Home > 2015 SD Legislative Session > House State Affairs committee has 7 bills on Fri Mar 6

House State Affairs committee has 7 bills on Fri Mar 6

March 5, 2015
US District Court Order to SOS Kundert in 1984

US District Court Order to SOS Kundert in 1984

Updated! I originally had the committee time listed wrong. That has been corrected!!

On Friday, March 6th, at 7:45 AM the SD House State Affairs committee will take on 7 bills.

This is probably the must listen to committee meeting for the day. First it has a bill up that would allow municipalities to impost a temporary sales tax. Then there are three important election related bills. Both are topics that are worth giving some extra scrutiny.

SB 135 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Authorize municipalities to impose an additional sales and use tax for a limited period of time for a specified use.

Sen Corey Brown (R, Dist 23) and Rep Scott Munsterman (R, Dist 7) are the prime sponsors. After being amended this bill passed State Affairs 6-2. It then squeaked through the Senate floor by a vote of 19-14. Basically this bill would allow municipalities to propose and citizens to vote on a one cent sales tax increase to be used for a specific project. The tax would be time and dollar limited. In committee this bill was amended to add the provision that if the Governor declares a state of fiscal emergency in SD and the State sales tax goes, then this municipality tax can no longer be used.

The Americans for Prosperity (AFP) office in SD has been working hard to fight against this bill. Personally I am less worried about the taxes that could come out of this bill than what could come out of the pending transportation bill (although maybe I shouldn’t be). If a municipality (such as Aberdeen in my case) tried to implement the extra sales tax they would have to make sure the reasoning for the extra revenue are sold to the local taxpayers. The more local a tax is, the easier it is to hold the politicians pushing for that tax accountable.

SB 64 – SoDakLiberty PostsRevise certain provisions regarding the registration of business names.

The SD Secretary of State (SOS) asked for this bill. This bill was amended in Senate Local Government committee to remove the references to “for-profit” and “nonprofit” and just saying business (which would include both kinds already). The bill was also amended to remove the Class 2 misdemeanor for failing to file a fictitious name statement. The amended bill passed Senate Local Government 6-1. As amended this appears to be a good bill. It basically treats all businesses the same under this law.

SB 65 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Revise certain procedures regarding campaign finance disclosure statements.

This bill comes as a request of the SD State Board of Elections. Most of it seems to be changing the word “filed” to “submitted”. It was amended in Senate Local Government to add to the list of entities that don’t have to file a financial disclosure statement. The bill passed that committee and the Senate floor without opposition. Personally I think both mean the same thing in this instance, but I believe this is meant to align with other legislation that wants paperwork into the SOS office on the day it is due; instead of in the mail as is allowed now.

SB 66 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Revise certain provisions regarding the county renaming process.

The SD Secretary of State (SOS) asked for this bill. Since the voters successfully chose to rename Shannon County to Oglala Lakota County there have apparently been some questions about what the legislators are actually supposed to do. To clear this up the bill removes the legislators out of the equation completely and has the governor proclaim the new county name the July after the election to change the name. I personally don’t see a problem with this bill. It was amended in Senate Local Government to have the SOS proclaim the results, instead of the Governor. The amended bill passed that committee and the Senate floor without opposition.

The bill this year to handle the County name change under the current system (HJR 1005) has passed both chambers.

SB 67 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Revise certain provisions regarding challenges to certain election petition signatures.

This bill comes as a request of the SD State Board of Elections.  This bill doesn’t seem to be fixing the right problem because it fails add adequate time for people to challenge a petition. I listened to the SOS give proponent testimony in Senate State Affairs (what seems like forever ago). I do think she made the case that this bill will expedite the court portion of a petition challenge. It undoubtedly will do so. However I believe a bigger problem is citizens getting access to the actual petitions to be challenged, and the voters rolls to do it with. I would have preferred another week for petition challenges be added into this bill. Yes, I think this bill makes an improvement, just not enough. In the end it doesn’t matter what this bill does though. SB 69 (further down the list) is the sister bill to SB 67. Since SB 69 has been amended, the actual good that may come from SB 67 has been destroyed. SB 67 and SB 69 are being submitted (at least in part) to deal with craziness that happened during the 2014 election. As things stand now the election of 2016 may actually be more of a circus thanks to these bills. It should make for interesting blogging!

