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HB 1069 Violates Single-Subject Rule?

As we head toward this afternoon’s Senate debate on House Bill 1069, Republican legislators’ fast-tracked repeal of Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, a thought occurs to me.

In their lawsuit against the Anti-Corruption Act, Republican legislators claimed that the voter-approved law is unconstitutional because it deals with multiple subjects, in violation of SD Const. Article 3 Section 21: “No law shall embrace more than on subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” In his December 21 ruling enjoining enactment of the Anti-Corruption Act, Judge Mark Barnett took no position on the single-subject argument (see page 3 of the ruling).

HB 1069 seeks to repeal every provision of the Anti-Corruption Act. If the Republican plaintiffs believe what their lawsuit says, if the Anti-Corruption Act really does encompass multiple subjects, then HB 1069 encompasses multiple subjects.

We already know that HB 1069 violates the constitution with its invocation of a bogus “emergency” clause. Republican legislators have been citing their oath to uphold the state constitution as the basis for their rejection of IM 22. But by supporting multiple-subject HB 1069, are they not doubly violating their oath to support the state constitution?

Hmmm… maybe Senate President Matt Michels should let Senator Stace Nelson divide the question….


  1. Porter Lansing 2017-01-26 11:49

    The single subject of IM-22 is corruption. Every part of the law addresses a part of corruption as a whole.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 11:58

    Hee hee! Porter, logic dictates that both the bill and its line-by-line repeal are either both single-subject or both multi-subject. The 24 Republican plaintiffs who claim IM 22 is multi-subject but HB 1069 is single-subject are not being logical.

  3. troy 2017-01-26 12:08

    Ror probably can answer this more accurately but the legislature has a process of cleaning up SDCL’s in a blanket fashion. I think they did it a few years ago (which could be 20 years as I’ve lost track of time on some things) to elminate archaic language AND strip out unconstitutional language or bring it into compliance with conflicting language somewhere else.

    Remembering I’m only blabbing based on memory, they might need a ruling from the courts though it is unconstitutional to do it under the single subject of “cleaning up.”

    Ror, do you have any idea what I’m very faintly recalling? Or am I just crazy?

  4. Rorschach 2017-01-26 12:26

    Repealing an entire voter-passed initiative should not violate the single subject rule as long as the bill sticks to just repealing the initiative and nothing else. The initiative was a single initiative, after all.

    The lawsuit allegation about the initiative violating the single subject rule wasn’t a winning issue either – which is probably why Judge Barnett didn’t go there.

    I don’t know anything about the legislature, Troy.

  5. troy 2017-01-26 12:46


    I thought you were an attorney. You sure talk like one.

    That, in the end, I think Barnett did rule not to allow certain sections to go into effect which may be Constitutional because those multiple sections violated the “one subject” rule.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 12:51

    I can see the logic there, Troy and Ror. The Legislature’s subject is not campaign finance, ethics, or lobbying; the Legislature’s subject is overturning the will of the people. I look forward to hearing Majority Leader Curd advancing that logic on the floor today.

    But check the title: “An Act to repeal and revise certain provisions related to campaign finance and to declare an emergency.” Given that that title fails to mention the ethics commission and lobbying laws, and given that it does not say, “An Act to repeal Initiated Measure 22” or some other verbage better expressing its subject, does not HB 1069 fail to fulfill the requirement of Art.3 Sec.21?

  7. moses6 2017-01-26 13:06

    C.H.will we still need to get about a million signatures now yto put something on the ballot or can we sue.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 13:37

    But Troy, Troy, Troy, don’t go thinking for Judge Barnett. He neither wrote nor suggested anything of the sort in his ruling. He offered other (bad) justifications for his non-severability ruling, but not Art3Sec21. The multi-subjectivity of IM 22 has received no judicial attention allowing us to draw any conclusions.

  9. troy 2017-01-26 14:07


    It is my understanding when he decided not to allow some sections which may be Constitutional on their own, he would be violating the “one-subject rule.” Am I in correct?

  10. Stace Nelson 2017-01-26 14:16

    There are at least 3 amendments from members on HB1069. Sen Russell has one, I have one, & Sen Maher has one. After one is moved, there will be a call for rule 5-17 delay on the bill.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 14:32

    5-17! 5-17! Whoo-hoo!

    5-17. Motion to delay action on amendments. Final action upon any amendment to a bill or resolution may not be heard until one legislative day has intervened, if a request for delay is made and is supported by at least one-fifth of the members. However, no such request is in order during the last fourteen days of the session, less one day for every two days that the session is less than forty days. This rule cannot be invoked more than two times on the same bill in each house [Joint Rules, South Dakota Legislature, 2017].

    I suppose I shouldn’t cheer too hard, since this is the same parliamentary maneuver Rep. Stalzer used last year to delay the House vote on the sales tax for teacher pay. But I guess we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. This gives us a weekend to attend the crackerbarrels, talk to legislators, and point out both ways that HB 1069 is unconstitutional.

    Senator Nelson, what are the amendments? Finally striking the emergency clause?

  12. Lanny V Stricherz 2017-01-26 17:05

    Ah, but the Sioux Falls crackerbarrels don’t start until 2-4 and then only for 6,9 & 11. 10,13,16 & 25 have to wait until 2-11 and finally 12,14 & 15 must wait until 2-17. What Democracy or should I say, why bother?

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 21:29

    Good point, Lanny. Sounds like a long weekend of phone calls in Sioux Falls!

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-01-26 21:34

    Troy, here’s the text in question from Barnett’s Dec. 21 ruling:

    The voters were presented with a title which suggested that the various provisions were offered as a package. The draftsmen chose to incorporate all these changes in one self-contained package, rather than as separate and discrete ballot offerings. (The court is not ruling on the “one subject” objection of the Plaintiffs, but merely noting the way the measure was presented to the voters, as part of the assessment of whether some provisions are separable.) [Judge Mark Barnett, ruling, Curd et al. v State of South Dakota, 2016.12.21]

    Judge Barnett takes no position on the one-subject argument.

  15. Harry Thompson 2017-01-26 21:41

    Dear Senators and Representatives,
    Since you traveled throughout our districts campaigning and sharing with us your reasons for wanting to legislate our lives, often stopping and visiting us in our homes, I assume you wouldn’t mind our returning the favor. Many of us would like to know, from you personally, why you think you need to overturn IM 22 by ramrodding HB 1069 through the legislature. Your argument that IM 22 is unconstitutional because it pertains to multiple subjects must, logically, also apply to your bill. Many of us would like you to explain this miscarriage of justice, this overturning of the Anti-Corruption Act and the specious “emergency” clause, here in our town. Will you be home to receive your guests when we call for a friendly chat? We would love to hear from you, something most of you have completely failed to do. Are you representing us or just telling us how it should be? Your authority for such arrogance, please, if you wouldn’t mind informing us?

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