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Amendment C arguments continue as June primary nears

Amendment C arguments continue as June primary nears.
Published: Apr. 22, 2022 at 9:50 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Although not unheard of, it’s uncommon for ballot measures in South Dakota to be placed on the primary ballot. For supporters of Amendment C, they want to see it passed as soon as possible. But for it’s opponents, it’s an intentional hurdle towards other ballot measures coming up in November.

Amendment C would require any constitutional amendment or initiated measure that increases taxes or appropriates ten million dollars or more to get at least 60 percent of the vote to pass. Currently all ballot measures in the state need half plus one vote to pass.

The amendment is primarily sponsored by South Dakotans Against Higher Taxes. And treasurer and State Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck said it’s meant to battle special interest groups.

“Now we’re starting to see people using the ballot box for spending and tax purposes. And that’s not a holistic look at the budget. It’s a dangerous way to do your budget, to have some special interest pick out one part.” said Schoenbeck.

The proposed amendment is also supported by the South Dakota Farm Bureau.

However Zach Nistler, a representative for South Dakotans for Fair Elections, said the amendment would have a bigger effect than limiting select issues. He says it will affect everything from education to law enforcement funding.

“We have a broad coalition that is really out there to try to protect majority rule. Which I think all of us agree is how our democracy is founded and meant to be. And we’re all used to that 50 plus one threshold.” said Nistler.

The proposed amendment is also opposed by Dakotans For Health.

Nistler said the biggest issue the group has is why the amendment is on the primary ballot. There’s only been two ballot measures placed on the primary ballot since 2002.

“I would challenge and ask those folks that placed this on the ballot why they chose to not save it for the general election ballot, where more South Dakotans just naturally come out to vote.” said Nistler.

Schoenbeck says it’s on the June primary ballot, specifically to make sure that it takes affect before the vote on Amendment D, another ballot measure that would expand Medicaid in the state.

“You know what, it doesn’t matter what ballot it’s on. It’s on the primary so we can get it in place as soon as possible, because those same people are pushing a welfare program on the November ballot. And you want this to apply to that vote as well.” said Schoenbeck.

The South Dakota primary election takes places on June 7th.

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