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2016 Ballot Question Guide Wikimedia photo
October 25, 2016

2016 Ballot Question Guide

With ten ballot questions in the 2016 election, making a choice for each may seem overwhelming. Below you will find a brief description of each question, arguments made by proponents and opponents, and the impact of voting "yes" or "no" on each question. 

Referred Law 19

Referred Law 19 was originally passed as Senate Bill 69 in the 2015 legislative session. The bill made changes to the deadlines for candidate nominating petitions. Currently, candidates for primary elections must circulate and submit their nominating petitions between January 1 and the last Tuesday in March. Referred Law 19 proposes to adjust the nominating period to December 1 and the first Tuesday in March. The referred law would also adjust deadlines to other election-related submission deadlines from the last Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in March. Finally, the referred law would prevent voters with registered party affiliations from signing independents’ petition forms.

Proponents of the law state that the law levels the playing field by increasing transparency and prevents abuses of the election process. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs advocated that the bill would allow her office more time to peruse the measures before an election.

Opponents argue that the law would increase the number of signatures petition circulators would need to gather. Circulators would also have to operate in colder winter months. Cory Heidelberger, who led efforts to refer the law, argues that the law would make it difficult for independent candidates to get on the ballot.

A “yes” vote would enact the law and make changes to South Dakota’s petitioning process.  

A “no” vote would withdraw the law.

Referred Law 20

Referred Law 20 would decrease the minimum wage for non-tipped employees under the age of 18. Currently, the minimum wage in South Dakota is $8.55 per hour. With an initiated measure in 2014, South Dakotans voted in favor of raising the minimum wage for all workers to $8.50 per hour with an annual inflation adjustment. In 2015, the South Dakota legislature enacted a law decreasing the minimum wage to $7.50 for non-tipped workers under the age of 18.

Proponents of the referred law argue that increasing the minimum wage would hurt small businesses in the state, resulting in fewer first job opportunities for young workers. The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce supports Referred Law 20.

Opponents of the referred law argue that the law is unnecessary as South Dakotans previously voted to increase the minimum wage for all workers in the state in 2014.

Voting “yes” will lower the minimum wage for non-tipped workers under the age of 18.

Voting “no” vote would maintain a minimum wage of $8.55 for all workers. 

Constitutional Amendment R

Constitutional Amendment R separates technical institutes from the purview of K-12 educational institutions and the South Dakota Board of Regents. The amendment would apply to post-secondary technical institutes that receive state funding. The legislature would be responsible for establishing a governing board for technical institutions.

Proponents argue that the amendment would acknowledge the role technical institutes play in South Dakota and strengthen their ability to create a skilled workforce in the state. The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce and South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations support Amendment R.

Opponents argue that the amendment would be costly and current law already allows counties and municipalities to voluntarily contribute funds to technical institutes. 

Constitutional Amendment S

Constitutional Amendment S, also called Marsy’s Law, would add existing South Dakota laws regarding the right of victims to the state constitution. These rights could be enforced by the victim, the victim’s attorney, or the government’s attorney and could be enforced at proceedings affecting victim’s rights.

Proponents of the amendment argue that Marsy’s Law will afford victims equal rights under the South Dakota Constitution. Proponents also state that the amendment will assure that victims of all crimes will have the right to privacy, to refuse unreasonable requests for personal information, and to be notified of any changes in the status of the offender in the case.  

Opponents of the amendment argue that affording victim’s rights to victims of any crime will increase prosecutorial costs and slow prosecution times, as victims of all crimes will be afforded constitutional rights, regardless of the nature of the crime. Opponents also assert that the amendment is a duplication of rights that are already enforceable under state law. The South Dakota State Bar opposes the amendment.

Voting “yes” would place victim’s rights in the South Dakota Constitution.

Voting “no” would leave the Constitution as it is.

Constitutional Amendment T

Constitutional Amendment T would change the governing body which changes legislative district boundaries. Currently, the South Dakota Constitution states that the legislature must establish new legislative districts every ten years. Constitutional Amendment T would take this process out of the legislature’s hands and establish a redistricting commission responsible for redrawing legislative districts. The commission would be comprised of nine registered voters, selected every ten years by the State Board of Elections from a pool of applicants. No more than three commission members could be from the same political party.

Proponents of the amendment assert that the amendment will empower voters by giving them the ability to choose district boundaries instead of legislators. They also argue that the amendment provides more safeguards in the election process and encourages voter participation.

Opponents assert that Amendment T would not empower voters as proponents claim; instead the amendment would disempower voters by taking the legislative redistricting process away from the legislature and placing it in the hands of an unelected commission. The South Dakota Farm Bureau opposes the amendment.

Voting “yes” will change the South Dakota Constitution to establish a commission on legislative redistricting.

Voting “no” will leave the South Dakota Constitution as it is.

Constitutional Amendment U

Constitutional Amendment U would decrease the interest rate a lender may charge to 18 percent, if there is no written agreement accompanying the loan. However, there would be no limit to the interest rate a lender may charge if there is a written agreement. The amendment would also prohibit the legislature from establishing interest rates that are inconsistent with the language of this amendment.

