South Dakota government has ignored the voice of its people


I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republican. I’m just a curmudgeon who thinks a democracy should be controlled by its voters. 

In August, the voters of South Dakota spoke, passing Initiated Measure 22 with a 51 percent vote. The initiated measure included, among other things, reforms to the public financing of candidates, as well as setting up an independent ethics commission, according to the Huffington Post.

In January, South Dakota politicians declared a legislative emergency and, not only got rid of the bill, but also made it so voters cannot put it on the ballot during the next election.  

According to the Huffington Post, if an initiative is “eliminated under emergency rules, the citizens can’t reverse that repeal. To adopt those emergency rules, the legislature needs a two-thirds majority, which Republicans provided.” 

According to the Argus Leader, Senate Republicans plan on replacing pieces of the bill, but it remains to be seen. 

Senate Majority Leader Blake Curd said passing IM-22 would make South Dakota senators “de-facto criminals,” but he did not say how, nor did he say why. 

Gov. Dennis Daugaard said voters were “hoodwinked” by the wording in the measure. 

Meanwhile, the supposed hoodwinking of South Dakota voters was written in plain English on one of the bill proponents’ website.

The bill would give each South Dakota resident “… two $50 democracy credits to donate to state candidates …,” according to South Dakotans for Ethics Reform.

Daugaard lambasted the democracy credits, saying they would take $4.91 million from the state’s wallet, according to the Argus Leader. 

“I believe it’s not responsible to use taxpayer money to fund political campaigns at the cost of education. And I’m certain that voters of this state did not support that,” Daugaard said in an Argus Leader article. 

I’m also sure they didn’t vote for that. Daugaard presents a false dilemma, a bad argument posing two options as the only choices when, in reality, there are many others. Surely there are other areas to take money from besides education. Surely there would be a way to fix those problem areas that supposedly made our senators criminals. I can’t imagine it would be difficult to do without completely removing South Dakota’s very first independent ethics committee. 

According to the Washington Post, Rep. Larry Rhoden said, “We are pretty squeaky clean, and I can say that with a great deal of pride in South Dakota; the ethics among the people that serve the state in the legislature, I would call impeccable.”

South Dakota ranks 47th in the nation when it comes to accountability. 

This curmudgeon thinks the people of South Dakota wanted to change that.


Garrett Ammesmaki is a news editor at The Collegian and can be reached at [email protected].