Governing notices the South Dakota Legislature’s attack on people power (see all the bills here), particularly the effort to repeal Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, with House Bill 1069, which on observer calls “lawlessness”:
“It’s a real stick in the eye of the people of South Dakota,” said Liz Kennedy, director of the democracy and government reform program at the liberal Center for American Progress. “It’s one thing when it’s a policy change like minimum wage, but this is the voters saying ‘our government is not working for us right now,’ and the government is saying ‘we reject the rules that you have imposed on us.'”
…”It’s pretty blatant, this attempt to shut down citizens’ voices and their role in direct democracy,” said Kellie Dupree, communications director for the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a progressive group that sponsors ballot measures. “You don’t get to decide which election results you’re going to accept. I would go so far as to say it’s lawlessness” [Alan Greenblatt, “Don’t Like the Ballot Measure Voters Approved? Just Ignore It, Some Lawmakers Say,” Governing, 2017.01.31].
It’s not just South Dakota getting bad press for legislative overreach. Apparently legislators in Maine and Arizona are also trying to nullify the will of their voters. That trend just isn’t cool:
…Catie Kelley, an attorney with the Campaign Legal Center, called the trend of overturning the will of the voters “disturbing” and suggested that lawmakers must think they’re safe for re-election and unaccountable to voters.
“The whole idea of having ballot initiatives is that there’s some vehicle for voters to move a policy if lawmakers are unwilling to move it themselves,” said Kelley. “If lawmakers are going to repeal it, or undermine it through the administrative process, it’s really a lost tool for voters” [Greenblatt, 2017.01.31].
Let’s get our democratic act together. All legitimate power derives from the people. For a legislature to negate the people’s will, expressed fairly in an election, is to undermine the sole source of that legislature’s legitimacy. Let’s put the brakes on all the efforts the South Dakota Legislature is making to foul initiative and referendum and get back to legislative respect for the people at whose pleasure they serve.