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Poll: South Dakotans Want Less Legislative Meddling in Initiatives, More Democracy

A new poll from South Dakota News Watch and the Chiesman Center for Democracy shows just how out of step Senator Al Novstrup and his anti-democracy party are with the general public with respect to citizens’ right to initiative. While Al and his Legislative Club had worked for decades to steadily erode our right to put laws to a direct vote of the people, the 500 South Dakotans surveyed by SDNW and Chiesman tend to say citizen ballot initiatives “are an important part of the democratic process” that the Legislautre should stop hamstringing:

Citizen ballot initiatives are an important part of the democratic process.

  • Strongly Disagree — 6.6%
  • Disagree — 6.2%
  • Neither Disagree nor Agree — 9.3%
  • Agree — 34.9%
  • Strongly Agree — 39.9%
  • Don’t know — 3.1%

The South Dakota legislature should make it more difficult for citizen initiatives to get onto the ballot.

And South Dakotans aren’t buying the GOP’s baloney about how “We’re a Republic, not a Democracy.” Asked whether “Democracy is always preferable,” 81.5% agreed, while only 9.1% disagreed. The Founding Fathers may have insisted on a “Republican Form of Government,” but they also insisted on counting black folks in slavery as three-fifths of a human being. The Founding Fathers sometimes got major moral and political issues wrong… and our Republican Legislature gets citizen initiatives wrong. Citizen access to the ballot is not mob rule to be feared and regulated to death. It is the proper expression of the will of the people, all people, whose equal dignity demands equal voice in writing the laws of their community. Our Legislature doesn’t get that, but our people do.

Now if we could just get those democracy-loving South Dakotans to stop electing those democracy-hating legislators….


  1. Eve Fisher 2021-05-22 16:15

    But is anyone in Pierre listening? Do they care? No.

  2. leslie 2021-05-22 16:28

    This is happening too in ID MS FLA MT and other red states. This is organized (ALEC-like) voter suppression that GOP is implementing nation-wide to save its scrawny/fat white asses. (My emphasis)

    “Although it will be difficult to undo the Legislature’s theft of the people’s power, there are two avenues available to rescue our democracy. Reclaim Idaho, the organization that forced Medicaid expansion upon our recalcitrant Legislature, is preparing to file suit to have the bill declared null and void under the law.***
    Reclaim Idaho has also filed an initiative petition to repeal the exhausting signature requirements of SB 1110 and restore the historic signature requirements for initiatives and referendums. Every registered voter in Idaho can help in this effort by signing the petition to get the initiative on the 2022 general election ballot….

    The Legislature played some sleight of hand with SB 1110, falsely claiming there was an emergency that required this odious bill to immediately go into effect upon the governor’s signature. They did not identify an emergency because there was none.”***…ve-power/article_6e9beb24-df17-57d9-bbc6-4eaf7b727558.html

    “An election with the initiative/referendum question on the ballot could be a defining moment in Idaho history. Legislators who voted to strip Idahoans of their constitutional right to fashion public policy with the initiative and referendum will have to answer for their arrogance. Many of them are the same people who have been so very disruptive in the current Legislature. It could present the people with a real opportunity to thin the herd and elect legislators who are responsive to the people and supportive of good government. This theft of the people’s precious legislative power must not go unaddressed.

    Jim Jones served as an Army artillery officer in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 and received an Army Commendation Medal for his work with an orphanage there. He served for eight years as Idaho Attorney General and was a justice on the Idaho Supreme Court for 12 years. He currently resides in Boise.”

  3. Mark Anderson 2021-05-22 17:28

    Leslie, Ammon Bundy has filed to run for governor in Idaho. I always liked Easys Getting Harder Every Day by Iris Dement, one of her very best songs. Its all about Idaho, depression, and being rural.

  4. O 2021-05-22 17:33

    The only polls that matter are elections, and SD voters — time and time again — KNOWING the positions their elected leaders take against their wants — elect the self-same opponents to their stated interests.

    So Eve’s question is moot. It is not the elected leaders who need to be listening — it is the voters. Until voters declare all of this disassociation unacceptable and VOTE that way, why would we expect voter will to be followed?

