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Hansen on C: Minority Rule on Fiscal Ballot Questions Gives Voters More Control

Representative Jon Hansen has a really hard time selling his Amendment C with an honest argument. With just five days to go until everyone gets to vote on the Legislature’s proposal to weaken the people’s power to pass fiscal initiatives by raising the vote threshold from simple majority to 60%, Hansen says that minority rule somehow gives voters more control:

“This Constitutional Amendment C is that,” Hanson says. “It’s a measure that requires just a little more agreement among the voters. Puts the taxpayers in just a little bit more control when it comes to raising taxes and big government spending” [Lee Strubinger, “Amendment C Asks Voters to Require 60 Percent Approval for Some Ballot Measures,” SDPB, 2022.06.01].

Hansen tells two fibs here. First, Amendment C doesn’t make passing ballot questions “just a little bit more” difficult. Since 2010, voters have approved 18 out of 33 initiatives and referenda. Only 8 of those measures have received at least 60% approval. Thus, from a purely mathematical perspective, Amendment C decreases the chances of passing a ballot measures from 55% to 24%. That’s no small change in the ability to pass measures; a 60% threshold makes it far harder to pass ballot questions.

That much greater difficulty points to Hansen’s second fib, his suggestion that Amendment C somehow gives voters more “control”. Control means being able to do what we want. Amendment C makes it harder for voters to do what they want in terms of raising and spending money for public purposes. Hansen isn’t trying to give taxpayers in general more control. Through Amendment C, Hansen wants to give more control to himself and a minority that wants to fight every investment in public goods and every effort to pay for such investments fairly and responsibly. Amendment C gives anti-government cheapskates a lot more control, but it takes a lot of control away from the majority of voters.

Amendment C is built on fibs like Hansen’s. Don’t vote for fibs, and don’t vote for minority rule. Vote NO on C!

6 Comments

  1. Vi Kingman 2022-06-02

    Hansen is a joke. He uses the word”taxes” over and over again to try and scare voters into voting for Amendment C.
    I’m with you Cory, please vote no on “C” and talk to other people about it.

  2. Nix 2022-06-02

    Don’t kid yourselves, this is a smokescreen to Jack with the new South Dakota Recreational Cannabis law
    that WILL pass with flying colors.
    Hansen and the rest of the SDGOP
    are NOT interested in respecting the
    will of the people.
    And he sure as Hell doesn’t represent
    me.

  3. grudznick 2022-06-02

    Let us not badmouth all anti-government cheapskates. Let us only badmouth Mr. Hansen for being a bit of a whackie.

  4. Nix 2022-06-02

    Sorry Grudz,
    The SDGOP gets me wadded up.
    I think I’ll go lounge on my deck with a left hander to relax.
    If you’d care to join me, you’ll think that
    your gravy never tasted better.
    I’m here to help ….

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-06-03

    Poli sci prof Michael Card seconds my observation that Hansen’s “more control” claim is bogus:

    “I don’t believe it’s entirely correct,” Card said. “Well, it gives more control over your money because it takes only 41% of the people to vote to not spend money. For those 41%, they have a greater amount of control.”

    Card said the other 59% up to 60% would have less control.

    “In that sense, it’s very undemocratic,” Card said [Eric Mayer, “Who Is Liberal When Everyone Is Called a Liberal?” KELO-TV, 2022.06.02].

    Republicans do have difficulty meaning what they say.

  6. Michael Card 2022-06-03

    The argument that the people should have the same requirements as the legislature (not mentioned recently) forms one of the great debates: democracy vs a republic.

    “Politics” is often defined by political scientists as the mechanisms by which an organization (business or a political unit such as a city, county, school district, state, tribe or nation) settles its conflicts by determining who receives benefits from decisions and who pays the costs. “Policy” is the content or subject of those conflicts.

    In amendment C, much of the politics has been sublimated and the sides are instead talking about a likely use in policy. On the one hand, the politics should be about whether this is a legitimate mechanism to determine how to decide an issue about what the policies should be. Should a 3/5 majority be required when citizens make law? Or should the citizens be subject to the same rules as their elected representatives? In a republic, we like to believe that the citizens are the sovereigns and should not be subject to the same rules and limits as their representatives – in business this is a principal-agent conflict. The principal’s (business owner’s) interests should be used. That doesn’t mean that the best decision will be made – clearly not as components of Marsy’s amendment demonstrated this is not the case. However, a property rights or sovereignty argument might hold that the people are sovereign, and their decisions should be held more strongly.

    On another hand, this is about the policies that will or will not be enacted if the referendum passes (namely and most immediately, Medicaid expansion). That one vote in the Senate that sent the amendment to a voter referendum also suggests that a simple majority is sufficient to change the state’s constitution.

    Just call for more random thoughts. 🙂

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