Initiative & Referendum Task Force Final Meeting Wednesday–Contact Members NOW

No fewer than twenty bills are on the docket for consideration in the final meeting of the Initiative & Referendum Summer Task Force on Wednesday, August 23rd in Pierre.

And there’s no time slated for citizen input.


A number of these bills were already discussed in the last meeting. However, the July meeting agenda provided for up to two hours of public comment on the draft bills; this final meeting agenda provides no room for citizen input on the plethora of new bills under consideration–many of which would undermine the citizens’ tools for direct democracy in this state.

This is the final meeting of the task force, where bill drafts will be recommended for consideration during the 2018 legislative session.

The more bad bills we kill now, the fewer bad bills we’ll have to fight in committee and on the House and Senate floor come January. That means you should contact Task Force members BEFORE Wednesday!

The Legislative Research Council has prepared a summary of all of the bill drafts under consideration, accessible here.

Contact information for the members of the task force is here:
Initiative & Referendum Task Force Contacts (PDF)

Dakota Rural Action’s stance is first and foremost to protect the initiative and referendum process. South Dakota was the first state in the nation to enshrine these tools for direct democracy, and they have been invaluable in dealing directly with issues the legislature won’t touch, as well as checking the legislature when they go in directions we don’t agree with.

Here’s a run-down of the bills under consideration. The numbers are the Legislative Research Council’s draft numbers. Our comments are in italics, and our stance is in boldface:

  • #77–Board of Elections can determine petition size and font size. Members of the task force who are on the Board of Elections have indicated this is already under their purview. NO.
  • #82–Requires initiated measures being circulated now for the 2018 ballot to go back to the LRC for a fiscal note. Last session, the requirement for IM’s to have a fiscal note passed, but did not go into effect until July 1st. So, this is basically cluttering the process for ballot measure committees who’ve already gone through the LRC process and are collecting signatures now (as well being a pain for the LRC). NO.
  • #83–Revise the attorney general’s recitation of “yes” or “no.” This may actually have some benefit, as previous initiators have indicated concern over the AG’s ballot wording of what a “Yes” or a “No” vote does. This bill would simplify (and potentially neutralize) that language. YES.
  • #84–If two ballot measures on the same subject but with conflicting language pass in the same election, the measure receiving the most votes supersedes. Seems reasonable. MAYBE.
  • #87–Moves the filing deadline for initiated measure petitions from one year to the second day of May prior to the next general election. More time for circulating and gathering petitions=more opportunity for direct democracy. YES.
  • #96–Allows petition circulation to begin 30 months (rather than 24) prior to the next general election. Again, more time for circulation means more opportunity for grassroots groups to gather signatures. That’s a YES.
  • #97–Allows the LRC to provide substantive assistance as well as style and form assistance to petition sponsors. This could be useful, so long as sponsors retain the right to say “no” to comments they disagree with. MAYBE.
  • #99–Removes the requirement for the full text of the measure to be on the petition form; allows circulators to provide the full text in a separate document. The measure would still require the attorney general’s summary to be printed on the petition itself. This could be helpful in terms of the costs associated with the printing of petitions, since the law now requires the petition and full text to be contained on a single piece of paper–leading to what Secretary of State Krebs referred to as “beach towel petitions” in cases of more lengthy measures. YES.
  • #80 & #81 (Constitutional Amendments)–Requires initiated constitutional amendments to pass with 55% and 60% of the vote, respectively. Proponents of these amendments argue that the constitution is too easy to amend (though to our knowledge none of those folks have been involved in an attempt to get one on the ballot). Initiated constitutional amendments already require double the number of signatures to get on the ballot, which on the ground (in order to account for a margin of error) means about 40,000 signatures. And then a majority of the voters actually have to agree. NO.
  • #95 & #96 (Constitutional Amendments)–Same as the two above, but with the addition of a 2/3 vote requirement for legislature-proposed constitutional amendments. For the reasons stated above, NO.
  • #73–Deadline for LRC comments on ballot measures determined by the length of the ballot measure. Due to a number of factors (including the possibility of an initiated measure that creates or amends several similarly worded sections), the contention that a lengthier ballot measure is necessarily more complex is false. NO.
  • #100–Provides for the automatic generation of a fiscal note for ballot measures. Since the requirement for ballot measures to have a fiscal note passed last session, this is a way to make that automatic rather than a separate step for initiators. YES.
  • #110–(Constitutional Amendment) Limit of two constitutional amendments per ballot. This actually limits to four total–two from the legislature and two from the people. It also sets up a situation where those with the most money to hire paid circulators get their petitions in first and claim those two spots. NO.
  • #113–(Constitutional Amendment) Initiated amendments passed in multiple legislatures/multiple elections. Requires that initiated amendments be passed in two consecutive general elections and that legislature-proposed amendments be passed, passed again in the next session after the general election, and then referred to voters. This overly complicates the process and puts too much time lag on issues that are of immediate concern. NO.
  • #114–(Constitutional Amendment) Initiatives may not be amended except as provided for in the language of the initiative. This blocks the legislature from repealing or amending initiatives passed by the people unless the language of the initiative itself allows for it, or the legislature has a 3/4 majority vote of both houses on an amendment or repeal. YES.
  • #101, #107, #108–Citizen review panels for initiated laws and initiated constitutional amendments. All of these unnecessarily complicate the process by setting up yet another hoop to jump through and a potentially biased one at that. There is nothing that currently blocks folks from having public discussions about what’s on the ballot, so it’s of dubious merit to have the legislature setting up a forum that forces initiators to go through a process they make up. NO.

