Ban On Out-Of-State Money To Ballot Questions Overturned

May 9, 2019

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB

A federal judge is overturning a ban on out-of-state money for South Dakota ballot questions.

Voters approved that ban at the ballot box last year.

IM 24 sought to ban out-of-state people and groups from sending money to ballot question committees.
Backers of IM 24 brought the idea to the ballot box after attempts in the state legislature failed.

Proponents sought a ban after a political reform package known as IM 22 passed in 2016. That question was funded in part by a Massachusetts-based group Represent Us.

Cory Heidelberger is a blogger for Dakota Free Press. He initially brought a lawsuit against the state over IM24. Shortly there after, several groups like the South Dakota Newspaper Association and Americans for Prosperity filed a separate suit against the measure.

Heidelberger says it’s good to know South Dakota is still subject to the US constitution.

“I was confident throughout that the judge would see the merits of our argument that banning the participation and political activities of 99.7 percent of Americans just because they happen to live on the wrong side of the state line is unconstitutional, not to mention unworkable,” Heidelberger says.

Heidelberger says the ban on out-of-state money to ballot questions was another attempt by the legislature to undermine grassroots ballot questions.

Federal judge Charles Kornmann says Initiated Measure 24 is unconstitutional because it violates First Amendment rights to engage in political speech and to associate with others to fund political speech.

He further writes that it interferes with the free flow of money between persons or entities from another state and ballot questions committees in South Dakota.