts to Pierre, Des Moines, DC etc., solve any problems-only create more.

  2. Darin Larson

    Requiring a certain number of signatures from a certain county or legislative district makes about as much sense as requiring someone named “John” to sign each petition. You are valuing some voters over other voters in violation of the Equal Protection clause and other provisions of the Constitution.

    All voters in SD have a right to vote on any statewide ballot initiative or election currently, but Haggar the Horrible wants to make my signature and vote worth less than someone who lives in Haakon county. In essence, one legislative district could stop any statewide ballot initiative. I could no longer vote on an initiative that has vast support across the state, but is not supported in one district in the state. This is an affront to our Democratic principles of one person-one vote.

    The unmitigated gall of these folks never fails to boggle the mind. They are Machiavellian hucksters and anti-democratic as well as Anti-Democratic party. The fact that they would gladly trash democratic principles of our country in order to fight their partisan political battle tells me all I need to know about these corrupt politicians. They think that voters are stupid and that they know better how to govern this state than the voters themselves.

  3. Darin Larson

    PS. The message from Haggar and Bolin to voters is this: you stupid voters passed IM22, the Anti-Corruption Act. The great and mighty legislature is going to restrict your rights so you don’t dare pass anti-corruption legislation in the future. Under God, the legislature rules!

  4. Donald Pay

    All of the suggested “reforms” would have the effect of further driving people to professionalized petitioning and outside money. Want to change this trend? Get a Supreme Court that values citizenship over the money of oligarchs. Not likely under Trump.

  5. Funny thing is that IM22 wanted to control the influence of money on politics…and that’s exactly what they are trying to do.

    Haggar and Bolin are duplicitous in wanting one thing that benefits them and their rejection of IM22.
    They are really saying that they do not trust the voters and people of South Dakota.

    Say Mr. Haggar, is that an out of state donation on your campaign finance report? Including your gifts from ALEC (conferences, bills etc.) how much have you received from out of state?

  6. Darin, I agree completely with your assessment of the irrelevance of Bolin’s geographical requirements. The legislature doesn’t require one legislator from every district to sponsor a bill to bring a bill to the floor; why should voters face such an additional requirement to exercise their constitutional legislative power?

  7. Porter Lansing

    What do you do when you’ve been elected and have no ideas, no plans for growth and no real reason to be in Pierre? Try to impede somebody else’s ideas and act like you’ve done something important; when all you’re doin’ is “killin’ time”.

  8. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    Senator-Elect Bolin told us on “Inside Keloland” this past October, that gerrymandering does not exist in South Dakota. Well, then what do you call District 15? Is it merely a fluke or an act of God?

    Representative Haggar told us on “Inside Keloland” this past October, that had the proposed Amendment V existed in 2010, that his daughter, Jenna, would have not had the opportunity to run and or win in District 15 that year…..Oh really, would not have “V” helped his daughter to further hide her true partisan identity in 2010, as most Republicans, including Representative Haggar, suggested that the Amendment would do this past election cycle, and would have not such an reality further strengthened her campaign and its outcome rather than hinder it?

    My real point here is that our Senator-Elect and our Representative will say anything to promote their partisan interests and such a political track record should be held in high suspicion when they now claim to be the champions of a genuine reform of our initiative and referendum processes. These two tools given to the voters of South Dakota over a 100 years ago, during the progressive movement of the 1890s, are not instruments that should be taken lightly or flippantly, or should we say in a partisan way, especially, when the partisans who are crying for reform are at the same time, for the most part, the same ones who have been beaten up rather badly in most cases at the ballot box in recent years when it comes to initiative and referendum issues, which happened to be at odds with the parochial interests of their partisan concerns.

    The real issue is not our initiative and or referendum processes, rather the real issue is why Senator-Elect Bolin and Representative Haggars’ political party seems to be often at odds with the real interests and wishes of the citizens of South Dakota time and time again at the ballot box…..

  9. Mr. Jom [sic] Bolin is probably one of the most effective in the legislatures. A good orator. And a swell haircut. He will lead us well.

  10. Donald Pay

    Regarding #3 on the list, going back to registered voters numbers will be turning back the clock, back to some problems that were exposed several decades ago. The registered voters list changes continually, making any attempt to collect signatures or validate the numbers virtually indefensible in court. That list is always changing and is always out of date. As Republicans are always willing to tell us, “too many dead people vote,” and etc., etc. The Secretary of State’s office several decades ago suggested a more clearly defensible number, the number of votes cast for Governor. It’s one change the the initiative and referendum process that everyone agreed with.

