About Amendment C

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On June 7, South Dakota voters will determine the outcome of Amendment C.  If adopted by a majority of voters, this would change the state’s constitution to require a three-fifths approval for any future constitutional amendment or initiated measure that imposes or increases taxes or fees, or that obligates the state to appropriate funds of $10  million dollars or more in any of the first five fiscal years after enactment.

While our state constitution allows the Legislature to approve the general appropriation bill with a simple majority, Article 12 specifies that special appropriations require a two-thirds vote of all the members of each branch of the Legislature.  Amendment C somewhat mirrors the idea of requiring a higher vote for expenditures outside the ordinary expenses of government.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states require a simple majority vote to change their constitution.  Other states require a higher percentages of voter approval; for example, New Hampshire requires a two-thirds voter approval for any amendment.  (In case you’re curious, amending the U.S. Constitution requires ratification from three-fourths of the States.)

There are three ways a constitutional amendment can be placed on the ballot in South Dakota:  by action from the Legislature, by citizens gathering enough valid signatures, or by a constitutional convention called by three-fourths vote from each legislative chamber.  The ability for voters to directly place an amendment on the ballot is fairly recent in our state’s history.  With a change approved by South Dakotans in 1972, we became one of 17 states to allow citizens to directly place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Amendment C was placed on the ballot by the legislature. 

Proponents of Amendment C point out that amending the constitution is something that should not be undertaken lightly, and a higher voter approval is appropriate.  In addition, extra care should be taken for new taxes, fees, or expenditures.

Opponents point to the fact that that Amendment C allows the minority to determine the outcome of a vote.  There are also concerns about how to calculate and predict the $10 million threshold.

If approved, Amendment C would apply only to those constitutional amendments with a financial obligation as already referenced.  Other constitutional amendments would still be at the simple-majority threshold.

You may read the complete text of Amendment C on the Secretary of State’s website at sdsos.gov, under the 2022 Ballot Questions tab.

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