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Rep. Langer Fine with Killing Initiative Before You Get to Vote—Kill HB 1161 Today!

The House convenes in mere minutes. Among the 20 House bills they must clear on this Crossover Day is one big stinker, House Bill 1161, the payday lenders’ latest attempt to sabotage our opportunity to vote on Initiated Measure 21, the 36% rate cap on short-term loans.

You and I and Al Novstrup know HB 1161 is a bad idea. But prime sponsor Rep. Kris Langer (R-25/Dell Rapids) thinks doing the bidding of the payday lenders is just fine. Rep. Langer also has darned little regard for democracy. According to Pastor Jeff Sorenson, who attended last Saturday’s Brandon crackerbarrel, Rep. Langer thinks it’s just fine for her to take away our hard-won right to vote:

Kris Langer Loves Payday Loans?…I heard that there is now a bill before the 2016 South Dakota Legislature — HB 1161 — that will preemptively render useless Initiated Measure 21. So I attended the Legislative Coffee on Feb. 20 in Brandon (where we live) to ask legislators whether this was true. Is there a bill that would nullify the not-yet-voted-on Initiated Measure 21 — and would someone explain that to me please?

Rep. Kris Langer (Dist. 25), primary sponsor of HB 1161, responded to my question to say, “Yes, that is true.”

…Another voter asked, “So you’re saying that the citizens of this state should not be allowed to vote on this, but the legislature should preempt that with a law, when there is an initiated measure in the works that people are planning to vote on in November, is that correct?”

Rep. Langer replied, quote, “Well, my response to that would be, I just don’t know that all the information has been given as far as the initiated measure, but yes, I guess that that could be correct” [Rev. Jeff Sorenson, “HB 1161 Helps Payday Lenders,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.02.24].

Rep. Langer’s sense of superiority over us commoners demonstrates why we should change our timeline for initiated measures. Right now, state law requires initiative sponsors to submit their petitions a full year before the election. That early deadline gives opponents of ballot measures time to lobby legislators to pass bills just like Rep. Langer’s HB 1161 that can render initiatives moot.

It’s bad enough that the Legislature can tinker with or completely throw out ballot measures after we’ve voted on them. It is entirely undemocratic and unacceptable that the Legislature can veto an initiative before we even get to the polls.

House members, step #1 today is to vote down HB 1161 and let the people decide in November whether we want loan sharks to keep giving us the business. Step #2 is to go take Rep. Bolin’s anti-initiative HB 1241 off the table (or grab some other suitable bill) and hoghouse it to change the initiative petition deadlines (in SDCL 2-1-1.1 and SDCL 2-1-1.2) to the same date as the election-year referendum deadline, 90 days after the end of the Legislative Session (this year, June 27).

Update 15:34 CST: Whoo-hoo! The House listens to the people and not the payday lenders and defeats House Bill 1161 on a 21–47 vote. Here’s the roll call:

South Dakota House of Representatives, roll call on House Bill 1161, 2016.02.24.
South Dakota House of Representatives, roll call on House Bill 1161, 2016.02.24.


  1. Darin Larson 2016-02-24 15:49

    Power to the people!!!

  2. Mark Winegar 2016-02-24 15:55

    Cory, I like your idea of adding time to the Initiated Measure process. I would rather see it timed to the preparation of ballots rather than the end of the legislation session. How much lead time does the Secretary of State need?

  3. jake 2016-02-24 16:06

    I notice Gosch even supports this TS..

  4. jake 2016-02-24 16:06

    I meant BS!

  5. Darin Larson 2016-02-24 16:25

    Rep. Langer said they needed to pass 1161 “to protect the consumer.” In bizarro world where right is wrong and up is down.

    If Langer is out for the consumer than why not work on a consumer credit bill that reputable banks can get behind with reasonable interest (even 36%) and fees. This could be tied to consumer credit counseling and budgeting and other consumer finance education.

    Gosch tried to justify 1161 by saying its different then waiting until after the people have voted on an initiated measure, say like the minimum wage. In his mind, if you pre-empt the people’s vote before they have voted you really haven’t done anything wrong. Its hard to fault Lee Schoenbeck for the words he used to describe Gosch when Gosch says stuff like this. Well, the bizarro world logic did not work!

  6. John Kennedy Claussen 2016-02-24 16:26


  7. Roger Cornelius 2016-02-24 16:39

    Everybody knows these conservative republicans are corrupt, but do they need to be so damn blatant about it.

  8. Stumcfar 2016-02-24 16:42

    Are people forced to take 36% loans in SD?

  9. Richard Schriever 2016-02-24 16:50

    Stumcfar, there is no limit to interest rates in SD.

