In the fourth installment of his “Have Clipboard, Will Travel” series, guest columnist Bob Newland, who is making good money and paying good money to circulate a medical marijuana initiative petition in Meade County, notes that the various legal barriers South Dakota legislators have erected to quash direct democracy include SDCL 12-13-28, a measure that would pose an unfair restriction to patriotic free speech and free market activity… if it weren’t shot through with loopholes.
The South Dakota legislature has passed a slew of laws intended to prevent citizens from ever again attempting to set boundaries on legislators’ ethics, as the voters did in 2016. A few of those laws did actually improve the process, in the sense that the validation of signatures became more stringent, thus limiting forgeries, which were easy to effect back in the early part of this century.
Most, however, have only served to make achieving the ballot with any initiative or referendum immensely more difficult and expensive, thus encouraging out-of-state interests to pour money into South Dakota to change our state laws.
Please read the law printed below. I believe it needs no comment. It stands alone as a testament to the stupidity of a group of South Dakota legislators who, most likely, describe themselves as “patriotic,” “pro-business,” “believers in individual sovereignty and responsibility,” and “freedom-loving.”
As far as I know, no attempt has been made to-date to charge a violation of this law. That could be because it appears to be unenforceable. It’s like the legislators closed and locked a door, then left lockpicking tools lying around. I welcome arguments to the contrary.
South Dakota Codified Law 12-13-28. Employment and compensation of petition circulators.
No person may employ, reward, or compensate any person to circulate a petition for an initiated measure, referred law, or proposed amendment to the South Dakota Constitution based on the number of registered voters who signed the petition. Nothing in this section prohibits any person from employing a petition circulator based on one of the following practices:
- Paying an hourly wage or salary;
- Establishing either express or implied minimum signature requirements for the petition circulator;
- Terminating the petition circulator’s employment, if the petition circulator fails to meet certain productivity requirements; and
- Paying discretionary bonuses based on reliability, longevity, and productivity.
Any violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Bob Newland, 605-209-4354, firstname.lastname@example.org
“His clipboard for hire meets the calling wind.”