I am writing in my role as a member of the South Dakota Constitutional Revision Commission to encourage a YES vote on Amendment F.
Amendment F is a result of a review of the Constitution by the SDCRC. The Commission, which is made up of citizens appointed by the governor, the chief justice of the South Dakota Supreme Court and the South Dakota Legislature, recommends this amendment to the voters as a “clean-up” to the provisions of the SD Consitution regarding the Leglislature.
The S.D. Constitution was amended in the 1970s to modernize the Constitution regarding the executive and judicial branches of government. The provisions regarding the legislative branch were not amended at that time. Amendment F would help bring South Dakota’s legislative process into the 21st century.
There is nothing in this amendment that should be considered controversial. The amendment removes language which is either antiquated or invalid and allows the legislative process to take advantage of technology not contemplated at the time the Constitution was adopted. For instance, the amendment removes language which restricts reimbursement for legislators traveling to and from the Legislature to only five cents a mile – a restriction that hasn’t been practical for a number of decades, and the amendment makes it clear electronic voting, which is being used by the Legislature, is clearly permissible.
One change proposed in the amendment that has been getting some discussion is the provision regarding closed sessions of the Legislature. Let me assure you that the proposed change makes it more difficult for sessions of the Legislature to be closed to the public and prohibits votes by the Legislature in closed sessions! Currently, it takes only a majority vote for a legislative session to be kept secret and the Legislature could vote in a closed session. The Commission feels that by requiring a two-thirds majority to close the session it would be more difficult for the Legislature to do so.
Amendment F was endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans at their state conventions this summer.
Please vote YES on Amendment F.