  10. Steve Hickey 2016-02-24 16:53

    If you wrote you Rep thank you! If they voted no write back and say thank you !

    The pressure worked.

  11. 90 Schilling 2016-02-24 17:04

    Ask the governor, Stum. West River is bought and paid for. WTH.

    Same minions protecting Rounds with a few new faces are now in deep with Daugaard. Bruner, Wink and Marty. Jason Gant, you have company coming.

    Thankfully we have Reps, Johns and Rompkema

    Come November.

  12. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 17:12

    Romkema is ALEC: he’s all about bleeding the beast.

  13. Jason Sebern 2016-02-24 17:25

    Well done SD legislature!

  14. crossgrain 2016-02-24 17:30

    Pond scum is an understatement.

  15. 90 Schilling 2016-02-24 17:39

    That may be, Larry, but he didn’t vote to strip our initiative process today. More important in my mind than the actual vote on the cap.

  16. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 17:41

    south dakota is pond scum with a dollop of parasitic blue green algae spritzed with shiga bacteria with a twist of bovine trich.

  17. Donald Pay 2016-02-24 17:43

    Regarding the initiative process, some history might be in order.

    In 1984 we brought the Nuclear Waste Vote Initiative. At that time all initiatives had to be submitted in time for the Legislature to vote to put the initiative onto the ballot. Basically, that meant sometime before the middle of the session initiatives were submitted to the Secretary of State. The SOS verified signatures (at that time there was no sampling), which took about a week. Then the measure was presented to the Legislature. The Legislature had two choices: they could enact the initiative as is, or they could submit the initiative to the ballot by way of a Joint Resolution.

    Legislative leaders, particularly Homer Harding, balked at putting the nuclear waste vote measure on the ballot. There was a real chance that the Legislature would refuse to do their duty. Cooler heads prevailed, and that measure was put on the ballot by a Joint Resolution.

    The people voted “yes,” which meant they got the right to vote on any compact involving radioactive waste. By the 1985 Legislative Session, a nuclear waste compact had been “negotiated.” It was actually a compact written by Chem-Nuclear Systems, Inc., and designed to grease the skids for a low-level radioactive waste dump. The Legislature passed that compact into law, but, by the terms of the 1984 initiative, that compact had to be submitted to a vote of the public. Again, the Legislature initially balked
    at submitting the compact to a vote, but, once again, cooler heads prevailed, and the Legislature submitted the compact to a special election.

    After all of this, the Legislature was fed up with the controversies surrounding passing Joint Resolutions to put initiatives on the ballot. Some Legislators thought doing so suggested legislative support for the initiative. Others thought there would come a time when the Legislature would refuse to pass a Joint Resolution. So, a compromise was suggested that took the Legislature out of the equation (no more Joint Resolutions) and moved the date for submission of petitions out to a time that allowed the SOS to verify signatures to place initiatives on the General Election ballot (sometime in summer far beyond the legislative session).

    There really is no reason to have moved the date of submission of initiative petitions back to before the Legislative session if no Joint Resolution is required. Much of the bureaucracy added to the front-end of the initiative process is useless, unconstitutional and ridiculous nonsense meant to complicate and hinder the process. All of that shit should be abolished. The only thing that needs to happen is to submit the initiative language to the LRC to get it properly drafted. That’s it.

  18. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 17:43

    90, $20 says Fred won’t seek reelection.

  19. larry kurtz 2016-02-24 17:48

    Mr. Pay is living testament to the exodus of brain power from South Dakota compounded by Langer’s ties to ALEC. Thank you, Donald for never really leaving.

  20. 90 Schilling 2016-02-24 17:48

    I’ve heard that rumor. It wouldn’t disappoint me.

  21. 90 Schilling 2016-02-24 17:56

    Very good, Donald.

    I would however question putting Homer Harding and leader in the same sentence. His reported malfeasance in our state treasurers office is typical of the crimes committed daily. Note the obvious sellout of those yea votes above.

  22. moses 2016-02-24 18:36

    will the public still have a vote on this bill for the 36 percent

  23. Donald Pay 2016-02-24 20:52

    Well, I appreciate the compliments, but all I posted was history. What was so satisfying about that fight was we had the benefit of a team effort that spanned the political spectrum from very conservative to very liberal. We were all in it together.

  24. CraigSk 2016-02-24 22:14

    Thank you Cory and DFPress for blogging about HB1161. Your blog informed me and got me to be actively involved in my states democracy. I wrote five House Reps and voiced my concerns with HB 1161 if it passes. I hope my letters were read and had an effect. Keep up keeping South Dakota informed about the issues that matter.

