Our forgetful Secretary of State Steve Barnett appears to have forgotten to publish a copy of the Ballot Question Informational Pamphlet for the primary in a conspicuous spot on the SOS website. But Eric Mayer of KELO-TV serves the public by posting a copy of this important voter information on Amendment C.
SDCL 12-13-23 requires the Secretary of State to solicit and publish two 300-word-max statements, one from proponents, one from opponents, of each ballot question presented to voters. Amendment C sponsor and enemy of direct democracy Representative Jon Hansen (R-25/Dell Rapids) offers the proponent statement; Municipal League exec Yvonne Taylor and Huron home health care entrepreneur and organizer of South Dakotans for Fair Elections Ashley Kingdon-Reese provide the opponent statement.
On the Pro, Hansen cries the Americans for Prosperity line branding Amendment C’s 60% vote requirement for fiscal measures as a way to protect taxpayers from “special interests”:
Without the protection of Amendment C, special interest groups can use ballot measures to raise your sales or property taxes, enact a state income tax, or create a state death tax with only a simple majority of those who show up at the polls to vote.
…Inflation and the rising costs of food, gas, and other necessities make it more difficult for people and families to just get by financially. A yes vote on Amendment C protects your personal and family budget from the strain of higher taxes and spending [Rep. Jon Hansen, Pro statement, Primary Ballot Question Informational Pamphlet, South Dakota Secretary of State, April 2022, posted by Eric Mayer, KELO-TV, 2022.04.25].
Big decisions made by a simple majority of those who show up at the polls to vote—isn’t that the same way Jon Hansen gets his job in the Legislature, which allows him to pass all sorts of laws, including our big-spending state budget?
And special interests using ballot measures—isn’t that the same way Jon Hansen’s Amendment C came to be? His friends at Americans for Prosperity are footing the entire reported bill for promoting Amendment C. On the Con (though they aren’t the real cons in this debate), Taylor and Kingdon-Reese say Amendment C gives out-of-state special interests more power:
The truth is that out-of-state lobbyists and special interests will be the winners if C passes. Amendment C gives power to special interests while undermining the will of South Dakota voters—perhaps that’s why an out-of-state special interest group is bankrolling the campaign to pass it [Yvonne Taylor and Ashley Kingdon-Reese, Con statement, Primary Ballot Question Informational Pamphlet, SDSOS, April 2022, in Mayer, 2022.04.25].
Taylor and Kingdon-Reese also hammer on Hansen’s call for minority rule:
[I]f C passes, it would take just 41% of voters to block funding for important programs including law enforcement, rural health centers, nursing homes, schools—the list goes on. We can’t allow our state to be held hostage by just a few people.
Amendment C faces widespread opposition from business owners, workers, mayors of our cities, and rural residents alike who all oppose C because they know it’s wrong for South Dakota’s future [Taylor and Kingdon-Reese, April 2022].
Hansen claims that financial self-interest should motivate voters to support C and raise the threshold for passing new taxes and spending more than $10 million to 60%. But Hansen and his narrow-minded capitalist cronies ignore the fact that, for many voters, self-interest may encompass community interest. A majority of voters want stronger police, schools, and health care so they can enjoy safer, smarter, healthier communities. Why should we let a selfish minority—doesn’t that define a “special interest”?—that fails to recognize the importance of a strong community prevent the majority from helping their community survive and thrive?
Taylor and Kingdon-Reese claim there is widespread opposition to Amendment C. Let’s hope so, and let’s hope the Municipal League and others are working to call everyone in that widespread opposition and get them to go vote No on C over the next 40 days.