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GOP/Dem Nexus of Dissent on HB 1069

Governor Dennis Daugaard signed House Bill 1069 yesterday, thus making the “emergency” repeal of Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act, the first enacted bill of the 2017 Legislative Session.

Two Republicans voted against HB 1069, Senator Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) and Senator Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs). Immediately after the Senate’s vote Wednesday to overturn the will of the people, Senators Nelson and Russell filed a formal dissent and protest, placing on the record arguments they made during floor debate that HB 1069 violates the U.S. Constitution by infringing on anonymous campaign speech and violates the South Dakota Constitution by addressing multiple subjects. They also contend that the seventeen Senators suing the state to overturn IM22 violated Legislative Joint Rules by voting on a bill that would allow them to escape further legal costs:

Pursuant to Joint Rule 1-10, we, the undersigned Senators, do hereby respectfully dissent from, and protest against, the rulings of the President of the Senate, Lt. Gov. Matthew Michels, in ruling against Senator Nelson’s point of orders that 17 Senate members be excused from voting due to their personal conflict of interest in the legislation to overturn IM22 due to their admitted public record of personal pecuniary interest in a lawsuit to overturn IM22, violating Joint Rule 12-1 and Section 521 (2)(3) & Section 522 (1) of Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure (enacted as SD Legislative Joint rules via Joint Rule 11-3). Lt. Gov. Michels’ ruling, in the face of such conflict of interests, promotes a practice that undermines the very foundation of our State Constitution, weakens the rule of law, and besmirches the reputation of the South Dakota Senate. Furthermore, we, the undersigned Senators, do hereby respectfully dissent from, and protest the passage of House Bill 1069 in that it clearly violates Article III, Section 21 of the South Dakota Constitution (which 17 Senators acknowledge in section 10 of their lawsuit contesting the mirror image of HB1069, IM22 was unconstitutional for violating this constitutional provision) states: “No law shall embrace more than one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.” Members voted to pass House Bill 1069 knowing that provisions of it contained sections which require citizens to declare their names, address, etc., on campaign material, which the Supreme Court of the United States of America has ruled explicitly violates persons’ 1st Amendment rights (see McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334 (1995)). We therefore believe that the passage of House Bill 1069 is in contravention of both the United States Constitution, South Dakota’s Constitution, and is therefore null and void. We thus dissent from, and protest against, the erroneous rulings, the unconstitutional aspects of House Bill 1069, and the appearances of improprieties used to pass House Bill 1069. We respectfully request that this dissent and protest be printed in the Senate Journal as required by Joint Rule 1-10 [Sen. Stace Nelson and Sen. Lance Russell, Dissent and Protest to Passage, Senate Journal, 2017.02.01].

Democratic Senators Billie Sutton (D-21/Burke), Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission), and Jason Frerichs (D-1/Wilmot) followed suit but took a little longer to type. Their dissent and protest appears in yesterday’s Senate Journal:

Joint Rule 1B-2 states the legislators must comply with all Constitutional and statutory requirements regarding conflicts of interest. Voting upon HB 1069 presents a conflict of interest because the legislators currently in litigation against the implementation of Initiated Measure 22 would thereby receive a pecuniary interest due to the passage of HB 1069. Thus, they will no longer have to pay to continue the lawsuit and will thus receive a financial benefit with the repeal of IM 22.

In addition, the South Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 1 has been used by the courts as the standard to determine when an emergency exists. Article III, Section 1 of the South Dakota Constitution allows a referral of a legislative act to a public vote before going into effect unless it is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety or the act is necessary for the support of the state government and its existing institutions. Since this law is enjoined we contend that no emergency exists, and the use of the Emergency Clause is unconstitutional in HB 1069. We therefore believe the passage of this act is in contravention of the Constitution of South Dakota and the Joint Rules and is such null and void.

We respectfully request this dissent be printed in the Senate Journal.

The Democratic dissenters support the Republican dissenters’ argument about conflict of interest for the litigants, who include my District 3 Senator Al Novstrup. The Democrats raise the other major constitutional problem with HB 1069, its constitutionally and factually bogus emergency clause.

Nelson and Russell’s argument about anonymous speech is not really an expression of support for IM22. Both IM22 and current campaign finance law require disclaimers and disclosure of sources of campaign communications. The 1995 Supreme Court case they cite said that Ohio’s ban on anonymous speech was too broad but still allowed states and the federal government to impose disclaimer and disclosure requirements tailored to meet overriding state interests. For over two decades, states and the FEC have done just that, and the courts have not thrown out “Paid for by….”

