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Your Votes Matter: Ballot Measures Make Immediate Impacts

The fact that Dusty Johnson is running for Congress is pretty cool. But even cooler is the likely reason that we know he’s running now: the swift enactment of (most of) Initiated Measure 22.

We South Dakotans passed four ballot measures last week; they took effect yesterday. Immediately we are seeing the impact of our making laws via direct democracy:

Amendment R, the “Regents don’t run the vo-techs” clarification isn’t doing much yet, just delaying the state Board of Education’s rewriting of its statement of purpose.

But Amendment S, the crime victims bill of rights, is straining county budgets with a hiring boom of victims’ assistants. Attorney General Marty Jackley is spending a half-million dollars to send every crime victim a notification card and hoping he can get the sponsors of Amendment S to foot some of the bill. (It shouldn’t be hard for Jackley to get in touch with S sponsor Jason Glodt, since Glodt is treasurer for Jackley’s gubernatorial campaign.)

Initiated Measure 21, the 36% rate cap on payday loans, is shutting down payday lenders across the state. I hear from a knowledgeable neighbor that not one of the dozen or so short-term lenders is Aberdeen is giving offering loans. Perry Groten reports an impending bubble of available commercial properties in Sioux Falls as payday lenders cancel their leases. Payday/pawn mogul Chuck Brennan has stopped offering new loans, gone back on his post-election word, and started pressuring lawmakers to repeal what 76% of South Dakotans approved last week.

Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, provoked Rep. Kristi Noem to announce her candidacy for Governor, just six days after South Dakotans elected her to concentrate on South Dakota’s needs in Washington, D.C., for another two years. Noem had to announce because she had to transfer her hundreds of thousands of out-of-state campaign dollars from her federal fund to her new gubernatorial fund before Wednesday, when IM 22’s new committee contribution cap of $40K kicked in. Those new limits, plus Noem’s early announcement and campaign committee formation, forced Marty Jackley to do the same to get his own money in the IM 22-legal chute and to flag down donors before they all rush to the Kristi train. And Kristi’s pre-abdication opened the door for Dusty Johnson to say he wants Kristi’s job. Lucky Dusty—he’s running for federal office, so he won’t have to sweat IM 22, which only governs races from Governor on down to county commission (county candidates face new contribution limits, but they don’t get to compete for Democracy Credits). But Dusty’s in the news right now in no small part due to IM 22.

And to water the garden of democracy with crocodile tears, the GOP spin machine is weeping profusely over all the pauses lobbyists are putting on their fancy dinners and luncheons for lawmakers and the divorces they say IM 22 will cause.

The public probably won’t notice those hyperventilations, but they are seeing plenty of public activity resulting directly from the votes they cast just one week ago. That’s pretty cool. When voters see their ballot measures take effect and make big changes right away, they see in the most vivid light possible that their votes matter. That immediate action should build voters’ interest and faith in initiative and referendum and inspire them to take their direct democratic power seriously.


  1. Liberty Dick 2016-11-17 16:20

    My prediction:
    -A bill to repeal IM22 will be introduced.
    -It gets hoghoused or a new one is written to delay implementation for a couple years.
    -The law either gets broken up into its own separate issues and sent back to the voters in the form of multiple measures. Or. The whole thing goes back to the voters with a tax attached to fund the campaign finance section.
    -Liberals will want the whole thing left in one piece. The legislature abides and the people kill it because they really didn’t want publicly funded campaigns they just want to end corruption.

  2. jerry 2016-11-17 16:29

    Only in your mind Mr. Dick, only in your mind. In you mind, Mr. Dick, you see liberals all over the place, but where are they really? Mr. Dick, how have these liberals voted in South Dakota in the election and then put Trump in place. Mr. Dick, what is a liberal then?

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-11-17 16:36

    LibD, remind me: can the Legislature refer a law directly to the voters? I know they must refer constitutional amendments to a public vote, and I think the Legislature has referred laws straight to a vote, but do you know which statute or constitutional provision allows the latter?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-11-17 16:45

    And LibD, along Mike’s lines, why do you feel the need to shoehorn the Anti-Corruption Act into the “Liberals!” paradigm? Don’t you think its possible that “liberals” aren’t any more united on this measure than they were on Amendment V? How does crying “LIBERALS” help us understand this law?

