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Represent SD Submits Initiated Amendment to Protect Ballot Measures and Restore Some of IM22

Represent South Dakota wasn’t able to stop the Legislature from repealing Initiated Measure 22, the anti-corruption measure voters passed last November. Thus, they are proposing a constitutional amendment to restore some of what the Legislature took away, strengthen some of what the Legislature passed to “replace” IM22, and, in a reach beyond what IM22 did, protect the initiative and referendum process from Legislative meddling.

Represent SD spokesman Doug Kronaizl of Vermillion says his group filed language for an initiated amendment with the Legislative Research Council this morning. Represent SD has not made that draft available for publication yet, but their press release summarizes the main provisions as follows:

  1. Protect voter-approved laws from legislative meddling. Prohibit the legislature from changing or repealing laws passed by the voters without going back to the voters for their approval.
  2. Ban lobbyist gifts to politicians. Close loopholes created by the legislature that currently allow lobbyists to provide politicians with lavish meals and alcohol.
  3. Ban foreign money in South Dakota elections.
  4. Ban union and corporate contributions to political candidates. Reinstate the longtime ban on contributions from labor unions and corporations to candidates quietly repealed by the legislature in 2017.
  5. Lower campaign contribution limits to ensure that large donors can’t buy South Dakota’s elections.
  6. Create an independent citizen ethics commission. After repealing IM-22’s ethics commission, the legislature offered the people a weak, toothless replacement, and then exempted themselves from its oversight. The amendment replaces it with an accountable, independent citizen ethics commission that has oversight over all three branches of government [Represent South Dakota, press release, 2017.04.06].

Item #1 appears to be a “Don’t Mess with Us” amendment, akin to what I proposed in February. Imagine what would have happened if the Legislators would have had to submit their repeal of IM 22 to a vote of the people!

Item #2 appears to pounce on the lobbyist-gift ban passed in House Bill 1073, which does indeed exempt wining and dining. (See what happens when you let legislators write laws to curb their own corruption?)

Item #3 takes a step federal law already has, meaning I wouldn’t be able to ask my Canadian friends to contribute to my next campaign. (Send those loonies now!)

Item #4 responds to one of the gravest errors of the 2017 Legislature, which went the opposite direction that voters signaled in IM 22 and opened the door for more big money in South Dakota campaigns instead of less.

Item #5 would place in the Constitution the lower campaign contribution caps that our Legislature completely ignored in its reforms this year (but which Senator Brock Greenfield assures us he wants to take up in 2018—gee, Brock, maybe Represent SD is about to save you some work?).

Finally, Item #6 challenges House Bill 1076, which creates the Government Accountability Board. Represent SD points out a remarkable fact about the GAB that our legislators said would replace the IM22 ethics commission: HB 1076 gives the GAB authority to “review and investigate any person holding a statewide office, as defined in § 12-27-1, and employees of the executive branch.” That scope conveniently leaves legislators outside the reach of their ethics commission.

Hmm… after this Session, do we really believe the Legislature can get by without some external review? Again, do you see what happens when you let legislators write laws to curb their own corruption?

Notice that these points do not mention public campaign finance, a key component of IM 22 that Republicans universally panned and refused to consider in their “replacement” legislation this year. I will wait to see a full draft to confirm that “Democracy Credits” are not part of this show.

In submitting their draft to LRC, Represent SD starts a 15-day review period, by the end of which LRC must provide its comment on the amendment draft. Represent SD may then submit its draft to the Attorney General, who will have another 60 days to review and provide his public explanation. So by June 21, if government takes all time allotted and Represent SD moves with all possible alacrity, we could see petitions on the street for this Amendment. Represent SD will need to gather 27,742 signatures from registered South Dakota voters by November 6 to place this amendment on the 2018 ballot.


  1. Rorschach 2017-04-06 11:46

    I like how you categorize it so far without reading the language. Constitutional amendment is the way to go for much of the content, but hard caps in the constitution for campaign contributions, if that is what’s in there, would quickly become outdated by inflation.

  2. Roger Elgersma 2017-04-06 12:12

    The vitriol that came from Daugaard, Greenfield, and Peters because people actually thought there might be a problem is the naiveness, or coverup method, that blocks their minds from even considering effective legislation. We need to put an ethics board in the constitution or they will dismantle anything good that happens.

  3. Richard Schriever 2017-04-06 12:15

    Rorschach – if inflation runs that wild – the amendment could always be amended – by the will of the people (not the lobbyists or legislators). See how direct democracy works??

  4. grudznick 2017-04-06 20:28

    It is most telling that these Resent.US fellows do not have the endocrine glands to propose those unconstitutional and money grubbing “democracy credits” that were lied about during the foisting of the most sloppily written IM #22 on the hoodwinked public.

    I dare the Resent.US fellows to include that little piece, eh? EH? Be open and transparent about taking taxpayer money to give to politicians for advertising? EH? Chickens.

  5. grudznick 2017-04-06 21:00

    Ms. leslie, ever since my friend Lar pulled jokes on me by posting blue links to pornographic images on Mr. H’s blog I have been distrustful of them unless the poster explains what they are to and has some “take”. Do you have take? I would be especially distrustful of anybody quoting the newspaper in Sioux Falls as a source, and even laughable if somebody quoted a letter to the editor of that Sioux Falls paper. Laughable.

    grudz laughing
    grudz laughing

  6. leslie 2017-04-06 21:11

    saves research for old man. you are all opinion. none of it valid


  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-04-07 06:31

    Grudz, I think you’re just mad that you’ve been deprived your straw man argument. Smart campaigners make strategic decisions. Represent SD (name-calling? really, Grudz?) has tailored this initiative to deal with the South Dakota Legislature’s assault on voter rights and insulation of its own privilege. They have replaced public campaign finance with an even more pressing, South Dakota-specific priority: protecting initiative and referendum. I consider that a smart move.

  8. Jim 2017-04-07 08:45

    Way too many provisions in one bill.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-04-07 09:37

    Jim do you have specific objections to any one of those provisions on practical or constitutional grounds?

    2017 HB 1069, the repeal of IM22, had 35 sections. 2013 SB 70, Governor Daugaard’s great criminal justice reform package, had 83 sections. Just how many provisions are too many for one bill?

    By the way, Article 23 Section 1 of the South Dakota Constitution says amendments “may amend one or more articles and related subject matter in other articles as necessary to accomplish [their] objectives….”

    Not everything can be done in one sentence. We do not govern by Tweet.

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