On the 2018 ballot measures, South Dakotans showed a high aversion to change. South Dakotans rejected the two measures that could have made a substantive positive difference in anyone’s life, turning down both Amendment W and Initiated Measure 25 45% to 55%. The defeat of Amendment W, the constitutional refit of 2016’s Initiated Measure 22, along with the fact that voters ousted only three Republicans who voted last year to repeal IM 22, demonstrates that IM 22 is dead as a campaign issue. The defeat of IM 25, the tobacco tax for vo-techs, denies us the opportunity to test G. Mark Mickelson’s hypocrisy by seeing if Republicans would have sued to block IM 25 for trying to appropriate money by initiative instead of by the Legislature.
Thankfully, voters also protected their ability to fix their own constitution, rejecting Amendment X 46% to 54%. We thus can still amend our state constitution by a simple majority vote, rather than by the 55% margin that Senator Jim Bolin falsely claimed was necessary to protect the constitution from too many amendments.
The success of Amendment Z, the single-subject rule on amendments, does make it a little harder to fix problems in the constitution. Passed 62% to 38%, Z may not have much practical effect: initiators know that trying to propose complicated amendments is the kiss of death for collecting signatures and winning votes. All that happens now is that lawyers get one more foothold for court challenges to initiative petitions that they want to quash.
Initiated Measure 24 likely won’t live to make a difference. The unconstitutional ban on out-of-state contributions to ballot question campaigns will fall the moment Big Pharma or Big Tobacco wants to fight another grassroots initiative in South Dakota. They’ll either take South Dakota to court to repeal IM 24 in toto (and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg will lose that case), or they’ll just use the loopholes in IM 25 to launder their money into paper corporations in South Dakota (and Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg will be too busy trumping up charges against Democrats to investigate those violations).
Net result: South Dakotans voted for one amendment that makes democracy a little harder and one initiative that affirms South Dakota’s quizzical bunker mentality (we’re a tourist state that hates out-of-state dollars?) but won’t survive court scrutiny.