    Lesli’s remedy of direct referendum has been rendered ineffectual by the legislature SD elects. Although I like the tactic of literally putting candidates on the same ballot as the actions they have taken (or not taken), SD voting cognitive dissonance will not connect those dots.

  5. grudznick 2021-05-22 17:34

    Mob rule is rarely good, even for the mob.

  6. Mark Anderson 2021-05-22 17:43

    Autocratic rule is good for Grudz, he doesn’t have to invest much time into thinking.

  7. O 2021-05-22 18:01

    What exactly differentiates “mob rule” from democracy in grudznick’s comment? It seems like more dog whistle language about the “wrong” people being allowed a say in society.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2021-05-22 19:01

    Well…Grudz, “Mob Rule equals Initiative and Referendum”…control yourself, you are babbling. Initiative and Referendum are a part of the ORIGINAL Constitution of South Dakota…voters in South Dakota have had the right to author or refer to a vote laws and constitutional amendments since 1889. In those 132 years no mob has emerged from the furrows and hills of our state to seize control of the machinery of government. Are you not a TRADITIONALIST???? Well…talk like one.

  9. Porter Lansing 2021-05-22 19:32

    What happened to the Socialist Catholic priests in SD, grudznick? You should know? You’re in the Catholic Caucus in the legislature, aren’t you goatherd?

    Sioux Falls Diocese names 11 priests accused of child sex abuse

    Bishop Paul J. Swain, head of the Sioux Falls diocese, published a two-page letter and prayer to the Sioux Falls community encouraging other victims to come forward and promising to help them heal.

    Sioux Falls Diocese names 11 priests accused of child sex abuse

  10. Arlo Blundt 2021-05-22 19:53

    Well…Porter…Grudz is not responsible for the policies and procedures of the Holy, Universal, and Catholic Church. The Catholic hierarchy is SLOWLY coming to grips with its corruption. The new Argentine Pope seems to be turning to a new generation and dealing with these scandals forthrightly. The fact is, for 0ver 100 years, Catholics have been the heart and soul of the Democratic Party in South Dakota….German Catholics, Irish Catholics, converts. The Democratic Party in South Dakota can’t win without a strong Catholic support. When you talk about Catholics you’re talking about every shade of political persuasion. That cross section includes tolerant, liberal, voters attuned to labor and family farm issues.

  11. Donald Pay 2021-05-22 21:07

    Using an initiative or referendum process is not mob rule, like what the 1/16 traitors in the US Capitol building had planned. It is a Constitutional process based used fairly sparingly on issues that in most cases have been put before the legislature at least once and sometimes for years, or are very critical to a large number of people in the state. If the same mob elects Legislators, what does that make those Legislators, I wonder? They are the mob’s mob. And if the mob thinks the mob’s mob they elected aren’t doing the right thing for them on an issue, they have an option to simply overrule the mob’s mob and decide the issue for themselves. It seems the mob rules, as, I think we all agree, is the South Dakota motto says.

    Grudz, you and I know from experience that the Legislators are a pathetic bunch. That’s why we have the initiative and referendum, because people 100+ years ago understood this, too. They knew that the mob’s mob might not, in some instances, do the job they were sent to Pierre to do, and they wanted a mechanism to set it right if it happened. And it did.

    The mob saved South Dakota from being the nation’s sacrifice area, while the Legislature and a succession of Governors were more than willing to sell the state as a garbage dump for New Jersey garbage. And it wasn’t just one million ton per year at the Lonetree dump. There were several similar or larger dumps, including one planned in Nick Nemec’s neck of the woods. South Dakota would have been paved with the nation’s garbage, but the mob saved the state from the mob’s mob who had been sweet talked and bribed into not listening to what the mob wanted.. And don’t forget the mob also saved the from being a nuclear waste dump, like Barnwell, SC, where the trenches now are leaking radioactive waste into groundwater. Some of the mob’s mob went there on a little tour to be sweet talked into voting for nuclear waste. The mob, that is WE THE PEOPLE corrected that mistake.

    Without the initiative South Dakota would now be a sacrifice area.

  12. grudznick 2021-05-22 21:24

    Mr. Lansing, are you drunk or high on the demon weed? It must be one of those things, because apparently you missed that grudznick believes religion is for the weak minded.

