UPDATE – South Dakota Senate members voted to approve House Bill 1069 to repeal IM 22 with a vote of 27 to 8, on Wednesday night.
The approval of HB 1069 disappointed supporters of Represent South Dakota, Doug Kronaizl, a spokesperson and field organizer of the organization, said.
“It is a totally disrespectful and unnecessary move,” Kronaizl said. “Legislators have known from the get-go that a total repeal was not their only option, yet they chose to go down that path. This is a vote I assume many in support will have to answer (in) 2018.”
The Defeat 22 campaign was pleased with the outcome.
“So many South Dakotans were not told the truth about IM 22,” said first-year Jaedon Foreman, a business major and supporter of the bill. “I commend the South Dakota State Legislator for repealing this measure.”
South Dakota lawmakers have been in the spotlight recently because of their hard-fought efforts to overturn a recently-passed measure, Initiated Measure 22, which supporters say is intended to make state government less vulnerable to bribery and more transparent.
IM 22 was passed by voters in South Dakota last November with 180,634 votes in favor and 169,199 votes against. The bill took effect Nov. 16 and a group of Republican legislators are fighting for the repeal of IM 22.
Doug Kronaizl, a spokesperson and field organizer of Represent South Dakota, a political organization in support of IM 22, said he wants to work with the opponents of the measure.
“I would rather see (legislators) work with IM 22 than against it,” Kronaizl said. “And the complete and total repeal of a law passed by the voters is totally unacceptable.”
The measure is intended to establish publicly financed elections of candidates for statewide office and legislative seats, establish a state ethics commission and place limits on political spending for representatives in the state.
There’s an argument by opponents of IM 22 that the initiated measure would be unconstitutional because it encompasses laws of more than one subject.
“There has been no final declaration from a court. What they are referring to that Judge Mark Barnett said in his ruling (is that) a preliminary injunction back in the beginning of December (put) the law on hold,” Kronaizl said. “He said three specific portions of IM 22 would in the future be ruled unconstitutional.”
Sen. Blake Curd of Sioux Falls is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against IM 22. Curd said he would deal with the legislature’s group request for a preliminary injunction. South Dakotans for Integrity (a pro-IM 22 group) filed a motion to intervene.
Defending the law, Attorney General Marty Jackley said that even if IM 22 is approved, it may be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.
As a result, Gov. Dennis Daugaard was to appoint the five-member ethics commission no later than Jan. 17. The appointment is stalled now because the measure by the committee has an emergency clause. This means, if passed, IM 22 could be repealed by the governor.
Kronaizl went to Pierre for a protest of IM 22 with two USD alumni, Benedict Gombocz and Mark Winegar. Kronaizl also spoke with USD College Democrats about the need of contacting legislators.
First-year student political science and criminal justice double major Brett Ries said because South Dakotans voted for IM 22, legislators should respect it.
“The people of South Dakota voted that they want this measure to pass and be instated in our state law,” Ries said. “The legislators of our state are supposed to reflect the wants of their constituents, and by repealing this law, they would not be representing our wishes. Instead, they’d be protecting the lobbyists and themselves.”
Ries said the repeal process is being hindered by some of the finer points within the law.
“If they want to repeal IM 22, then they should at least remove the emergency clause attached to it so that the voters can request a referendum and decide if they are okay with the legislators repealing it,” Ries said. “What legislators are currently doing is not only going against the will of the people, but also preventing the people from having their voice heard through a vote.”
It would be better, Ries said, for state lawmakers to work with the bill rather than repeal it entirely.
“I think the legislators should not repeal IM 22. If it’s decided that parts of IM 22 are unconstitutional, then I think the legislators should do the necessary work to change parts of IM 22, but not totally repeal it,” he said.
There have been two bipartisan bills proposed in the past. One would establish a government accountability board and another would limit gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers. If IM 22 is repealed, then these bills include some of what IM 22 was intended for: to have more transparency in government.
First-year business major Jaedon Foreman said he’s opposed to IM 22 because he doesn’t want taxpayers funding political campaigns.
“I am against IM 22 because it will take about $9 per taxpayer to fund. IM 22 sets up a special fund, which is funded by money taken from the general fund, and has a cap of $12 million,” Foreman said. “Being that this money is coming out of the state’s general fund, this is $12 million that cannot go towards state infrastructure or schools.”
Foreman also explained the work he did for the Defeat 22 Campaign.
“We called people all around South Dakota letting them know the parts of the bill that we thought would be detrimental to South Dakotans,” Foreman said.
This was also not the first time South Dakotans were able to engage directly through the initiated measure process, nor was it the first time South Dakotans were frustrated by inaction.
In Nov. 2014, South Dakotans approved Measure 18. This measure increased the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $8.50 per hour. However, Republicans in the legislature introduced Senate Bill 177, which exempted workers under age 18 from receiving the minimum wage.
South Dakota voters then responded by voting ‘no’ to decrease the minimum wage for those under age 18 with 71.1 percent of the vote. The people had to vote again for whether or not to raise the minimum wage, and the voters had to state their opinion the second time for them to be heard correctly by their legislatures.
The fact that initiatives sometimes reach this fate in South Dakota is troubling for some because South Dakota voters have to state their voices through voting on an initiated measure more than once.
“It makes me worry about future initiatives,” Kronaizl said.
The next step for IM 22 is the possible enactment of an emergency clause and there needs to be votes in opposition to stop the delay. If the repeal goes forward, Kronaizl said he has a plan.
“If (the legislators) go forward with the repeal then (we) will keep a close eye on these replacement measures,” Kronaizl said.
Ries has a word of advice for USD students who want their government to hear their concerns.
“I think South Dakota voters should hold their legislators accountable,” Ries said.