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SB 157 Gives Legislators and Citizens Chance to Weigh in on Petition Reform Initiative

I’m two shakes and a notary seal away from having my initiative reform petition ready to circulate. But first, a word from our legislators!

Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) and Representative Steven McCleerey (D-1/Sisseton) have filed Senate Bill 157, a copy of my proposed initiative, to give the Legislature a chance to spare us all the trouble of a petition drive and protect circulators’ privacy this year.

Here’s my section-by-section summary of how Senate Bill 157 would make the initiative and referendum process fairer and easier, largely by repealing bad provisions enacted by the Republican Legislature last year:

  • Sections 1-3 stop forcing circulators to hand out personal contact and pay information while still requiring that circulators make available contact information about their petition’s sponsors.
  • Sections 1-3 allow circulators to provide required petition information in print or electronic format.
  • Sections 1-2 allow petitioners eight more months to obtain voter signatures on initiative petitions.
  • Section 4 allows voter-approved measures to take effect one week after the vote, as was the case prior to a Legislative change made in 2017, but allows voters to approve later enactment dates.
  • Section 5 stops forcing citizens to give the state personal information and documents to exercise their right to petition (repealing invasive paperwork enacted in 2018).
  • Section 6 removes additional fines and unnecessary and potentially unconstitutional restrictions on petition rights enacted in 2018.
  • Section 7 allows the Legislative Research Council to write more detailed fiscal notes and requires the LRC to provide this guidance in 15 days rather than 60.
  • Section 8 requires the Attorney General to explain initiatives in 15 days rather than 60 and shortens ballots by removing the fiscal note.
  • Section 9 removes a four-month delay, added in 2018, from LRC review of initiatives.
  • Section 10 repeals the single-subject rule for initiated measures.
  • Section 11 removes a reference to a statute repealed by Section 9.

SB 157 goes first to Senate State Affairs. A hearing date hasn’t been set yet. Contact the following Senators to encourage them to restore petition rights largely to the way they were before the Legislature’s 2018 overreaction:


  1. Donald Pay 2019-01-31 13:50

    Probably the best bill that will be heard in committee this session.

    And, just so everyone understands why you can’t trust the US Department of Energy when they say that there would be no nuclear waste brought to South Dakota from the borehole “test,” here is the evidence to the contrary from Nevada. A sneak attack by the Trump Energy Department was launched against Nevada.

    From Associated Press:
    “RENO, Nev. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy revealed on Wednesday that it secretly shipped weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a nuclear security site in Nevada months ago despite the state’s protests.”

    THAT is why you can never, ever believe a thing the Department of Energy says. I hope the bureaucrats pushing that study and any of the Daugaard hangers on in the Noem Administration learn the lesson. Never, ever trust a thing the Department of Energy promises.

  2. Debbo 2019-01-31 16:02

    Great bill. SDGOP will hate it because they do not want to share any power with their minions– er, constituents.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-01-31 19:13

    Debbo, it is interesting to note that Senator Klumb was a Republican Nay on HB 1196 last year. That’s one of the main bills this measure seeks to repeal. Bolin and Novstrup were Republican Nays on HB 1177, another bill this measure repeals. Democrats Heinert and Kennedy were Nays on both.

    2018 HB 1196 requires circulators to give lots of personal documents (driver license, hunting license, utility bill, library card, etc.) to the sponsor and SOS. 2018 HB 1177 requires circulators to give their name, email address, and phone number to everyone on the street who signs their petition. Both are intrusive; both make recruiting volunteer circulators far more difficult; neither serves much good purpose.

    If we can remind Klumb, Bolin, and Novstrup of what they didn’t like about those bills last year and pull them to see the same ills in the other bill, and if Heinert and Kennedy will continue their Democratic support of democracy, this bill could pass 5–4 and move to the Senate floor.

    Send those e-mails, friends!

  4. De Knudson 2019-02-08 21:16

    The SD legislature overreacted last year re: ballot issues. I have worked very hard on different ballot issues for years and have always followed the law and insisted that “my” circulators be extremely careful about the legal requirements in place. There was no need to add lots of extra requirements which merely discourage law-abiding citizens from working on good government ballot issues. Regular citizens care just as much as elected officials about improving our great state.

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