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IN OTHER WORDS: Legislature wins in battle over IM 22

The Legislature won game, set, and match over the South Dakota voters on Initiated Measure 22. The game was won when 27 Republican legislators and spouses along with the SD Family Heritage Alliance asked a judge to put an injunction on IM 22 beli...

The Legislature won game, set, and match over the South Dakota voters on Initiated Measure 22. The game was won when 27 Republican legislators and spouses along with the SD Family Heritage Alliance asked a judge to put an injunction on IM 22 believing that parts of the voter approved law were unconstitutional. The Republican legislators who challenged the unconstitutional issue with a court injunction even voted to repeal the law which seems to breach the separation of the legislative and judicial branches of government.

The set happened when the Republican controlled legislature passed HB 1069 that repealed the IM 22 law, only two months after it was approved by the voters. Additionally, HB 1069 carried an emergency clause so the voters could not refer the Bill to a vote of the public and canceled any attempts by the voters to challenge the legislature.

And the match went to the legislators when they limited lobbying gifts such as SDEA coffee cups to $100 per year, but still allowed themselves things such as $90 per plate dinners put on by the Community Bankers of SD, hospitality/liquor rooms hosted by the SD Beer Distributors, scholarships or financial support to attend meetings sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council, and cozy private dinners with individual lobbyists. Two questions voters need to ask are why did they lose what they voted on and what has changed since the repeal of IM 22? The answer to the first question boils down to legislators believing they know better than the voters do.

Even the governor said the voters did not know what they were voting on and were "hoodwinked" on IM 22. While IM 22 was complex, voters understood the four elements of the law: 1) limit big money in campaigns, 2) put a lid on gifts and free meals that lobbyists can give to legislators, 3) establish a state ethics commission, and 4) establish a means where an average citizen may contribute a small amount of public money in support of a political candidate.

The answer to what has changed with the legislative replacement of IM 22 is very little. There will be no disclosure of meals and drinks provided to legislators by lobbyists. Wealthy individuals and corporations will still be able to donate unlimited amounts of money to a political party. Senate Bill

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54, passed on the last of the Session, will allow Political Action Committees to accept unlimited contributions from any candidate's campaign committee, any political action committee, or a political party. In the end, more legal avenues were opened for political parties and PACs to amass limitless cash cows to influence political campaigns.

The one ace served by the legislature was that several bills for ethics reform were passed. The governor has already praised these laws as the "replacement" for IM 22. The voters need to know the legislature did nothing to stop big money from controlling political elections, to create a real limit on lobbyist's gifts, or to encourage average citizens to support candidates with two publically funded $50 donations. The voters were hoodwinked after all with the game, set, and match going to big money and to the Republican controlled legislature and governor of South Dakota.

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