Initiated Measure 23

Initiated Measure 23 does exactly what its title says: Title: An initiated measure to give certain organizations the right to charge fees.

Attorney General Explanation: (The shortest of the season)

The measure gives corporate organizations and non-profit organizations the right to charge a fee for any service provided. This measure takes effect on July 1, 2017.

South Dakota is a right to work state. That means that union membership is not required for employees, thus any rights won by a union—wages, working conditions, etc—apply to all employees of a particular company. This measure makes it legal for unions to charge a fee to non-members. Their site, is just a bit snarky, but it gets one’s attention.

From the Secretary of State’s 2016 Ballot Question packet,

Imagine, you and co-workers pool your money to hire a specialist to negotiate a better contract. Several other workers refuse to help pay for maintaining the contract. They get the same raises you paid to negotiate. The same pension and health care benefits. The same legal protection. Without your investments, there wouldn’t be raises, a pension and health benefits.

How would you feel?

As of right now, opponents have only a Facebook page,

From the Secretary of State’s site noted above:

Workers should decide on union membership. Don’t let your right to work become pay to work.

It all boils down to a fairness issue. There are a few unions in South Dakota. If you are in an occupation that has a union and you don’t belong, how do you feel about this bill? Do you donate to the cause even though you aren’t a union member? And union members: how do you feel about the bill? Is there a problem?

This is the final chapter of my ballot measure summaries. Thanks to the Secretary of State’s website,, numerous proponent and opponent websites, and the SoDak Liberty and Dakota Free Press blogs for facts, information, and logical opinions.

Have a great day.

Constitutional Amendment U

Constitutional Amendment V is probably the most ‘cart upsetting’ of all the ballot measures. It establishes non-partisan elections. That means that voters would vote for candidates based on the quality of the candidate, not their party affiliation. (A bit of sarcasm there….to be explained.)

Title: An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution establishing nonpartisan elections.

Attorney General Explanation:

Currently, most general election candidates for federal, state, and county offices are selected through a partisan primary or at a state party convention. This constitutional amendment eliminates those methods by establishing a nonpartisan primary to select candidates for all federal, state, and county elected offices. This amendment does not apply to elections for United States President and Vice president.

Under the amendment, candidates are not identified by party affiliation on the primary or general election ballot. All qualified voters, regardless of party affiliation, may vote for any candidate of their choice.

The two candidates with the most votes advance to the general election. For certain offices where more than one candidate is elected at the general election, the number of candidates advancing to the general election will be double the number of seats to be filled.

If the amendment is approved, a substantial re-write of state election laws will be necessary.

This means that there will not be any party designation behind the names of candidates on ballots. In a perfect world, that would mean that people would vote for the person, not the party.

Proponents’ main points are that it will give all candidates, especially Independents, a better chance on the ballot. We will “…elect public servants, not party servants.”

It is common knowledge that some candidates have changed their party affiliation in order to gain an advantage at the polls. This amendment takes away the party affiliation of candidates. Nebraska is the only state to have non-partisan elections; proponents claim that Nebraska’s voter turnout is higher than South Dakota’s, and that they have the most competitive races in the country. It’s not a new concept in South Dakota: city, school, judicial, some county elections, and other elections are  non-partisan.

More proponent information can be found at is the opponent website. Opponents accuse the proponents of hiding party labels—of disallowing candidates to run on a party platform. Opponents also feel it will hurt Independent candidates because only two (or four) candidates are winners in the primary. Currently, there equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans allowed on the ballot, and Independents can run, well, independently.

We will be seeing a lot of campaigning on this measure.

IM21 and Constitutional Amendment U

I am discussing Initiated Measure 21 and Constitutional Amendment U in the same post because IM21 led to Constitutional Amendment U.

Initiated Measure 21 is proposed by two gentlemen from Sioux Falls—two gentlemen from opposite ends of the political spectrum. It caps the payday interest loan rates at 36%. No if’s; no and’s; no but’s—a maximum of 36%.  Title: An initiated measure to set a maximum finance charge for certain licensed money lenders.

From their website,

Stop Predatory Lending.

   Payday lenders in South Dakota charge an average interest rate of 574%. These high rates drive thousands of low-income South Dakotans and seniors into debt each year.

