Monday, April 10, 2017

The Cat Came Back The Very Next Day

     We'll see if the rejection of Initiated Measure 22 by a combo of legislative and executive fiat during the just-ended legislative session will be a watershed event in South Dakota political
Blowback From I-22
Will They Quickly Forget?
(photo from Capital Journal)
IM 22 was a voter-approved (by 52%) package of campaign and governing reforms that put severe limits on campaign finance and lobbying efforts.  Unsurprisingly, it ran into unified resistance in Pierre during this Winter's legislative session, where it was trashed by Governor Daugaard as "unconstitutional," who went on to chastise voters by telling them they were "deceived" and "misled" into voting for the reforms. Our Republican-dominated legislature went along with Daugaard's de facto defense of our status quo:  A state government that gets an "F" grade from The Center For Public Integrity.  IM-22 was effectively repealed, posthaste.  Its replacement was a basket of bills that addressed some of the issues raised by IM-22, but lack the severity and scope of the defunct initiative, at least as far as I and many of its proponents understand it.

    So determined are those proponents that they have produced not one, but two, reform measures that they hope to get to the voters in 2018.  Represent South Dakota just sent the "Voter Protection And Anti-Corruption Amendment" to the state's Legislative Research Council for stylistic and substantive review.  Almost simultaneously, South Dakota Voter Protection sent the LRC 3 drafts of its Voter Initiative Protection Amendment.  Cory Heidelberger in his excellent Dakota Free Press blog provides the complete text and analysis of both efforts.  Complicated and comprehensive as they are, these initiatives represent the yearnings of a substantial (make that a majority, going by how IM-22 did at the polls last year) number of South Dakotans who are fed up with a government that they
The Very Next Day
And It Kept Coming Back
believe is hobbled by its inertia, its one-party domination, and its susceptibility to special interest influence.  

     A lot of South Dakotans were angered by the cavalier rejection of their will by Governor Daugaard and a huge Republican majority in the legislature.  People tell me that the voters will forget and that we'll go back to business-as-usual soon enough.  I'm not so sure. Government reassurances that watered down replacement bills have satisfied the will of the voters are probably not compelling enough to put this matter to rest. The reform movement showed its political muscle at the polls last year and there's no reason to think that voter attitudes have changed enough to forget about the reasons they voted for IM-22 in the first place.  Like the cat in that great old camp song, they came back the very next day.  


  1. John, not sure if you saw a comparison of how various parts of the state voted on this. As was pointed out By Senator Curd when they overturned IM22, a significant percentage of voters did not vote on the issue, because they either had not taken the time to read it or they just did not understand it.
    Legislative districts across the state approved it not just the more liberal east. I will predict right now that the next time, the Constitutional amendment, if it makes the ballot will get between 70 and 75% approval. By overturning IM22, the legislature focused a lot of attention on their lack of attention to the things that matter to the people of this state, not the least of which is ending the corruption that has been engendered since the beginning of the Mike Rounds governorship and right on through that of his Lt Governor, now Governor, Daugaard.

    1. Lanny, we have a district here in Rapid City that voted 60% in favor, another that outvoted the statewide majority by a couple of percentage points. I think people understood that IM-22 was a mandate for comprehensive reform. As with you, I believe in its rebounded format that it will carry with an even stronger majority.