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Mickelson Tobacco Tax Hike Makes Ballot as Initiated Measure 25

Mickelson will tax your smokes... why not tax your guns?
Mickelson will tax your smokes… why not tax your guns?

Team Mickelson is two for two on initiative petitions! Yesterday Secretary of State Shantel Krebs certified House Speaker G. Mark Mickelson’s petition to put to a vote a tobacco tax to fund vo-tech tuition. The Sioux Falls Republican’s tax increase will appear on our November ballot as Initiated Measure 25.

Mickelson’s circulators did slightly better work on this petition than on his also-successful petition for Initiated Measure 24, the unconstitutional out-of-state money ban. Secretary Krebs sampled 707 of the 19,205 signatures she counted on this petition and determined that 82.88%—586—were valid. Mickelson’s error rate on the money-ban petition was 81.16%.

Team Mickelson collected 895 more signatures on the tobacco-tax petition than on the money-ban petition. Factor in the better validity rate, and IM 25 makes the ballot with a 1,053 more calculated-valid signatures than its little brother IM 24. By Krebs’s sample, IM 25 has 15,767 valid signatures, 13.67% more than the 13,871 required to qualify.

IM 25’s 17.12% circulator error rate is the best of the three measures certified so far for the 2018 ballot. IM 24’s error rate was 18.84%; Represent SD’s error rate on Amendment W, the resurrected IM 22, had an error rate of 28.63%.

Five petitions remain for the Secretary of State to review. Secretary Krebs will tackle them in the order submitted: open primary is next, followed by independent redistricting, voting at home, drug price caps, and Medical cannabis. If those five measures all manage the same error rates as Team Mickelson, all but medical cannabis will make the ballot. If we average Mickelson’s average error rate (17.98%) with Represent SD’s and apply that result (23.31%) to the remaining five petitions, independent redistricting would also fail. If the remaining five mess up as frequently as Amendment W’s circulators, open primary will join the failure list, and we’ll have only five initiated measures and amendments on our ballot.


  1. Donald Pay 2018-02-18 12:24

    First, the tax is regressive, albeit on products that one can simply avoid by not partaking. Such gimmicks seem to be in the Mickelson DNA, because rather than reform the tax system in the 1980s SD got video lottery from the second George Mickelson.

    Second, the goal of state government is supposedly to reduce cigarette smoking to zero, meaning that tax should zero out. Great job, Marky. Did you graduated from Trump U?

    Third, the explanation says their will be a fund created for the purpose of tuition reduction, but revenue generated from those taxes don’t seem to be automatically appropriated into that fund. Ha! If the Legislature decides that money should go to, oh, Sweetman Construction for some superhighway from Pierre to Highmore, forget about tuition reduction.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-02-18 22:50

    Ah, but the money is appropriated, Donald, specifically to a new “postsecondary technical institute tuition reduction and workforce training fund” created in Section 4. Section 2 says that up to $20M a year from the tobacco tax can go into this new fund (after the first $35M go into the currently statutorily required uses ($30M general fund, $5M to tobacco prevention and reduction.

    Hmm… so out of $55M, we’d put $30M to the general fund, $20M to vo-techs, and $5M toward getting people to kick the habit. We aren’t really committed to reducing smoking, are we?

  3. Donald Pay 2018-02-19 08:37

    Yeah, Cory, it says that, but that’s not an appropriation, is it? The actual money has to be approved each year by the Legislature, and that would mean it could be siphoned away this year or next year. “Up to….” means bupkiss. It’s one of the biggest weasel words in advertising. I thought “they,” meaning G. Marky and the corrupt mouse in his pocket, didn’t think it was legal for an initiative to appropriate money. Then he goes an does it?

  4. Michael P 2018-09-19 09:04

    The only ones that are whining about this tax are cigarette makers and cigarette smokers. Its only fair for smokers to pay extra for poisoning non smokers and stinking up the state. If it helps with tuition reduction great! If some of the money goes for infrastructure projects thats great too! Big tobacco obviously wants to stop it and smokers dont want to pay more to support their stinky dirty habbit. Maybe a good chunk of the money should go to cleaning up the tons of cigarette butts that smokers routinely toss on public and private property.
    Should we say “nice try but no cigar”. This measure should pass!

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