Dakota Rural Action lobbyist Rebecca Terk will be at Wednesday’s hearing in Pierre to report on the task force’s decisions. The members of the task force should hear from YOU before then with a strong message about protecting the process, and specific input about the bill drafts that should be scrapped.

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Initiative & Referendum Task Force: Take Two

The Summer Task Force on Initiative & Referendum meets again at the State Capitol, Room 414, on Wednesday, July 19th to discuss draft legislation and take public testimony. Dakota Rural Action’s lobbyist will be there, and we invite members to join us at the Capitol, and to contact task force members.


Since the first meeting of the task force in June, the Legislative Research Council (LRC) has drafted no fewer than ten bills at the request of committee members, as well as fulfilling several research requests. You can read the compiled research and full text of bill drafts on the LRC’s website by clicking here.

The members of the task force need to hear from South Dakotans (that means YOU!) that these tools for Direct Democracy should not be weakened or undermined. Contact them using the link below.

Initiative & Referendum Task Force Contacts (PDF)

Here is a short summary of the ten bills drafted thusfar:

  1. Lengthens the amount of time the LRC has to review initiated laws and constitutional amendments from fifteen days to fifteen working days.
  2. Ties the amount of time the LRC has to review initiated laws and constitutional amendments to the number of words in the initiated measure.
  3. Exempts the LRC from reviewing citizen-initiated laws and constitutional amendments during the regular legislative session–reviews of any initiated measures submitted during the session would be due 15 days following the close of session.
  4. On initiated measures submitted to their office, directs the LRC to provide comments not only on style and form (required at present), but on the “substantive content” of initiated measures, “in order to minimize any conflict with existing law and to ensure the measure’s or amendment’s effective administration.”
  5. Limits the number of initiated measures, referred laws, and constitutional amendments that can appear on the ballot.
  6. Directs the State Board of Elections to promulgate rules concerning petition size and font size.
  7. Moves the dates for completed petitions to be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office from one year ahead of the next general election to the last day of June prior to the general election (increasing the amount of time petitioners have to collect signatures).
  8. A resolution increasing the number of votes required to pass an initiated constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 60% (if passed, this resolution would go to the voters for approval).
  9. A resolution increasing the number of votes required to pass an initiated constitutional amendment from a simple majority to 55% (if passed by the legislature, this resolution would go to the voters for approval).
  10. Requiring initiated laws and constitutional amendments submitted before July 1 of 2017 to include a fiscal note (this covers those measures submitted before SB77 went into effect).

Remember, Task Force members need to hear from you!

And, so do we!
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ACTION ALERT: Protect Initiative & Referendum

The Summer Task Force on Initiative & Referendum is Meeting This Week.


Today was the first meeting. Tomorrow, public testimony is being heard in Room 413 at the State Capitol.

Contact the members of the Task Force NOW and tell them South Dakota’s Direct Democracy is important to all of us. They must PROTECT our right to initiate and refer laws–NOT weaken it or make it more difficult to access.

There are plenty of problems in South Dakota’s government, but the initiative and referendum process is not a problem–it’s a solution–a tool for voters to fix what’s not being addressed by the legislature.
Contact the Task Force TODAY to say you want Direct Democracy protected!

Initiative & Referendum Task Force Roster:
Legislator Members:
Senator Jim Bolin

Representative Don Haggar

Senator Reynold Nesiba

Senator Ernie Otten

Representative Tim Reed

Representative Karen Soli

Non-Legislator Members:
Dr. Emily Wanless (Chair)

Pam L. Lynde

Linda Lea M. Viken

Yvonne Taylor

Duane Sutton

Will Mortenson

James W. Abbott
(Jim Abbott was absent from the initial meeting)

Access the agenda and documents for the Task Force via the Legislative Research Council here.