    God drowned in a bowl of cereal, Mr. Lansing, and he’s not coming back any time soon. And if grudznick were in a religion, let me assure you it would be one that ate red meat, year round, every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Red meat, sir. Cooked up nicely with fancy sides. And for breakfast, gravy taters.

  13. grudznick 2021-05-22 22:23

    But all that aside, let us not distract from the point of this blogging. Mr. H wants to jab at Mr. Novstrup, the elder. A finer statesmen Aberdeen has rarely seen, but let’s pile on. What has Mr. Novstrup done lately to offend Mr. H, besides wield the Title of Senator and hand out cards at breakfast gatherings about town.

    No, grudznick would criticize young Mr. Novstrup, the elder, for not being more vocal on a statewide level. You know out here in Rapid City there are thousands of people that would benefit from his sane, sensible, and get-along attitude. If he were to move to Rapid, freeing up a seat for Mr. H, why Mr. Novstrup could oust some of the insaner fellows out here in a heartbeat.

    And word has it, Mr. Novstrup owns a fancy house out here and is planning a move to the pretty side of the state.

  14. leslie 2021-05-22 23:05

    Thx MA.

    @33:00 live down at the Cactus Cafe 1994 UT Austin (closed now). Too liberal. Was a beautiful dark quiet venue. “Think I’ll run away to Courdalaine Idaho”. All three percenter anarchist gun nuts and skinheads up there now.

  15. bearcreekbat 2021-05-23 00:51

    Okay, here is one for grudznick. Start at 13:15 for a little bit of backround background, or go directly to 19:30 for the final action. Who knew God’s earthly name was Leroy? And sorry grud, it apparently was a bowl of chicken soup not cereal.

  16. leslie 2021-05-23 04:11

    In December, The Idaho Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank, accused colleges of indoctrinating students in “social justice ideology,” training them to “destroy oppressors,” who are, the report noted, typically Christian, white, and male.
    Religion, race and sexism, used to twist and manipulate human bias, it seems in my opinion. It is the modus operandi of the GOP. Will Romney and Cheney run for presidential office in 2024?

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-05-23 06:23

    O points out the deep contradiction of the South Dakota electorate: those same voters who say they like direct democracy regularly and by unshakeable majorities elect legislators who hate democracy, who go to Pierre and listen to ALEC, not us.

  18. grudznick 2021-05-23 08:12

    Thank you, Mr. bat. That is indeed a good one, I remember that TV program well.

  19. grudznick 2021-05-23 08:14

    That just goes to show you, Mr. H, the voters cannot be trusted to understand what they are doing. This is why we need the legislatures who can be educated about the issues being voted on. You can educate the legislatures by talking to them, you cannot educate the voting public.

  20. Donald Pay 2021-05-23 09:10

    Grudz, Yes, fat cat lobbyists can talk to the Legislators, out-of-state garbage dumpers can talk to Legislators and money can talk to Legislators, but can the average person really talk to Legislators? NO, because the minute a Legislator is elected he or she starts on a race to see whether and how fast he or she can be corrupted.

    You need to spend some time in the Senate and House lobbies, Grudz. Oh, wait, you have. There’s a little secret Grudz isn’t telling you, so let’s probe Grudz’s argument.

    You know, Grudz, the lobbies are where the real talking is done, or in the little cubbyhole offices on third and fourth floors. Sometimes the talking occurs in the bars, hotel rooms or local houses, but it certainly is not in the committee meetings, where they allow some of the public to mouth a 2-minute plea to the masters of the universe, as they jibber-jabber away among themselves while ignoring what the public has to say. As you know, the masters of the universe (legislators, that is) have already been told which bills they will be voting for by lobbyists and by leadership, so the committee hearings are largely a foregone conclusion. Why pay attention to the people? But, of course to testify at those fake hearings people generally get up at 4 am to make it to a hearing, at which they get treated, sometimes politely, sometimes with disdain, to a foregone conclusion. They don’t know that they have wasted their morning, but, hey, We the People are dumb, and can’t be “eductated.”

    And that is why we have the initiative and referendum. It’s not because the people can’t be educated. It’s because the Legislators can’t be uncorrupted.