  25. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-24 22:28

    Donald, thank you for the history. Mark, thank you for the practical question about SOS lead time. Just how late could we make the initiative petition submission deadline?

    Right now, state law says the Secretary needs no more than seven weeks. We can refer this Session’s bad laws until June 27. Secretary Krebs must certify ballot question language for the ballot to county auditors by August 16. A referendum petition is no harder to certify than an initiated law petition.

    Secretary Krebs received eight initiative petitions at the beginning of November. It took her three months to process them all. But she was also dealing with the opening of Session and election preparations. Last summer, faced with the July 1 enactment deadline, she scrambled the entire staff and certified our two referendum petitions in two work days. Looking at those contrasting performances, I’ll estimate that, under current practices, the Secretary could process three petitions a week in the summer.

    Of course, if we adopted electronic petitioning with automatic signature checking, lead time for SOS certification becomes zero. The remaining issue would be petition challenges. We should still have a mechanism by which citizens can review and flag bad petitions (even an electronic petition could be fudged somehow). Put the petitions online, let every citizen have a look for free, and we could facilitate fast reviews in July.

    Some folks have asked me if we could initiate a tax increase for teacher pay if the Legislature chickens out. I’ve had to explain that we can refer a bad plan passed this year, but we don’t get the chance to respond to the failure to pass a good bill in the 2016 Session by putting an initiative on the 2016 ballot. We should be able to respond to a malfunctioning Legislature in an election year with both referendum and initiative. It should be just as easy for citizens to initiate a law that the Legislature doesn’t pass as to veto a law that the Legislature does pass.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-24 22:35

    CraigSK, let’s go ahead and take some credit. Your letters had an effect. So did a lot of other people’s. HB 1161 was a stealth attack, one that on paper left the dots unconnected. I needed a source to explain that Section 43, exempting short-term lenders from Chapter 54-4, was a trick to pre-emptively exempt them from the 36% rate cap that IM 21 would write into Chapter 54-4. We’re lucky people were paying attention to that one devious line. And when we brought it to light, when the Presentation Sisters and the sponsors of IM21 and other concerned citizens spoke up, we got enough legislators nervous enough about obstructing the initiative to decline to do the payday lenders’ bidding. Good work, neighbors!

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-24 22:40

    No, Stu, no one is forced to take out 36% loans. Numerous South Dakotans are lured into taking out 574% loans by unscrupulous payday lenders who prey on ignorance and desperation.

    No one is forced to buy meth or employ hookers. Yet we ban certain drugs and prostitution. All industries impose externalities. Society has an interest in regulating and, in cases of large externalities, banning commercial activities.

  28. leslie 2016-02-24 23:33

    generally, I’ve had good luck w/ the claim of”ABUSE OF PROCESS” and Lisa and Erin and their handlers seem to have little regard for democracy. judges, on the other hand (other than Scalia’s Citizen’s United monkeys) use public policy as a sword against malfeasances like entitling a bill an “18% Cap” to misrepresent the truth to intentionally confuse voters, and now this most recent bill. Prosecutors across the state should be suing these bastards. imo

  29. Steve Hickey 2016-02-25 02:12

    Service First Credit Union at Morrells in Sioux Falls offers a $500 loan at 15% for bad or no credit customers. That wold be responsible lending. There are responsible alternatives and Langer’s floor speech was an embarrassment to her. She needs to read up on the issue and how these loans truly work. Her recitation of industry talking points was as skewed as any tobacco industry study of yesteryear.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-25 06:03

    Steve, if Service First and other lenders are offering such better alternatives, why aren’t they booming with business? Do we need those entities to amp up their advertising budgets?

  31. W R Old Guy 2016-02-25 11:55

    Cory, My wife used to be the office manager for a contractor who employed skilled craftsmen and laborers. She had a constant parade of filings from payday lenders filing garnishments on employees. She would try to refer the employee to several local financial institutions that had programs like Service First. Most of them didn’t want the “hassle” of filling out additional paperwork and some had multiple payday loans from various lenders.

    You can’t legislate good choices or make people follow the right path. Most of the financial short falls were caused by years of lifestyle choices resulting in such things as child support to more than one mother, planning on a full weeks wages and only working part of the week due to weather or other delays in the construction project and in some cases the use of recreational substances both legal and illegal.

    The 36% cap may force more people to do a little shopping around to community resources for their needs.

  32. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-02-26 08:51

    Boy, WR, I wish we could solve this problem with a little advertising instead of a law (see? deep down, I’m still a classical conservative). But some “choices” made in ignorance and desperation are so destructive that we have an obligation to legislate.

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