    As a true liberal and democrat, I will tell you that, on principle, the Legislature should avoid tinkering with popularly approved ballot initiatives, especially now that 71% of the voters turned down the effort to tinker with the minimum wage hike that only 55% of the voters supported back in 2014. (RL 20 went a lot better than I thought it might—even I underestimated the apparent crankiness one can provoke by not respecting the voters’ will.)

    As a liberal and a democrat, I will also tell you that if you show me that one section of IM 22 creates some enormous constitutional crisis or a practical disaster for the economy, democracy, the balanced budget, what have you, I will not oppose Legislative repeal of that one section while keeping the other 69 sections. I thinkIM 22 works well as one integral package of anti-corruption reforms for public officials, candidates, lobbyists, and donors, but in future hypotheticals, I’m not wedded to an impractical all-or-nothing dichotomy… just as you shouldn’t be wedded to a knee-jerk and misleading conservative-liberal dichotomy.

  5. Donald Pay 2016-11-17 17:18

    The Legislature has a lot of power. They could pass a law and make it go into effect only upon a vote of the electorate. I’m not sure that particular route has been declared by a court to be constitutional, but I can’t think why it wouldn’t be given other cases from South Dakota and elsewhere. One route that has been done in South Dakota is for the legislature to simply put a proposed measure on the ballot through a Joint Resolution. That route was declared constitutional in 1985 (a nuclear waste case), as part of the inherent powers of the Legislature.

  6. Donald Pay 2016-11-17 17:31

    I agree with Cory. Let the law play out for a year or two. See what the ramifications are. If the ramifications are large and unforseen, make whatever changes need to be made to fix the problems but which preserves the intent of the sponsors. Actually, get the sponsors involved in proposing or supporting any changes.

    I developed the concept for the Solid Waste Initiative (Pat Duffy and LRC reconfigured the language). The initiative had to be amended a few years down the road to take care of some unforeseen issues. DENR actually ran the change ideas by me to see how I would react. I had no real problem with what they wanted to do.

    There’s nothing wrong with making changes for the better, or clarifications in an initiative. That’s really the job of the Legislature for the entire code. But, they do need to be respectful of the voters. A little heads up for the sponsors, and getting them involved early would show that respect.

  7. Rorschach 2016-11-17 17:52

    On the state’s #2 political website they are making “parade of horribles” claims about all of that bad things IM22 will supposedly do, but nobody is pointing to what section of IM22 they claim does these horrible things. The GOP Party whiners are claiming that IM22 will:

    force legislators to get divorced

    prohibit anybody and everybody from from having any kind of discussion with their legislators;

    prohibit legislators from running private businesses; and

    force private businesses to cancel company Christmas parties that legislators aren’t even invited to.

    Make both outgoing and incoming legislators criminals (presuming that they were not already)

    Force both incoming and outgoing legislators to buy their own meals. The horror!!!

  8. Donald Pay 2016-11-17 18:00

    Yeah, PP didn’t get that huge by resisting the lobbyist feeds. I don’t think the social events that are actually announced publicly and to which everyone is invited are that much of a problem, but the private one really are poisonous.

  9. grudznick 2016-11-17 18:02

    Slick Rick is laughing, he is laughing and laughing. I think he did this because in his libbie chest there beats the heart of a chaosist. It does seem that legislators who run private businesses cannot do business with any organization that has lobbyists. And their wives can’t work for anybody who has lobbyists. And this will take a lot of money away from good teachers and give it to politicians to bother us all with more ads.

  10. Tim 2016-11-17 18:08

    If state Republicans are bitching, it’s a good bet IM22 is a good law.

  11. grudznick 2016-11-17 18:28

    What grudznick thinks is funny is that this is going to hurt that handful of Democrats in the legislatures and they will have to just plug their nose and suffer it without saying anything. And those fellows who often buy me a free breakfast can just keep on doing so.

