PIERRE, SD (2017, April 07) – Two grassroots activists, Roxanne Weber of Pierre, SD, and Nicholas Rasmussen of Sioux Falls, SD, announce they have filed an initiated constitutional amendment they plan to have included on the 2018 election ballot. The primary objective of the amendment is to address a very important loophole in the South Dakota constitution — specifically, the potential for the repeal of a voter-backed initiated measure or amendment without the right of South Dakota voters to have the final say. Their amendment, the Voter Initiative Protection Amendment, makes repealing a voter-backed initiative more difficult, and addresses some of the issues Legislators had that resulted in the repeal of IM-22 with an emergency clause in 2017.
“This amendment is extremely important right now” says Roxanne Weber, one of the prime sponsors of the bill. “With this ½-page amendment, our constitution will ensure that it is more difficult for Legislators to take advantage of the emergency clause with regard to initiated measures and amendments,” Weber added.
Nicholas Rasmussen noted that “[w]hat is needed is to ensure that, when voters go through the effort of gathering petition signatures and trying to have a say in our government through the initiated process, their effort will not be overruled unilaterally by the Legislature. Our amendment is simple, with clear language, and makes using the emergency clause to overrule the people more difficult. This amendment will make Legislators more accountable to the voters.”
While Weber and Rasmussen agree that this is a large undertaking for just two South Dakotans on their own, they feel that they will have the support of the majority of voters on their side, and their involvement in multiple grassroots activist organizations throughout the state should help them get the word out. “Everywhere I’ve been, and everyone I’ve talked to about this, the one thing voters are absolutely upsets them is the way the Legislature went about repealing IM-22. Despite voter backlash, voters were removed from the process. I was even shut out of a public committee hearing while I watched Legislators add amendment after amendment to a ‘replacement bill’ that ended up making our laws even worse than they were before IM-22,” Weber stated. “This move seemed to punctuate the way Legislators viewed voters during this process, as irrelevant,” she added.
The two hope to harness energy from the current political environment, as well as that generated from the repeal of IM-22, to garner supporters for their amendment. “We are the underdogs in this race since we are completely new to the process. However, I believe that we are putting forth an amendment that not only helps to protect the voters of this state, but also clarifies the importance of the initiated process,” said Rasmussen.
Because this is a grassroots effort, Weber and Rasmussen are asking the public for as much support as they can to get their initiative off the ground. They have created a web page, with more information and a survey form. Interested voters can complete the survey if they wish to assist with people power, financial support, or other services or efforts. You can view this page at SDVoterProtection.info or get more information at facebook.com/sdvoterprotection/.
Roxanne Weber is a software engineer living in Pierre, SD. She is also very active in efforts that have mobilized hundreds of activists through the Pierre-based organization South Dakota Forward, and has plans for the first ever South Dakota Activist Summit to be held in September 2017.
Nicholas Rasmussen is an outside plant engineer living in Sioux Falls, SD. He has been involved in helping pass IM-22 and has connected with people over the course of fighting for lasting change in the government. He also wants to help people stay active in their government through direct democracy and political activism.