My friends at the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry have sent out a preview of circulating and pending ballot measures to their members in their Venture Capitol newsletter. Alas, the Chamber doesn’t post the new newsletters online, but a friend of business and public policy shares with me the Chamber’s summary of House Bill 1094 and my effort to refer and repeal that burdensome bureaucracy. Alas (again! Is there a form of alas to use when two distinct and regrettable things happen in sequence?), the Chamber mistakes the scope of HB 1094, which it says creates “regulations for people paid to gather signatures for petitions”:
HB 1094 established requirements for people circulating petitions including wearing name tags for anyone who is paid to gather signatures. This petition would suspend that law and place it on the general election ballot for 2020 [South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, “Update on Potential Ballot Measures for the 2020 Election,” Venture Capitol, 2019.05.28; received by Dakota Free Press 2019.05.29].
As a public service to all my friends in business, I correct and clarify the Chamber’s explanation of HB 1094.
- HB 1094 creates new regulations for all ballot question petition circulators, volunteer and paid.
- HB 1094 does not create name tags for circulators; HB 1094 Section 7 says the badges HB 1094 mandates “may not state the name of the petition circulator.”
- HB 1094 requires that all petition circulators, volunteer and paid, apply for, wait for, and wear state-issued badges. HB 1094 Section 7 requires that the state print the following text on each circulator badge:
- the words “petition circulator”;
- the identity of the ballot question committee on behalf of which the petition circulator is registered;
- the circulator identification number;
- the circulator’s status: “volunteer” or “paid”.
- Prior to collecting any signatures, all circulators, volunteer and paid, must submit the following information to a public registry:
- circulator’s name;
- statement that the circulator is at least eighteen years of age;
- physical address of current residence;
- physical address of prior residence if current residence is less than one year;
- email address;
- phone number;
- state of issuance for driver license;
- state of voter registration;
- the ballot question committee supporting the ballot measure;
- whether the petition circulator will be volunteer or paid;
- whether the petition circulator is a registered sex offender.
- All circulators, volunteer and paid, must repeat this application process for each petition they carry.
- All circulators, volunteer and paid, must wear a unique badge for each petition they carry (carry two petitions, wear two badges).
- Any person who “acts as a petition circulator without wearing a badge” commits a Class 2 misdemeanor, meaning that person could pay a $500 fine and sit in jail for 30 days.
- HB 1094 defines “petition circulator” as anyone who circulates ballot question petitions “or solicits petition signatures from members of the public…,” which an ambitious attorney general could read to mean anyone who urges you to sign a petition, regardless of whether that person has a petition in hand.
- The only distinction HB 1094 makes between volunteer and paid circulators is that, in addition to all of the above requirements and threats, HB 1094 demands a $20 registration fee from any paid circulator.
HB 1094 is a big bureaucratic mess, far more extensive, intrusive, and unfair than the Chamber’s brief summary suggests.
Earlier this month, Chamber honcho David Owen declined to sign my petition to refer HB 1094 to a vote. Perhaps the Chamber’s scanty explanation of HB 1094 indicates that Owen and the Chamber didn’t actually realize how deeply HB 1094 cuts into the petition process and stifles the voice of volunteer, grassroots South Dakotans. I hope the above explanation will inspire Chamber members around the state to sign and circulate the petition to refer thus burdensome badge and registry requirement and protect their right to bring matters of importance to the business community to a vote of the people.