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Vote Now in First DFP Poll: Refer Petition Reform, Youth Minimum Wage, Both, or Neither?

Plus, a guide to starting a referendum!

I’d like your input. Yesterday, Governor Dennis Daugaard signed two odious laws:

Both bills are affronts to voters. SB 69 takes away most voters’ rights to sign Independent petitions. It also moves nominating and party-organizing petitions three or four weeks earlier, making it harder for voters to get full slates of candidates on their ballots. (See my full summary of the bills provisions here.) SB 177 meddles in the initiated measure voters passed last November to raise the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour. SB 177 cuts the minimum wage one dollar for workers under age 18, starting July 1.

My poll question for all of you is, “Should voters refer SB 69 (petition reform) and/or SB 177 (youth minimum wage) to the 2016 ballot?” Your choices (at the top of the near right sidebar):

  • Refer SB 69.
  • Refer SB 177.
  • Refer both!
  • Refer neither!

Mark your selection, and leave your thoughts in the comment section to this post. At the time of this posting, we already have 56 votes. I’ll keep this poll open until breakfast time Tuesday, when we will discuss the results.

One thing to consider: if petitioners refer a law to a public vote, that law is placed on ice until the voters approve it at the general election. Refer SB 69 to a vote, and the candidate and party petition rules don’t change for the 2016 election. Refer SB 177 to a vote, and under-18 workers keep the $8.50 minimum wage this summer and get the cost-of-living adjustment next summer. Even if voters approved both measures, the new petition rules wouldn’t come into play until the 2018 election, and young minimum wage workers wouldn’t take a pay cut until a couple weeks after Election Day in November 2016.

Some commenters have asked about the legal nuts and bolts of starting a referendum. Here’s the process:

  1. Get a blank petition. Here’s the referendum petition template. A Word version is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
  2. Fill out the following information (per SDCL 2-1-3.1):
    1. Title of the referred law (in the case of SB 69, “ENTITLED, An Act to revise certain provisions regarding elections and election petitions“; in the case of SB 177, “ENTITLED, An Act to establish a youth minimum wage.”
    2. Effective date of the referred law (July 1, 2015).
    3. Date of the general election at which voters will decide the referred law’s fate (November 8, 2016).
    4. You can see an example of a petition with this information filled out in this petition from 2012 referring the Governor’s education reform package, that year’s HB 1234.
  3. Prepare a “notarized form that includes the names and addresses of the petition sponsors.”
  4. Prepare a statement of organization for a ballot question committee (per SDCL 12-27-6; I’m looking for the sample form for 2012’s referral of HB 1234).
  5. Submit the above documents to Secretary of State Shantel Krebs before circulating. Secretary Krebs has to say “O.K.” (she’ll give you a letter) before you go get signatures.

Note that Steps 3 and 4 indicate that a referendum has to be started by a specific group of sponsors. You don’t want two or three or twenty different individuals each filing their own opening petition and statement of organization; communicate, coordinate, and submit one unified opening petition as one ballot question committee. Once that’s done, you can circulate independently all you want, as long as every circulator has a copy of the same petition form.

Remember when you circulate that the petition sheet in your hand has to have two sides: the front has the title, instructions, and eight signature blanks; the back has twelve signature blanks, the name and oath of the circulator, and the spot where a notary must stamp the sheet after you have finished collecting signatures on that sheet. When you print blank petition copies, these two pages must be on the same sheet, front to back, not on two separate sheets of paper stapled together (at least, that’s how I’ve always been told it must be done; let me know if you hear otherwise!).

My recollection from 2012 is that referendum petitions should not circulate until after the Legislature adjourns, which this year takes place on March 30. So we all have a good week to check the poll results above and talk before taking the referendum plunge.


  1. Jenneil 2015-03-21 09:34

    The having a youth wage tells me two things, one is that the governor and supportive legislators view youth as not being good enough, and that they think the youth work less hard with less quality than adults.

    The other thing that bothers me is the argument that adults are supporting families. If that is a valid argument, the person with four children should be earning more per hour for the same job performed by the adults who do no have children, or have fewer children.

  2. CLCJM 2015-03-21 16:18

    I’m not sure what you meant by “near right side bar” but I say refer both!!

    I find Daugaard’s “reasoning” for cutting the minimum wage for youth to be absolutely insulting! He once again thinks the voters don’t comprehend what they are voting for!!! I most assuredly did know what I voted for. And it wasn’t for a lower wage for my 14 yr old grandson to get paid less as he’s about to apply for his first job! He’s wants to save money towards college because he knows how expensive it is going to be to become a surgeon! He also has figured out that he’ll most likely have to go out of state for much of his education because there won’t be enough assistance here to avoid student loan debt that may get into 6 figures! Guess he understands economics better than our former-banker governor!!

    And let’s get real, this wage is not just to undercut our teen workers, but adult workers as well. Businesses will hire more kids and less adults, you know, the ones with families. And speaking of families, hasn’t that been the excuse they used to keep women’s pay lower? You know they weren’t the “bread winners”! The money teens make helps their families!! That was the case when I got my first job at 12 and has always been the case. Most kids are not just blowing their money on games, clothes and the mall. Even if they just buy their own clothes, it helps their family! Sorry for the rant but I’m furious at the total lack of respect for South Dakota voters and workers!

    As far as SB 69, that’s nothing but a power grab to solidify their strangle hold on political power in Pierre! It needs to be reversed!

  3. Joan Brown 2015-03-21 17:21

    Also will the lower wages for people under 18, make it harder for adults to find jobs, and in turn will it make kids not want to work? I think our governor doesn’t use his head when it comes to the people of the state. He should have honored the decision of the voters.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-03-21 18:25

    I’m thinking 69 for sure, but the other is really just as important. So,


  5. rwb 2015-03-21 18:27

    Anxiously awaiting the organization of this. Also, Cory, can you publish a list of the legislative leaders on this so we can get to work gathering the resources necessary to privatize them?