  11. Mr. Jom [sic] Bolin and Mr. Haggar seem right-headed folk to me. Jom [sic] and Don are righter than right when they say that this initiating of measures by big money, out-of-state, special interest groups is out of control and is hurting the people of South Dakota. The people of South Dakota will not stand for this nonsense much longer. We just have to get enough good yard signs to offset a 30 second ad that says “this is bad, this is very bad” with “this is good, this is very good.”

    Remember, the voters are mostly stupid and lazy. grudznick truly believes this.

  12. JKC, I just can’t grasp sustaining such a façade, saying things they don’t mean just to win, hold, and expand their power. I couldn’t do it.

    Bolin and Haggar say things they don’t mean to hide their real intent. Their President-Elect says things he does mean, then pretends he didn’t really mean it and shouldn’t be held accountable for his statements. These are scary times, indeed, for those of us who think words have meaning.

    Donald, I hope we can get some testimony in committee about the reasons you say motivated the move away from the registered voter count. Worth noting: we still use registered voters as the benchmark for local initiatives and referenda.

    I agree that number of registered voters is a bad benchmark. Using actual turnout figures bases petition signature thresholds on the number of people actively participating in democracy.

  13. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    Well said Cory!….. ‘Scary times, indeed”….. They have no shame, but then again they are from the same partisan DNA that thinks a non material (issue) stain on a GAP dress warrants an impeachment, but lying to Congress about why we need to go to war does not….

  14. This idiocy makes about as much sense as the idiot several years ago who sponsored a bill that would have required all high school seniors to apply to some type of college; he quickly withdrew it after he got enough egg on his face to serve an entire Perkins Restaurant for a day.

    Why is the legislature so afraid of the people that they claim to hold in such high esteem? Why can’t they handle the democracy that they, themselves, love to extoll and praise to the skies? What they really mean is democracy that only goes along with what THEY want. But that’s one of the many problems you get when one party has such tight, complete control over everything. There’s nothing to stop them and they know it.

  15. John Kennedy Claussen, Sr.

    Laurisa, our Republicans friends in Pierre think that they serve in the House of Lords, and that it is their duty to delay and or prevent the will of the commoners….

    But when you realize that about a 1/5 or 1/4 of our current Republican legislators gain their initial political footings as legislators through a gubernatorial appointment and not a election, then one can begin to understand, although sadly, their self-assumed peerage mentality towards the masses, however.

  16. John, that’s a good point about gubernatorial appointments, I hadn’t really thought of that. Thing is, that attitude seems to infect a good many of the rest of them, too.

  17. JKC, I think the gubernatorial appointment percentage right now is more like 1/7.

    Laurisa, it is puzzling that the party of limited government would have such heartburn over the people exercising their power to govern themselves. You’d think they’d want ti to be easier for the people to rule than for legislators in Pierre to make a bunch of rules for everybody. Or at the very least, they might give some favor to the referendum process and make it easier for people to overturn some bad law created by the Legislature than to create some new complicated law themselves.

  18. South Dakotans are proud of being the first state in the union to establish the initiated measure process which gives the people a viable voice in their government. Without the initiated measure process we wouldn’t have IM22.

    Please call or write your state senators and representatives to express your opinions on this time honored process. You may also wish to express your opinions to the Representative mentioned in the article.

    Rep. Don Haggar (R) – (605) 360-8130 donhaggar@yahoo.com

  19. Everybody on this blog and elsewhere had best save up a bit of money and time in order to travel to the legislative session when these obnoxious measures come to committee for hearing. This state needs to jam the halls and the committee rooms so full of people opposed to this nonsense that none of the bills make it to the floor. If the public doesn’t show up in mass, this partisan inspired collection of road apples will become an unnecessary, lengthy and time consuming topic of argument and mud slinging on the floor that can’t possibly have any good result. Notice I didn’t say debate because there generally isn’t any. It’s just the same old back slapping ruse that we’ve had for the past 25 years or more.

  20. The amount of hypocrisy from the Republican side of the aisle in Pierre is stunning! They take money from the Koch brothers by the truckload but if a bipartisan group receives some advice and support from out of state, they scream outside influence is buying our elections!

    Apparently, their definition of “people” only applies to their own anoited ones! Because they have completely ignored our state slogan, “Under God, the people rule!”

  21. Mr. W, what will you do if Mr. Bolin holds his meetings late at night under cover of surprise, or bans you from the rooms where the legislatures meet? Or if Mr. Haggar has your car towed, which is probably his right as a member of the legislatures.