  12. Jana 2016-11-17 18:36

    Grudz, you’re active over at the lesser blog. Just a quick question, how large of gift is OK to bend a legislators ear and curry their favor? Sounds like $100 is just chump change…should it be raised to $1000?

    Personally, I’d like to believe that the legislators simply don’t want to pay the cost or the spend the time to go hang out with a bunch of whiners telling them how to do their job. Take the food and drinks away and there really isn’t much of a motivation. What’s the Chamber going to do? Vote for the Democratic party?

    How about this one. Say you get $million$ in state contracts so you hire one of the governor or legislators’ kids, do you see a conflict there?

    Suck it up buttercup. The panty waists over at your other blog really need to realize that they can’t buy their legislators anymore. The people have spoken. (Not that it ever mattered to the ruling class.)

  13. Jana 2016-11-17 18:46

    Funny, the Governor’s son-in-law who brings home 6 figures large as a tax payer funded staffer is worried that there might be something unconstitutional about IM22 and fails to see the bigger picture.

    With all of the money and power opposing IM22 at the start, don’t you think they would have made this an issue up front?

    They just can’t accept that the voters… you know, we the people… said we were tired of corruption, bought and paid for legislators and legislation and wanted to see everyday citizens have a chance to compete against the big money.

  14. Roger Cornelius 2016-11-17 20:49

    How worried are republicans about IM22?
    15 posts worth over at the Powers Dump Site.

  15. grudznick 2016-11-17 21:03

    Ms. Jana, I for one think we will indeed see some “suck it up buttercup” law bills in the legislatures. Perhaps even one that guts this 22 thing like a fat hog. Who knows? Only the legislatures know.

  16. grudznick 2016-11-17 21:22

    Not to be a grammar nazi, Ms. Jana, but my friend Lar points out the term is “panty waste”, not “panty waist.” Entirely different meaning.

  17. Jana 2016-11-17 21:35

    Maybe so Grud. One has to wonder where all of these legislators were during the campaign and why their hair wasn’t on fire then? Where was the Chamber? David Owen and Mark Lee can get an audience with the press any time they want…were they all just counting on Big Brothers (Koch) to do all of their work for them…like during the legislative session?

  18. grudznick 2016-11-17 21:46

    I have no idea, ma’am. It does seem a bit odder than most. Maybe somebody out there has a nefarious plan to make Slick Rick look bad.

  19. Jana 2016-11-17 22:10

    Just think, if we had a dime for every drink purchased for our legislators every year we could pay for the democracy credits and maybe even more.

    For the record Grudz, here’s the definition of “panty waist” The noun pantywaist has proven to be more enduring in its figurative meaning — an ineffectual or childish man — than in its original meaning, which was a garment of early 20th century vintage: short pants fastened to a waist band, worn by children. Still, the term is somewhat old fashioned, and calling a timid man a pantywaist these days would not only be unkind, but might also be confusing.

    “Panty waste” might be a little too like Trump to discuss here. Check with your friend Lar.

  20. Rorschach 2016-11-18 07:58

    Here in SD people don’t have to vote for Democrats because Democrats put all of their best issues on the ballot for voters to choose ala carte.

  21. Troy 2016-11-18 08:25

    In the meantime, 89 Republicans in the Legislature will be setting policy on hundreds of matters (sixteen Democrats get to watch from the front row), a Republican Governor will be running the state, and two Republican US Senators and a Republican Congresswoman will be impacting national policy. Seems like a good trade to me. Glad you are happy too. All win. That is good.

  22. mike from iowa 2016-11-18 09:21

    Troy- master of the obvious. Whoo-hoo!

  23. jerry 2016-11-18 09:25

    Indeed Troy, a victory of all victory’s. We will all watch you and your band cheerfully destroy the foundation of the house. You all have been chipping away at it for years, and it finally looks like the whole thing will cave in. Here is what YOU will have lost Troy. This is not about one group of people that will suffer the consequence of your crowd, it is YOU as well. Don’t cry and bitch at those 16 Democrats in the front row that have to watch. Man up and accept what you have done.

