Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Per SD State Senator Corey Brown (And He's From Gettysburg, Yet!): Government Of The Legislature, By The Legislature And For The Legislature Shall Not Perish From South Dakota

     Corey Brown (R-Gettysburg) was no doubt a whiz-bang aviator for the U.S. Navy, but somewhere along
State Senator Corey Brown
Why Do You Want To Fix Something That Isn't Broken?
(photo from legis.sd.gov)
the way he must've forgotten why he put on his uniform in the first place.  
It was all about the right of his countrymen to take whatever measures necessary to make their government conform to their collective will.  State Senator Brown the Navy vet (and a handful of GOP cohorts who've hopped aboard as co-sponsors) now wants to make it all the harder for South Dakotans to express that will via Senate Bill 166. Essentially, Brown wants to double the number of signatures required for initiatives to get placed on statewide ballots. Right now the number is equal to 5% of the voters in the most recent election.  Brown's hope is to make that 5% of registered voters. As 50%-60% voter turnouts are common to South Dakota elections, you can see how much more difficult the task of initiating a ballot measure would be if Brown's aspirations are realized.  Required signature totals would go from roughly 13,000 to 26,000.  I say "phooey."  

     Here's some History, Senator Brown: We South Dakotans can be especially proud of the fact that ours is the first state to adopt the intitiative and referendum processes, way back in 1898Republican Brown should also be reminded (per the link just provided) that the "renewed use of the initiative process can be tied to" Republican Governor William Janklow, who "was a strong supporter of the initiative process and advocated its use." Get that, Senator Brown and accomplices?
A Quick School On Initiatives and Referendums
This is Democracy, South Dakota-Style
(graphic from www.slideshare.net)
Bill Janklow was a big supporter of the initiative process as it now works.  It was good enough for one of your icons--why isn't it good enough for you?
     As anti-grass-roots-democracy as the bill itself is, another insidious aspect of this makes it even more appalling. Brown, with no thought to the meaning of the word "emergency," wants to festoon the measure with an "emergency clause," meaning that if passed, it a) becomes law immediately, and b) cannot be referred by voters.  First off, Brown needs to explain: just what the heck is the "emergency?" Secondly, why on earth does Brown believe this bill should be so sacred as to be unrefferable to the voters? 
     Most compelling question of all is this:  why the need to change a status quo that seems to have been working efficiently and effectively for 117 years? Brown has yet to explain the need for changing the initiative process and his reasons for wanting to make the change in the first place.  No question, the intiative process has its flaws, especially in a tiny state like South Dakota, where the thin population and relatively cheap media time invite outsiders with broad national agendas to use our state as a lab by making it easy and cheap to get ballot measures before the voters.  I hate it when that happens, but it's the price we pay for who we are and how we've successfully run our elections for many generations.  Messy as the process can sometimes be, democracy--especially as expressed by giving people the right to initiate laws, practically and efficaciously, from the ground up--is still well worth our "full measure of devotion."  
     Brown should re-read that and the rest of the lines that go with it, uttered at a Gettysburg infinitely more famous than its namesake in South Dakota, but no less relevant to the people that live here, who just happen to be us.  

ADDENDUM:  Added Friday 2/6 @1503.  Brown pulled his bill from consideration today, but not without bemoaning the lack of "thoughtful" discussion and noting that he is "quite surprised that a lot of folks are willing to not engage in an intellectual conversation."  Brown also called the reaction "absolutely pathetic."   Brown's contempt for the public was amply demonstrated by bringing the bill to the Senate in the first place, and his criticism of the visceral reaction by voters to the prospect of having their democratic courses of action severely restricted are really appalling.  This "quite surprised" out-of-touch official thinks he can represent ordinary South Dakotans in the legislature?  Wow.  What next from Senator Brown?    


  1. The single party rulers of this state see I&R as a threat to their power. This rates right up there with changing the Daschle Law to accommodate a potential Thune run for the White House. Brown is in on that too. So John, why do you keep supporting these people?

  2. Brown is an establishment crony who carrys the bucket for Daugaard & company. Nice guy, but about as motivating as wet paint drying. This isn't a constituent bill, this is a "I take direction from the establishment" bill.

  3. Stop this insane bill

  4. From an anonymous poster that I inadvertently deleted: "Someday I am going to move to a Country that practices Democracy. This needs to be stopped. If we had an actual 2 party system in this State maybe we would have a chance."

  5. Lets go over a "Registered voter" list for Rapid city together. I can show you many, many discrepancies. All the folks registering their RV's in SD but really live elsewhere etc. The number is grossly inflated almost always. I often wonder if it skews districting after the census.

    Rick K