By Gordon Garnos
AT ISSUE: It's hard to believe, but the November General Election really isn't that far away. There will be plenty of candidates on the ballot wanting our votes and, at the same time, we have the responsibility to know what the other ballot issues are going to be. There will be four purposed amendments to the State Constitution and three initiated measures that will need our votes as well. By getting some understanding on them now gives us some time to change our minds before November. After all, changing one's mind isn't just a "gender" thing. See how you stand on them now and we'll do a repeat closer to the election to see if any minds are changed.
POPULISTS IN our great state of South Dakota many years ago created the right of the people to initiate law as well as refer an unpopular law through the ballot box. Both the Initiative and the Referendum helps bring government directly to the people. Unfortunately, not all the states in this great nation of ours has that privilege of having these tools that make government "by the people and for the people."
Between now and the Nov. 4th General Election there will be a lot of information floating around on these ballot issues. Here is a brief explanation of them and how I probably will vote on them. However, I may change my mind on some of them. After all that is the prerogative of both men and women.
Clip out the following and put it away for a few months. Then just before Election Day, pull it from its hiding place and see if your mind has been changed by all the hoopla we will be hearing between now and then.
AMENDMENT G: From its earliest days the State Constitution limited legislators to only five cents a mile reimbursement for one trip to Pierre for a legislative session and for one trip home at the end of the session.
This was back in the horse and buggy days when our lawmakers either rode a horse or took the train to Pierre. In this modern day, this needs to be stricken from the books. To put it bluntly, such a reimbursement is more than ridiculous, especially with today's high gasoline prices. A vote "Yes" on this one should stand.
AMENDMENT H: There is a federal law called the National Model Business Corporation Act and this proposal would repeal language in our State Constitution that is at odds with some of the provisions of that law. I'm undecided on this one and have to learn a whole lot more about it by November.
AMENDMENT I: For the past several years the Legislature has met for 35-day session on even numbered years and a 40-day session on odd numbered days. This proposal would make all annual legislative sessions 40 days in length. Whether we like it or not state government is big business and our legislators need that extra time to more properly enact that business. This, too, will get my vote.
AMENDMENT J: This will eliminate term limits for our legislators, meaning for the past several years our lawmakers could serve no more than eight consecutive years in one house or the other. This proposed amendment would repeal these term limits from our State Constitution. However, this will not remove the term limits for our Governor or constitutional officers.
Legislative term limits have put too much power into the executive branch of our state government. It is time to realign that balance of power.
INITIATED MEASURE 9: The title of this proposal is "Small Investors Protection Act." But don't judge this book by its cover. I need to know a lot more about this one before it gets my vote.
INITIATED MEASURE 10: It's called the "Open and Clean Government Act," but again don't judge this by its cover. What it would do would ban tax-funded lobbying, partisan activity and government contractor electioneering. While on the surface this may sound like a good idea, but what it would actually do would prohibit our school boards, city councils and county commissions from communicating their concerns with their legislators. It's a bad idea.
By the way, both the state Republicans and Democrats opposed Initiated Measure 10 at their recent state conventions.
INITIATED MEASURE 11: The abortion battle is once again raising its head. This proposal would prohibit most abortions, except to protect the life or health of a pregnant woman and for instances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. This is a tough one, but in my book, abortion is a dirty word.
There you have it. Agree with me or not, let's see where we stand on these issues come November....
Gordon Garnos was long-time editor of the Watertown Public Opinion and recently retired after 39 years with that newspaper. Garnos, a lifelong resident of South Dakota except for his military service in the U.S. Air Force, was born and raised in Presho.
The Gods of Liberalism Revisited
The lie hasn't changed, and we still fall for it as easily as ever. But how can we escape the snare?
Monday, July 14, 2008
By Gordon Garnos