South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

The Problem with Amendment W

Baylee Dittman

We all know that this election will be a close one. Governor candidates are tied in the polls, and with candidates like Noem and Sutton people are doing their research.

One thing that gets overlooked is ballot measures. People vote “yes” or “no,” only reading the summary provided rather than the whole bill. This causes huge issues, especially with measures like Amendment W.

Amendment W is being marketed as an “ethics bill” used to “rein in lobbyist” and “drain the swamp” when it does much more harm than good.

This type of bill belongs in codified law, not the South Dakota Constitution. The constitution provides a framework for state government and the rights of citizens, leaving the details to be provided within the code or administrative rules.

Where language in the constitution is concerned, less is more.

For example, the last amendment to the constitution passed was six sentences (Amendment Y, 2017). Amendment W is almost eight pages. It does not address a single topic but covers a multitude.

Amendment W appropriates money, which belongs in code. The constitution is not a budget bill. This wording creates a conflict with Article 12 in the constitution, which requires appropriations to be included either in the general appropriation bill or in separate bills that are passed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

But this amendment already declares itself superior to the existing constitution. It states: “In any case of a conflict between any provisions of this article and any other provision contained in this constitution, the provisions of this article shall control.” It is simply claiming too much-unjustified power and is too long and convoluted to belong in South Dakota’s Constitution.

Second, this “Ethics Board” created in the amendment is too dangerous to allow. It creates a fourth branch of government. The amendment states the board “is an independent entity, notwithstanding any other provisions of the constitution of South Dakota, including Article II.”

Article II is “The powers of the government of the state are divided into three distinct departments, the legislative, executive and judicial.”

There is no more check or balance that this board cannot overrule, nor can it be checked or by any other branch, because W declares itself superior over any other article of the constitution.

The two advocate organizations of this article are already aware of how bad it is.

They were advised by the Legislative Research Council (LRC) on many revisions, which were ignored. The LRC is an entity which provides legal analysis and advice in a nonpartisan manner, and do not issue an opinion.

It’s basically the SDSU Writing Center of Pierre. Writers chose an amendment, not code, so we have to wait four years until the next general election to fix what is broken. They even included a section (17) stating that if any part of this Article is invalid, the rest is still valid. Because it covers multiple topics, it can be passed as a single bill; but it must be repealed in sections.

If you include a section of separation, it’s because you’re already assuming a section is unconstitutional, and instead of fixing it, you’re pushing to pass it anyway. Seems pretty unethical to me.

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