Gant outlines fall ballot issuesSecretary of state speaks at meeting of local service club.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant was the featured speaker at the noon meeting of the Mitchell Rotary Club Thursday at the Ramada Inn, where he reviewed seven ballot questions with an audience of about 30.
“It’s a big ballot,” Gant said. The Nov. 6 statewide ballot will ask voters to accept or reject four constitutional amendments, two referred laws and one initiated measure.
Following are summaries of the ballot questions.
• Constitutional Amendment M: Removes some old corporation rules and allows the Legislature to authorize alternative methods of voting for corporate directors, expand the types of contributions corporations can receive for the issuance of stock or bonds, and establish procedures for governing the increase of corporate stock or debt.
Gant said the measure was previously defeated because the electorate probably did not understand the proposal, but he said the proposed law “allows corporations to be more nimble.”
• Constitutional Amendment N : Removes the current 5 cents-per-mile mileage reimbursement for legislators and gives the Legislature permission to set reimbursement amounts more in keeping with modern expenses. The original law was passed in 1889, Gant said, and has not been changed since. A previous attempt to change the amendment was defeated by voters. “The public thought that a nickel (a mile) was just fine,” Gant said.
• Constitutional Amendment O: Changes the method for distributing proceeds from the state cement plant trust fund. Current law requires the fund to transfer $12 million a year to the state general fund for the support of education. The amendment would instead require an annual transfer of 4 percent of the fund’s balance, thereby extending the life of the trust. The change is designed to keep the fund from being depleted in a difficult economy when interest earned by the fund is low. A similar amendment was defeated by voters in a past election, Gant said.
• Constitutional Amendment P: Would require the governor to propose a balanced budget, and the Legislature to adopt a balanced budget. While South Dakota has a history of passing balanced budgets, Gant said, there is no law that expressly requires the Legislature to do so. This proposed amendment would do that.
• Referred Law 14: Asks voters to consider a law that would establish a special development fund. The law would use 22 percent of contractors’ excise tax funds to create a Large Project Development Fund from which grants would be issued to economic development projects with a cost exceeding $5 million.
Proponents believe the measure would support large projects and create jobs. Opponents believe the program is too expensive and would give the Governor’s Office of Economic Development unlimited discretion to choose favored and out-of-state projects over projects using in-state companies.
• Referred Law 16: Asks voters to approve or reject a law (HB1234) that would establish a teacher scholarship program; create a program for math and science teacher bonuses; create a program for teacher merit bonuses; mandate a uniform teacher and principal evaluation system; and eliminate teacher tenure. Proponents say the law invests in and rewards good teaching. Opponents, which include the South Dakota Education Association, argue the law would be discriminatory and divisive and would give school districts the power to fire teaches without due process.
• Initiated Measure 15: Asks the state to increase the general sales and use tax rate by 1 percent, from the current 4 percent to 5 percent. Gant said the estimated $180 million a year generated by the tax would be split between education and Medicaid. The Legislature would not be able to use the funds for other purposes and it would not be able to reduce current contributions to education or Medicaid.