“No on everything!” is often just an ignorant default position for voters too lazy to come up logical reasons for their positions on the ballot measures. In his Sunday letter to the editor, Steve Nemmers of Aberdeen at least comes up with reasons for his No votes on eight of the ten ballot measures. That means he and I agree on three ballot measures—19, S, and U definitely deserve defeat. Let’s take a look at what Nemmers gets right and what he gets wrong about our ballot measures:
Nemmers rejects Referred Law 19, the Incumbent Protection Plan, because it “prohibits a person from a political party from sighing and independent candidate’s petition” and thus makes “independents suffer.” We all suffer when we lose political rights of association and petition.
Nemmers opposes Amendment S, Jason Glodt’s astroturf crime victims law, because there are “no financial impact statements” and it “sounds expensive as described.” One could argue that S should have a fiscal impact statement, since it affects the laws “governing release of a prisoner from imprisonment or supervision,” one of the statutory triggers for a cost estimate prescribed by SDCL 2-1-19.
Nemmers calls Amendment U for Usury “nothing more than an end run around Initiated Measure 21,” which would make me think he would support IM 21 (see below). He clearly doesn’t like the payday lenders’ effort to write their unlimited interest rates into our constitution.
Nemmers complains that Initiated Measure 21, the real 36% rate cap on payday loans, “exempts nearly everyone other than payday lenders.” IM 21 only covers “installment, automobile, short-term consumer, payday, and title loans” because providers of those loans are most commonly engaging in triple-digit loan sharking. IM 21 does not stop us from regulating other lenders (like Mike Huether’s credit card friends?) from charging exorbitant interest rates if we decide that’s a problem. Nemmers falsely contends that IM 21 “takes the ability to regulate those lenders away from the Legislature.” Nothing in IM 21 stops the Legislature from further regulating payday lenders. If we pass IM 21 and kill Amendment U, the payday lenders could try buying Rep. Kris Langer and the Legislature again with legislation to undo our initiative (although David Novstrup should warn legislators that overturning a voter initiative is a bad idea).
Nemmers acknowledges “a definite need for better oversight and stronger anti-corruption laws,” yet he apes the Koch Brothers in calling Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, a “money grab.” If he’s referring to the voluntary small-donor system of public “Democracy Credits,” he’s wrong: no politicians “grab” anyone’s money. Individual voters would decide whether to distribute their two $50 Democracy Credits, and they could only choose to give that money to candidates who agree to obey stricter campaign finance rules. If Nemmers is referring to the appropriations for the credits and the state ethics commission, he’s wrong again. IM 22 doesn’t take one extra penny from anyone’s pockets; it only allocates a portion of whatever revenues the Legislature decides to collect toward funding the Democracy Credits and enforcing the law.
Nemmers frets that Initiated Measure 23, the “fair-share” union dues measure, “would overturn our Right-To-Work laws,” but hey, when “right to work” really means “right to weaken labor power and keep wages low,” why not overturn those laws? Nemmers plays word games, claiming that IM 23 “forces” workers to “support an organization you may want nothing to do with.” IM 23 does no such thing. If a worker wants nothing to do with a union, the worker can disavow the contract the union collectively bargains for every worker and demand that management negotiate separately with non-union workers. But if non-union workers sign contracts negotiated by union reps, those workers clearly have something to do with the union.
Nemmers was wrong about Amendment T, the independent redistricting commission, when he wrote at length about it last year; he’s still wrong today. He continues to misrepresent the anti-gerrymandering plan as “exclud[ing] other political parties”—T allows third parties to participate on the commission. Nemmers claims T “creates an expensive, complicated system.” Wrong: the nine-member independent redistricting commission is no more complicated and arguably cheaper than convening a fifteen-member Legislative committee to draw their own maps.
Nemmers undercovers Amendment V, the open nonpartisan primary proposal, by posing only one rhetorical question: “Why is hiding the party affiliation of a candidate a good thing?” First, V doesn’t hide anyone’s party affiliation: such information will still be public record and likely bruited about by candidates eager to win their base. Second, the honest conservative lawmaking question should be, “Why is advertising party labels on the ballot a good thing—i.e., what is the state’s compelling interest in favoring party brand over all other possibly useful descriptors in the voting booth? Third, V does far more than simply remove party labels from our ballots: it creates a fairer election process that allows every voter to participate twice in choosing our elected officials and ensures that those officials win office on a majority vote. That’s why V as a whole is a good thing.
Either Nemmers forgot or the paper cut Referred Law 20, the Novstrups’ pay cut for kids, and Amendment R, the vo-tech governance change. Those omissions are odd, since the Aberdeen American News heads his letter, “Say ‘No’ to All Measures, Amendments.” Either the paper has overtagged Nemmers’ critique, or there wasn’t room to explain all ten of Nemmers’ Nos. But I’m fine if Nemmers joins me in rejecting the Novstrups’ affront to voters in RL 19, and I’ve promised not to shed rhetorical blood on R, since the fate of the Republic does not hinge on formally blocking the Regents from taking over the vo-tech schools.
Nemmers is to be commended for at least coming up with reasons for his eight No votes. I’ll take his agreement on 19, S, and U; that will allow me to spend more time correcting his and others’ errors on 21, 22, 23, T, and V.