  6. larry kurtz 2015-03-21 19:15

    refer madness!

  7. grudznick 2015-03-21 19:35

    Refers are madness.

  8. Bob Newland 2015-03-21 20:31

    Anyone who wants information on a bill can look it up themselves at

    Go Legislative Session>2015>Bills, then Senate or House. SB69 is a Senate bill.

    There you can find who sponsored it, and you can listen to the sonsofbitches justify themselves in committee.

  9. grudznick 2015-03-21 20:48

    Mr. Newland, Mr. H has been posting those secret links all the legislatures long. What I want to know is where is the real math posted?

  10. Bob Newland 2015-03-21 21:25

    Cute, Grudzing.

  11. leslie 2015-03-22 02:56


    my cali grand kids are Filipino so i’ll be gone for a little while but i’ll have others of much less lower pay grade circulate petitions and i’ll just sign when I get back.

  12. jerry 2015-03-22 15:27

    How many signatures would be needed to recall his betrayal to the citizens?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-22 17:07

    13,871, Jerry.

    SDCL 2-1-3 requires a minimum signature count equal to fiv percent of the total qualified electors, which SDCL 2-1-5 defines as the total votes cast for Governor in the last general election. 277,403 people voted for Governor last year. 5% of that total is 13,871.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-22 17:10

    RWB, this session’s Legislative leadership is listed here:

    The senators who got the ball rolling on perverting SB 69 into an attack on voters were the Republicans on Senate State Affairs: Holien, Lederman, Otten (Ernie), Soholt, Solano, Brown, and Rave.

    “Privatize”—I like your use of that term.

  15. jerry 2015-03-22 17:35

    13,000 and change to put this clown in the recall section. Might be not be such a lofty goal as it is state wide. He should not be allowed to disrespect the overwhelming wishes of the citizens.

  16. Kurt Evans 2015-03-22 17:52

    Cory Heidelberger wrote:
    >”The senators who got the ball rolling on perverting SB 69 into an attack on voters were the Republicans on Senate State Affairs: Holien, Lederman, Otten (Ernie), Soholt, Solano, Brown, and Rave.”

    I’d say Corey Brown and Ernie Otten were the worst, and I’d also like to name-check Brian Gosch and Mark Mickelson on the House side.

  17. larry kurtz 2015-03-22 18:02


  18. larry kurtz 2015-03-22 18:05


  19. leslie 2015-03-22 18:39

    thank u for that info kurt

  20. Kurt Evans 2015-03-22 22:18

    You’re welcome, Leslie.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-22 22:38

    Rep. Mickelson was a strong defender of the final changes made in conference committee, which upheld the provisions we don’t like and ignored the concerns about the legality of restricting Indy signatures.

  22. Kurt Evans 2015-03-22 22:52

    Cory Heidelberger wrote:
    >”Rep. Mickelson was a strong defender of the final changes made in conference committee, which upheld the provisions we don’t like and ignored the concerns about the legality of restricting Indy signatures.”

    On the House floor prior to conference committee, after SB 69 had failed on its first vote: “Then Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, who had made the three latest sets of amendments, offered his own reassurance that the current version of SB 69 likely wouldn’t be the final version. ‘This is going to end up in conference (committee for negotiation),’ Mickelson said.”

    Then he went to conference and made it even worse. Learn more here:

  23. Ellee Spawn 2015-03-23 09:52

    Does anyone know if anyone has started the process to refer SB 177 yet? We only have 90 days from the recess of legislature in which to get this done. I’d love to hit the ground running ASAP with petitions in hand. I will be more than happy to get the ball rolling on this by getting the committee formed with the SOS. For anyone that wishes to lend a hand… please get in touch with me asap.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-23 10:24

    Ellee, I’ve heard more enthusiasm for referring 69, but I’d be glad to talk with you wore about putting 177 on the ballot. What’s your take on the chances of getting enough signatures and votes?

  25. Ellee Spawn 2015-03-23 10:26

    Well, my take is this: we won’t get any signatures or votes if we don’t follow through. There were enough votes to get it passed in the first place, right?

  26. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-03-23 18:22

    Go South Dakotans! I’m very proud of you. I can’t do much physically from MN, but when there is a way for me to contribute some financial assistance, publish it.

    Go South Dakotans!

  27. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-03-23 18:24

    Larry said, “Grudzacula, Grudzilla.”

    Very funny! Don’t you think so Grudz? C’mon. It is funny. Can I call you Grudzilla now? Good work Larry.

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-23 19:24

    Deb, you just said some magic words: “financial assistance.” Don’t shout that too loudly; your phone may ring off the hook!

    I want to believe that we could get one or both of these measures on the ballot with nothing more than lots of enthusiastic circulators and folks willing to donate envelopes, stamps, printer ink, and time. It can be done without paid circulators. Alas, it would be easier with an outfit like Emmett Reistroffer’s carrying petitions for pay. If a referendum happens, should organizers line up paid circulators right away, or should they see how far they can get in the first 30–45 days with volunteers, then see about bringing in paid circulators if necessary?

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-23 19:27

    Ellee, your math is impeccable. Zero chance if we do nothing. “Some chance” > “Zero chance.”

    We did have enough votes to pass Initiated Measure 18, 150,819. I’m sure that at least a tenth of them would sign a petition to refer SB 177. I’m not sure all 150,819 would vote with us in November 2016… but we’d also gain back some Democrats who will vote in the Presidential election and who sat out 2014.

  30. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-03-23 19:28

    I’d rather not see paid circulators involved. I was thinking about money for mailing, copying, etc.

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