In another blow to people power, the House voted 53–14 Monday to pass Senate Bill 59. This attack on our ability to make laws through initiative moves the enactment date for any ballot measure from the day after the official statewide canvass of the election results (usually mid-November) to July 1 of the year following the vote.
This delay is just a trick, of course, that will allow our arrogant legislators to tinker with or repeal our ballot measures before those measures have a chance to take effect and demonstrate their worth. Without people getting to experience the advantages of, say, the minimum wage increase we passed in 2014 or the indoor smoking ban we passed in 2010, the Legislature would have faced less backlash to any effort to repeal those measures.
Representative Spence Hawley (D-7/Brookings) tried to check this arrogant power grab by offering an amendment that would have forbidden the Legislature’s use of an emergency clause on a bill amending or repealing an approved initiative within one year of the public vote. The emergency clause matters, because right now, the Legislature can use emergency clauses to protect their bills from referral. Remove the emergency clause, and voters would have the chance to stop an initiative repeal by petitioning to put that repeal to a vote in the next general election. But the Republican majority would have none of that.
House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte argued against it.
“The way the constitution is set up the Legislature has the discretion to use the emergency clause any time they see fit,” Qualm said.
The Hawley amendment failed on a voice vote [Bob Mercer, “Legislators: Ballot Measures Should Take Effect in July, Not November,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2017.02.28].
Hmm… if legislators can respond to “emergencies” and set whatever enactment date for their bills they want, why can’t we the people do the same? When we want to respond to a problem that the Legislature won’t fix, we have to start our initiative process a good year and a half before the election. Why make us wait over seven more months to enact our solutions?
Representative Hawley led the ten-Dem caucus in standing for people power over legislator power. Four Republicans joined them in voting Nay on SB 59: both of my District 3 House members—Dan Kaiser and Drew Dennert—plus similarly conservative Isaac Latterell and Chip Campbell. SB 59 now goes to the Governor…
…which reminds me, Governor Daugaard! You still owe me lunch for helping you pass Amendment R, your vo-tech governance change. If SB 59 were in effect, you wouldn’t have seen Amendment R become law until July 1, and that might have held up passage of your new state Board of Technical Education. And we wouldn’t have wanted that, would we?
So hey, I can pass on Red Rossa. How about one little veto on SB 59?