Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mickelson, Pischke Want to Kill Initiated Amendments

G. Mark Mickelson
I’m sick of knotheads without law degrees amending the constitution….

The Republican Legislature has moved from sniping at the edges of our initiative power to firing cannons right at the heart of our right to legislate.

Today Speaker G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) filed House Joint Resolution 1007, which would repeal citizens’ ability to initiate amendments to the South Dakota Constitution. Amendments would still ultimately be decided by the voters, but only the Legislature could place an amendment on the ballot.

Pischke: eager to protect The Club from The People
Pischke: eager to protect The Club from The People

Rep. Tom Pischke (R-25/Dell Rapids) filed HJR 1008, which doesn’t take away our power to initiate amendments but does require the Legislature to approve any amendment that the voters pass. That’s pretty much as bad as Mickelson’s plan: allowing 54 legislators to veto an amendment passed by, say, 200,000 South Dakota voters eliminates citizens’ ability to check an overreaching or unresponsive Legislature… which of course is what Pischke, Mickelson (a co-sponsor of HJR 1008), and other elitist Republicans want.

If he can’t ban or veto citizen-initiated amendments, Mickelson wants to drag us into a legal morass with HJR 1006, which would impose a single-subject rule on constitutional amendments. We could still propose amendments that create, strike, or modify multiple articles but they’d all have to deal with the same subject. Mickelson’s obvious target here is Amendment W, the 2018 version of Initiated Measure 22, which Mickelson, Pischke, and GOP friends repealed last Session. They would love to have forced Amendment W’s anti-corruption reformers to circulate separate petitions for campaign finance reform, a state ethics commission, and protection of initiative and referendum, thus increasing their costs and workload. They would also love to have one more legal handhold to drag future amendments into court, forcing grassroots initiative sponsors to spend big money on lawyers to argue that their proposals cover just one subject and not whatever separate subjects Mickelson and his citizen-quashing legislators argue they encompass.

And while we’re at it, Mickelson wants to repeal Amendment S, the crime victims bill of rights that South Dakotans passed in 2016. His HJR 1004, filed Wednesday, would put that matter to a vote again this year. Amendment S stinks, but Mark Mickelson’s effort to wreck our initiative power stinks worse.

Add the fact that on Tuesday Senate Republicans killed the measly Senate Bill 12, the only thing preventing the Board of Elections from imposing a de facto word limit on initiatives via House Bill 1004, which Mickelson made sure coasted through the House.

This Republican Legislature is out to kill voter initiatives. Voters, you should initiate some conversations with your legislators this weekend (the calendar says they are home Friday through Monday). Rep. Mickelson doesn’t have a crackerbarrel until February 10, but there are crackerbarrels this weekend in Aberdeen, Brandon, Rapid City, Vermillion, Watertown, and Webster where you could catch your local Republicans (because Democrats don’t do mean, elitist things like these proposed amendments) and tell them to stop calling you stupid and to leave your right to vote and amend your (your!) constitution alone.


  1. JH 2018-01-25 19:23

    A little humor for Mickelson: Did you hear that they are going to start using Attorneys instead of white mice in laboratory experiments. Would you like to ponder why that is? Well #1 because there are more Attorneys then there are white mice. And #2 because the Laboratory Assistants won’t get as attached to the Attorneys as they do the white mice.

  2. Darin Larson 2018-01-25 19:37

    If these attacks on South Dakota citizen initiative rights are successful, the legislature must change our state motto forthwith as follows: “Under the legislature, which thinks itself God, the people are ruled.”

  3. Terry Woster 2018-01-25 19:45

    Isn’t the current language on citizen amending what the Constitutional Revision Commission worked up in early 1970s? The people on that commission were some of the most thoughtful and intelligent folks I ever covered.

  4. Curt 2018-01-25 19:49

    Stated more succinctly, ‘Under God the People Rule, Under HJR 1007 We Don’t’.

  5. Debbo 2018-01-25 19:55

    This is about as clear an attempt to wrest a state’s democracy out of the hands of its citizens as is possible. There can be not a smidgen of doubt that SD’s GOP resents citizens having a say in their government. It’s really stunning. Just as stunning is that they don’t care that the citizens are aware of it. Wow.

  6. Rebecca 2018-01-25 20:46

    District 4 Cracker Barrel in Clear Lake as well. Saturday, 1-4pm at the Municipal Building across from Maynard’s Grocery.

