Ballot Measure

Ballot Measure

South Dakotans reject ethics measure, pass Initiative 24; reject tobacco tax increase

The Associated Press - November 6, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - South Dakota voters have rejected a government ethics constitutional amendment put on the ballot to replace a similar measure that lawmakers cast aside last year.

The amendment's failure Tuesday comes two years after voters approved a similar anti-corruption law in 2016. Lawmakers repealed it just months later, citing constitutional concerns.

Supporters' sweeping response would have imposed stricter lobbying and campaign finance rules, established a new government watchdog panel and stopped lawmakers from changing voter laws without returning to the ballot.

Critics focused on the amendment's out-of-state funding. They argued it would undermine the constitution, making the ethics board a new branch of government with unchecked power.

Backers said the measure was meant to put power back in the hands of the people.

Meanwhile, South Dakota voters have approved a ban on out-of-state fundraising for citizens' initiatives.

The measure passed Tuesday imposes a major new restriction that experts say is unlikely to survive legal challenge.

Republican House Speaker Mark Mickelson sponsored the initiative. He's said it's necessary to preserve the ballot measure process for state residents. The measure passed without major campaigns supporting or opposing it.

Bills capping out-of-state contributions failed in the Legislature for the past two years. Critics argued they were unconstitutional.

The measure prohibits contributions to ballot question committees from nonresidents, out-of-state political committees and entities that haven't filed with the secretary of state's office for the preceding four years.

And, South Dakota voters have rejected an effort to raise tobacco taxes to make state technical schools more affordable.

Voters dismissed the measure Tuesday after the tobacco industry spent millions of dollars opposing it. The measure would have increased taxes on different tobacco products. The tax on a 20-cigarette pack would have increased by $1 to $2.53.

Critics argued it hurt small businesses. State officials estimated it would have raised about $25 million.

The measure's goal was to create a fund to lower tuition and fees, offer scholarships and provide financial support for the state's four technical institutes.

A report last year to a legislative panel found South Dakota's tech institutes charge the highest average resident fees and tuition regionally.

State voters last approved a tobacco tax hike in 2006.

Here are unofficial numbers on all the amendment and initiatives voted on Tuesday:

Amendment W - Govt and Election Reforms Finance, lobbying, etc.

698 of 698 precincts - 100 percent

Yes, 142,737 - 45 percent
x-No, 174,045 - 55 percent

Measure 24 - Prohibit Out of State Money For ballot questions

698 of 698 precincts - 100 percent

x-Yes, 174,912 - 56 percent
No, 140,149 - 44 percent

Measure 25 - Increase Tobacco Tax For tech education fund

698 of 698 precincts - 100 percent

Yes, 148,739 - 45 percent
x-No, 182,270 - 55 percent

Amendment X - Raise ConAmend Approval Vote To 55% of votes thereon

698 of 698 precincts - 100 percent

Yes, 140,692 - 46 percent
x-No, 167,332 - 54 percent

Amendment Z - Limit ConAmends to 1 Subject Separate vote per topic

698 of 698 precincts - 100 percent

x-Yes, 195,745 - 62 percent
No, 117,925 - 38 percent

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