The importance of legislators repealing Initiated Measure 22


By BAYLEE DITTMAN Guest Columnist

Many seem to be under the impression that South Dakota has a corruption problem.

There is displeasure with the passing of House Bill 1069, which effectively repeals Initiated Measure 22. As an intern in Pierre, I had the benefit of seeing all sides of the issue as they were presented, and I’m so thankful our legislators repealed IM-22. 

Random people from Massachusetts brought IM-22 forward, and used $1.7 million of out-of-state money to campaign for the measure, while only $600,000 of out-of-state money was brought in opposition of the measure, according to the Secretary of State’s website. 

Law requires all donations more than $100 be reported to the Secretary’s Office, which includes the money from lobbyists to politicians and campaigns. One of the main arguments of IM-22 was to stop lobbyists from “secretly giving money to politicians,” which is already a law.

IM-22 was a 35-page mess. The Legislative Research Council told authors of the measure of mistakes: a date and reference correction in Section 39, removal of Section 42 because it’s already in statute and that the measure was likely to be found unconstitutional. They did not move to fix these issues.

The ethics commission in IM-22 was a fourth branch of government with unrestricted power. It was a group of people that had to answer to no one and could investigate anyone for any unsupported reason. They could also allocate funds to wherever they chose, whenever — a responsibility constitutionally required of the Legislative Allocations Committee. They could even repeal laws according to section 40 of the measure. Hence the reasons IM-22 was unconstitutional.

IM-22 was also unconstitutional because it allocated money for publicly funded campaigns. There isn’t enough money in the budget outlined in the measure to cover all active voters and, again, only Allocations can make this action. 

IM-22 would’ve made numerous legislators “de-facto criminals,” simply because legislators, or their spouses, have other jobs. Our legislators get paid about $6,000 a session; I make just under $5,000 as an intern, so unless they’re retired they all have other jobs. IM-22 stated in Section 31 that if you or a family member worked for a business that employs a lobbyist you were a felon.

So, your wife’s a nurse at Avera? You’re a felon, because Avera employs a lobbyist. 

You’re a teacher? Felon.

Our legislators don’t work for the money and couldn’t if they, or anyone in their family, has a job, according to IM-22.

Legislatures have already passed bills in the House and/or Senate that constitutionally meet the will of the people because they heard you, the voters. They just wanted to do it the right and constitutional way.


Baylee Dittman is a speech communications major and currently an intern at the South Dakota Legislature. She can be reached at [email protected]