This initiative is a direct response to the way our state's legislative and executive branches dismantled Initiated Measure 22 during last Winter's session. IM-22 was a complicated amalgam of draconian restrictions on government and electoral processes that included a provision for taxpayer funding using a system dubbed "democracy credits" for candidates seeking office. Though I was generally supportive of its goals for oversight and transparency, the taxpayer-financing of elections turned me off and I opposed the measure, which nonetheless passed with a 52-48 majority.
The political backlash in Pierre was swift and decisive. Within weeks of IM-22's passage, Governor Daugaard disdained the new law, calling it "irresponsible" and a "bad law." He also condescendingly scolded voters by claiming they were "misled" and "deceived." As expected, the law itself was immediately challenged on Constitutional grounds and began moving through the courts, where it was headed for judgement by the state's Supreme Court. In the meantime, state legislators and the Governor crafted a series of replacement acts while repealing IM-22 altogether via House Bill 1069. Neither the state's courts nor a majority of South Dakota voters were considered to be a relevant part of the process.
The subsequent pushback by voters is one that I supported right away. Like plenty of South Dakotans I was dismayed by the cavalier and presumptuous manner in which our elected officials blew off the will of the people and destroyed the measure before it was given its due process in court. "Under God The People Rule" was rendered a mockery and the resulting outrage should come as no surprise to our political class, as SD's legislative and executive branches now have to contend with a powerful, new replacement for IM-22.
This "updated" version wisely dropped the deal-killing "democracy credits" plan for taxpayer financing that turned off a lot of potential supporters. Also, unlike its predecessor this amendment is much simpler and focused on fewer concepts, possibly the most important of which is that it stops elected officials from overturning any voter-approved laws without going back to the voters themselves for permission. I also like that the proposal creates an independent citizen's ethics commission, not the state agency (I mean, the state monitoring itself? Come on.) that the legislature set up when it revoked IM-22. It also flat-out bans gifts (including food, beverages and alcohol) from lobbyists to elected officials. A provision banning "foreign" money from our elections could stand some explanation, but coming discussions and debates will clarify it. You can go to represent.us to read the full amendment. Nobody, most notably our elected officials, will be "misled" or "deceived." Some might even be enlightened.