Task Force Abandons Legislation To Place Cap On Ballot Questions

Jul 19, 2017

The legislative task force looking into the ballot measure process in South Dakota will not consider limiting the number of ballot questions per election.
 
The summer committee removed proposed legislation that places a cap on initiative measures, constitutional amendments and referred laws.

 

The particular draft legislation the summer committee was considering didn’t have any specific limits written into the bill.
 
The committee would have had to work those numbers out.
 
The idea to limit the number of questions that reach the ballot came after last’s years election. South Dakota voters chose between 10 questions to change the state’s constitution, state statute or referring a previously passed law.
 
Some lawmakers say the volume of questions is leading to voter fatigue.
 
State Senator Jim Bolin has been outspoken about the number of ballot measure questions last year. But, he says now’s not the time to put a cap on them…
 
“We should not go down this road at this time," Bolin says. "There is a feeling out there, at least in the legislative district I represent, the volume of the issues that are on the ballot before the public is too great.”
 
South Dakota was the first state in the country to allow the public to draft laws and put them up for a direct vote to the people.
 
State Senator Ernie Otten says he doesn’t like the idea of capping the number of ballot questions, either.
 
“If you don’t like something on the ballot, then vote ‘no,’” Otten says. “I have some problems with putting any constraint on that.”

The Initiative and Referendum Task Force is still considering legislation that changes the filing dates for ballot question petitions. The group is also considering increasing the vote requirement for a change to the state constitution.
 
The group will meet again on August 23, in Pierre, to decide what legislation they want lawmakers to consider in January.