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Early voting underway on Amendment C, which would raise threshold to 60 percent for some ballot questions

Melissa Hamersma Sievers
The state Capitol in Pierre.

Early voting is open statewide for the June 7 primary election.

Alongside candidates, voters will decide whether certain ballot questions should be subject to a higher vote threshold.

That could have implications for the general election in November.

Constitutional Amendment C asks voters to increase the voting threshold to 60 percent for some ballot questions. The new threshold would apply to measures that create or increase any tax. It would also apply to measures that spend $10 million in their first five years of existence.

State lawmakers put the proposal on the ballot. The state Republican Party supports it.

Republican state Sen. Jim Stalzer, of Sioux Falls, supports the idea. He says the threshold is still less than what’s required of the Legislature.

“If we’re going to raise taxes or spend new initiatives it takes a two-thirds vote for us. So, we’re actually putting it in at a lower rate than what the Legislature is required to do. Again, that was done by an initiative from the people.”

Critics say Amendment C is designed to make passing Medicaid expansion more difficult.

That’s because the question is asked during the primary election, rather than the general. Fewer voters weigh in during the primary election. And most primary races are between Republican candidates.

Democratic state Sen. Reynold Nesiba, R-Sioux Falls, says the ballot question could make it more difficult to pass Medicaid expansion in November.

“Amendment C is a power-grab by Republican state legislators to take away majority rule from the people on ballot measures. There’s already a lawsuit filed against it,” Nesiba says. “It threatens future funding for law enforcement, rural hospitals, schools and childcare. And, it’s unnecessary.”

A pending lawsuit before the state Supreme Court says Amendment C contains two subjects, which is not allowed under the constitution. That provision was recently used to overturn a voter-approved cannabis legalization measure from 2020.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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