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Senate State Affairs OKs Ongoing Multi-Issue Ballot Question Committees, Nixes Tougher Campaign Finance Limits

Senate State Affairs heard a couple of bills of interest to campaign financiers and watchdogs this morning.

Senate Bill 128 proposes to restore the ability to create ongoing, multi-issue ballot question committees. Senator Terri Haverly (R-35/Rapid City) presented SB 128; the Chamber of Commerce (which floated this idea last summer before the Initiative and Referendum Task Force), the Electric Utility Companies, the Retailers Association, and the Association of General Contractors all testified in favor (and here I am agreeing with big business—yikes!). No one spoke in opposition. Citing that very lack of opposition, Senator Jim Bolin (R-16/Canton) moved passage of SB 128, and State Affairs concurred with nary a nay.

Senate Bill 129 proposes to restore the campaign finance limits that South Dakotans approved in November 2016 but which the Legislature repealed within three months when it overturned Initiated Measure 22. Prime sponsor Senator Billie Sutton (D-21/Burke) noted that these campaign finance limits were never hotly contested in either the IM 22 campaign or the Republican lawsuit that blocked it. Senator Sutton said SB 129 would “help combat the influence of money in politics.”

Citizen Charlene Lund of Pierre testified in favor of SB 129. Noting that House State Affairs had just approved further disclosures (HB 1201) and restrictions (HB 1216) on contributions to ballot question campaigns to check the influence of big money in our politics, Lund said SB 129 comes in that same spirit.

No one testified against SB 129. Senator Bolin asked if SB 129 put any limit on how much a candidate can spend out of his own pocket on his own campaign. Senator Sutton correctly said no. Senator Novstrup asked about the definition of “entity” in SB 129, and Senator Sutton correctly answered that it does not change the existing statutory use of that term.

Senator Troy Heinert (D-26/Mission) moved Do Pass and spoke in favor of SB 129. No Senator spoke against it. But Heinert and Sutton were the only Ayes. All seven Republicans on Senate State Affairs—Bolin, Curd, Langer, Maher, Novstrup, Netherton, and Ewing—all voted Nay.

Evidently, Senator Bolin didn’t really mean what he said about the lack of opponents being sufficient reason to advance a bill to the floor. And evidently, neither Bolin nor any of his Republican colleagues wanted to explain why they don’t want to eliminate the influence of big money from their own campaigns.


  1. owen reitzel 2018-02-07 17:24

    The rejection of SB129 and how it was done shows why the people of South Dakota voted for IM22.
    Like true right wingers they say one thing and do another.

    Time to vote in Democrats. Drain the swamp.

  2. Darin Larson 2018-02-07 18:25

    What a feckless bunch of cowards! If you are going to vote against a bill that has no opposition in committee, I would expect that duty demands an explanation. Otherwise, it should be advanced for debate in the full chambers. The fix was in.

  3. grudznick 2018-02-07 18:53

    Mr. Larson, how right you are. But how right they were too. I love your first sentence. It would be useful if you would attend the sessions and sit at the table and start your talking with that sentence. Or, if Mr. H goes to Pierre to talk to the legislatures he might quote you, with due credit of course.

  4. Curt 2018-02-07 21:55

    Grudz – I did attend that session. Good stuff – you should have been there. Sen Sutton pitched the bill and before he started there were wagers in the room as to the number of votes he would win. Betting line was 7-2, and whaddaya know, that’s exactly what it was!
    Remember, voters approved IM 22 and the limits Sutton proposed in SB 129 are the same as those in 129. That’s not its problem. The limits may be reasonable, but the sponsor was Sen Sutton. Therefore, no opposition was required.
    Sometimes it is fun to watch the sausage get made. And a two-party system in SD would be a real breath of fresh air.

  5. grudznick 2018-02-07 23:32

    Mr. Curt, I was not aware of wagering on the outcome of law bills. That is a disconcerting idea, if you are factual and not lying. I expect the people who the AG will probably investigate will be held to high standards, unlike the lying and hoodwiking put forth by those fellows funded by big dark out-of-state money who funded the heinous IM, #22, had.

    The IM #22 was bad. It was bad.

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