Initiative-hating Republicans are sure to portray the submission of over 50,000 signatures yesterday to place the Voter Protection and Anti-Corruption Act (we’ll see if IM22 2.0 catches on) on the 2018 ballot as just a function of Represent South Dakota getting all sorts of evil out-of-state money to play “mad scientist” with our laws.
But dollars don’t sign petitions; South Dakotans do. We must assume those 50,000 plus South Dakotans are mostly intelligent, literate neighbors, each with free will. We may also assume that Represent SD’s petition circulators were reasonably intelligent, or at least good at following orders from intelligent sponsors who told them, “You won’t get ten minutes to explain the whole SDVPACA. You get five seconds to get most folks’ attention. You need to say one line that hooks them.” And it seems reasonable that, of all one-liners SDVPACA circulators may have dreamed up, one of them was, “Hey! Are you mad about legislators repealing IM22?”
And presto—50,000-plus signatures, three weeks before the deadline. (Show-offs!)
Represent SD organizer Doug Kronaizl offers a really good response to the (Republican) suggestion that IM 22 2.0 is some crazy idea from out of state:
That totally ignores the many South Dakotans who turned out to Pierre during the repeal [of Initiated Measure 22], the many South Dakotans who came and testified, and then the many South Dakotans whose opinions and viewpoints and perspectives crafted this very amendment. The contents of this amendment came from conversations we had in Pierre, in Mitchell, in Rapid City [Doug Kronaizl, in Lee Strubinger, “Anti-Corruption Amendment Petitions Sent to Secy. of State,” SDPB Radio, 2017.10.18].
IM 22 2.0 isn’t just some pile of out-of-state ideas and out-of-state cash. It’s a direct response to the arrogance of our (Republican) Legislature, crafted to specifically amend South Dakota’s constitution to make South Dakota’s initiative process, campaign finance, and ethics system work better (or, in the case of the latter two, perhaps just work for once).
The big and early signature count shows Represent SD struck a chord with lots of South Dakotans with the changes it made to IM 22 2.0. Consider John Tsitrian’s response. He voted against IM 22 last year, largely because of the public campaign financing planks. Now he cheers IM22 2.0 because of its specific response to South Dakota’s political problems:
The subsequent pushback by voters is one that I supported right away. Like plenty of South Dakotans I was dismayed by the cavalier and presumptuous manner in which our elected officials blew off the will of the people and destroyed the measure before it was given its due process in court. “Under God The People Rule” was rendered a mockery and the resulting outrage should come as no surprise to our political class, as SD’s legislative and executive branches now have to contend with a powerful, new replacement for IM-22.
This “updated” version wisely dropped the deal-killing “democracy credits” plan for taxpayer financing that turned off a lot of potential supporters. Also, unlike its predecessor this amendment is much simpler and focused on fewer concepts, possibly the most important of which is that it stops elected officials from overturning any voter-approved laws without going back to the voters themselves for permission. I also like that the proposal creates an independent citizen’s ethics commission, not the state agency (I mean, the state monitoring itself? Come on.) that the legislature set up when it revoked IM-22 [John Tsitrian, “South Dakota’s Motto “Under God The People Rule” Is About To Get Tested . . . Again,”] The Constant Commoner, 2017.10.17].
I know some constitutional purists (myself included) who are uneasy with writing specific campaign finance limits into the constitution. But Republicans attempting to take advantage of that complaint will find that esoteric philosophical argument won’t resonate with nearly as many voters as the disgust created by the Legislature’s wanton disregard for the people’s will.
More than twice as many South Dakotans signed this year’s petition as signed the original IM22 petition in 2015. Some of that count was additional funding for the petition drive, but at least as much of that increase had to come from voter motivation. Let’s see if that voter motivation translates into twice as many South Dakotans voting for IM 22 2.0.