South Dakota Legislative Research Council

Two out of ten ballot measures up for vote in South Dakota deal with interest rates. Constitutional Amendment U establishes an 18 percent cap on interest rates in the state.

But there’s a catch.


According to the Attorney General’s explanation, if constitutional amendment U is passed any agreement with a lender may not charge more than 18 percent interest per year. That is if it’s a verbal agreement.

According to Consumer Credit Counseling of the Black Hills, if a loan isn’t agreed to in writing, it didn’t happen.

Photo courtesy of Jason Glodt

In November, South Dakota voters will decide whether to add a crime victims' bill of rights to the state constitution. It sounds like a sympathetic cause. It gives victims the right to be treated with fairness and respect and to participate fully in criminal justice processes.

The state director of the campaign, Marsy's Law for All, says an amendment to the constitution is necessary to ensure that victims' rights are permanent.

The 2016 Ballot Questions are more than ballot clutter; they are compelling social and political conversations that give voters a voice on a variety of issues.

SDPB's political reporter Lee Strubinger joins Dakota Midday to explain what your ballot will look like in November, highlighting various referred laws and Constitutional Amendments.

Each Wednesday, Dakota Midday welcomes a rotating panel of the most experienced political journalists in the state. This week Denise Ross (editor, Black Hills Knowledge Network, South Dakota Dashboard) and Jonathan Ellis (Argus Leader Media journalist/columnist) join host Lori Walsh to discuss Initiated Measure 21 and Constitutional Amendment U. Both are 2016 ballot questions.

We also discuss failures in transparency for campaign spending and the challenges of early voting.

Victoria Wicks

In November, South Dakota voters will decide whether to add a crime victims' bill of rights to the state constitution. Advocates' and opponents' positions are starting to emerge.

The proponent, Marsy's Law for All, is launching what its director calls a six-figure radio campaign.

Opponents don't yet have an organized campaign, but they include the South Dakota State Bar and State's Attorneys Association.

SDPB's Victoria Wicks is researching Amendment S and the contentions of those aligned for and against it.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Two out of ten ballot measures up for vote in South Dakota deal with interest rates. Initiated Measure 21 caps interest rates at 36 percent.

Opponents of the measure say that cap would choke the industry.


A coalition of South Dakota churches and concerned citizens are backing a proposal to cap interest rates at 36 percent. Supporters say it would rope in payday loan companies that charge upwards of 500 percent on short term loans.

Amendment R Opponent Disagrees With Proponents On Cost

Aug 25, 2016
Kent Osborne / SDPB

Amendment R recognizes technical institutes as constitutionally legitimized postsecondary education entities.
One critic of the constitutional amendment says Amendment R could cost the state money down the road.  But proponents disagree.

Courtesy photo / Mark Trahant

A Native American political observer says 2016 could be a record year for the number of native candidates on the ballot across the country.

Mark Trahant says just under 100 candidates are running for office.

Mark Trahant is a journalism professor at the University of North Dakota.

He says this could be a record year for the number of native people running for office.   He’s tallying up the number of native candidates nationwide, but he says since this is the first time a count like this has been done, he says he’s cautious about making a superlative statement.

Supporters Say Amendment R Good For Tech Schools

Aug 23, 2016
Lake Area Technical Institute

Attorney General Marty Jackley’s ballot explanation says under Amendment R, “postsecondary technical institutes will be governed separately in a manner to be determined by the Legislature.”

Currently technical institutes are overseen by the State Board of Education and local school boards.
Amendment R adds technical schools to the list of constitutionally recognized post-secondary educational institutions in South Dakota.


As a top industry in the state, agriculture is on the minds of many South Dakotan voters. U.S. Representative Kristi Noem visits Midday to provide her insight on agriculture as she represents local farmers and producers in Washington, D.C. She also discusses the ongoing search for a compromise regarding Country of Origin Labeling, the importance of food supply to national security, and how South Dakotans consistently farm beyond next year’s crop.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

Referred Law 19 would uphold a state law passed during the 2015 legislative session, which sought to clarify the election petitioning process.

Proponents say it levels the playing field, while opponents claim it will result in fewer candidates for office.

Amendment T Changes How Legislative Maps Are Drawn

Aug 12, 2016

Amendment T is a ballot measure that strips the authority of the legislature to establish voting districts every ten years. It establishes a redistricting commission in place of the legislature.

Proponents say it improves the way legislative maps are drawn. Opponents say the system already works well.

According to the state constitution, the South Dakota legislature must redraw legislative districts every ten years. Amendment T moves that authority from state lawmakers to a 9-member independent commission.

Hawks for U.S. House

As one of South Dakota's largest industries, agriculture sows its way into the political landscape. Paula Hawks is the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives. She cites country-of-origin labeling and loss of USDA's Conservation Reserve Program acres as major issues in state agriculture. She discusses the agriculture conversation in Washington, the Farm Bill, and preparations for the November election.

Nate Wek / SDPB

A union backed ballot measure in South Dakota seeks to give organizations the right to charge fees for services provided.

Unions, call it a matter of fairness. But opponents call the measure forced fees.


South Dakota is a right to work state, meaning unions are voluntary.   If passed, Initiated Measure 23 gives corporate organizations and non-profit organizations the right to charge a fee for any service provided.

The measure gives unions the chance to collect on services they say benefit workers who don’t pay dues.

Lee Strubinger / SDPB

U.S. Senator John Thune says he’s focusing on economic security this election. The incumbent senator faces challenger Jay Williams in November.
Last week Thune made a stop in Rapid City at the Black Hills Forum and Press Club. He says the U.S. economy is not in a good place.