  21. Richard Schriever 2021-05-23 09:32

    End the ;legislative meddling once and for all. Initiate and pass this simple, one-subject constitutional amendment:

    Consent of the Governed Act:

    “Any initiated act or Constitutional Amendment passed by a direct vote of the people, shall not be nullified or altered or amended in any way by any means other to a direct vote of the people.”

  22. O 2021-05-23 09:44

    grudznick, your asrstocratic elitism is showing again. You assume the voters are uneducated because the far smarter elected officials disagree. You know that the opposite is more likely true in that it is the legislature that is beholden to party, money, and special interests in the execution of their votes.

    No Mr. Grudznick, I have seen how your MAGA cult of personality folks have “educated” their elected officials and I reject your premise. It was the democratic wisdom of the US that reject that awful Mr. Trump while your “educated” elected officials cling to his every command.

  23. Mark Anderson 2021-05-23 14:50

    Well its obvious that Grudz loves his hardworking leaders, but his reasoning is circular.

  24. Darrell Solberg 2021-05-23 15:16

    Al has been a joke as a legislator and his son David was even more so. I have vowed to never set foot in Thunder Road in Sioux Falls!!!

  25. Darrell Solberg 2021-05-23 15:16

    Al has been a joke as a legislator and his son David was even more so. I have vowed to never set foot in Thunder Road in Sioux Falls!!!

  26. grudznick 2021-05-23 17:53

    Mr. Solberg, if I buy you an ice cream and entrance to the Thunder Road at Wylie park, would you set foot in there?

  27. grudznick 2021-05-23 19:07

    Mr. O, grudznick is but a regular fellow, just like most. I am not sure what asrstocratic means but thank you for recognizing that I believe in an egalitarian society.

  28. leslie 2021-05-24 23:58

    Two further asides.

    RS, that reminds of legislation cropping up across the nation to refuse to enforce gun regulations.

    Finally, Missouri River tribes perhaps can leverage their water rights like:

    Through a 2004 settlement, the Gila River Indian Community has the single largest [water rights] entitlement — bigger than that of the city of Phoenix — at 311,800 acre-feet.

    While RC and Aberdeen are all cuckoo for coco puffs over piping water across the state, a next big thing Kristi might be wont to say, this tribe found “mutual benefit in helping quench the thirst of the surrounding region, [by] various water exchanges and leases that delivered about 60,000 acre-feet (74 million cubic meters) to Phoenix and other municipalities annually and left about 250,000-acre-feet for its own purposes….”

    The Gila River Indian Community came to an agreement with Arizona [realizing our current cowgirl governor might find this perplexing] but as a result of this decision, the community has been able to market long-term storage credits in a sort of environmentally friendly banking system that allows more groundwater to stay in the ground.

    As we enter likely chronic unstable climate crisis, ‘at the moment, much of the reservation’s agriculture involves water- intensive crops like alfalfa, feed corn and cotton. An overhaul of the farming infrastructure,… would require “changing attitudes about how food is grown” and incorporating more efficient technologies, as well as encouraging farming among younger people [perhaps even in SD, “the younger generation’s concerns for social justice, equity and environmental issues” will buttress SD’s AG future]…and there’s a big push” for young people to obtain degrees in agro-business, hydrology, water engineering and other relevant fields that will provide them with a livelihood while working for their community — a place that has become even more special to them during the pandemic year. *** I think this is an opportunity where you see a lot [of] our younger generation that are wanting to learn who it is to be from the Gila River Indian Community.”’

    Whether other tribal nations could replicate this model—other tribes certainly have different agricultural interests or economic concerns, as well as varying geological and hydrological conditions, is worth bold study in SD. It is big, complex and requires vision and leadership. Without a DENR, white SD might have to stand to the side a just watch the water protectors.

    In a very dry future, the Indians hold very substantial cards in this very big river. Just as the state attempts to suppress the vote, as the climate turns, it may attempt to usurp tribal water rights.

  29. Anna Marrs 2021-07-05 13:14

    Corey, how reliable is the Chiesman Center for Democracy and it’s polling? Do you trust their data points?
    How are they funded?

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