The conflict-of-interest argument tantalizes but probably gets nowhere. Passing HB 1069 appears to end the lawyer bills for Novstrup and the other IM22 plaintiffs, but HB 1069 was not the only vehicle at their disposal for reaching that goal. They could have dropped their lawsuit at any time.

The state constitutional arguments on multiple subjects and the bogus emergency clause are the most solid. The IM22 plaintiffs themselves agreed in their anti-IM22 brief that IM22 addressed multiple subjects; they are logically bound to agree that a bill doing the exact opposite of IM22 also addresses multiple subjects. And for all their rhetorical gymnastics, not one Republican has addressed the 1996 LRC Issue Memorandum that clearly explains the funding requirement for the emergency clause HB 1069 invokes.

But are those two constitutional arguments worth taking HB 1069 to court? Get a court to overturn HB 1069 on the multi-subject argument, and we grant the court grounds on which to overturn IM22.

Get a court to overturn the emergency clause, and we may only delay enactment of HB 1069 until July 1, like a normal bill. IM22 would still be enjoined, and the South Dakota Supreme Court might not rule on the IM22 case before July 1, so even for the next few precious months, we’d still be laboring under the status quo that HB 1069 affirms.

The only impact of a no-emergency-clause delay is the opportunity to refer HB 1069 to a public vote. But that referral would be a disaster. We would place the exact text of HB 1069 (the inverse text of IM22) on the ballot. The South Dakota Supreme Court would then rule a line or two of IM22 unconstitutional (and I’m confident the plaintiffs will win at least one of their claims). Our campaign would then be in utter confusion, as we’d be voting on a Swiss-cheesed bill that includes provisions that we cannot constitutionally enact.

Initiated Measure 22 is dead. The old law is the new law. As I recommended in December, it’s time to turn our outrage and resources (boosted by national media attention roiling readers far and wide) toward fighting the remaining bills (thirteen, maybe more by day’s end!) that our arrogant Legislature is using to subvert the power of the people.

A key part of that pivot is for Nelson Republicans and Sutton Democrats to look for ways to turn their cooperation in protesting HB 1069 into practically constructive and/or obstructive collaboration.

Update 11:26 CST: Senator Stace Nelson expands on his dissent with this op-ed, circulated today:

Sen. Stace Nelson
Sen. Stace Nelson

February 1st was a “dark day” for the South Dakota legislature. The passage of House Bill 1069, brought to repeal the voters’ enacted Initiated Measure22, culminated the ugliest partisan bums-rush of legislation since Obamacare. I publicly opposed IM2 during the election for many reasons. The solution to bad government is not more government, and IM22 did nothing to combat the ugly corruption of the last two governor’s EB5, and Gear Up scandals. Circumstances made me a grudging opponent of HB1069.

Early on I encouraged Senators to go slow repealing IM22. We govern at the permission of the people. While the people give us permission to act on their behalf by electing us, we shouldn’t be so arrogant as to act rashly with out proper respect for their will. I suggested 5-6 single subject constitutional bills to review IM22 and afford the many subjects the proper, respectful, deliberate public hearings that voters deserved. That sage advice was cast aside and HB 1069, the mirror image of IM22 (which they contested was unconstitutional because it was multi-subject), was brought forth to repeal IM22. Immediately streams of dishonest rhetoric was pushed spinning the repeal and claiming a contrived “emergency” demanding the immediate passage of HB1069. Politicians who blithely voted for unconstitutional multi-subject bills previously, now claimed they must repeal IM22 to protect the people’s constitution, from the people!

Despite 24 legislators being personally involved in the lawsuit against IM22, they refused to recuse themselves from the obvious conflict of interest of pushing HB1069 through the legislature. They did everything possible to bend to breaking every rule possible to rush HB1069 through. To add injury to insult, Senators voted to knowingly keep unconstitutional provisions within HB1069, which require personal identifying information the Supreme Court of the United States of America has ruled explicitly violates persons’ 1st Amendment rights (see McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, 514 U.S. 334(1995)). IM22 was allowed on the ballot by the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. That tacit support, in my opinion, removes blame of unconstitutionality from citizens who brought IM22. Legislators brought the unconstitutional HB 1069 mess. They were obligated to abide by legislative ethics rules and our US & SD Constitutions. The inappropriate conflicts of interests, the gross appearance of improprieties used to pass HB1069, and the provisions of HB1069 which were in explicit contravention of both the United States Constitution, and South Dakota’s Constitution, showed who was the real threat to our Constitutions. Principle demanded that I was duty bound to oppose HB1069, which I did.