  22. Go ahead and grasp at straws all you want Grudz. I’m worried about the corruption in the legislature but not that worried. They are still required to follow rules and procedure in the formal process of legislating. There’s your surprise. And frankly, I hope Mr. Haggar knows what my vehicle looks like and attempts to have it towed from a public parking lot………. He has no power in that regard but we should now better understand where a lot of the corrupt thinking and maneuvering comes from in the legislature. Maybe we should audit your lobbying paperwork. Here is something I don’t want you to ever forget Grudz……….. I’ve spent more time in Pierre in the hallowed halls of both the legislature and the bureaus than you’ve been alive and I’m very much capable of finding a parking space where not even you can find me. And I still have credentials that allow me in places in the capitol that might be hard for you to get into. Shall we start with the Supreme Court Law Library……… Spent many hours in that place.

  23. Porter Lansing

    Well, Well, well … Princess Grud is a registered lobbyist? Isn’t that special? hehe

  24. Donald Pay

    I’d take a couple of Bolin’s and Haggar’s pet bills and refer them just to teach them a lesson not to screw with the people.

  25. No question that it is long past time Don Pay when somebody goes on offense and starts pounding first downs right up the gut. Some of these folks have let power go to their head and both they and the process need a healthy dose of humble pie while being carried off the field with the wind knocked out of them.

  26. Porter Lansing

    You got that right, John W.

  27. Don Coyote

    Aw Jeebus! Cory’s Brain Trust seem’s to be working overtime on this but getting little traction (although Darin gets close). Let the awesomeness of Don Coyote enlighten you by tossing you a bone. Nebraska used to use distribution requirement since 1912. But in 2014 distribution requirements were overturned by Bernbeck vs Gale as a violation of the “one man one vote” rule. However it appears that the a percentage of registered voters is the requirement for referred laws (7%) and amendments (10%).

    https://ballotpedia.org/Laws_governing_the_initiative_process_in_Nebraska

    https://ballotpedia.org/Bernbeck_v._Gale_(2014)

    But wait, but wait. Nebraska also requires that “Nebraska ballot measures may not enact any law which the legislature may not enact. In addition, ballot measures may not interfere with the legislature’s constitutional right to raise necessary revenues via taxation.”

    Oooops. Since IM22 violates those very restrictions in South Dakota, perhaps the Legislature’s time would be better spent by referring an amendment to the SD Constitution clarifying that annual appropriations must be made with a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature

  28. Darin Larson

    Truth be told, Coyote. I didn’t do any research on the question at hand. Those were my thoughts off the top of my head in a fit of anger. Thanks for doing some work for the cause.

    However, the fact that Nebraska’s Constitution restricts the power of their ballot initiatives is a reason to read SD’s initiative power more broadly than that of Nebraska. It will be interesting to see if the SD Supreme Court has the will to restrict the rights of people to make their own laws. This is no trifling matter.

    The other point to be made here is that the SD Legislature could cure all of the questions of constitutionality with IM22 in short order. The people have spoken and the legislature as the representatives of the people should carry out the intent of the people. Instead, they are acting like they don’t have the power to carry out the will of the people and are blaming it on out of state interests.

    Great idea SD Republicans–call the voters stupid and blame nefarious out of state money. For the good of SD, I hope Republicans catch on to the fact that IM22, or much of it, is necessary to restore faith and accountability. If not, this will be a continuing issue for Democrats to remind voters. Not only do we have major corruption problems, but the people voted to do something about it and the legislature sued to stop it and then failed to pass reforms itself. What a legacy!

  29. Coyote, The Bernbeck appears not to apply to the Haggar–Bolin proposal. Nebraska was requiring signatures from a certain number of counties, which creates disproportionate value between rural and urban votes. Haggar–Bolin are talking about a percentage requirement from each Senate district, which is determined by population and thus may avoid the Bernbeck “one man one vote” violation.

  30. Darin Larson

    Cory, once you reach the 2% for Minnehaha County my vote or signature no longer counts under the Bolin proposal. How is that fair or Constitutional? One person one vote no longer is applicable once you reach the threshold.

  31. Mr. Larson, once all the “democracy credits” are spent by the people in Minnehaha County, my right to participate in doling out taxpayer money to politicians is impinged. How is that fair or Constitutional?

  32. Darin Larson

    Well Grudz, it is first come, first served, but it is not restricted by area or legislative district. You compete equally with folks all across the state to allocate credits, be they from Minnehaha County or Haakon County. We do this all the time in state or federal grant funding. It is first come, first served for grant money for education, CRP program funding, ADA compliance money, Homeland Security grants, etc., etc..

    That said, this part of IM22 is not the most important part of the law in my opinion, although it is probably worthwhile. We have public financing for presidential elections, why not local legislative races? Do we need every politician in America to be bought and paid for by special interest groups?