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Nesiba May Circumvent Noem’s Veto Insulation by Referring Hemp to Voters in 2020

Governor Kristi Noem’s hempophobia appears to be contagious among legislators. New Noem Senate appointee Helene Duhamel (R-32/Rapid City) runs right down Noem’s irrational line against industrial hemp (a crop Noem voted to legalize nationwide in Congress in 2018), saying against most evidence that “Law enforcement officers have difficulty distinguishing between hemp and marijuana” (inaccurate) and that hemp is “a step toward legalized marijuana, which is often a gateway drug” (“often”? not according to youth drug use stats). KELO-TV’s survey finds a number of legislators who voted for 2019 HB 1191, the big hemp bill, now saying they are undecided on the “somewhat similar” draft bill that the interim hemp committee is putting forward for 2020. A couple of 2019 yeas are saying they are now nays. (In another sign of the lack of responsiveness of our part-time Legislature, 13 Senate members and 37 House members haven’t bothered to respond to KELO-TV’s survey.)

But even if a two-thirds majority to override Noem’s veto is further from our reach, Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) has a plan to rally simple majorities in the Senate and House to put hemp in our hands:

“I plan to have a bill that would allow the legislature to put the hemp bill on the 2020 ballot that would simply require a majority of the House and Senate to pass. I will bring this up if we fail to override the governor’s veto,” Nesiba said [Michael Geheren, “Where the Lawmakers Stand on Industrial Hemp Moving in to 2020 Session,” KELO-TV, 2019.12.10].

Refer hemp to the voters?! What a spectacular idea! Hemp is a great example of an issue on which the people want action but the Legislature can’t pass due to some irrational political failing. I said as much in court Monday in my lawsuit to protect initiative and referendum from the state’s stifling over-regulation: initiative and referendum allow the voters to check the errors, of action or inaction, of a state government whose one-party moribundity prevents it from acting in the interest of the general welfare and will of the people. We voters can’t refer a measure that the Legislature doesn’t pass, and our absurd and unconstitutional twelve-month deadline for initiatives prevents us from placing a failed 2020 hemp bill on the ballot until 2020. I would thus welcome Senator Nesiba’s move to place hemp on the ballot for us.

Of course, we can’t count on every legislator who supports a hemp bill to support referring a vetoed bill to the voters, because as we know from the Republican Party’s nationwide war on initiative and referendum, our Republican legislators view the voters with contempt and do not trust the voters of this state with any vote that can’t clearly be branded with an “R”.

The KELO-TV survey finds legislators making various claims about what they think voters support. There’s only one sure way to find out: put industrial hemp on the 2020 ballot, and let the people decide.


  1. jimmy james 2019-12-11 06:15

    Which kills more people…. hemp or hops?

  2. Mark 2019-12-11 11:10

    I guess that I was a bit delusional
    thinking that we were making progress
    when Lynne DiSanto left for poor
    Red Lodge , MT , but it looks like
    the Queen got another dope to
    fill in.

  3. Justin 2019-12-11 14:46

    It’s like they think the people don’t know what’s best for them. We don’t really have a democracy.

  4. Debbo 2019-12-11 17:52

    The SDGOP nanny state will take care of you folks. Don’t worry your silly little heads about it.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-12 06:28

    I’m with you there, Mark. DiSanto, like Stace Nelson, would at least occasionally rock the boat. If the GOP caucus is all Noem clones, alternative ideas will get nowhere.

    Noem’s grip on the Legislature is all the more reason we need more robust initiative and referendum to check the errors of the Legislature. I hope Senator Nesiba can rally a majority to place this measure on the 2020 ballot. Nesiba could get Republican votes for a referendum if either of the other marijuana measures makes the ballot: Republicans might be interested in using a pure industrial hemp ballot measure as a safety valve, a way to give voters a chance to say, “Well, I’ll vote for industrial hemp, but that’s enough, and so I won’t vote for those other marijuana measures.”

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