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1996 South Dakota Ballot Question Pros and Cons

1996 Ballot Question Pamphlet

Compiled by the Office of the Secretary of State

Joyce Hazeltine

Secretary of State

The Secretary of State does not guarantee the accuracy of any claims made by the proponent or opponent writers in this brochure. The information was compiled by the Secretary of State as supplied by the writers and was not verified by the Secretary of State. The title, explanation and effect of a vote for each ballot question were provided by the Attorney General.

Constitutional Amendment A

Title: An amendment to Article VIII, section 11 of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to the investment of permanent education funds.

Attorney General’s Explanation

The Commissioner of School and Public Lands currently invests the permanent school and other education funds. These funds may be invested only in U.S. bonds, securities guaranteed by the U.S., or bonds issued by the State or its schools, counties or municipalities.

The proposed constitutional amendment would transfer school fund investment responsibility to the State Investment Council, which presently invests other state funds. The amendment would allow the school funds to be invested the same as other state funds. The amendment would broaden the types of investments which could be made with school funds, but would still prohibit the investment of school funds in stocks or other equity investments.

A vote "yes" would transfer investment responsibility to the Investment Council, thus broadening the types of investments which could be made with school funds.

A vote "no" would leave the Constitution as it is.

Pro -- Constitutional Amendment A

The 1996 South Dakota legislature passed a joint resolution placing Amendment A on the ballot. If approved, the authority to invest the $130 million Permanent Fund would be transferred from the Commissioner of School and Public Lands to the State Investment Council which invests other state funds.

This transfer would allow the council to professionally manage the fund and allow school trust funds to be invested the same as other state funds. It would also provide more investment choices such as corporate bonds. Investment in stocks and other equity investments would still be prohibited by the Constitution.

Members of the State Investment Council are professionals responsible for investing over $3 billion of state funds. The Commissioner of School and Public Lands has been, and would remain, a member of the council. The council has an excellent record, ranking in the top 25 percent of trust fund investors nationwide.

Amendment A means professional management, more diversification, and slightly higher returns. For the Future of South Dakota’s Schools--Vote Yes on Amendment A.

Submitted by: Curt Johnson, Commissioner, Office of School and Public Lands, 500 E. Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501

Con -- Constitutional Amendment A

This constitutional amendment would allow South Dakota’s permanent education funds to be invested in higher risk investments. Higher risk investments can earn more money for our schools. Higher risk investments can also lose money -- a risk that this State has never taken with education dollars.

This trade-off between higher risk and higher earnings is the same decision that every family must make as they plan for retirement, save for college education costs, or put money aside for a new home. Every family must ask themselves if they are willing to lose some of their money in an effort to earn faster rewards. You must now answer this same question for your State and for your schools.

There are two things to consider when making your decision on how to vote.

First, do you believe that we should take the risk with these education funds that have been conservatively invested for decades? It is true that the Investment Council has a good record of earnings -- but along with higher earnings come no guarantees and the possibility of financial loss.

The second issue is only one of philosophy. It is a similar issue that the people said “NO” to during the last election in 1994. I am not opposed to reconsidering an issue -- that strengthens the public debate. It is not a bad thing for legislators to disagree with a public vote and to work to change it -- that is part of our system of democratic checks and balances. However, the debate in the House of Representatives over this issue focused on the belief by many legislators that the people of South Dakota “did not know what they were voting on!” I find it arrogant for elected officials to say that the people of South Dakota are too ignorant to know what they voted for or against. I am convinced the people of South Dakota are smart enough to know why they voted “NO” two years ago.

Submitted by: Rep. Mike Wagner, PO Box 308, Baltic, SD 57003. Representative Wagner represents district 9.


Constitutional Amendment B

Title: An amendment to Article XI of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to the vote required to impose or increase taxes.

Attorney General’s Explanation

The Constitution presently allows new taxes to be imposed by majority vote of the Legislature. A majority vote is also required to increase some tax rates; other tax rate increases require either a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, or enactment by a statewide public vote (initiative).

The proposed amendment would require that any new tax, and any increase in the rate of any tax, be approved by two-thirds of each branch of the Legislature, or enacted by the people through initiative.

The proposed amendment applies only to taxes levied by the State. It does not apply to taxes imposed by a local government, such as a county, city, or school.

A vote "yes" would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to enact new taxes or to increase some existing taxes.

A vote "no" would leave the Constitution as it is.

Pro -- Constitutional Amendment B

The present Constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to raise most existing taxes. However, to enact any new tax, it takes only a simple majority vote.

Voters have an opportunity to change the Constitution to require a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislature to implement any new taxes, as well as to increase most existing taxes. It’s important to support Amendment B for these reasons:

Currently, if the legislature wants to raise your sales, use, excise, contractors excise, motor vehicle excise or farm machinery tax, they must drum up support from two-thirds of the lawmakers. However, they could adopt a personal or corporate income tax, personal property tax, a tax on your hospital and doctor bills and prescription drugs - or any other kind of new tax - with just a simple majority.

While most everything the Legislature does is referable by a vote of the people, generally taxes are not referable - that is why it is even more important that the Legislature be required to have more than a simple majority to raise your taxes. A two-thirds vote is only a reasonable protection, since that is what is required to raise existing taxes.

Some lawmakers have been known to be a bit “flexible” in their definition as to what is an existing tax and what’s a new tax. The result? Oftentimes, the Legislature cannot raise a tax already in place, so they tinker around with it just enough that they can get by with calling it a new tax, which allows it to pass with a simple majority rather than requiring a 2/3 majority. Under Amendment B, this loophole will be plugged.

