Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Cat Came Back

       Government reformers in South Dakota remind me of the cat in that great old campfire
Cats And Reformers . . .
They Just Keep Coming Back
Like that persistent and determined feline who wouldn't go away no matter how hard its master tried to get rid of him, they just keep coming back, and they "spend their nights 'a howlin' " til our legislators "can't get no sleep."  Shunted aside after the IM-22 debacle of a couple of years ago, this determined group of activist cats, led by Mitch Richter and Darrell Solberg, just keep on coming back.  IM-22 was the ballot initiative that won with 52% of the vote in 2016. It dramatically reformed government and campaign operations in our state.  It required additional disclosures and reporting by candidates for office, it lowered and limited contribution amounts, it severely constricted lobbyist gifts to state officials, and it created an ethics commission to oversee campaign finance and lobbying laws.  It also contained a provision to provide public funding for political campaigns.
     That last element caused me to oppose the measure, but it passed fair and square, much to the consternation of South Dakota's established political class, dominated by Republicans.  As South Dakota's initiative process has no restriction on when or how elected legislators can repeal or amend citizen-approved initiatives, the state's GOP-dominated legislature proceeded to dismantle IM-22 during the following session in 2017, not waiting for a court challenge to the measure that was headed for the South Dakota Supreme Court after an injunction in a lower court put the initiative on
Maybe This Time
They Will
hold.   Effectively eradicating the voter's will, reform-averse officials in Pierre set off quite the outraged reaction, with noisy and loud demonstrations occurring at the capitol as the political debauchery occurred.  Even as a foe of the measure, I was as chagrined by the arrogant and cynical rejection of the voters' will as those who supported IM-22
     Which is why I'm supporting the reform measure that will be on this November's ballot, dubbed Constitutional Amendment W.  Sans the public financing of campaigns that turned off a lot of potential supporters of the last reform measure, Amendment W is exclusively about changing existing campaign financing and lobbying laws, and, most strategically, won't allow alterations to it without voter approval.  The element that should most appeal to the reform-minded is the establishment of a government accountability board that will have some sanction-imposing teeth.  Considering the depth and breadth of a couple of horror stories involving state-managed programs (EB-5 and Gear Up) which resulted in multimillion dollar fiascos along with murders and suicides, a visible and active accountability component in Pierre seems overdue.


1 comment:

  1. I, too opposed the campaign finance segment of I-22, but held my nose and voted for the measure anyway because of all the other good parts of it. I am in that picture that you show, but was truly outraged at the Senate hearing on the bill to repeal the citizens' will. Thanks John, for a well written post on W.