Governor Kristi Noem and the State of South Dakota have lost another battle in their war on your initiative and referendum rights. Three months ago, Noem and the state asked the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay Judge Lawrence Piersol’s injunction of 2020 Senate Bill 180, the Legislature’s latest version of its democracy-strangling registry and badging requirements for ballot question petition circulators. Since that June injunction, ballot question committees have been able to hire circulators and put them to work collecting signatures without having to get government permission or wear government-mandated badges.
(Conservative friends, this kind of big-government intrusion in core political speech and business activities should torque you off, but such big government is what you get from the South Dakota Republicans you blindly elect, so I must ask you conservatives, with enthusiasm ill-suited to parentheses, WTF?!)
The state’s request for a stay would have switched the rules on ballot question committees (of which at least three are actively petitioning right now) for the worse, forcing them to halt all paid petition circulating, collect a bunch of data, and jump through reinstated regulatory hoops for Secretary of State Steve Barnett, easily losing a week or more of valuable circulation time for each paid circulator. Such confusion and burden, of course, is exactly what our anti-democratic state officials want, since every circulator they can sideline is hundreds more voters whom they can prevent from signing petitions and putting measures on the 2022 ballot that might upset the Pierre Club’s hegemony.
But the Eighth Circuit said nuts to that! In a terse order issued yesterday, the Eighth Circuit told the State of South Dakota and their sneaky corporate-overlord amici at the South Dakota Biotech Association, “The motion for stay of injunction pending appeal is denied.”
Rick Weiland, founder of Dakotans for Health, the ballot question committee that beat SB 180 in Judge Piersol’s court, is pleased that his people can keep exercising their Constitutional rights without Secretary Barnett’s unjustified paperwork and bureaucracy:
We are thankful that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday rejected Governor Noem’s request to stop Judge Lawrence Piersol’s recent ruling that SB 180 is unconstitutional. The law would have required paid petition circulators to make public their personal contact information including home address and personal phone number, and disqualified voters’ signatures for circulators’ meaningless technical mistakes.
The Republican Party has been in overdrive since 2016, when the voters approved IM-22, the “Anticorruption, Campaign Finance and Ethics Reform Act,” enacting numerous laws to deny the will of the voters. We find it ironic that our one-party dominated legislature continues to ignore our state’s motto, “Under God, The People Rule” with continual legislative efforts like SB 180, to harm our constitutional right to collect signatures and advance public policy through the citizen initiative process, which has been part of our state’s constitution since 1898 [Rick Weiland, press release, Dakotans for Health, 2021.10.05].
Petitioners have 34 days to collect signatures for initiated amendment petitions before their submission deadline of November 8. Activists who launch petition drives to place new laws (statute, not constitutional amendment) on the 2022 general election ballot have until May 3, 2022 (pending the Noem/State appeal and request for stay of that ruling!), to collect voter signatures.