Marsy's Law changes will be on June ballot

PIERRE -- Every voter in South Dakota now has a reason to cast a ballot June 5. The state House of Representatives decided Wednesday a special election should be held that day on a proposed change to victim's rights in the state constitution. The...


PIERRE - Every voter in South Dakota now has a reason to cast a ballot June 5.

The state House of Representatives decided Wednesday a special election should be held that day on a proposed change to victim's rights in the state constitution.

The timing coincides with primary elections setting political party tickets for county, legislative and state offices in the November general election.

Other proposed amendments and initiated laws will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

South Dakota held one special election on constitutional amendments in 2001.


House members voted 61-6 for the proposed amendment.

It would tighten some provisions in the Marsy's Law provisions South Dakota voters approved in 2016.

The Marsy's Law organization supports the changes, according to Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls.

Erinn Mahathey, a Marsy's Law lobbyist, watched from the House gallery.

One proposed change would remove the statement that a victim shall have rights "beginning at the time of victimization" and insert the phrase "upon request."

Another proposed change would allow law enforcement to share information with the public for the purpose of solving the crime.

Because it is a joint resolution, Gov. Dennis Daugaard doesn't get to review HJR 1004 and can't try to stop it with a veto. He supports putting it on the June ballot to potentially save money for counties.

The House also gave final approval 58-9 for legislation appropriating $200,000 for the special election. HB 1162 also sets deadlines of:


• March 27 for the attorney general to provide the secretary of state an explanation of what the proposed amendment would do;

• April 11 for the secretary of state to deliver to county auditors the proposed amendment and related materials; and

• May 1 for county auditors to mail each a copy to each official newspaper.

"You're going to save money, you're going to solve problems back in your district. You're going to improve turnout," Mickelson, the House speaker, said.

House Democratic Leader Spencer Hawley, of Brookings, said he originally agreed with putting the proposed amendment on the November ballot, but opposed it in June.

"I cannot let the ends justify the means by doing this," Hawley said.

County governments want the June date, according to Rep. Elizabeth May, R-Kyle.

"This is serious to them. They want us to resolve it," May said. "My counties don't have the money."


Rep. Nancy York, R-Watertown, said the decision to hold the special election "made a lot of difference" for her. York said the Marsy's Law organization intends to spend money on campaign advertising.

County governments could save many thousands of dollars compared to the state's potential expense, York said.

Said Mickelson: "The feedback on this is, 'Do it.' " He added, "This is a solution to a very real problem that is costing your local governments millions of dollars."

House members also supported legislation that doubles the surcharge for victim services to five dollars.

It also shifts the victim compensation commission to the state Department of Public Safety from the Department of Social Services.

The vote for HB 1160 was 64-3. The commission has been part of state government for decades.

The two bills go to the governor for review.

At A Glance

Here's how House members voted Wednesday on letting voters decide a proposed constitutional amendment that tightens victim's rights. The House approved HJR 1004 61-6.

Yes (61) - Anderson, R-Hudson. Bartels, R-Watertown. Barthel, R-Sioux Falls. Beal, R-Sioux Falls. Bordeaux, D-Mission. Brunner, R-Nisland. Campbell, R-Rapid City. Carson, R-Mitchell. Chase, R-Huron. Clark, R-Hartford. Conzet, R-Rapid City. Dennert, R-Aberdeen. Diedrich, R-Rapid City. DiSanto, R-Box Elder. Duvall, R-Pierre. Frye-Mueller, R-Rapid City. Glanzer, R-Huron. Goodwin, R-Rapid City. Gosch, R-Glenham. Lana Greenfield, R-Doland. Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls. Heinemann, R-Flandreau. Holmes, R-Sioux Falls. Howard, R-Rapid City. Hunhoff, R-Yankton. Jamison, R-Sioux Falls. Kevin Jensen, R-Canton. Johns, R-Lead. Johnson, R-Rapid City. Kaiser, R-Aberdeen. Karr, R-Sioux Falls. Kettwig, R-Milbank. Lake, R-Gettysburg. Latterell, R-Tea. Lesmeister, D-Parade. Livermont, R-Martin. Lust, R-Rapid City. Marty, R-Prairie City. May, R-Kyle. Mills, R-Volga. Herman Otten, R-Lennox. Kent Peterson, R-Salem. Sue Peterson, R-Sioux Falls. Pischke, R-Dell Rapids. Qualm, R-Platte. Reed, R-Brookings. Rhoden, R-Union Center. Ring, D-Vermillion. Rounds, R-Pierre. Rozum, R-Mitchell. Schaefer, R-Kennebec. Schoenfish, R-Scotland. Smith, D-Sioux Falls. Steinhauer, R-Hartford. Tulson, R-Lake Norden. Turbiville, R-Deadwood. Wiese, R-Madison. Willadsen, R-Sioux Falls. York, R-Watertown. Zikmund, R-Sioux Falls. Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls.

No (6) - Ahlers, D-Dell Rapids. Bartling, D-Gregory. Hawley, D-Brookings. McCleerey, D-Sisseton. Stevens, R-Yankton. Wismer, D-Britton.

Excused (3) - McPherson, R-Rapid City. Rasmussen, R-Hurley. Soli, D-Sioux Falls.

Here's how House members voted on HB 1162 that creates the mechanisms for a special election June 5 on the constitutional amendment. The measure passed 58-9.

Yes (58) - Anderson. Bartels. Barthel. Beal. Brunner. Campbell. Carson. Chase. Clark. Conzet. Dennert. Diedrich. DiSanto. Duvall. Frye-Mueller. Glanzer. Goodwin. Gosch. Haugaard. Heinemann. Holmes. Howard. Jamison. Kevin Jensen. Johns. Johnson. Kaiser. Karr. Kettwig. Lake. Latterell. Lesmeister. Livermont. Lust. Marty. May. Mills. Herman Otten. Kent Peterson. Sue Peterson. Pischke. Qualm. Reed. Rhoden. Ring. Rounds. Rozum. Schaefer. Schoenfish. Smith. Steinhauer. Tulson. Turbiville. Wiese. Willadsen. York. Zikmund. Mickelson.

No (9) - Ahlers. Bartling. Bordeaux. Lana Greenfield. Hawley. Hunhoff. McCleerey. Stevens. Wismer.

Excused (3) - McPherson. Rasmussen. Soli.

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