Amendments, referred law on '98 ballot Editor's Note: South Dakota voters will be considering eight constitutional amendments and one referred law on the ballot Nov. 3. In the coming weeks before the election, the Plain Talk will print pros and cons of the ballot questions and the Attorney General's official explanations. The pros and cons are written by proponents and opponents of the ballot questions. The information is from a pamphlet prepared by the Office of Secretary of State.
Free pamphlets can be picked up at any county auditor's office. They are also available at the library or on the Internet at http://www.state.sd.us/state/executive/sos/sos. htm.
Secretary of State Joyce Hazeltine said anyone who wants a pamphlet may also call her office toll free at 1-888-70ELECT.
Title: An Amendment to Article III, Section 12 of the South Dakota Constitution concerning legislative conflicts of interest.
Amendment C removes some "conflict of interest" restrictions upon legislators. Legislators are currently prohibited from having a direct or indirect interest in state contracts and in some county contracts, during their term or one year thereafter. Amendment C would allow legislators to have a personal, indirect financial interest in state contracts, and a direct financial interest in any county contract.
Under current law, no legislator may be elected or appointed to a state or local office, if the Legislature created the office or increased its compensation during the legislator's term. Amendment C would allow such an election or appointment.
Under current law, legislators may not hold certain state executive and administrative offices during their term. Amendment�C would allow legislators to hold these offices during their term, if they are not compensated.
A vote "Yes" will remove some "conflict of interest" restrictions upon legislators.
A vote "No" will leave the Constitution as it is.
Pro — Constitutional Amendment C
Constitutional Amendment C proposes to realign the South Dakota Constitution with today's governmental reality. It will do so in two important ways: first, it makes possible the appointment of legislators to a variety of unpaid civil commissions and task forces, and, second, removes the disqualification of legislators who participate indirectly in any contract with the state.
The first issue of civil appointments calls for change because legislators are often called to service on many commissions to provide expertise, depth of experience, and leadership. These appointments are made today and have been for years — examples include recent prison and family law studies — and the state has received the benefit of legislative participation.
If the Constitution was enforced to the letter of the law, these commissions would lose the value of legislative expertise. The amendment does not allow for payment for services to legislators and it should not offer payment. Any legislator asked to accept a civil appointment will not receive a salary as a result of that appointment.
The second issue of indirect contractual partnerships between legislators and the state is also a matter of realigning the state constitution with today's reality. Because the legislature is a part-time citizen legislature, and because today's government engages in many public-private partnerships to accomplish efficient and successful public policy, more and more legislators find themselves associated indirectly with state contracts. Consider the many industries participating in government contracts: agriculture, education, transportation, insurance, real estate, financial services, health care — the list goes on and on.
As previously discussed, if the Constitution was enforced to the letter of the law, much of the legislature would be in violation. Amendment C does not allow for legislators to enter into contracts directly with the state, and it should not make such contracts possible.
Amendment C is necessary to preserve the practice of a citizen legislature and to align the Constitution with the evolution of state government and today's legislature. Vote "Yes" on Constitutional Amendment C.
Submitted by: Rep. Pat Haley, 766 Utah Ave SE, Huron, SD 57350. Representative Haley represents legislative District 21.
Con — Constitutional Amendment C
As the constitution stands now, there is little incentive on the part of any elected person to make decisions based on loyalty to any other elected person regardless of which branch or branches of government are involved. This system helps to keep South Dakota's check-and-balance system intact.
Relaxing the intent of the Constitution with Amendment C would move South Dakota closer to having a system where an elected official from one of the three branches of government could use his or her office to enhance the financial or personal well-being of a member the same or another branch of government, even if the original intent is to serve the best interests of South Dakota.
Interpersonal ties of the sort potentially allowed by Amendment C are powerful and would have the potential to allow undue
influence in the decision-making of otherwise independent elected officials.
Submitted by: Rep. Jeff Monroe, PO Box 574, Pierre, SD 57501. Representative Monroe represents legislative District 24.
Title: An Amendment to Article IX of the South Dakota Constitution authorizing local initiatives to provide for the cooperation and organization of local government.
Amendment D would allow voters of local government units to combine, eliminate, or jointly finance local offices, functions, or governmental units. A majority vote in each affected governmental unit would be required.
A vote "Yes" will allow voters to file initiatives which combine, eliminate, or jointly finance local governmental activities and units.
A vote "No" will leave the Constitution as it is.
Pro — Constitutional Amendment D
The 1997 South Dakota legislature passed a joint resolution placing Amendment D on the ballot.
If approved, Amendment D would allow voters to combine or eliminate offices and functions within a single local government, such as the city government, county government or local school board. The people could also combine or eliminate offices and functions from two or more separate local governments.
This is an excellent constitutional amendment because it clearly gives power to the people to initiate the streamlining of local government and reduce the costs of local government. Therefore, the peoples' use of this new power could also reduce taxes.
Because elected officials are sometimes reluctant to combine or eliminate offices and functions under their control or authority, this measure gives the voters the power to make those changes. If approved, Amendment D will give power directly to the people to improve local government.
Submitted by: Governor William J. Janklow, 500 E Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501
Con — Constitutional Amendment D
The purpose of Amendment D is to increase cooperation among local governments, but depending on how the legislature implements the amendment, it won't yield any more cooperation, and may have unforeseen consequences. The amendment says the legislature shall provide implementation statutes and may limit the kinds of cooperation allowed between local governments. Voters should realize that the legislature already has the power to specify how local governments can cooperate and has already enacted statutes to allow local government cooperation.
The only difference with Amendment D is that local voters could initiate the cooperation by petition rather than through the people they elected to local office.
That sounds good, but consider the outcome. Suppose citizens initiate a measure to require two adjoining counties to combine their highway departments. If it passes, decisions such as choosing a highway superintendent or where to spend highway dollars still have to be made. Who makes those decisions? What if the two county commissions can't agree? The initiative could specify that those decisions are made by some new governing body, but do you really want another layer of government or appointed officials making those decisions? If you want further consolidation, the answer is to elect local officials who agree with you, not amend our state constitution.
Also, remember this amendment allows every kind of cooperation and consolidation not prohibited by the legislature, even if one of the governments is outside South Dakota. For example, a city in another state could combine its landfill operations with a small South Dakota town and haul bales of trash into South Dakota.
The amendment could allow cities to compete with private businesses in other cities or expand gambling by cooperating with a tribal government. It could void salary contracts for local government employees if citizens initiated a change which made them employees of some new layer of government.
Again, we don't need new laws and constitutional changes to increase local government cooperation, we need local officials who want to do it.
Submitted by: Sen. Alan Aker, 726 Blaine Ave, Rapid City, SD 57701. Sen. Aker represents legislative District 35.