    We had a voice of reason that spoke clearly about the complete obscenity of the wealth over the working mans incomes. We made a choice of a nominee that refused to discuss the wealth difference between the wealthy and the rest of us. Instead, we discussed emails that were planted by the Russian government. We allowed the voice of actual populism to be drowned out by fake populism so much so, the people bought it without thought. They forgot for a little while how poor they are because they were promised riches with jobs coming back like some mythical buffalo that will fill everyone’s bellies with only the tender loins, no gristle. They bought this and now the price will be rung up. This will cost each, no matter what political party, no mater what religious denomination, no matter what gender, no matter what race all manners of safety nets we have enjoyed for decades.

    The safety net of Social Security will be gone, destroyed by the greed of a Wall Street that we seem to think shows our strength, instead, our failure as a society. We fail to understand that the program instituted by a nation, that was so defeated, that even the powers of the earth itself rose to bring us to our knees, had the vision to look after her people. Our people were so starved that they could barely get themselves together enough to work. The money they made was sent to their homes to help their people make it. Social Security was born so that the people would have something to help them survive when they could not longer work. It was never meant as retirement, yet after the grand theft of and collapse of the financial system in 2008, Social Security became even more of a lifesaver. So now, the very people that caused the great recession are at it again. The same faces that were there in 2008 are back and this time they want it all. Robber barons know where the money is and it is not juicing profits by moving jobs out of country, the real money is already in the vault. Now they have the combination. We will let it go because of a collaboration between the political parties so that no one gets crap on them from the implosion. This has been coming for sometime. Obama damned near gave it all away in the Grand Bargain but it was stopped. No one is even acting like this is even in the works even though the signs are clear. We are to busy believing how lucky we are that there is someone who will finally put everything back in place, while the burglars are not even breaking and entering to steal it all.

    The safety net of Medicare will be gone, replaced by some form of voucher that will once again show the differential between the rich and the poor instead of being of equal value and equal protection. We will loose this without so much as a whimper, one of the greatest pieces of health care protection ever. Something that all have looked forward to since healthcare first became prominent in our thinking. This will cost us all in more out of pocket misery while getting less and less. This has always been the plan since 1965.

    Your continued war on the poor will continue with Medicaid block grants to the states. This is one of the dumbest ideas yet that you and yours have come up with. There can never be enough money to complete the mission as it fluctuates hourly. The budget line for nursing home coverage for the poor changes if grandma makes it another week. It changes will so many variables that it will continue to bleed and will continue to need state money to stop the hemorrhaging. South Dakota does have a budget surplus and a large rainy day fund as well as a pension system that can be depleted before property taxes are hit hard. So how will that be handled? Will the state police be exempted from loosing their pensions? How will you carve out the protection of pensions to those you deem more deserving than others? How will that work for you thinkers?

    So, there you go Troy. You and the rest can slap yourselves on the back and look at the dust you created from the collapse of a democracy onto itself. We saw that in our history books in the days of old about the greed that overtakes common sense. When safety nets are gone and the people finally know that they have been tricked and conquered by a foreign government with your approval, you may want to institute the gun control you have laid false claim about for many voting cycles. Congratulations Troy on the beginning of your complete destruction.

  24. mike from iowa 2016-11-18 09:26

    No worries about Dems, Grudz & Troy. We’ll just claim our seriously held religious beliefs are being violated with all the wingnuts sucking oxygen and they will all be obligated to disappear.

    Best law wingnut kristian shariists ever passed.

  25. Darin Larson 2016-11-18 10:15

    Troy, don’t forget about your Republican President in waiting. You get to own his actions for the next 4 years.

    I predict Trump to be the Annakin Skywalker of our political history. Brimming with potential and defying the odds to become powerful. The people that saw him as a hero and voted for him because he will change things, drain the swamp, and work for the forgotten working class men and women of this country have a big surprise coming. Trump’s transformation into the Darth Vader of the middle class and poor will be forthcoming as he destroys many of the instruments of the social safety net and as his policies favor the rich and powerful. He was supposed to drain the swamp, not join them in it. He was supposed to bring balance to the country’s powerful special interests, not cater to them.

    But his coming attack on democracy and freedom and the middle class institutions will spur the rebellion that awakens a new political awareness among Millennials and they will be voting Democrat.