Requiring a two-thirds majority to enact a new tax would require Republican and Democratic legislators to work in a bipartisan manner to resolve any fiscal difficulties.

If Amendment B is approved by the people, it won’t be easy for the Legislature to adopt new taxes. And it shouldn’t be.

Submitted by: Jerry Wheeler, Executive Director of South Dakota Retailers Association and President of No More Taxes Coalition, PO Box 638, Pierre, SD 57501

Con -- Constitutional Amendment B

The last 15 words of the proposed amendment to §14, Article XI of the S.D. Constitution would provide for minority control in the S.D. Legislature concerning tax issues. This would be unfortunate and unnecessary because all levels of government have performed best when majority rule has prevailed. Majority rule is a basic tenet in our country and any weakening of this principle is unwise.

Before any bill, tax bills included, is passed by the legislature the bill is debated and voted on by both the House of Representatives and the Senate. All of these votes, as well as committee votes, are recorded so that the people of the state may know how each legislator voted. Therefore, the proper way to control taxes and other issues is to elect legislators who represent the views and opinions of the people of their district. Voting for new taxes or tax increases is NOT easy or pleasant for any legislator!

Minority rule mandated by our South Dakota Constitution would be unwise and an infringement on the rights of the majority!

Submitted by: Sen. Richard B. Negstad, RR 1 Box 46, Volga, SD 57071. Senator Negstad represents District 7.

Initiated Measure 1

Title: An Act requiring South Dakota's Congressional delegation to use their powers to adopt a congressional term limits amendment to the United States Constitution.

Attorney General’s Explanation

This initiated law would require the U.S. Senators and Representative from South Dakota to use all of their powers to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution which establishes congressional term limits of three terms for a Representative and two terms for a Senator. If the incumbent Senators and Representative do not use their powers in eight designated situations to support a term limits amendment, the Secretary of State would be required to place the words "Disregarded Voter's Instruction on Term Limits" on the ballot next to that candidates name at his/her next election. A candidate who is not currently in the Senate or the House would be given an opportunity to take a pledge supporting term limits and agreeing, if elected, to use his/her powers to enact the amendment. The Secretary of State would be required to place the words "Declined to Pledge to Support Term Limits" on the ballot next to the name of a candidate who refused to pledge. These restrictions would continue until a constitutional amendment establishing term limits is enacted by Congress and ratified by the states.

A vote "yes" would require the Congressional delegation to support congressional term limits in eight designated situations.

A vote "no" would not impose such a requirement.

Pro -- Initiated Measure 1

Congress has a clear conflict of interest on term limits. Without pressure from you the voter, the politicians won’t limit themselves. With Initiated Measure 1 the people have the power to make congressional term limits a reality. Voting YES on Initiated Measure 1 will help end business as usual in Washington, D.C. with term limits 25 million Americans have supported.

The President, forty governors, twenty state legislatures and about 3,000 city officials have limited terms. Term limits work for them, and it is time to bring citizen government back to our Congress. The voters of South Dakota overwhelmingly supported term limits in 1992, and that support remains strong.

A recent 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision stated that we must amend the Constitution to place term limits on Congress. A YES vote for Initiated Measure 1 enables voters to take charge to pass a term limits amendment. Congressional incumbents have passed advantages for themselves (paid for by us) that virtually guarantee reelection, including franked mail, congressional television studios, pork barrel politics and fat pensions. These career politicians have skyrocketed the nation’s debt while passing self-serving legislation. Congress, with such lavish perks and advantages, has no intention of passing term limits on itself.

Initiated Measure 1 will create a citizen Congress with legislators who will return with pride to live under the laws they make. It means Congress will meet the needs of their constituents instead of just special interests. Initiated Measure 1 instructs representatives to support term limits voted for by South Dakotans and millions of others across the nation; it lets voters know when representatives don’t act in support of term limits.

The Founders created a government by the people; Congress replaced that with a corrupt system of pork, pensions and privileges that benefit career politicians. Term limits will end rule by career politicians, and restore citizen government to America. Vote YES on Initiated Measure 1 for term limits on Congress.

Submitted by: Gerald Larson, 24025 Pine Valley Road, Rapid City, SD 57701. Mr. Larson is the sponsor of this initiated measure.

Con -- Initiated Measure 1

No matter what voters think of term limits for U.S. senators and representatives, they should vote “no” on Initiated Measure 1. After all, voters are like anybody else, they don’t like to have their intelligence insulted.

That’s exactly what Initiated Measure 1 would do as it places crib notes on the ballot to let voters know how incumbent candidates have voted on term limits and if their challengers have taken a pledge to support term limits. Voters have been dutifully sorting out candidates and casting ballots without ever before having this kind of reminder attached to the ballot.

Many voters do make notes to themselves on Election Day, particularly if the ballot is crowded with candidates and initiatives. But, our system has always trusted citizens to make their own choices, and their own notes, without this kind of help printed right on the ballot.

Of course no one can stop voters from casting their ballots for candidates based solely on the term limits issue. After all, it’s a free country.

This initiative, however, takes one-issue politics to its most extreme.

There are many issues that excite the electorate. Limiting terms is only one of many hot topics. Should Initiated Measure 1 pass, information about the candidates’ stands on taxation, abortion and military spending will be coming soon to a ballot near you.

Ultimately, Initiated Measure 1 gives one issue -- one particular interest group -- unprecedented access to the ballot. And they’ll get this presence on the ballot courtesy of your tax dollars.

Sorting through the various candidates and issues is tough enough without having to fight through what amounts to a taxpayer-supported political ad right on your ballot. Vote “no” on Initiated Measure 1.

Submitted by: Dana Hess, 115 N. Van Buren, Pierre, SD 57501