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Senate Rushing SB 59 Attack on Initiative to Committee Friday

As the South Dakota Legislature collapses into the ethical chaos of a sex scandal, Republican leaders are fast-tracking the first bill in their attack voters’ right to legislate. Senate Bill 59, the Legislature’s unconstitutional attempt to delay enactment of voter-approved initiatives and subject such measures to vetoes by the Governor and Legislature, already has its first committee hearing tomorrow, Friday, January 20, 10 a.m., before Senate State Affairs. SB 59 is the only bill on Senate State Affairs’ Friday agenda.

The sponsors of SB 59 will contend that we need to delay the enactment of ballot measures because state and local governments, businesses, and others need more time to study and prepare for the consequences of those laws, even though ballot initiatives are available for public reading 12, 18, sometimes 25 months before we get to vote on them. Yet the sponsors made SB 59 available for public review on Tuesday, just two days ago, and they are already rushing it to committee, with barely a day’s notice of the hearing.

Inconsistency, thy name is Legislature.

Fellow defenders of direct democracy, if you can make tomorrow morning’s meeting or at least hit the e-mails to persuade Senator Al Novstrup and other Senate State Affairs members to kill SB 59, remind them of Amendment A from 1988. Until 1988, the Legislature had to approve initiatives to appear on the ballot. In the words of Attorney General Roger Tellinghuisen, whose official explanation appeared on every ballot, Amendment A “removes the requirement that the Legislature enact and submit a measure proposed by the voters before it could be placed on the ballot. It would eliminate any discretion which the Legislature may now have regarding submission of a voter proposed measure to the ballot.”

SB 59 violates both the letter and the spirit of Amendment A, which voters approved 52.2% to 47.8%As I explained Tuesday, the sloppy, vague language of Section 2 of SB 59 attempts to re-insert the Legislature in the process of approving ballot measures for the ballot. Section 1 of SB 59 delays enactment of initiatives in an attempt to re-assert Legislative authority that South Dakota voters clearly did not and, I will argue, do not want over their constitutional right to legislate.

Senate Bill 59 is another attempt by the thwart the will of the public, this time in the form of a sneaky statute trying to unravel a Constitutional protection. No wonder legislators want to rush this bill through while folks are distracted by the Presidential Inauguration and the Legislature’s own sex scandal.


  1. TJL 2017-01-19

    I ran for the state rep spot in 1972 and came in 3rd out of 4 for 2 spots. I ran with the slogan ” if they are in office vote for the other guy ” you can always get rid of me the next election. i think we need to clean the swamp here too.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-19

    TJL! Run again! We need some swampers!

  3. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    Two consenting Adults have sex and now it’s a sex scandal. Give me a break. This is like the most unimportant news of the day.

  4. Donald Pay 2017-01-19

    I have to agree with the Bos that the far worse scandal, and more newsworthy, are the continual attacks on democracy, anti-corruption measures and the public’s right to initiate and refer laws. It’s almost as if the SD Republicans have taken a lesson from Trump and manufactured the sex scandal in order to take our eyes off the real scandal. The legislators and no more sexually sleazy than anyone else. They are, however, infinitely more corrupt, which is why their effort to derail the initiative is far more dangerous.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-19

    Um, Mike, you’re under the wrong post. I’m trying to emphasize in this post that an important attack on democracy is underway and that we should oppose SB 59. What is your read of the bill?

  6. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    I think that the voters should be able to do IMs but their elected officials should be able to do oversight on them. They should be able to amend or remove the entire IM. The people should never start a Constitutional Amendment that should start in the Legislature and presented to the People. If the people don’t feel their elected officials are not representing them, then they can elect them out at the polls. There is a reason we elect representatives, to represent our interest. Sorry I was in the wrong thread. I have seen some very bad IMs lately including IM22. Because of the wind setbacks in Deuel County I expect to see some changes in that commission at election time.

  7. Donald Pay 2017-01-19

    I would have agreed with the Bos about the need for legislative correction of passed initiatives until this year. It is clear the Legislature has to be reigned in. The corruption is out of control, and they lack any rational perspective. The people had it right, and it’s time, not only to put IM 22, into effect, but to make it a Constitutional amendment. Also, there should be a Constitutional amendment to prevent the legislature from tampering with any initiative for five years.

  8. Darin Larson 2017-01-19

    Mike Boswell says “If the people don’t feel their elected officials are not representing them, then they can elect them out at the polls. There is a reason we elect representatives, to represent our interest.”

    More importantly, there is a reason why South Dakotans put an initiative process in place: to allow citizens a direct voice in legislation. How can citizens voting directly on laws that will affect them be a bad thing? This is democracy at its finest. To assert that the legislature has to supervise the people of our state like an out of control big brother goes against all the talk of getting government out of the way of people. How is it that the Republican mantra is to limit government except when it comes to allowing the people to decide the makeup of their own laws?

    Under God, the people rule? or Under the legislature the people are ruled?

    I can’t believe we are seriously talking about proposals for the legislature and governor to have to approve laws passed directly by the people.

  9. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    the people are not lawyers or even good leaders. They are easily swayed by the misinformed. They can have their say in the IM process, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the final decision. The legislature should have a chance to make changes or get rid of it completely. If the people feel they have been wronged, they know what to do in the election process to make a change in their representation. But understanding that being blue in a red state you may want to go around the legislative process.

  10. Darin Larson 2017-01-19

    PS We elect representatives to represent the people chiefly because it is not practical to have direct democracy with regard to every decision that government must make. However, for select important matters that a significant number of voters have signed petitions to get on the ballot, we have direct democracy and the people’s will should be respected to the fullest extent allowed by the state and federal constitutions.