In response to this measure, an out-of-state group spent LOTS of money to initiate  Constitutional Amendment U, Title: An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution limiting the ability to set statutory interest rates for loans.

The Attorney General’s opinion needs to be read carefully:

Under this constitutional amendment, there is no limit on the amount of interest a lender may charge for a loan of money if the interest rate is agreed to in writing by the borrower. If there is no written agreement, however, a lender may not charge more than 18% interest per year. A law setting an interest rate for loans is not valid unless the law gives the lender and borrower the ability to agree to a different rate. If an interest rate for loans is established by law. It must apply to every type of lender.

The amendment eliminates the ability to set statutory interest rates that are inconsistent with this amendment.

They claim that it sets the interest rate at 18%; it does no such thing. The rate charged can be any rate as long as it is agreed to in writing, as all loan agreements are.

Proponents of IM21 puts a cap on payday loans at 36%. There are no caps on those loans as of right now. It prevents those lenders from taking advantage of people when they are at a very low point in their lives.

Opponents claim that this cap will kill the payday loan industry; that these lenders are needed for those who need emergency money; and that it will destroy jobs.

Constitutional Amendment U supporters claim that it places a maximum rate of 18% on these loans. That’s rather ironic; they claim that a 35% rate will kill the industry. If 35% will kill it, then 18% would annihilate it. Ah, so there must be a little chicanery here…not quite honest, to say the least.

Be careful here. However you feel about IM 21, the capping of rates at 35%, vote NO on Constitutional Amendment U, please. I have a hard time with out-of-state big money trying to influence us with not-so-honest rhetoric.


Referred Law 20

In November of 2014, South Dakota voters passed Initiated Measure 18, a measure that increased the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.50. It also included a cost of living adjustment.  During the 2015 session, various Republican legislators sponsored a bill (SB 177) that excused employers from paying the minimum wage to employees under the age of 18. They could pay a minimum of $7.50 per hour, and the rate would not be affected by the cost of living.

Why is this called “Referred Law 20?” Once a law has been signed by the Governor, it can be referred to the vote of the people by obtaining 13,871 petition signatures. Cory Heidelberger from Aberdeen led the charge in obtaining those signatures. The law does not go into effect if enough valid signatures are obtained and verified by the Secretary of State’s office. This was the case here; that’s why the referral to the voters.

This vote will be a bit confusing. A ‘yes’ vote is for the change…lower minimum wage for youth workers.  A ‘no’ vote keeps the minimum wage at $8.50 for all employees—supporting the 2014 vote of the people.

‘Yes’ people claim that a lower minimum wage establishes a ‘training wage.’ They also claim that the $8.50 minimum wage keeps younger workers out of the workforce.

The ‘no’ side reiterates the fact that the voters of South Dakota passed the minimum wage for ALL by a vote of 55% to 45%. They also cite research that the $8.50 has not hurt the state in any way—unemployment has decreased, and the labor market has continued to expand.

So vote ‘yes’ to lower the minimum wage for those under 18 to $7.50. Vote ‘no’ to keep the minimum wage for all at $8.50 ($8.55 after the 2016 cost of living adjustment.)

Referred Law 19

Referred Law 19 is a referral of law passed by the state legislature in 2015, SB 69.  The law, sponsored by various Republicans, changes candidate petition deadline dates, requires more signatures on candidate petitions, changes the withdrawing from a campaign criteria, and takes away the right of Republicans and Democrats to sign the petition of Independent candidates.

The Attorney General’s explanation:     Currently, primary election candidates for certain offices must circulate and submit nominating petitions between January 1 and the last Tuesday in March.  Referred Law 19 changes that timeframe to between December 1 and the first Tuesday in March.  The referred law also changes other election-related submission deadlines, adjusting them from the last Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in March.     

      Certain election-related documents, including nominating petitions, are currently considered timely submitted if sent by registered mail before the deadline.  The referred law changes this to require that these documents be received by the submission deadline.  It also changes the method for calculating the number of signatures required on nominating petitions for certain elective offices.  

      The referred law prohibits a person registered with a recognized political party from signing an independent candidate’s nominating petition.  The current law does not contain that prohibition.        Under the referred law, an independent governor candidate cannot appear on the ballot if the corresponding lieutenant governor candidate withdraws and a replacement is not certified by the second Tuesday in August.  It also restricts the circumstances under which a political party may replace a candidate who has withdrawn from consideration after the primary election.

