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Chamber Exec Owen Tries Taking Down Amendment W

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:

  1. W is too long: “8 pages/3,329 words.” Apparently citizens are not allowed to fix complicated problems with detailed rules.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.


  1. Donald Pay 2018-09-18 09:28

    One expects Owen to have qualms about a measure that would end his corruption. But what a poor choice to write this thing! A life-long swamp dweller in Pierre, a well-know participant in the dark arts of corruption is vomiting up reasons the measure should not be passed. And he fails to address the real issue that is being addressed in Amendment W. Owen and his corrupt cabal with his legislative minions tossed aside the other measures people had voted on to corral corruption. If Owen had his way, you wouldn’t have the right to vote on anything. It would all be left up to his corrupt pals in Pierre.

    Still, his qualms are extremely unimaginative. As you point out, Cory, this is boilerplate lobbyist talk that you could hear thrown at many pieces of legislation. I expect the lobbyists have picked a few phrases from their lexicon, tested them in polling or focus groups, and went with their standard, time-tested b.s. I expect their polling found out the public really does think there is a corruption problem that needs to be addressed and to oppose that head on would have been a sure loser. Thus they were left with this lobbyist gobbledegook.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-09-18 12:28

    And notice, Donald, that the lobbyist CON statement says nothing about the limits on lobbying and lobbyists that W would reinstate from IM22. Notice also that as Owen complains about out-of-state money, he ignores and by default opposes W’s ban on foreign, corporate, and union contributions to candidates.

    Having a major lobbyist write the CON statement plays into the PRO statement written by Mitch Richter and Darrell Solberg: “Special interest lobbyists and establishment politicians oppose Amendment W because they profit off of the status quo. But that is precisely why we, the voters, need to start setting the rules.”

    Of course, Richter was a lobbyist… but perhaps he’s seen some light?

  3. grudznick 2018-09-18 15:09

    Not only has Mr. Richter been a lobbyist. He is currently a lobbyist for a half dozen or so special interests.

  4. Debbo 2018-09-18 23:00

    For some reason I’m thinking about sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  5. grudznick 2018-09-18 23:40

    Ms. Geelsdottir, if you were only 20 years older and hetrosexual I’d love you.

  6. Jenny 2018-09-19 09:46

    I’m flagging Cory for your obnoxious comment to Debbo, Grudz.

    Cory, can you reprimand Grudz for his despicable comment? Thanks

  7. Porter Lansing 2018-09-19 12:09

    Grudznick … Here’s a blog where you can bash anyone you choose. #KurtDon’tKare who gets insulted by whom. He has no filter and you’d fit right in. Maybe a break until after the election might bring out the best in you. Hmmmm? You’ve already made clear where you stand on every candidate and issue so we wouldn’t be missing any of your sage advice.

  8. Porter Lansing 2018-09-19 12:11

    Grudz … Sorry. I didn’t proofread well. It’s Kurtz Don’t Kare. You know, Larry aka Lar.

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