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.

Attack vs. the Truth

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At least the attack mailer that came today used a decent picture of me, unlike other years.

I absolutely stand by my votes to:

1) improve teacher pay and provide property tax relief (HB 1182 of 2016), and

2) keep our current sales tax rate when we are trying to improve State Employe salaries and help prepare South Dakota for the anticipated fiscal cliff economists are predicting.

By the way, the attack mailer got it wrong, which is probably to be expected from an out-of-state group. There was no HB 117 in the 2022 legislative session. Senate Bill 117, when I voted on it, was an act to streamline government and eliminate unnecessary reports. It was amended in the House first to address fees collected by the Secretary of State, and then at the last minute to deal with the tax on food. I voted with the overwhelming majority of the Senate not to support these changes to the bill, especially because they happened without the chance for committee hearings and citizen input.