RL20 Puts Youth Minimum Wage To A Vote

Jul 26, 2016

South Dakota voters get the chance to vote on a minimum wage again in November. What is known as Referred Law Twenty seeks to reiterate whether or not the minimum wage established by voters two years ago is the ultimate will of the people.
In the 2015 session, legislators changed the law passed by voters in 2014.  Lawmakers approved a lower minimum wage for workers under the age of seventeen.

IM 22 Ballot Measure Creates Public Funded Elections

Jul 19, 2016
Photo courtesy of Don Frankenfeld

A group of South Dakotans are hoping to establish a publicly funded campaign finance program in the state. Voters will get the chance to decide whether or not Initiated Measure 22 becomes law in November.

The measure would also prohibit state employees and lawmakers from becoming lobbyists until two years after leaving state government. As well, IM 22 would establish additional requirements for increased reporting of spending of campaign funds.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

In November, South Dakota voters will get the chance to decide whether or not to support a measure that would create a non-partisan primary system.

Supporters say it increases democracy, while opponents say it reduces transparency.

Amendment V is neither a Republican nor a Democrat backed issue. State Republicans decided to oppose the constitutional amendment at their state convention, and state Democrats neither support nor oppose the measure.


A South Dakota candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives is calling on her opponent to convince Republicans in the state house to vote on expanding Medicaid. Paula Hawks’ call comes just twenty four hours after South Dakota’s governor called off a special session.


U.S. House Candidate Paula Hawks says Medicaid expansion in South Dakota would help fund Indian Health Service operations.

Kent Osborne / SDPB

Hillary Clinton is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the presidential election in November, but in South Dakota it was a close race.

South Dakota State Senator Scott Parsley backs Hillary Clinton.  He says the Clintons have always had a lot of support among Democrats in South Dakota.  Clinton won roughly fifty-one percent of the vote in the state primary.  Now, Parsley says Clinton needs to focus on reaching out to Sanders supporters.

One Architect Of Teacher Pay Increase Falls In Primary

Jun 8, 2016

A key state lawmaker who helped draft the plan to increase teacher pay in South Dakota is not going back to Pierre next session.

Republican State Representative Jacqueline Sly failed to achieve enough votes in the primary race against incumbent State Senator Phil Jensen.

Sly was a co-chair of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force and a key supporter of the half cent sales tax increase passed last year by lawmakers.   Jensen is among 10 state senators who voted against the final passage of the bill.

Thune: South Dakota Could Swing US Presidential Nomination

Apr 14, 2016

U-S Senator John Thune says South Dakota could play a role in the presidential nomination process.
The state’s small population means primary delegates rarely make up a swing vote.  But Thune says it could be a tight primary race this year for either party.

Pennington County Voters Consider Wheel Tax

Jan 4, 2016
Charles Michael Ray

Voters in Pennington County head to the polls on Tuesday, January 5th to decide on a county wide wheel tax.  

The tax adds to the fees paid during vehicle registration.  Motorists would see an increase of three to five dollars per wheel depending on the weight of the vehicle.

Rapid City Elects New Mayor

Jun 3, 2015
Charles Ray

Rapid City has a new mayor. Former police Chief Steve Allender won the municipal election against incumbent Sam Kooiker.

Click play bellow to hear more.

On Tuesday, June 2nd for the first time ever,  Rapid City voters consider opting out of the state’s property tax reduction plan.   
The opt out would increase property taxes by about $6 each month per $100-thousand of valuation.
The extra money raised goes to local schools.   Many of those backing the opt out say schools are in dire need of funding.  But many those against it don’t like the idea of higher taxes.

Dakota Political Junkies

May 20, 2015

The Dakota Political Junkies weighed in on SDPB Radio's Dakota Midday discussion with Mayor Sam Kooiker and his challenger, former Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender.  They also spoke briefly about Rapid City attorney and Ft. Pierre native Patrick Duffy who died last week at the age of 58.

Voters To Decide Rapid's Civic Center Expansion Tuesday

Mar 9, 2015

On Tuesday voters in Rapid City go to the polls to make a $180-million dollar decision.
A municipal election is set to decide the proposed expansion of the Rapid City Civic Center arena.  If approved the renovations would amount to the largest single expenditure of city funds ever undertaken.    
Proponents say it’s an investment in the future that will pay itself back in increased sales tax revenue and visitor spending.  But opponents say the price tag is too high and the city needs to consider alternatives.

You can hear the story by clicking play below.

Nate Wek / SDPB

United States Senate

(Rep) Mike Rounds 50.5%

(Dem) Rick Weiland 29.4%

(Ind) Larry Pressler 17.1%

(Ind) Gordon Howie 3%

United States House of Representatives

(Rep) Kristi Noem 66.7%

(Dem) Corinna Robinson 33.3%

South Dakota Governor

(Rep) Dennis Daugaard 70.5%

(Dem) Susan Wismer 25.4%

(Ind) Michael Myers 4.1%

Constitutional Amendment Q

Yes 56.6%

No 43.4%

Initiated Measure 17

Yes 61.8%

Mike Myers for Governor

Mike Myers taught health care law and health care administration at the University of South Dakota for 23 years. He also hosted the “Elder Law Forum” radio show for more than a decade and provided free advice to senior citizens. He was CEO of Mayo-St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, and an executive at other hospitals.

Stace Nelson Aims For GOP U.S. Senate Nomination

May 7, 2014

Over the last few months we’ve interviewed every candidate in the five way U.S. Senate Republican Primary.  

We’re giving each candidate a chance to make their case to South Dakota voters.   

The link below includes excerpts from an interview with State Representative Stace Nelson about his plans for office if elected to the US Senate.

You can hear an extended Interview with Stace Nelson on Dakota Midday here.