  7. Drey Samuelson 2018-01-25 23:31

    Well, if “Under God the People Rule” is going to mean anything in the future, it’s up to we the people–every one of us–to raise unholy hell to stop this elitist power-grab!

  8. Eve Fisher 2018-01-26 09:01

    Mr. Mickelson appears to be determined to do a 180 from his father’s politics, reputation, and citizenship.

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-26 09:21

    Terry, I believe that’s the case. Mickelson et al are trying to throw that hard-won and well-crafted liberty out.

    Drey, the problem with the motto is that Mickelson thinks he and his fellow legislators are God.

  10. Donald Pay 2018-01-26 09:53

    Actually, the history of passage of the right of the people to initiate Constitutional Amendments goes back to the early 60s, at least. It was proposed in 1963-64, I believe, and defeated at the polls. Another attempt was made in the late 60s, I believe, which was defeated again at the polls. Then in the early 70s it won at the polls. You have to remember that it had majority support in the Legislature in each of those iterations in order to pass the joint resolution. I’m not sure how many times it was proposed in the Legislature, but it seemed to have quite a lot of legislative support through those years. Apparently, the legislators back then didn’t consider themselves God. A new appellation for Mickelson: G.od Marky.

  11. Donald Pay 2018-01-26 10:06

    I remember the last vote, which ended up passing. I voted for it, as did my soon-to-be wife. My Mom voted against it. I remember discussing it over a Sunday dinner. My Dad, I think, voted for it, but he wanted to stay out of the discussion.

  12. Donald Pay 2018-01-26 10:21

    Actually, I think I’m wrong on the first two votes. They were probably on other aspects of the amendment process, not the initiated amendments part. My bad. Ignore what I said about the first two votes.

  13. Daniel Buresh 2018-01-26 10:53

    From what I have heard, neither stand any chance at passing.

  14. Daniel Buresh 2018-01-26 11:48

    Good ol Tom claims that we are a representative republic and this form of direct democracy should not be tolerated. We must protect our constitution from the people because we don’t know any better. He actually believes he is protecting us by not allowing us to pass amendments without their approval. The gall of this guy.

  15. o 2018-01-26 12:43

    So when Mickelson chose not to run for governor, he decided to concentrate ALL the power in SD within the (his) legislature? There seems to be a theme of removing power from others in his legislative agenda.

  16. Jason 2018-01-26 14:55

    We are getting closer and closer to fascism with each and every legislative session. One party rule is not enough for these folks. They want all the power … every last lever of it.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-29 06:00

    We should advance Donald’s thesis by testifying to committee on these amendments that the bureaucracy the Legislature keeps adding to the initiative and referendum process gives big-money entities an advantage in the process over volunteer grassroots citizen groups.

    Dan and Jason are right about the creeping power grab and elitism of our legislators. Next they’ll say we voters aren’t smart enough to pick legislators, either, and they’ll find some way to elect themselves (oh yeah, gerrymandering).

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-01-29 06:02

    O, I’d like to think that in forgoing a run for Governor, Mickelson recognized that trying to destroy initiative would make him unelectable statewide. Voters, please prove me right: vote down any of these amendments that the Legislature may approve, and vote out Mickelson, Pischke, and any legislators who vote for these amendments.

  19. Levi 2018-02-03 15:56

    In the beginning of January Coming Freedom sent a couple of broad reaching initiated constitutional amendments to the LRC for the 2020 election. All of these efforts could be an attempt to stop these from coming up for a vote in 2020. You can see one of them on the Secretary of state site or both on comingfreedom’s site.

    I agree it could be about the amendments you are referring to but wouldn’t they only go into effect after the 2018 election?

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-02-03 16:59

    Thanks for the link, Levi. The SOS still only has the no-victim-no-crime amendment up; I appreciate the link to the unregulated-commerce amendment.

    Both of these amendments would affect your chances of enacting your two amendments in 2020. If approved by the voters in November, both would go in effect on July 1, 2019.

    HJR 1007 would stop your amendment cold. Conceivably, if you submitted a complete petition to the SOS before that date, you could argue that that petition should still be counted and your amendment placed on the 2020 ballot. But after July 1, 2019, your petition would have no legal authority.

    HJR 1008 would definitely subject your amendment to Legislative approval after a successful 2020 general election vote.

    HJR 1006 would appear to have no impact on your amendments, since both appear to address single subjects (and in a reasonably concise fashion to boot).

Comments are closed.