  26. Rorschach 2016-11-18 10:30

    However unseemly Troy’s gloating may be he’s right that SD has reached the point that anybody with an R behind their name will be elected just by making the general election ballot. And no amount of corruption or incompetence will dissuade voters from returning Republicans to office in SD. A few years ago I would never have anticipated it would reach this point where even Republicans believe they are oversubscribed in the legislature. It is much the same position that the party was in back in the 1950’s where a young man named George McGovern undertook the process of building a party from the ground up. Soon thereafter he was in congress and a Democrat was elected governor. This happened with a Republican in the White House. Sounds like deja vu all over again. Trump will set the stage for a resurgence of the SD Democratic Party. But that won’t happen without a lot of hard work. So who in the Democratic Party wants to step up and fill that void? The most likely choices are happily ensconced in cushy high-paying jobs, and might prefer to let others do the hard work. The next two years will show whether our brightest hopes are work horses – or free riders.

  27. jerry 2016-11-18 10:56

    Before the first order of business even happens, what is the plan? We are not the other guy, has not worked for 40 years, do we keep it?…..Before anyone takes over, they must define what the plan is else it be a ship of fools.

  28. Troy 2016-11-18 10:58


    I wasn’t gloating (not even slightly). My point is in the big picture, a few passed IM’s pales in comparison to having absolutely no say in the legislative or day-to-day governing of our state.

    BTW, if Republicans are as incompetent and corrupt as you contend, how do you explain the reality the Democrats have lost 30% of its registered voters in the last decade? Or the reality that in the contested State Senate elections this year, Republican candidates got 64.5% of the vote and Democrat candidates got 35.5% of the vote (The voter registration difference is only 15% but GOP candidates got almost 30% more of the vote)?

    Said another way, the Democrats got votes equal to 4.2% over their voter registration percentage. Republicans got votes 18.2% over their voter registration percentage.

  29. mike from iowa 2016-11-18 11:07

    Easy answer, Troy, Dakota’s wingnut party crawled into bed with Putin, Russian Intelligence hackers, the FBI and Wiki-leaks plus an unprecedented campaign of lying about HRC and voter suppression and intimidation policies. It all adds up.

  30. Rorschach 2016-11-18 11:33

    It’s easy to explain how Republicans outperformed expectations in South Dakota this year Troy. In fact I kind of explained it before. When there is a Democrat in the White House, Republicans are on the upswing in SD. When there is a Republican in the White House, Democrats are on the upswing. Nixon swept Democrats into the majority here, while Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. helped Democrats make solid gains – and even a majority in the state senate at one point.

    South Dakota is an anomaly of sorts. No other state has gone as long as SD without a change in party in the governor’s office. Two years before the last Herseth was elected governor things didn’t look very good for the party. We could conceivably elect a Democrat as governor in 2 years, but the work has to start now. Trump may produce a Democratic wave election in 2018. Time will tell. Perspiration will set the stage for success.

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-11-18 19:19

    I am puzzled that it took Republican opponents this long to dig out all of these hyped consequences to IM 22. It feels somewhat like Chuck Brennan’s approach, saving fire until after the election to take the case to the easier audience of legislators. Or maybe the Koch Brothers figured it would be much easier to beat 22 at the polls than it turned out to be, and now they have to turn up the volume to make it sound like 22 has brought on some awful crisis to justify the Legislature again overturning the will of the voters.

  32. Porter Lansing 2016-11-18 19:38

    A gathering of two entities, one who wants something done to benefit their organization and another who has the power to do something to benefit their organization isn’t a meeting. It’s a lobbying session and no gratuities are appropriate between them. That’s the way it is everywhere and the voters, sick of SoDak being in the top five most corrupt states, did something about it.
    ps … Thanks to Pat Powers for compiling a list of all the free stuff organizations were giving to your Republican legislators. Had he ignored it and made it seem like it wasn’t happening very often, the voters might have agreed that a free lunch once every month or so wasn’t so bad. They were going to lobbying sessions (all expenses paid, often with hotel rooms) several times a week.

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