Public radio is in for it today: Lori Walsh has invited me to talk about the People Power Petition Drive on In the Moment on South Dakota Public Radio! I think Walsh is having me on during the noon hour; I’ll try to post an updated time before I hit the road this morning.
Walsh had “Political Junkies” Jon Hunter and Noel Hamiel on yesterday to talk about my petitions and the initiative and referendum process. I thus have a lot of clean-up to do:
- Hunter said that restrictions on the petition process (like Jon Hansen’s onerous and unconstitutional House Bill 1094, which I’m trying to refer and repeal) are about keeping people with an “unobjective stake in the game” from influencing our politics. Um, Jon? Can you show me any ballot question sponsor who is purely “objective” and has no stake in the game? Jon Hansen himself, a lawyer who made good money from Big Pharma last year by killing the prescription drug price cap before we got to vote on it, sounds pretty unobjective to me. Doesn’t my referendum prevent Hansen from having too much influence on the system?
- Hamiel said the writing of these laws is “pretty darn difficult” (true), but then he said of the bureaucracy and paperwork and delays the Legislature has piled on the initiative and referendum process, “I don’t think the idea is to shut out South Dakotans.” Noel, speculate all you want about idea and intent, but I can tell you the effect of all those restrictions is exactly that: shutting grassroots South Dakota volunteers out of their own petition process.
- Hamiel did get a little more on track with this observation on the effort to limit outside influence in South Dakota ballot measures: “…this idea of outside influence is really vexing to some people, and rightly so, but I don’t know how you do it constitutionally.” Hamiel had in mind my successful lawsuit against Initiated Measure 24, which violated the First Amendment rights of folks from Minnesota and other states who want to support or oppose our ballot measures. Here I agree with Hamiel: much as I may not like the meddling of some people (like Jon Hansen) in the ballot measure process, we can’t pass laws trying to restrict who participates in that process.
I’ll address those points and whatever else Lori Walsh asks me about today on South Dakota Public Radio! Listen on air or online!
(Yes, I know, the official name is South Dakota Public Broadcasting, but “Broadcasting” just isn’t as cool a word as “Radio.”)
Update 15:22 CDT: Here’s the link: 22 minutes of rock’em-sock’em political radio! Check out our interview, and learn how we’re fighting for the direct democracy that Father Robert Haire said was our right!
By the way, Father Robert Haire agreed with me that a little direct democracy amidst a representative republic is a good check on unresponsive legislators:
Haire distrusted politicians and felt strongly that citizens should also have the ability and right to propose laws without having to go through elected representatives. In an 1891 issue of the Dakota Ruralist he wrote: “These men make the laws to suit themselves — are a law to themselves. The people seldom get any law passed they want” [Katie Hunhoff, “Credit or Blame the Aberdeen Priest,” South Dakota Magazine, 2017.02.21].
I’m proud to follow in Father Haire’s philosophical footsteps. You should be, too… so come sign our petitions!