Proponents of the amendment argue that the 18 percent cap on verbal loan agreements prohibits predatory lending by including such a provision in the South Dakota Constitution. Additionally, they assert that amending the South Dakota Constitution will prevent interference from politicians.

Opponents of the amendment assert that Amendment U creates a loophole through which lending providers will still be able to charge unlimited interest rates to South Dakotans seeking loans. Opponents also believe that individuals seeking loans will be able to receive loans at an interest rate higher than 18 percent, so long as they give their consent to do so. AARP opposes the amendment.

Voting “yes” will amend the South Dakota Constitution to include provisions that may prohibit establishing statutory interest rates.

Voting “no” will leave the South Dakota Constitution as it is.

Constitutional Amendment V

Constitutional Amendment V makes significant modifications to current election proceedings in South Dakota. Currently, candidates are chosen through state party conventions and/or primary elections. The amendment would create nonpartisan elections for federal, state and county offices, not to include the United States President and Vice President. The amendment would eliminate the need for party conventions and establish a nonpartisan primary, in which the two candidates with the highest number of votes would proceed to the general election. Candidates would not be identified by their party affiliation.

Proponents believe that the amendment would allow voters a broader choice of candidates on Election Day. Additionally, they assert that the amendment would make state, federal, and county elections more like local mayoral and city council elections, which allow voters to choose whomever they prefer, regardless of party affiliation. Finally, proponents highlight that nonpartisan elections have thrived in nearby Nebraska for over 80 years. AARP, the League of Women Voters, and the Rapid City Journal endorse the amendment.

Opponents of the amendment believe that removing party affiliation from the ballot will create confusion among voters on Election Day. By removing party affiliation from the ballot, opponents argue that the voting process will be less transparent. They also assert that fewer candidates will appear on the general election ballot, resulting in a loss of choice for voters. The South Dakota Farm Bureau opposes the amendment.

Voting “yes” would add nonpartisan election provisions to the South Dakota Constitution.

Voting “no” would leave the South Dakota Constitution as it is.

Initiated Measure 21

Initiated Measure 21 would decrease the annual percentage rate state-licensed money lenders are able to charge to 36 percent. South Dakota does not currently have a cap on interest rates for loans of this type. It would also make evasions of the law a misdemeanor crime. Loans made in violation of the measure would be void and uncollectable.

Proponents of the measure believe that interest rates on loans granted by payday lenders and car-title loans need a cap, as some lenders are currently charging 574 percent annual percentage rates. AARP supports the measure.

Opponents of the measure assert that it creates more governmental intrusion into citizens’ private lives and prohibits South Dakotans in need of cash from obtaining loans. Select Management Resources LLC. opposes the measure.

Voting “yes” will establish a 36 percent annual percentage rate on loans from certain money lenders.

Voting “no” opposes the measure.

Initiated Measure 22

Initiated Measure 22 would lower the maximum contribution amount to political action committees, political parties and candidates for statewide, legislative, or county office. The measure would also require additional campaign disclosures and reporting.

In addition to these changes, the measure would create a publicly funded campaign finance program for statewide and legislative candidates. Under the program, each registered voter would be assigned $50 in “democracy credits,” created through an appropriation of $9 per registered voter. The voter may then assign their credits to the candidates of their choosing. Any remaining, unassigned credits would be evenly distributed among candidates.

Proponents of the measure assert that the measure will provided added transparency to campaign proceedings in South Dakota by limiting contributions from lobbyists and increasing penalties for campaign finance violations.  Additionally, proponents believe that the measure places control in the hands of voters by allowing them to control a portion of their own tax money to help determine the outcome of elections.

Opponents of the measure assert that the measure diverts public funds that could go toward other services including transportation and public safety. They also state that the measure would require South Dakotans to fund a program that may support activities and causes they do not support. The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce opposes the measure.

Voting “yes” will approve the measure and revise state campaign finance and lobbying laws.

Voting “no” opposes the measure.  

Initiated Measure 23

Initiated Measure 23 would require employees who benefit from the work of unions to pay member dues. Currently, employees who benefit from the work of unions in South Dakota are not required to pay union dues. Initiated Measure 23 would allow unions to charge these employees dues.

Proponents argue that Initiated Measure 23 would “close the free-rider loophole” which hurts employee-sponsored organizations. They also assert that the amendment would not change South Dakotans’ right to employment or require membership in an employee-sponsored organization to hold a job.

Opponents assert as a “right-to-work” state, belonging to a labor organization or paying union dues should not be a requirement of having a job in South Dakota. Additionally, opponents argue that employees should have the right to decide whether or not they pay dues to employee-sponsored organizations. The South Dakota Farm Bureau, Rapid City Chamber of Commerce, and South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations oppose the initiated measure.

Voting “yes” will allow organizations the right to assess fees.

Voting “no” is against the proposed measure. 

If you would like to see a sample ballot or need information on your polling location, visit our voter resource guide.

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