That Sioux Falls paper does some work to fulfill the media’s civic duty to inform voters about ballot measures by running a front-page story (plus two hefty inside columns!) on SD Voice’s referendum and initiative petitions.
Lisa Kaczke nicely encapsulates the purpose of my proposed ballot measures with this single sentence:
The purpose is to eliminate the extra paperwork and bureaucracy the Legislature added to the… process that “take away the people’s rights to vote on laws at the ballot,” said Heidelberger [Lisa Kaczke, “Petitions Aim to Roll Back Changes to Measure Process,” that Sioux Falls paper (print only so far!), 2019.06.16].
From our lengthy and substantive phone conversation (reporters, I promise, I am the cure for all that white space I see left at the bottom of the Sioux Falls newspaper’s pages), Kaczke also picks out this key statement on why a supposedly conservative Legislature would pile big-government rules and intrusions in a process that’s supposed to belong to the people:
“The Legislature doesn’t trust the people, they don’t respect the people[,] and they dn’t like it when the people pass laws that override what the Legislature does,” Heidelberger said. “They want their little club and they want to make all the decisions and be in total control. They’re trying to crowd us out, and I find that bothersome” [Kaczke, 2019.06.16].
Big Pharma’s initiative-killing lawyer and sponsor of the HB 1094 we’re trying to refer, Rep. Jon Hansen (R-25/Dell Rapids), and SDGOP chairman Dan Lederman rouse their xenophobic cries of bogeyman to distract us from the merits of the policies I propose:
Hansen said he believes Heidelberger doesn’t like House Bill 1094 because it keeps Heidelberger’s “out-of-state liberal allies” from coming to South Dakota to help with ballot measures. South Dakota Republican Party Chair Dan Lederman alleged that Heidelberger is working with out-of-state interests on his petitions to undo petition reforms that the Legislature has passed.
“Of course he wants to roll back protections that legislators have put in place to ensure that the people who are collecting personally identifying information on street corners are of sound mind and good character,” Lederman said in a statement [Kaczke, 2019.06.16].
Well. Jon, you are mistaken:
- I don’t like House Bill 1094 because it intrudes on the Constitutional right of South Dakotans to petition their government without any prior restraint by that government.
- I don’t like House Bill 1094 because it makes it impossible for my friends and neighbors right here in South Dakota to jump in and immediately help circulate petitions.
- I don’t like House Bill 1094 because it rests on a flawed analogy between lobbyists and petition circulators.
- I don’t like House Bill 1094 because its sloppy language puts anyone who speaks out in favor of a ballot measure petition in legal jeopardy of “circulating” without a badge.
- What liberal out-of-state allies? Show me. Who are my out-of-state liberal allies of whom you speak as if they are known to you? Where are they? Do you think, Jon, that I’m on the phone with George Soros?
- In one sentence, I don’t like House Bill 1094 because it makes participation in South Dakota’s political processes harder for South Dakotans.
Dan, as usual, you also are full of bull:
- We already have a protection that my petitions leave untouched: SDCL 12-1-3(11), which requires that every petition circulator be a South Dakota resident. Enforce that law, and you have no out-of-state circulators.
- We already have another protection that my petitions leave untouched: at the bottom of every petition sheet, all circulators sign an oath, under penalty of perjury, that they are residents of South Dakota. Enforce that oath, and you have no out-of-state circulators.
- The legislators haven’t passed protections. They have passed excessive and intrusive regulations that subject citizens to harassment for participating in petition drives before they even have petitions in their hands.
- If legislators really wanted to added protection to the existing ban on out-of-state circulators (which is probably unconstitutional, but let’s not fry too much of Dan’s bacon here), they’d simply clarify the definition of “resident” to something enforceable and comprehensible to any lay person.
- Not every circulator collects information on the street. The Legislature’s intrusions on the process apply the same complicated (and I would argue vague to the point of impossible to comply with and thus subjecting South Dakotans to undue legal penalties rather than protecting anyone) requirements to paid circulators working the corners as they do to volunteers who want to take a petition home and five get signatures from their spouse and brother and cousins at their family barbecue. Why does Dan want to interrogate those grassroots one-off volunteers who are going to query no one on any sidewalk and will take signatures only from people with whom they are close?
- “sound mind and good character”?! What the heck is Dan Lederman reading? Nothing in HB 1094, last year’s HB 1177 or HB 1196, or any of the other statutes affected by either of my petitions says anything about demanding that circulators prove they are of sound mind and good character. Did Dan just tip his party’s hand and reveal what the Republicans plan to impose on the petition process next year: a mental health examination? a moral values quiz? required references from an employer, a doctor, and a pastor?
Hansen and Lederman demonstrate the real problem they have with initiative and referendum: ballot measures generally can’t be framed in personal attacks and partisan labeling, and that’s all Hansen and Lederman and the SDGOP know how to win on. They certainly can’t talk policy… and the SD Voice initiative and referendum petitions are all about good policy for all South Dakotans.
Hansen and Lederman want you to fear bogeymen instead of seeing that Hansen and Lederman themselves are taking away your rights. I want you to read the petitions, sign the petitions, circulate the petitions, and participate freely in democracy, as is your right as South Dakotans and humans of equal dignity.
By the way, Kaczke made one error: she writes that the People Power Initiative would “Require a circulator’s contact information to be made available….” False. Sections 1, 2, and 3 of the People Power Initiative Petition strike that requirement, which was created just last year by G. Mark Mickelson’s House Bill 1177. Circulators would still have to make available contact information for their ballot question’s sponsor(s), but they could provide that information online rather than on expensive and cluttery printed papers.