The manner in which HB1069 was passed was disgraceful, and a “dark day” as Senator Lance Russell (R-Hot Springs) appropriately lamented. Politicians claimed there is no corruption in SD, in support of their rush to pass HB1069. The EB5 corruption and death of Richard Benda; the Gear Up corruption and deaths of Scott, Nicole, Michael,Connor, Jaeci, & Kailey Westerhuis; the recent scandal of a two year legislative cover-up of a legislator sexually preying on pages & interns; and, the same legislators repealing the will of the voters in such a corrupt fashion, refute those assertions upon utterance.

In that “dark day” there was a ray of principled sunshine. The honorable gentleman, Senator Lance Russell (R), stood tall on the Senate floor and opposed the partisan stampeding herd. In the end, we earned the wrath of politicians for refusing to compromise the ethical principles of your government in their demands we go along to get along. The good news is, Senator Russell and I sleep like babies at night and we can look each one of our constituents in the eyes when we go home.

God bless & Semper Fidelis.
Senator Stace Nelson


  1. Tim 2017-02-03 06:57

    I read somewhere that Al Novstrup and Republicans like him said they were tired of being called corrupt crooks, there are ways to stop people from calling you a crook, doing everything you can to stop the will of voters and keeping said voters from seeing what you are up to when doing public business isn’t the way.

  2. Donald Pay 2017-02-03 09:46

    I never believe in giving up on anything. I think you have to fight everything. I’ve never seen the crooks that run SD more scared of anything than IM 22. It would put an end to 40 years of corruption. No wonder they became unglued, and are now threatening the I & R. Keep your vise on their balls and squeeze harder.

  3. Roger Cornelius 2017-02-03 14:59

    As I watched the lengthy process of republicans repealing IM22 played out and the introduction of new meaningless legislation introduced, I kept waiting for something of importance that would make the lives of every South Dakotan better.
    Didn’t and isn’t happening is it?
    Wages are low, rent is higher, and economic development is a joke.
    Is this clown act of a legislature what South Dakotans truly want? Apparently so, they keep voting the imaginative republicans to office.

  4. Roger Elgersma 2017-02-03 15:01

    At least there are some good ones.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-02-03 16:35

    Jerry, on that conversion of campaign funds, we can complain, but we don’t have a law to stop him. I don’t think IM22 would have stopped him, either; IM22 said you can’t convert Democracy Credits and must refund any unused to the state, but I don’t think it dealt with other privately raised campaign funds.

  6. moses6 2017-02-03 17:12

    there all crooks if they voted even the Governor the nice boy from Dell Rapids is showing his true colors.But what do you expect he learned that from slick Mike Rounds the Pierre elite what a bunch of phonies in Pierre.

  7. Mark Winegar 2017-02-03 19:19

    It appears the repeal of the South Dakota Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act was rife with corruption. Imagine that!

  8. Jerry Sweeney 2017-02-03 19:54

    I guess I expected Mr. Abourezk to know more about such things than I. I like the improvements in the site loading time in any event. ?

  9. jerry 2017-02-03 20:12

    One thing about it, the republicans have given us full employment here in South Dakota. Why, you can drive down the road in towns like Rapid City and see hiring all over the place. So, why don’t we have any sales tax revenues?

  10. grudznick 2017-02-04 17:48

    Nobody is spending, Mr. jerry. Nobody is spending except on the internets where they even buy groceries and hire plumbers and such. It seems like here in Rapid City the only people without jobs are the unemployable derelicts. Everybody else could have a fine job for a dozen bucks an hour. All you have to do is want it, and then if you work harder you make more and more and soon you are comfortably retired.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-02-04 17:51

    Fight on all fronts, squeeze harder—Donald’s suggestion has some merit. At today’s crackerbarrel, six Republican legislators spent may a third of the time defending themselves on the IM22 repeal… and it wasn’t going over well.

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