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Hansen and Schoenbeck Form Ballot Question Committee for 60% Vote Requirement

Representative Jon Hansen (R-25/Dell Rapids) doesn’t know jack about constitutional law, but at least he and his pal Senator Lee Schoenbeck (R-5/Watertown) know how to cloak their attack on democracy in good political branding.

The prime sponsors of House Joint Resolution 5003, eventually to appear on the ballot as Amendment C, have formed a ballot question committee to advocate for their plan to require a 60% supermajority for voters to enact any ballot measure that taxes or spends $10 million or more a year. In their June 18 statement of organization, they dub their committee “South Dakotans Against Higher Taxes.”

That’s a fine committee name. When Jon and Lee go knocking on doors next spring to campaign for their measure and say, “Hi, we’re South Dakotans Against Higher Taxes!” they’ll automatically get invited in for chislic and Pabst.

Of course, that name also neatly obscures the fact that Jon and Lee aren’t really fighting higher taxes; they are campaigning against the will of South Dakota voters, who overwhelmingly agree that they want more democracy and less interference from legislators like Jon and Lee in the citizen initiative process. But less obscurantist, more honest committee names just wouldn’t work as well:

  1. South Dakotans Against South Dakotans
  2. Republicans Against Democracy
  3. Well-to-Do Lawyers Against Majority Rule
  4. The He-Man Voter-Haters Club
  5. Smarty-Pants Lawyers Who Think You’re Too Dumb to Make Laws
  6. Elitists Against Everybody Else
  7. Freedom Means Letting Us Make All the Decisions for You
  8. Get Rid Of Slimy Ballot MeasureS
  9. Father Haire Was Full of Crap and So Is Democracy
  10. Just Make Lee King and Shut Up Already

Having formed their ballot question committee, Hansen and Schoenbeck can now start taking cash from Americans for Prosperity and the other corporate fascist donors and spending that money to prevent us from making our own laws and investing in public goods. But we won’t see any documentation of their anti-democratic fundraising and spending until next January 28, when 2021 year-end reports are due. We’ll get one more look at their finances next May 23, fifteen days before the vote on the Amendment C supermajority requirement.


  1. ABC is a real person 2021-06-22 08:27

    So if a ballot committee only raises 9 million, then no 60% vote required?

    Defeat the fascists ballot question. They know their stuff gets out of state money.

    Look, initiatives are not the US Senate, with filibusters and 60% votes. Democracy is 50% and 1 vote, not minority rule.

    Get all Rs out of office.

  2. jerry 2021-06-22 08:31

    Senator Lee Schoenbeck, the most corrupted official in South Dakota state government, now has a mini me, Representative Jon Hansen. Two balls in the same sack.

  3. John 2021-06-22 08:57

    Well written, all.
    The major South Dakota problem with “higher taxes” are the hypocritical republicans on county commissions, city councils, and the PUC (the always increasing “utility” tax). These lazy-acting trolls apparently miss no opportunity to “opt-out”, create wheel taxes, to add extra-penny sales taxes, etc., et al.

    South Dakota’s state higher taxes problem is allowing these county and municipal governments to over tax us through schemes and exceptions. They refusing living within their means. The state’s higher taxes problem is the state’s refusal to spend on real economic development such as education, healthcare, and improving lives — instead the state wastes tax money on dead end economic development schemes like CAFOs, fish farms, and Fourth of July fireworks.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-06-22 10:41

    Well Cory, just name your group, South Dakotans who stand with God. Its just a name after all.

  5. Porter Lansing 2021-06-22 12:15

    Lee Schoenbeck is a two-bit, ambulance chaser.

    Political double speak is his specialty.

    If Schoenie says something, you know by default, he’s trying to promote just the opposite.

  6. Bob Newland 2021-06-22 12:57

    As Alan Aker said about Schoenbeck, “He’s not someone with whom you’d like to share a foxhole.”

  7. leslie 2021-06-22 13:56

    Republicans use long term incremental subversion to take away voter power like this 60% dilution of initiarives.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-22 14:42

    Well….the Republicans have a SUPER Majority and its time to flex some muscle. They have enough Party discipline to exercise totalitarian control of state government and that’s exactly what they plan to do.

  9. mike from iowa 2021-06-22 18:11

    Magats have such a wide voter margin this 60% rule seems like petty overkill and Cory is right, it has less to do with vote margins and much more to do with brushing up no tax bonafides of red states that depend on contributions from blue states to balance red state budgets.Low taxes, low services. Magats convince themselves as long as the wealthy remain tax free, working class peons should glasdly shoulder the tyax burdens for them.

  10. O 2021-06-22 20:44

    After some first-hand experience working with even a popular proposal that required a tax increase, the legislative requirement of 2/3 support in both houses to pass anything with a tax increase taught me how steep that hill is to climb. I also want to point out that this effort was a “foxhole shared” with Lee, and he was a TREMENDOUS allay for education funding.

    Maybe this is Devil’s advocacy, but if the legislature needs 2/3 to do proposals of this kind, shouldn’t initiatives also have an elevated majority to succeed? 60% is actually less than the legislative bar to jump.

    Or, as Lesli alludes to, if this is all about majority rule, the initiative we should be voting on is to eliminate the legislative requirement of anything more than a simple majority to enact any legislation? I feel like this is part of the discussion going on nationally about who gets a say in governance (voting) and what it takes to make change (filibuster reform). If the only thing a majority can decide is a State Desert and every other decision of weight concentrates power within a minority, then that seems like a problem to me. We are creating systems for perpetual stagnation through fortified obstruction.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2021-06-22 21:48

    Well…O is right …a simple majority is the benchmark in a democracy. Tampering with majority rule, and factoring various methods to empower minorities, either political or geographic has been a recipe for disaster.

  12. Porter Lansing 2021-06-23 08:05

    My Coffee Says …
    -The laws are fair, for the most part. It’s the procedures for implementing and interpreting the laws that’s a big problem. That includes policing, gerrymandering, local leaders, and community neglect.
    -Critical Race Theory examines these procedures, which were drafted, written, and applied by wealthy, white males to the obvious benefit of those same wealthy, white males (and their white, male children) to help them elevate their lives above women, the poor, and Indian, Black, Brown, and Asian groups.

  13. Donald Pay 2021-06-23 10:13

    The Legislature is authoritarian and tyrannical. If they want to hamstring their own authority that’s not just their problem. When you live in a democratic republic, that is the most undemocratic and unrepublican thing you can do, other than simply not taking up matters in the first place. It actually violates every tenet of the American Revolution. Remember “no taxation without representation?” Well, a 2/3rds requirement takes away the ability of your representatives to enact legislation.

    Now comes Amendment C, which is the Legislature’s way of attacking the citizen’s right to enact legislation via the initiative. Lacking the integrity to try to petition this onto the ballot, these authoritarians and Legislative tyrants, want to take away the vote of the majority of South Dakotans.

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