  11. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    Donald Pay I am still waiting on any proof of corruption. Cory hasn’t found anything on EB5 or Gear Up that shows corruption up to either Governor. You have some small group of individuals that hoodwinked the state for their benefit. That is not corruption.

  12. Darin Larson 2017-01-19

    Mike Boswell says: “the people are not lawyers or even good leaders. They are easily swayed by the misinformed.”

    Wow, that is quite a pessimistic and critical view of the citizenry. So, you view the legislature and governor as the masters of the people? The citizens are so misinformed and infantile that they can’t be trusted to pass laws for themselves. That is a seriously messed up world view.

    But you also reveal what I believe is the heart of your problem with the right of the people to pass their own laws when you say the following: “But understanding that being blue in a red state you may want to go around the legislative process.”

    Because the people disagree, from time to time, with the GOP controlled government in SD, you want to put a stranglehold on any laws that go around the legislature. Your lust for power knows no bounds even when it violates a central tenet of conservatism: that of bringing power back to the people and away from government hands.

  13. Jon H 2017-01-19

    Legislatures are elected to serve the citizens not to serve themselves. Their corruption and disrespect for the citizens of South Dakota is as bad as I have seen anywhere.

  14. Larry Anderson 2017-01-19

    I would think that at some point our legislature would face up to the problem that has our state high on the corruption rankings. Government BY THE PEOPLE??? Not in South Dakota!! Another step backwards if this bill is approved.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-19

    So Boswell is an elitist who doesn’t trust us to run our own government. Boswell and I obviously disagree about the wisdom of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

  16. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    I am hardly an elitist, but I state the reality. People are driven by emotion and are not the best at making laws and are easily swayed by people who don’t have all the facts. That’s hardly news. Cory you attempted to say we had corruption at the highest levels and you proved very little. You got a lot of people convinced well I am still waiting for your proof of corruption. I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t let our elected officials look over and change IM so they are legal and constitutional. Otherwise the courts will end up doing it. Probably at a much higher cost to all.

  17. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    Darin I am not a politician or even pretend to be. I am realist and say what is actually happening. It isn’t optimistic or pessimistic, it is looking at things as they are not how I would like them to be.

  18. Mark Winegar 2017-01-19

    District 17 constituents (Clay & Turner Counties) should contact Senator Rusch to express your concerns regarding SB 59 today.
    Capitol 605-773-3821
    Home 605-624-8723

  19. Donald Pay 2017-01-19

    The Bos thinks he’s being original, but The Bos expresses perfectly what corrupt officials have been saying for 40 years. When opponents of the Oahe Project took control of the district, there was a continuous attempt to undermine democracy by state government officials. It continued when an initiative took away a corrupt attempt to site a nuclear waste dump. Every time the people overruled corruption in Pierre, we got the same tired and corrupt arguments.

  20. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    That doesn’t apply to oversight of an IM which could be poorly done. So you want to have it litigated through the courts every time. Sounds like a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars. I would rather have elected Representatives look over the IM and give it their blessing than spend the money to fight it through the courts. You know that will happen. I am waiting for the first real criminal that is going to get off because of Marsy’s law. I am positive that will happen in the future at much expense to the State.

  21. Darin Larson 2017-01-19

    Mike Boswell, you are all worried about the laws that people pass on themselves, but who is approving of the laws that the legislature passes? There have been some doozys. At least when the people pass a law on themselves it is democratic. When the legislature goes off on a tangent, democracy is undermined.

    Moreover, you are ignoring the fact that the legislature has no constraints now to fine tune or dismantle initiated measures as they so choose. If the SD Supreme Court says that IM22 is unconstitutional, the legislature is free to come up with a constitutional version of IM22. They could change IM22 right now without any ruling from the SD Supreme Court.

    Requiring the legislature and governor to approve of the vote of the people is elitist, anti-democratic, and the height of arrogance.

    If you are having regrets about IM22 or Marsy’s law, then you have only yourself and your party to blame for not campaigning against these laws. I mean, it’s not like the Russians intervened in the election here or anything.

  22. Darin Larson 2017-01-19

    PS, Mike Boswell, if your standard is we should not pass a law that is subject to likely court challenge or unconstitutional based on current law, then I assume that you are outraged that the legislature spends millions of dollars each year to pay for lawsuits on laws that it passes.

  23. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    You’re right Darin I don’t like that one lil bit. They should be looking into their bills and make sure they can stand against legal challenges.

  24. Mike Boswell 2017-01-19

    I did my part I voted against both.

  25. Donald Pay 2017-01-19

    SB 59 would likely face court challenge for violating the SD Constitution. Based on The Bos Rule 1.1, SB 59 should be deferred to the millionth legislative day.

  26. Lora Hubbel 2017-01-20

    Why don’t you debate the measure….Cory, tell me WHAT VERBIAGE do you like? Here is what I don’t like (I DO want an ethics board but not one appointed by a corrupt governor). Im am concerned that if you even talked about a candidate with in 60 days of a election you would have to fill out a “expressly advocating form” off the SOS website. Do we want to have to “register” our free speech every time we go on FB and advocate for a candidate? – here it is – Im 22 Initiative, any communication that so much as refers to a state or local candidate “within [60] days of the election sought by a candidate,” and that “targets the candidate’s relevant electorate,”
    would be regulated as an independent expenditure campaign ad that expressly advocates for the election or defeat of a candidate. This regulation would apply regardless of how a communication is “disseminated, broadcast or otherwise published”, and even if the communication is made by an individual.*
    PLUS I feel IM22 is tricky and has a HUGE loop hole saying a lobbyist cannot spend more than $100 on ONE legislator….but gives them unlimited schmoozing ability on TWO OR MORE legislators! See??? THe devil is in the details. I copied some of this from *

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