Initiated Measure 22 creates confusion, SDAHO changes legislative events

On Nov. 8, South Dakotans approved Initiated Measure 22 (IM-22) by a narrow margin (51.62 percent-48.38 percent). The impacts and implications of the new law, which took effect on Nov 16, has created much speculation, angst and has resulted in a law suit being filed.

Last week, 27 legislators and legislative spouses filed a complaint with the sixth judicial circuit asking for preliminary and permanent injunctive relief from IM 22. The complaint asserts that the measure was poorly drafted and has numerous conflicts with both state and federal law, including the South Dakota Constitution. In addition, they contest that IM 22 violates the right of free speech, impairs existing contracts, and would force newly elected officials to choose between their job or serving in as an elected official.

The complaint filed on Nov. 23 identifies a number of issues against IM 22. The Attorney General’s office has the unenviable responsibility to defend the new legislation. In addition, the lawsuit itself will also divert dollars to cover court costs for IM 22. From the onset, this initiated measure is turning out to be a costly one for the citizens of South Dakota.

A brief summary of the provisions that are causing concern include:

  • Section 31, states no lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist can give a politician “gifts” that exceed $100 in a calendar year.
    The term “gift” is defined as, “any compensation, reward, employment, gift honorarium, beverage, meal, food or other thing of value made or given directly or indirectly to any person.” defined as a “gift.” This may include a spouse or adult child’s paycheck if they work for a larger employer in the state – such as health care.

  • The Ethics Commission violates Article 2 and Article 4, Section 8 of the South Dakota Constitution.
  • The Ethics Commission violates the governor’s executive appointment authority and the separation of powers.
  • IM 22 unconstitutionally delegates legislative authority to the Ethics Commission.
  • The Ethics Commission cannot lawfully qualify candidates.
  • IM 22 unconstitutionally appropriate from the state general fund.
  • Section 31 impairs existing contracts.
  • Section 31 violates the right of free speech.
  • The Democracy Credit Program violates equal protection and rights protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article 6, Sections 4 and 5 of the South Dakota Constitution.
  • The disclosure requirements for the independent expenditures violate the right of free speech.
  • IM 22 violates the single subject rule.

Given the uncertainty and to encourage attendance by legislators, SDAHO has joined others in making some changes related to upcoming “legislative events”. Specifically, SDAHO will hold the Legislative Forums as previously scheduled, however we may change the location and will eliminate food/beverage expense. Also, we made the difficult decision to discontinue the Health Screenings event for legislators that has been held each year at the Capitol in January.

Additional information will be shared as it becomes available.