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SB 67 Requires 88% More Signatures to Put Constitutional Amendment on Ballot

Republicans expand their war on people power with Senate Bill 67, which would effectively double the number of signatures we citizens need to put constitutional amendments to a public vote.

Under current law, putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot requires collecting petition signatures equal to at least 10% of the number of votes cast for Governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. 277,403 South Dakotans voted for Governor in 2014; thus, in the 2016 cycle, that number was 27,741.

SB 67 changes the signature criterion from participating voters to registered voters. In 2014, 521,041 South Dakotans were registered to vote; thus, SB 67 would raise the signature requirement to 52,105, nearly 88% more signatures.

Republicans, including Governor Dennis Daugaard, have complained that big-money out-of-state interests can too easily get bogus measures on our ballot. However, of all the constitutional measures proposed by citizens in the 2016 cycle, the only two measures that garnered enough signatures to beat the SB 67 threshold were the two biggest-money out-of-state measures in play, billionaire Henry T. Nicholas’s vanity crime victims bill of rights and the payday lenders fake 18% rate cap.

SB 67 does not stop big-money from accessing South Dakota’s ballot; by requiring 88% more signatures, SB 67 makes it 88% harder for real grassroots South Dakota groups to amend the Constitution and makes it far more likely that the only amendments we will see on our ballot will be those proposed by big-money interests.

Then-Senator Corey Brown offered a democracy-fearing measure like this in 2015 that would have raised the signature threshold for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments and for initiated laws and referenda. Senator Brown’s 2015 proposal provoked enormous public backlash that scared him into withdrawing his proposal.

Prime sponsor Senator Jeff Partridge is trying to reduce potential backlash by raising the bar only for amendments but leaving initiated laws and referenda alone. However, since the Legislature seems eager to establish its ability to undo at will our will on initiated laws, Senator Partridge is focusing on boxing us citizens out of our final say on the one thing the Legislature cannot change, the state constitution.

SB 67 also includes an emergency clause that would make this law take effect right away. I see sense no emergency; SB 67 is not, in the words of its Section 2, “necessary for the support of the state government and its existing public institutions.” The emergency clause is necessary to raise signature requirements right now and to prevent us citizens from referring this bad law to a public vote.

Again, while the first words out of President Trump’s mouth yesterday were about giving power back to the people, his Trumpublicans in South Dakota are trying to take power away from the people and consolidate power in Pierre. There’s reason for folks on both sides of the aisle to raise heck about this anti-democratic, anti-populist bill. Call your Senators and tell them to kill Senate Bill 67 now!


  1. Roger Elgersma 2017-01-21 12:13

    for 27,000 good ones you need 35,000. That much work should be respectable enough. That is a lot of people who stopped and looked at it before they signed. Then they have the audacity to say that people with a brain do not know what they are doing. Look how bad the constitutional amendment to lower interest to 18% lost. No matter how much money they spent and how deceitful they were to get it on the ballot and how much advertising they did, a bad one failed totally. That is good enough reason to trust the people.

  2. Porter Lansing 2017-01-21 14:48

    Afraid to conduct business fairly.

  3. Mark Winegar 2017-01-21 15:14

    Why do South Dakota Republicans hate democracy?

    I’m heading to Pierre from Vermillion early Monday morning if anyone cares to join me.

  4. Porter Lansing 2017-01-21 15:57

    It’s about new ideas, Mark. Like the ones you have. But, when you have none, and you’re afraid of new ideas from elsewhere you develop a “prison survival” mentality.

  5. Donald Pay 2017-01-21 17:41

    And there you have it: “SB 67 does not stop big-money from accessing South Dakota’s ballot; by requiring 88% more signatures, SB 67 makes it 88% harder for real grassroots South Dakota groups to amend the Constitution and makes it far more likely that the only amendments we will see on our ballot will be those proposed by big-money interests.” That’s exactly what they are trying to do, because the big money interests control them.

    Corrupt politicians hate it when the people figure out their little games, and start to do something about it. The whole purpose of these bills is to make it more difficult for THE PEOPLE to redress their grievances, and reign in the corrupt practices of corrupt.

    Time to bring another initiative: 4 year term limits with no further terms after that. One term for Governor. Stick it right back up their arses.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-21 21:46

    Mark! Go get ’em! Bring friends! Call some other petition sponsors from last year! Maybe Rick Weiland will come with? Farmers Union? Who were the last conservatives to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot? Find them, too!

  7. Darin Larson 2017-01-21 21:50

    Donald Pay, I like the way you think!

  8. Donald Pay 2017-01-21 22:27

    I guess my point is that too many of these guys think they are our kings and we have to bow down and lick their boots.

    I got to interview John Timmer, who was a former Republican legislator. He and I didn’t always agree on much, but he was at least willing to listen. He brought the term limits amendment forward. His main concern was the longer legislators were there the worse they get. He thought an eight year term limit was going to be adequate to shake the arrogance and corruption out. Well, he was right for a time. Term limits sure did improve things, but it’s now out of control again. I suppose part of it is the one party system with a string of more than usual corrupt Governors. Term limits are one way to break down the corruption. Really, the shorter the term limits the more likely legislators will think more about constituents and less about themselves. Really, it might be good to go back to two year terms for Governors, but then you have to think of all the corruption involved in running that many statewide elections.

    So, there is more to it than sticking it up their rectums. There is also the idea that term limits are popular with voters and are simple to put on a ballot, compared to the reasonable, but complex IM 22.

  9. leslie 2017-01-22 00:26

    Antarctic anti-Trump March! Alright!
    Power to the people.

    Trump’s anti-press war is a good start. Limbaugh, Trump’s brain will continue to flip all factual meaning on its head. This is a war republicans will lose.

  10. Drey Samuelson 2017-01-22 03:33

    Very well said, as usual Cory. Almost doubling the signatures required to qualify an Amendment for the ballot is a blatant attempt to make them virtually impossible to accomplish, pure and simple. It makes sense, I guess, if you believe that all wisdom resides in Pierre, and that the people’s one route to bypassing the Legislature needs to be substantially hobbled because it can thwart the will of our legislators (like the South Dakota Anti-corruption Act, IM-22) which clearly has put a huge crimp in the style of some legislators…

    But what is breathtakingly cynical is Sen. Partridge’s applying the emergency clause to the bill! Um, what is the emergency here–can someone please explain it to me? Someone should test that in court–I can’t imagine it would pass judicial muster.

    At any rate, South Dakotans need to oppose this with full force. We convinced Corey Brown two years ago to withdraw his equally awful bill, and we need to work on Sen. Partridge to follow Brown’s course of action now.

  11. barry freed 2017-01-22 09:07

    We need to get together and elect a Democrat in SD. Apparently, there are none in Pierre because we hear absolutely NO dissent from them. Certainly NO protests or even threats of protest.

    I hope we don’t get the same “bipartisan” relationship in the 115th Congress.

  12. jerry 2017-01-22 11:53

    Partridge is only carrying the water himself first and also for his wealthy investors. His 1% crew understand that only their view of democracy is good for their bottom line. Partridge does not believe in the fairness of the doctrine of democracy, as shown by his unpatriotic bill put forward. His goal and those that support this step backward from fairness, is an unbridled state of corruption that is destroying the moral fiber of our state.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-22 14:16

    Barry, as your next Governor, I promise to veto every bill that weakens the people’s power of initiative and referendum.

    Do you think I can win on that line alone?

Comments are closed.