Dakota Free Press readers are spoiling for a fight… or two! The first Dakota Free Press poll asked, “Should voters refer SB 69 (petition reform) and/or SB 177 (youth minimun wage) to the 2016 ballot?” Out of 225 voters, 69% said refer both. 14% prefer to focus on reversing the Legislature’s attack on voting rights and ballot access. 6% prefer to focus on reversing the Legislature’s attack on young workers and the initiative process. 10% say we should leave both measures alone.
Racing boldly past the standard DFP online poll margin of error just slightly smaller than David Novstrup’s go-cart shed, let’s specualte what could happen if we mobilized these poll takers to circulate petitions. We have 188 people willing to refer petition reform and 170 willing to refer the youth minimum wage. We need 13,871 signatures to place one measure on the ballot. Add a 20% cushion (and some organizers say that’s pretty thin), and referrers better aim for 16,646 signatures.
188 circulators would each need to collect 89 signatures to safely qualify SB 69 for a public vote.
170 circulators would each need to collect 98 signatures to safely qualify SB 177 for a public vote.
I once gathered about that many referral petition signatures in a weekend. When I helped refer HB 1234, Governor Daugaard’s education package, in 2012, I collected over 500 signatures over two and a half months.
Of course, in 2012, collecting signatures for HB 1234 was easy. That awful bill had been all over the news. I didn’t have to do much explaining; the majority of my signers just heard “Governor’s education bill” and reached for the pen.
This year’s Senate Bill 69 is more obscure. Getting signatures will require explaining wonky provisions affecting signature thresholds and qualifications for signing. Circulators referring SB 69 will need to refine their talking points more than I had to for 2012’s HB 1234.
This year’s Senate Bill 177 may be a harder policy sell. Among those who voted for last year’s Initiated Measure 18 to raise the minimum wage, we will find plenty of folks who will say, “Yeah, but now that the Legislature offers the chance, I’m willing to pay kids a lower minimum wage.” Economic justice (a 17 year old’s sweat and sacrifice deserves the same respect as a 19 year old’s, or a 60 year old’s) won’t persuade every signer. The other main reason for referring SB 177, the need to respond vigorously to the Legislature’s and the Governor’s affront to the voice of the people expressed in the initiative process, is more esoteric and not directly related to the language of the bill itself. Selling that argument will further slow down any petition push.
DFP readers overwhelming want two referrals. Now will they walk the petitions to realize those referrals?