Thursday, October 4, 2018

You'll Get Some Seriously Serious Government Reform In South Dakota If Enough Of Us Vote Yes On Constitutional Amendment W.

     For starters, a lot of us, me included, are still plenty burned up about the cavalier
Sick Of This?
A Dose Of Amendment W Might Help
treatment that Initiated Measure 22 received from both the legislative and executive branches in Pierre a couple of years ago. 
IM-22 was a broadly inclusive set of reforms that dealt with campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics oversight.  It also contained a public-financing-of-elections component.  That last aspect turned me off so completely that I opposed passage of the measure here in my blog, in the column I was writing at the time for the Rapid City Journal, and as a panelist during a public forum in Rapid City.  My opposition was animated and unequivocal.
     The measure carried just the same, capturing about 52% of the vote.  Disappointed though I was, losing at the ballot box isn't a particularly new phenomenon (goes way back to '68 when Tricky Dick beat The Hube) for me and I was somewhat resigned to my fate. I say somewhat because it seemed clear to me (and my lawyer friends) that there were elements in IM-22 that would render it unconstitutional, and sure enough, its first hearing in court seemed to affirm that, so it was effectively put on hold pending a hearing at the state Supreme Court. It was going through a process that would probably nullify it altogether, and it really didn't seem like the entrenched political class in Pierre would have to confront it.
    Or so it seemed.  Unwilling to exercise some collective patience and let the process play itself out in the courts, our state's Republican Governor Daugaard and the overwhelmingly GOP-dominated legislature set themselves the task of doing away with it via the legislative process. They essentially did so by passing a bill (HB 1069) that pretty much wiped out the elements of IM-22 that were most threatening to the status quo.    The voice of the people was canceled out and, despite my opposition to the measure in the first place, I and a lot of other folks have neither forgiven nor forgotten this breach of the public's call for change.
     The upshot?  A motivated group of reformers called Represent Us were able to write and place a measure, Amendment W, that creates a series of reforms similar to its predecessor, IM-22, but without the public-financing-of-campaigns component.  Shrewdly packaging it as a constitutional amendment, proponents are making sure that it can't be amended or repealed without voter approval.  In other words, Amendment W is off limits to the legislative and executive branches.  No doubt this measure will undergo a constitutional challenge, but it'll be the courts, not a body of self-interested elected officials, who will make the determination about its status.  I hope you'll take the time to go to the link I provided and at least get an outline of what Amendment W will accomplish.  In a state that's perennially ranked as one of the most corrupt in the nation, I think it will do some good.
    Hope you'll join me in voting Yes on Amendment W.  


  1. I will support this measure until Hell freezes over, and then stand on the ice registering my vociferous approval.

  2. At first reading of W, one gets a jolt because of the 300 odd thousand dollars plus an inflation factor that is inserted in the writing. It seems that the money factor could be a non starter. But then if one thinks about it, without the funding factor already in the amendment, the legislature would only have to not fund it each session to let it die a slow and painful death.

    As I have told you in the past John, I, too was opposed to the campaign financing part of the IM-22 but held my nose and voted for it anyway. Recently, I read an article of why these initiatives and amendments have more than one issue contained within. The legislature only needs a vote of the legislative body to put something on the ballot, easy peasy. Whereas the voters need a percentage of the voters from the last election to get an issue on the ballot so there are more than one issue included in writing of the amendment or the initiated measure.