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Rushed Amendment Y Vote Shows Republican Hypocrisy on Initiative Enactment Delay

Under our discussion of the 33 bills enacted immediately under “emergency” clauses, Donald Pay points out a glaring contradiction in the Legislature’s emergency placement of Amendment Y, Marsy’s Fix, on the June primary ballot.

Normally when the Legislature approves a constitutional amendment for a public vote, that amendment goes on the next general election ballot. Amendments approved at the general election used to go into effect as soon as the Secretary of State certified the vote, usually a week after the election. Under SDCL 2-1-12 as amended last year by 2017 Senate Bill 59, any approved ballot question, including constitutional amendments, goes into effect on July 1 following the election and official canvass.

The Republicans who pushed that seven-month-plus delay into law last year told us that the state needs time to figure out how to implement new laws.

This year’s primary happens June 5. Secretary Krebs will canvass the results by June 12. Marsy’s Fix, if approved by voters, will go into effect three weeks later, on July 1.

So consider: Speaker G. Mark Mickelson proposed two initiated measures in June 2017. Both measures (IM 24 and IM 25) qualified for the November 2018 general election ballot. If approved this November, the state will have already had seventeen months to review those measures and consider how to implement them. Yet legislators (Mickelson included) who supported 2017 SB 59 said the state needs seven months on top of that, two full years, to figure out how those initiatives will work.

Meanwhile, Mickelson’s Amendment Y, originally House Joint Resolution 1004, didn’t morph from repeal to fix until mid-February of this year. It wasn’t publicly hurried up from the general election to the primary until February 28. The state and counties have only four months to figure out how to implement the proposed changes to the still new crime victims bill of rights. Yet legislators haven’t blinked at this rushed implementation of a significant change to our constitution.

I’m confident that the state can implement Marsy’s Fix in less than a month after the vote, just as it implemented Marsy’s Law in 2016 and every other initiated law and amendment before it within days of the people’s vote without any crippling difficulty. But seeing this rush to pass Amendment Y only makes me more confident that Republicans lied to us last year when they approved 2017 SB 59. Republicans didn’t delay enactment of amendments and initiated laws until July 1 to deal with any implementation difficulties; they delayed enactment of the people’s initiatives because they wanted to make it easier to hamstring and repeal our initiatives, as they did with IM 22.


  1. Stace Nelson 2018-04-02 15:18

    Whoa.. Let’s be careful with them broad paint brush strokes. This is what the SD GOP platform says about this issue: “5.8 Voting – We recognize voting, which includes the initiative and referendum processes, as a cornerstone of our state. It is a right, honor, and responsibility that should not be taken for granted, and must be treated with dignity and safeguarded from fraud. We support efforts to ensure a fair voting process guaranteeing every eligible South Dakotan a valid vote.”

    That’s how I voted, as a Republican. I opposed HB1069 and I opposed efforts to subvert the will of the voters, as per my duties and the principles I told voters I had when I ran.

  2. Donald Pay 2018-04-03 08:26

    Legislators, as a rule, aren’t know for having consistent moral or political, let alone constitutional values. Many are ciphers, doing the bidding of an unelected power elite who actually run them like cattle on a long drive. Some are seeking power and authority, some need the adulation or kow-towing they seem to demand from others. They don’t really keep track of the lies they tell us, or themselves, because they are too busy patting themselves on the back for thinking up whoopers, like, “We need more time to prepare to implement initiatives.” Then they pass a law based on that lie. The lie was never true, but they tell themselves these lies over and over and some of them even come to believe them.

    I spent long hours in Pierre watching this happen. It wasn’t as bad in the 1990s. There was a more even political split so running a line of B.S. wasn’t going to go unchallenged. But when you go to one party rule, what you get are people who won’t call you on your B.S.

    Many states, mainly those who don’t have the referendum process, have no trouble implemented laws a few days to a couple weeks after enactment. South Dakota and other states with the referendum have extended implementation delays to allow for citizen petitioning. There is no need, therefore, for that extended delay on initiatives. In fact, it is unconstitutional.


  3. Donald Pay 2018-04-03 08:29

    the best way to end the B.S. is to have an even party split. And then undo everything that’s been passed on the initiative and referendum since 2000.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-03 09:16

    Stace, when the mainstream of your party commits hypocrisy like this, you have to accept that you’re going to get hit with that broad brush. Your vote against 2017 HB 1069 and your call for adherence to the party platform are admirable, but the burden falls on you to continue calling out the majority of the members of your party for undermining that platform plank.

    Plus, my brush is far narrower and focused on the present practices of the majority of your party than the broad brush you use to accuse me of racism due to the Democratic Party’s taking the wrong side during the Civil War. ;-)

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-04-03 09:19

    Donald is right: I’m asking for philosophical consistency from a RINO majority that cares not one whit for principle and seeks only power. I’d like to work with Stace to root out these opportunists. Perhaps the people of District 19 and District 3 will work together toward that end. Stace and I might not agree on some principles, but at least we have them, declare and explain them publicly, and stick to them.

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