Hey, Plan B was supposed to have five initiatives. I only see four. What gives?
As we discussed yesterday, marijuana advocates have proposed four legalization initiatives that they may petition to place on the 2022 ballot to replace the court-enjoined Amendment A. But back in July, those advocates indicated they would also consider petitioning for an initiated amendment to repeal the single-subject rule that Governor Kristi Noem and her lawyers used to torpedo Amendment A. As I wrote in July, that was the most interesting and most useful of the advocates’ proposals, since it recognized that “if you’re going to fight for an initiative in South Dakota, you also have to fight for the initiative process itself and challenge the Republican Party’s effort to hollow this hallowed process.”
Alas, the marijuana advocates don’t appear to be seizing this opportunity to reform the initiative process and restore their liberty and every other South Dakotans’s liberty to manage their own Constitution. The Secretary of State’s ballot question webpage lists the four marijuana initiatives proposed by lawyer Brendan Johnson, but it shows no companion initiative to tackle the single-subject rule. (The SOS still lists the inchoate draft initiative submitted by Arthur Taylor of Nebraska last November to tie the single-subject rule and the initiated amendment petition deadline to the results of the Presidential election, but that’s not the marijuana advocates’ proposal, and Taylor appears to have left his proposal dormant.)
Discussing the single-subject rule and the intricacies of the initiative process and judicial interpretation doesn’t draw the same crowds as a petition under a pot banner, but that discussion and the reform of the initiative process to which that discussion can lead will do at least as much good for the health of our state as expanding the legal ingredients of cigarettes and brownies. Twinning a single-subject reform proposal with a marijuana petition would make it easier to put the single-subject issue before the voters again; campaigning to win repeal of the single-subject vote would make it easier to ensure that a cranky Governor and her chosen judges would not overturn the next marijuana amendment, and the next, and the next….
Maybe the marijuana advocates have counted their pennies and determined they can only afford one more single-issue campaign. But without working to reform the initiative process, that single-issue campaign leaves itself and all other ballot question campaigns facing the single-subject hazard.