The bill passed Senate State Affairs and the Senate floor without opposition.

SB 68 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Provide for a random sampling of nominating petition signatures for statewide offices.

This bill comes as a request of the SD State Board of Elections. It, along with SB 67 and SB 69, are the three bills that aim to fix problems encountered in the 2014 election. I also feel it is a much better bill than its two companion bills.

Here is what I had to say about SB 68 before, and stick with:

This one comes from the SD State Board of Elections. It is one of Secretary Krebs attempts to reform election a law in SD. This bill would require the SOS office to randomly sample 5% of each nominating petition for validity. If the random sample proves a sufficient number of qualified voters have signed the petition, then the SOS must certify the petition and place the candidate on the ballot. If the random sample does not get enough signature to show sufficient numbers, then the SOS office will certify that the candidate will not be placed on the ballot.

I fully agree with the five percent random sampling being done. I also agree with the SOS certifying a petition once the random sample shows enough signatures.

But, I do see potential problems with not allowing a petition based upon a random sampling. I think some mechanism must exist for the person submitting the petition to prove there actually are enough valid signatures. Unless that is going to be done with SB 67 (my post about it here). Theoretically the expedited court process from SB 67 would be the time to prove a nominating petition does have the correct number of signatures, despite what the random sample says.

Overall I think this is a great move; and a law that would likely have invalided some of the petitions that were problems during the 2014 elections.

SB 68 flew through the Senate without opposition.

SB 69SoDakLiberty Posts – Revise certain provisions regarding elections and election petitions.

And now it is time to look at the bill I wish would go away. It is sad to say that about a bill I originally supported (even if I had some slight reservations about portions of it).

This bill comes as a request of the SD State Board of Elections. It was amended in Senate State Affairs and passed that committee 7-2. After passing through committee I wrote a post focused on one problem with the bill: it ignores the fact that SD has already admitted having early petition deadlines for Independent candidates is wrong.

There are other problems with the bill after being amended in Senate State Affairs however. Here are a few of the problems:

  • During testimony for the bill, the committee decided to tackle the problem of placeholder candidates. The bill was amended to add a section that would only allow a party committee to replace a candidate on the ballot under the four following scenarios: because of illness with two doctors notes, or there is no other nominee, or the candidate is appointed/elected somewhere else, or the candidate moves and swears to the SOS that they aren’t moving back…  I also hate placeholder candidates. But really? This amendment is NOT germane to the subject of this bill. It also has too many ambiguities to be realistic. I’ll stop talking about this particular amendment now..
  • In a sneaky move to make it harder for Independent candidates…. Another amendment changes election law so that those registered with a party affiliation cannot sign an independent candidates petition. Wow, this is an easy one to fix though. It might be time for people to change their registration from Republican or Democrat to being independent. Even if this amendment has good intentions (which I don’t believe), it is hard to image anyone can say that further restricting ballot access for independent candidates is nothing but an attempt to hold power by the current majority parties.
  • Of course the bill also has the change that all petitions must be received by the SOS on the deadline, instead of mailed certified by that time. For those in distant and remote districts that change can be HUGE.

The Senate State Affairs Committee was not the only place this bill was messed with

. The Senate floor had a couple of amendments. First there is an amendment further specifying details about the doctors form for a candidate to withdraw? Really? The second amendment on the Senate floor revises the signatures needed to gain ballot access from 1% of voters who voted for the party’s candidate, to 1% of the registered voters of that party (or non-party).

The amended bill passed the Senate floor 25-8. Too bad.

As I said before. I believe the petition process in SD needs to be changed, if not completely overhauled. But this doesn’t seem to be the way to do it. Perhaps this would be a good workgroup or taskforce during the 2015 summer. Then come to the 2016 legislative session with a full set of election changes that can be proposed. Right now the changes in SB 69 are purely focused on making things go smooth from the viewpoint of those actually runnign the election. But that smooth sailing comes at a cost. This cost will make it harder and harder for anyone not in the majority party to gain office. That is just wrong on so many levels.

Perhaps I was wrong at the top of this post. This may not be a committee meeting worth listening to. Not if there is any chance the committee will ignore the constitutional and potentially unethical changes this bill would make to current election law………

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