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Amendment C asks voters to require 60 percent approval for some ballot measures

Amber Zora

State lawmakers want primary election voters to weigh in on increasing the threshold for certain ballot questions.

Amendment C asks voters to raise the threshold for certain ballot questions to 60 percent — meaning a simple majority would not guarantee passage, and a minority of voters could overrule the majority. The measure would apply to future ballot questions that raise taxes or spend $10 million in general funds in their first five years.

Republican state Rep. Jon Hansen, of Dell Rapids, is a prime sponsor of the ballot question. He says the threshold mirrors similar requirements lawmakers have when spending money or raising taxes.

“This Constitutional Amendment C is that,” Hanson says. “It’s a measure that requires just a little more agreement among the voters. Puts the taxpayers in just a little bit more control when it comes to raising taxes and big government spending.”

A co-sponsor of Amendment C moved the question up to the primary so it could potentially be in place for the general election. That way it would be in place when voters weigh in on Medicaid expansion.

Yvonne Taylor is with the South Dakota Municipal League, which opposes Amendment C. She says the lawmakers supporting the amendment are trying to cut down on the number of voters weighing in on the measure.

“Because the primary voters are generally a smaller group of people. They’re generally a more political group of people,” Taylor says. “We don’t have a major race on the ballot for the primary. The Legislature — although very narrowly — passed it in the Senate. Put it on in June and we think that that was maybe a slightly underhanded trick.”

Early voting for the primary is open until Monday. Election day is Tuesday, June 7.

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.