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ACTION ALERT: Free Speech & CUP Appeals


HB1187–Undermining Citizens Right to Appeal CUP Decisions–House Floor TODAY

This bill, pitched as “local control friendly” actually removes the right of citizens to appeal Conditional Use Permit decisions by their local Boards of Adjustment. If you’ve ever seen a permit approved even after everyone in the community spoke against it–this bill ensures you don’t have any recourse in the courts.

CALL THE HOUSE LOBBY FROM 7:45AM-1PM TODAY AND LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR REPRESENTATIVES. Tell them “NO” on 1187–local control means citizens should retain full rights to appeal CUP decisions.

House Lobby: (605) 773-3851

SB176–Undermines Free Speech–Senate Floor TODAY

This last-minute hoghouse bill gives the governor the power to declare a “public safety zone” anywhere in the state with NO parameters on size or location (it could be your own land!)–and creates a new, “aggravated criminal trespass” charge for those who enter that zone. It is SPECIFICALLY targeted against Native people, landowners, and others who protest pipelines and eminent domain for private gain, and it is an attack on the First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech.

CALL THE SENATE LOBBY FROM 7:45AM-1PM TODAY AND LEAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR SENATORS. Tell them this bill is a direct affront to Freedom of Speech, is Unconstitutional, and should be killed.

Senate Lobby: (605) 773-3821

It is especially important that you CALL today rather than e-mail because these bills are moving fast, and e-mails may not get read in time!


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ACTION ALERT: “Public Safety” Bill Makes Protesters Felons

“Public Safety” Bill Gives Governor War Powers; Makes Protesters Felons


SB 176 started out as a “shell” or empty bill entitled, ”Accommodate Legislation Relating to the Protection of Public Safety.” It has become a bill giving the governor enhanced powers when dealing with protests.

This desecration of the people’s First Amendment right to peaceably assemble will be heard in Senate State Affairs Committee this Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 10am in Room 414 at the Capitol. We urge members and others to show up and pack the meeting room to testify against this chilling bill.

An article posted in the Argus Leader alerted us to an amendment proving that this is a move to enhance the governor’s powers to declare a “public safety zone” during protests wherein protesters could be charged with “aggravated criminal trespass”–a Class 1 misdemeanor–and is specifically targeted against the potential for protests against the KXL pipeline. If that protester has already been charged for trespass within the last two years–even in another state–the charge automatically increases to a Class 6 FELONY.

Another good description of the potential effects of this bill can be found on the Dakota Free Press blog (click here).

If you can’t come–contact members of the Senate State Affairs Committee and urge them to vote NO on this bad bill.

Senate State Affairs Committee

(click on the name to see contact information)

Bolin, Jim

Curd, R. Blake

Ewing, Bob (Chair)

Heinert, Troy

Langer, Kris

Maher, Ryan

Netherton, Jenna (Vice Chair)

Novstrup, Al

Sutton, Billie

ACTION ALERT: Protect Your Right to Appeal CAFO Siting Decisions


HB 1187 may have dire implications for those fighting CAFO sitings and other unwanted developments that negatively impact family farms, homes, and communities. It was scheduled today, and is being heard in the House Local Government Committee TOMORROW (Thursday, 2/16) at 10am in Room 414 at the Capitol.

As DRA member Kathy Tyler states in her upcoming testimony: “Citizens want a voice in how their neighborhoods are run, this bill puts the final nail in the coffin of that voice. HB1187 takes away any and all local control of how conditional use permits are handled. If a county or city wants to have public input, maybe even wants to offer the ability to refer a conditional use permit, they will not be able to do so with this bill.”

This is a VERY dangerous piece of legislation for those who value local control, and it needs to be stopped. Contact the members of the House Local Government Committee TODAY.

House Local Government Committee Members
(click on the name for contact information)
** indicates the Representative is also a sponsor of the bill

Conzet, Kristin, Chair
Greenfield, Lana
Jamison, Greg
**Kettwig, Jason
Marty, Sam
**Otten, Herman
Reed, Tim
Schoenfish, Kyle
Smith, Jamie
Soli, Karen
**Tulson, Burt , Vice Chair
**Turbiville, Charles
York, Nancy

As always, we welcome Dakota Rural Action members to come and testify in person.
Please let us know if you are planning to attend this important hearing.

Rebecca Terk
DRA Lobbyist in Pierre
(605) 697-5204 x260

Action Alert: One More Call on HB1069



Republicans in Pierre are trying to ram through HB 1069 before the week is out. This bill is a repeal of Initiated Measure 22, the voter-approved anti-corruption and government accountability act.

This morning, despite the fact that some members of the committee have potential conflicts of interest due to their involvement in a personal lawsuit against IM 22, HB 1069 passed the Senate State Affairs Committee along party lines with none recusing themselves.

