Speaker G. Mark Mickelson has dedicated great effort to this Legislative Session telling us that the influence of out-of-state interests on South Dakota ballot questions is a “perversion” of our elections and laws. The out-of-state interests behind the crime victims amendment ran one little social media campaign against Speaker Mickelson, and suddenly he ran simpering to the out-of-state perverts’ planning breakfast at Perkins to make a deal with these out-of-state influencers. Then Speaker Mickelson slunk back to the Capitol with a constitutional amendment, a revenue hike, and another statutory revision all approved by his new out-of-state friends.
Jeepers—I campaign against Speaker Mickelson’s ideas on social media all the time, and I’m from his own state, and he’s never had breakfast with me, let alone changed his Legislative agenda.
The out-of-state-approved Marsy/Mickelson package consists of three measures:
- House Joint Resolution 1004, which originally asked voters to repeal the crime victims amendment but now leaves the amendment intact with clarifications that the rights enumerated don’t kick in until a victim requests them and that the voters and the Legislature can pass laws defining and implementing those rights. HJR 1004 al so allows the state to keep some fees before directing convicts’ assets to compensate victims, narrows the overly broad definition of victim and the people who can invoke the enumerated rights, and immunizes the state from action for damages (which… wait! Did G. Mark just sneak his effective repeal back into that last line?).
- House Bill 1162 doubles the crime victims’ compensation surcharge we slap on top of other criminal penalties from $2.50 to $5 and redivvies the proceeds. (I’d argue that there they go again, Republicans raising taxes, but this is a tax on convicted criminals, so I’m not feeling the political advantage in that argument.)
- House Bill 1174 revises the statutory crime victims rights that we had before California billionaire Henry T. Nicholas came buying his way into our constitution with his vanity amendment. HB 1174 limits the crimes to which the crime victims amendment applies.
The out-of-state influencers showed up at yesterday’s House State Affairs meeting to support their deal with Mickelson. Erinn Mahathey signed in as from “Pierre” and said she represents the “Marsy’s Law for South Dakota” organization. However, Mahathey is from Las Vegas, where she serves as the national outreach director for Marsy’s Law for All and as the Nevada field director for the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity.
Mahathey also slipped in her testimony and urged the Legislature to place HJR 1004 before the voters on the June ballot “so victims of crime are afforded these benefits as quickly as possible.” HJR 1004 has no such provision; if approved by the Legislature in its current form, it will go on the November ballot.
The out-of-state influencers’ compromise package sailed through House State Affairs with little discussion and no opposition. So I guess Speaker Mickelson and his Legislative colleagues really don’t mind outsiders perverting our laws with their wishes. As long as the out-of-staters have the money to make things hot, Mickelson and friends will melt to their perverting wishes.