Early voting is only three days away (get to your county courthouse Friday, 8 a.m., and be the first to vote!), and sample ballots and the ballot question pamphlet are available for your review!
Among the fun in the ballot question pamphlet is David Owen’s Con statement on Amendment W, the Anti-Corruption and Voter Protection Amendment. IM 22’s revenge continues to irk Owen’s Chamber of Commerce, for multiple varyingly dubious reasons:
- W is too long: “8 pages/3,329 words.” Apparently citizens are not allowed to fix complicated problems with detailed rules.
- W “uses the phrase ‘notwithstanding any other part of the constitution’ three other times.” Owen’s concern is that W takes precedence over other parts of the state constitution, but legislators use “notwithstanding” clauses all the time to avoid irresolvable conflicts in law.
- W “creates a non-elected, seven-member tribunal…”—Owen cleverly brands the statewide ethics commission that his Republican friends struck in 2017 as a “tribunal”, a term meant to conjure images of military juntas and Politburos show-trialing their opponents. Yet the Chamber has expressed no qualms about the non-elected “tribunal” that the Legislature empaneled in 2017 as a sop to IM 22 supporters.
- W’s statewide ethics commission “will have unchecked power to create rules
that could require disclosure of tax returns for every elected official and
public employee including teachers and law enforcement.” Nothing in Amendment W calls for every public employee to surrender tax returns. Owen is speculating about actions the statewide ethics commission might take in fulfilling its duty to investigate and make rules to prevent corruption. However, Owen may correctly state that nothing in W prevents the adoption of such disclosure rules.
- Owen complains that the $389,000 allocated to the “tribunal” and adjusted annually for inflation “could be better spent on schools and law enforcement.” The $40 million in commercial property tax relief that bought businesses’ support for the 2016 teacher pay raise could also have been better spent on schools and law enforcement, but the Chamber of Commerce didn’t turn that allocation away.
- W is being backed by out-of-state money, and “As of the latest financial reports, they have not received a single donation from South Dakota.” You know, I could say the same thing about my Senate opponent Al Novstrup: as of the latest financial reports (of which there are none in 2018), Al Novstrup has not received a single donation from South Dakota. Never mind that Novstrup and W may well have received numerous South Dakota donations since their last reports; let’s exploit this momentary lack of campaign finance reporting to our polemical advantage!
- W “takes a statewide vote to change,” just like every other constitutional amendment, which I guess by Owen’s logic means we should never amend our constitution.
- W “forces tax money to fund it,” just like IM 25 forces tax money to fund vo-techs, just like almost any reform measure will require the expenditure of public resources to enforce.
I have my own reservations about Amendment W, but I think I have more reservations about David Owen’s reservations.