Once a law has been signed by the Governor, it can be referred to the vote of the people by obtaining 13,871 petition signatures. Cory Heidelberger from Aberdeen led the charge in obtaining those signatures. The law does not go into effect if enough valid signatures are obtained and submitted to the Secretary of State’s office. This was the case here; that’s why the referral.

Now, for the pro’s of the bill. Some claim it provides increased transparency, prevents abuses, and provides fair and honest elections.

Con’s—it does none of the above. Changing petition deadline dates is a non-issue; needing a doctor’s note to withdraw from a race—these are adults; taking away the registered mail option for petitions to be submitted to Pierre—why? SB 69 makes it harder for Independents to gather enough signatures. The Independent party is a major player; why stifle them?

If there are election issues, let the Secretary of State’s office find them, do a bit of a tune-up, and present them to the legislature for passage.

Have a great day!

Amendment T

One of the more contentious and ‘popular’ amendments on the ballot this fall is Amendment T, “An initiated amendment to the South Dakota constitution to provide for state legislative redistricting by a commission.”

South Dakota has 35 legislative districts. Each of those districts elects one senator and two representatives every two years. Each district has approximately 23,000 people. Every ten years, after the national census, districts are redrawn to reflect any major census changes.

Gerrymandering is a term that describes drawing those district lines so that a political party has a voting advantage in certain districts. In South Dakota, the district lines are drawn by the party in power—the Republican party for the last 30 years–with some saying that the district lines favor Republican candidates.

The amendment changes the current committee of 15 legislators to a nine person committee with no more than three members from each major political party. The meat of the amendment:

  1. Districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable;
  2. Districts shall be geographically compact and contiguous to the extent practicable;
  3. District boundaries shall respect communities of interest to the extent practicable; and
  4. District lines shall use visible geographic features, municipal and county boundaries, and undivided census tracts to the extent practicable.

Party registration and voting history shall be excluded from the redistricting process. The places of residence of incumbents or candidates shall not be identified or considered.

Is South Dakota gerrymandered? If one looks at a district map of Aberdeen, yes. In fact, the Aberdeen City Council has voted to support the Amendment. is the proponent site. I cannot find an opponent site as of yet.

To me, the big plus is that an independent commission is in charge of the redistricting, basically eliminating any doubt of chicanery. I really don’t see any reason to vote ‘no.’

More to come…take care.

Amendment S

Amendment S, often called Marsy’s Law, is a listing of nineteen rights of crime victims that the author wants added to the South Dakota Constitution. Currently two states, California and Illinois, have passed this bill, and it’s on the docket on seven others.

The Attorney General’s explanation: Currently, state statutes provide certain rights to crime victims. This measure expands these rights and places them in the State Constitution.

Under the amendment, the rights provided to a victim generally include: protection from harassment or abuse; the right to privacy; timely notice of all trial, sentence, and post-judgment proceedings including pardon or parole; the right to confer with the attorney for the government; and the opportunity to provide input during all phases of the criminal justice process. Victims will be given written notification of their rights.

The rights may be enforced by the victim, the victim’s attorney or representative, or the attorney for the government. They may be enforced in any trial court, appeals court, or other proceeding affecting the victim’s rights.

The definition of “victim” includes a person who suffers direct or threatened harm as the result of any crime, attempted crime, or act of juvenile delinquency. It also includes that person’s spouse, children, extended family members, guardians, and others with a substantially similar relationship.

If a victim’s rights provided by this amendment conflict with a criminal defendant’s rights under the South Dakota and United States Constitutions, a court may determine that the defendant’s rights take priority.

Henry Nicholas’ sister, Marsalee, was shot and killed in 1983. While visiting a local grocery store a week after the murder, his mother was confronted by the accused. No one knew that he had been released. NIcholas founded a campaign to get Marsy’s law on the California ballot in 2008, and it passed. Since then, the movement has spread nationwide. is the official website and is very informative, as is their Facebook page,

So far, the only opponents of the Amendment are the South Dakota State’s Attorney’s Association and the State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, claiming that it is unnecessary and would clog up the justice system.

Also, South Dakota already has a crime victim bill of rights written into law, SDCL 23A-28C-1. It’s not needed in the constitution.

Again, I’m not telling you how to vote; just get informed!  Take care.