Amendments, initiated measure also part of election; Pros and cons offered regarding proposed issues

Amendments, initiated measure also part of election; Pros and cons offered regarding proposed issues on Nov. 7 ballot In addition to races for county, state, and national offices, South Dakota voters will also vote on six ballot issues in the Nov. 7 general election.

They include five constitutional amendments and one initiated measure.

An initiated measure is a petition to add to, amend, or repeal existing state statutes. Initiative petitions had to be filed at the office of South Dakota Secretary of State Joyce Hazeltine prior to the first Tuesday of this May.

The petition also must have had signatures of registered voters equal to 5 percent (13,010) of the total vote for governor in the last gubernatorial election obtained within one year following the filing of the full text of the petition.

The constitutional amendment are petitions proposing to amend, repeal, or add to provisions in the South Dakota state constitution. Each petition received the signatures of registered voters equal to 10 percent

(26,019) of the total vote for governor in the last gubernatorial election and were filed in Hazeline's office one year before the general election.

State law requires Hazeltine's office to prepare and distribute public information concerning constitutional amendments, initiatives and referred measures. Statements were solicited from the proponents and opponents of the amendments and the inititiated measure.

The title, explanation and effecft of a vote for each ballot question were provided by Attorney General Mark Barnett.

The secretary of state does not guarantee the accuracy of any claims made by proponent or opponent writers. The information was compiled by Hazeltine as supplied by the writers and was not verified by her.

This week, the Plain Talk and Wakonda Times is publishing information about Constitutional Amendment A and Constitutional Amendment B.

Constitutional Amendment A, if approved, will allow multiple classes of agricultural property for school taxation purposes.

Constitutional Amendment B, if approved, will allow voters to file initiatives which combine, eliminate or jointly finance local offices, functions or governmental units.

Constitutional Amendment A

An amendment to Article VIII of the South Dakota Constitution relating to classification of property for purposes of taxation.

Attorney General Explanation

The Constitution permits the Legislature to classify real property for school taxation purposes, but limits agricultural property to a single class.

Amendment A would permit the Legislature to establish multiple classes of agricultural property for school taxation purposes.

A vote "Yes" will allow multiple classes of agricultural property for school taxation purposes.

A vote "No" will leave the Constitution as it is.

Pro � Constitutional Amendment A

Passage of this proposed amendment to our state's constitution would allow agriculture property to be divided by the Legislature into more than one class of property for taxation purposes.

Current constitutional language on agriculture property restricts the Legislature in trying to bring about fair and equal taxation of agriculture property across the state.

The present constitutional language, enacted in 1930, allowed the Legislature to constitute agriculture property as a separate class, which they did. On the question of whether the Legislature has this authority, the decision in The Great Northern Railway v. Whitfield stated that "The Legislature would be justified in classifying four classes or 24 classes." However, a 1997 Supreme Court case stated that the 1930 clause in Article VIII � 15 indicating that the Legislature may constitute agriculture property as "a separate class" meant that only one class of agriculture property could be created.

Consequently, agriculture property is not being treated the same as other properties as the Legislature can only treat it as one class, yet other classes of property may be divided into more than one class.

Passage of this amendment would allow the Legislature to treat agriculture property in the same manner as they may treat other property.

Submitted by: Representative Kenneth McNenny, HC 75 Box 692, Sturgis, SD 57785. Rep. McNenny is a rancher from Meade County and represents District 29.

Con � Constitutional Amendment A

This amendment is very similar to Constitutional Amendment F that was on the 1998 ballot and defeated. Both are in response to the problem created by extremely high priced sales of agricultural properties for reasons that many times are not for agricultural production. Under current laws of assessment, the sales ratio factor used tends to drive the value of ag property (particularly in development areas) extremely higher than what the productive ability of the property is.

I have opposed this particular amendment because for several years I have advocated and pursued a different assessment procedure, using a formula based on its productive ability to determine the property value, and as a member of the 1999 interim tax committee charged with a study of this problem. This committee produced a proposal to assess based on productive ability and with the action of the 2000 legislature (with some amendments) passed this proposal to study the impact of this concept in nine counties this current year, 2000.

We should know within a year if this assessment concept should be pursued further, dropped or made permanent. If made permanent creating more classes of ag property would not be necessary and may only lead to more inequities.

Therefore the proposed amendment is probably premature, should have been held up or once again defeated.

Submitted by: Representative Al Waltman, 12277 376th Ave, Aberdeen, SD 57401. Rep. Waltman represents District 3.

Constitutional Amendment B

An Amendment to Article IX of the South Dakota Constitution authorizing local initiatives to provide for the cooperation and organization of local government.

Attorney General Explanation

Amendment B would allow voters of local government units to combine, eliminate or jointly finance local offices, functions, or governmental units by using initiated measures, unless specifically limited by the Legislature. 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 offices, functions, or governmental units.

A "No" vote will leave the Constitution as it is.

Pro � Constitutional Amendment B

Constitutional Amendment B gives power to the people to initiate the streamlining of local government, reduce the cost of local government, improve services to people and possibly reduce taxes. Amendment B allows voters to combine or eliminate offices or functions within a single local government, such as a city or county government or school board, or to combine or eliminate offices and functions from two or more of these separate governmental units, such as combining the offices of city and county treasurer, for example.

Voters would be required to secure signatures of at least 15 percent of those voting in the preceding gubernatorial election in the affected jurisdiction in order to place a proposal for combination or elimination on the ballot in that jurisdiction. The proposal would be adopted if approved at the election by a majority of votes cast in each affected jurisdiction.

Elected officials are sometimes reluctant or opposed to combining or eliminating offices and functions under their control no matter how much the combination or elimination would improve services to people or reduce costs and taxes to taxpayers. If approved, Amendment B will give power directly to the people to improve local government. The peoples' use of this new power under the South Dakota Constitution would streamline government, make government more efficient, improve services and reduce taxes.

Submitted by: Representative Bill Peterson, 3808 E. Marson Dr., Sioux Falls, SD 57103. Rep. Peterson represents District 14.

Con � Constitutional Amendment B

This amendment may have unintended consequences:

A legal "barn door" has been left open in the wording of this amendment. If this amendment is passed, the SD Constitution would permit administrative cooperation within or between local government units "either within or without the state." While such governmental cooperation with "bordering" states may or may not be feasible and beneficial, the wording does not limit such governmental unit administrative cooperation to "bordering" states. The wording opens up such administrative cooperation to any governmental unit in the USA, in this hemisphere or, for that matter, in any country in the world.

For example, administrative agreement might be made with another governmental unit to store waste � nuclear or otherwise � somewhere in South Dakota. Another example would be that somewhere in South Dakota an agreement might be made to have the same type of gambling that Atlantic City has.

Since this is a constitutional amendment, it cannot be changed easily to close the legal "barn door" of "without the state."

Twenty-seven Representatives and 13 Senators � both Republican and Democrat � voted against Amendment B. For that matter, the voters turned it down in 1998. The Legislature needs to revisit this issue and tighten up the wording before a similar proposal returns to the ballot.

We don't need new laws and constitutional changes to increase local government cooperation, we need local officials who want to do it. If you want further consolidation, the answer is to elect local officials who agree with you, not amend our state constitution.

Submitted by: Representative Mary Patterson, 1503 S. Spring Ave., Sioux Falls, SD 57105. Rep. Patterson represents District 13.

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