Because the bill contains an emergency clause, it cannot be referred by the voters. HOWEVER, the emergency clause also requires the bill to have a two-thirds vote to pass on the Senate floor.

We need more calls NOW to peel off votes from that majority.
Call the Senate lobby and tell your senator to VOTE NO on House Bill 1069, and “fix, don’t nix” Initiated Measure 22.
Senate Lobby Number: (605) 773-3821

If you can’t call, e-mail your Senator. Find your Senator’s e-mail at this website:

Action Alert: SB67

SealThe Attacks on Citizens’ Right to Direct Democracy Keep Coming

Senate Bill 67, an act to revise the number of signatures needed to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, will be heard in Senate State Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning.

This bill dramatically raises the number of signatures needed by altering the formula: from 10% of the number of voters in the previous gubernatorial election to 10% of the TOTAL number of registered voters in the state.

These changes raise an already high bar to a level where the only groups likely to meet this challenge are big money outfits that can afford to hire people to circulate their petitions.

Like House Bill 1069 (the repeal of a Voter-approved anti-corruption act, passed out of House State Affairs last night), SB 67 also comes with an emergency clause, which puts it into effect right away, with no recourse for voters to refer it to the ballot.


CALL or EMAIL the members of Senate State Affairs NOW and tell them to oppose SB 67–the formula works as it is, AND there is NO need for an emergency clause because there is no emergency.

Senate State Affairs Members

Jim Bolin (R) Canton
605-773-3821 capitol

R. Blake Curd (R) Sioux Falls (Dist. 12)

Bob Ewing (R) Spearfish

Troy Heinert (D) Mission

Kris Langer

Ryan Maher (R) Isabel

Jenna Netherton (R) Sioux Falls Dist. 10

Al Novstrup (R) Aberdeen

Action Alert: HB1069

SD Legislature Attempts to Gut Initiated Measure 22 with the Passage of House Bill 1069


HB 1069, a complete gutting of Initiated Measure 22 passed by voters last fall, is being rushed to a joint hearing on Monday after being introduced late Friday afternoon.

IM 22 created an independent ethics commission to oversee the legislature, imposed stricter limits on lobbying, and provided for public financing of political campaigns. While some voters disagreed with sections of the bill, the citizen-led initiative passed in November with 53% of the vote.

HB 1069 undermines this package of reforms meant to bring greater transparency and oversight to the democratic process, and it comes with an emergency clause that ensures immediate implementation and blocks any process of referral by voters. The fox is re-engineering the henhouse for his own comfort.

While there are some constitutional issues with IM 22 as passed, an injunction by the State Supreme Court already prevents those measures from going into effect. The “emergency” being declared is an excuse for legislators to alter both the letter and spirit of the law with no recourse for the voters who passed it.


RIGHT NOW contact Committee members (listed below) and urge them to kill HB1069 in committee.

MONDAY MORNING Call the House Lobby at (605) 773-3851 and leave a message for your representatives, telling them to STAND UP for voters and vote DOWN HB1069.

House State Affairs Committee Members
Julie Bartling (D) Gregory
(605) 222-3378 (cell)

Arch Beal (R) Sioux Falls

Lynne DiSanto (R) Box Elder

Don Haggar (R) Sioux Falls
(605) 360-8130 (cell)

Spencer Hawley (D) Brookings
(605) 691-3061 (cell)

Leslie Heinemann (R) Flandreau
(605) 864-1274 (cell)

Isaac Latterell (R) Tea

David Lust (R) Rapid City

Mark G. Mickelson (R) Sioux Falls
(605) 951-7690 (cell)

Kent Peterson (R) Salem
(605) 530-6245 (cell)

(Vice Chair) Lee Qualm (R) Platte
(605) 207-0406 (cell)

(Chair) Larry Rhoden (R) Union Center

Tona Rozum (R) Mitchell
(605) 999-2190 (cell)

CAFO bill #3 up tomorrow – losing local control

CAFO bill #3 is up

House Local Government will vote on HB 1201 Thursday, February 19, at 10amCT in room 414

Great news – two out of three bad CAFO bills have been killed by the legislature. But there is still one left, and it might just be the worst of the bunch. HB 1201 takes away local control, makes approval of CAFOs easier, and would spell disaster for many of our communities concerned about public input and involvement in CAFO decisions.

HB 1201 is up in the House Local Government Committee in less than 24 hours. Please email the committee before Thursday morning at 10amCT! Make sure to say in the subject line “Vote against HB 1201.” If you are a farmer, rancher, or in any way involved in the agriculture industry, please tell these representatives so they get the message: we are not opposed to agriculture development – but this is the wrong way to do it.

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