Plus Bonus Advice for Machiavellian Republicans!
Supporters of IM22 and direct democracy, your calls and letters to your legislators may be working.
After three days of swift Republican action on House Bill 1069, the repeal of the Anti-Corruption Act that voters approved just eleven weeks ago, the Republican-dominated Senate said whoa, horse! and put off debate on HB 1069 until next week Wednesday.
Prime Senate sponsor Brock Greenfield (R-2/Clark) opened debate on HB 1069 with brief remarks. He avoided details of the repeal and simply said passing HB 1069 will allow bipartisan discussions and “upgrades to the law” to “embody the spirit of the vote of the people.”
Senator Ryan Maher (R-28/Isabel) then offered Amendment 1069wd, a retention of a definition and an insertion of an interpretation that appear to have no practical effect on the repeal or the resulting law. Senator Maher spoke for just few seconds, calling his amendment “clean-up.”
Majority Leader Senator R. Blake Curd (R-12/Sioux Falls) then rose to invoke Joint Rule 5-17, which delays consideration of an amendment until a full legislative day has passed. (That’s the stalling tactic some House Republicans used last year to delay the sales-tax-for-teacher-pay bill.)
Representative Spence Hawley tried a Rule 5-17 delay in the House on Tuesday but couldn’t get the required support of one fifth of the members. Today, Dana Ferguson reports a majority of Senators stood in support of Senator Curd’s 5-17 motion.
The Legislature is taking a four-day weekend and does not reconvene until Tuesday, January 31. That means Senators head home tonight, spend four days back home at crackerbarrels hearing from constituents, and don’t resume debate on HB 1069 until Wednesday, February 1.
IM22 backers, you now have six full days to keep up the pressure.
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This delay intrigues me. Republicans, you have the votes and the Governor’s support. Whatever pressure you’re hearing, crankiness over ballot measures has never turned into voter revolt against their favorite candidates. It’s a fair bet you can repeal IM 22 and still keep your jobs in 2018 (I’ll argue that we’ll change history, but we’ll get to that next year). Why wait?
Permit me to put on my old Republican hat and make a purely Machiavellian suggestion. Republican friends, maximize your return on HB 1069. Use the long weekend to show you care. Come back Wednesday swearing that you have heard the people’s concerns. Respond to those concerns by amending HB 1069 (as Minority Leader Sutton tried yesterday in committee) to remove the emergency clause that prevents them from referring your decision.
Then pass HB 1069, sit back, and laugh. Voters won’t refer HB 1069. Even if they do, the referral will collapse under the complications of the impending Supreme Court ruling (which you are confident will find the whole thing unconstitutional, right?) and the new campaign finance and ethics and lobbying laws that you’ll pass (and you are committed to those bills, right?). You’ll gain points for acting in the public interest without doing any harm to your agenda.