Legislators will be greeted with constitutional crisis on their way to the legislature in the form of IM22

Legislators, courtesy of the newly passed Initiated Measure 22, you’re about to be hit with Section 31.

Section 31. That chapter 12-27 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:

For the purposes of this section, the term “gift” means any compensation, reward, employment, gift, honorarium, beverage, meal, food, or other thing of value made or given directly or indirectly to any person.

No lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist may make gifts to one person who is an elected state officer, legislative official or staff person, or executive department official or staff person aggregating more than one hundred dollars in a calendar year, nor may a lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist act as an agent or intermediary in the making of any such gift, or to arrange for the making of any such gift by any other person.

The value of gifts given to an immediate family member of any elected state officer, legislative official, or executive branch official shall be attributed to the officer or official for  the purpose of determining whether the limit has been exceeded, unless an independent business, family, or social relationship exists between the donor and the family member, subject to approval by the commission in a manner to be promulgated by rule by the commission  pursuant to  its rulemaking authority under section 40 of this Act.

No person may knowingly receive any gift which is made unlawful by this section. A violation of this section is a Class I misdemeanor.

That mess was just passed into law at the ballot box.  And it’s going to cause most legislators to automatically be in violation.

How? Let me provide an example or two.

A female legislator goes to HyVee. She shops sensibly, and purchases a number of items which are part of the HyVee Discount program, gets her .35 cents a gallon off of gas.  This happens a few times monthly, so when she gasses up her suburban, she ends up saving a couple of hundred dollars a year.   Her husband works for Avera Hospital as a program director, and makes a good salary, but they’re not wealthy.  Their son is in football, and they’re quite pleased that he is good enough that he earned a scholarship to attend college, which will help with his ability to attend school.

In what way did legislator X violate the law?  Let me count the ways.

Legislator X saved more than $100 in the HyVee Gas Program. HyVee has a lobbyist that they send to Pierre. 

Per the new law – “gift” means any compensation, reward, employment, gift, honorarium, beverage, meal, food, or other thing of value made or given directly or indirectly to any person.  No lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist may make gifts to one person who is an elected state officer, legislative official or staff person, or executive department official or staff person aggregating more than one hundred dollars in a calendar year.

Because the legislator earned more than $100 in incentives from HyVee, and they have a lobbyists, she’s committed a class one misdemeanor.

Her husband works for Avera Hospital as a program director, and makes a good salary.

Per the new law, “gift” means any compensation, reward, employment…”  and “The value of gifts given to an immediate family member of any elected state officer, legislative official, or executive branch official shall be attributed to the officer or official for the purpose of determining whether the limit has been exceeded…”

Because Avera has a lobbyist, and they pay Legislator X’s husband to work there, and they pay him more than $100, she may be guilty of another class one misdemeanor.

Their son earned a scholarship to attend college.

And here we go again.

Per the new law, “gift” means any compensation, reward, employment…”  and “The value of gifts given to an immediate family member of any elected state officer, legislative official, or executive branch official shall be attributed to the officer or official for the purpose of determining whether the limit has been exceeded…”

Because Legislator X is a legislator, the act of a son earning a scholarship, combined with the fact Universities have their own lobbyists, here’s another class one misdemeanor that has occurred.  

The scary thing is that this law touches nearly any and all legislators in these kinds of ways. And not just legislators. The law applies to elected state officers, legislative official or staff persons, or executive department official or staff persons.

If I’m a car washer in the State of SD Motor pool at SDSU, guess what? That’s an executive department staff person.

This bill was so poorly drafted, it goes beyond reasonable restrictions into making it nigh-impossible for anyone to serve in these offices who aren’t personally wealthy cave dwellers, and represents a constitutional crisis for legislators and elected officials unless and until this mess is fixed.

31 thoughts on “Legislators will be greeted with constitutional crisis on their way to the legislature in the form of IM22

  1. Anonymous

    This law is absurd as written. It need to be repealed and replaced with something closer to what voters thought they were getting!

    1. Anonymous

      You can’t have anything the way it sounds….. but technically you are not a legislator yet Michael

    2. MC

      You both are technically correct! This is and Initiated measure, that means it can be tinkered (okay, major overhaul) with in the legislative session.

      On a side note, several lobbying groups are canceling some of their legislative run up events. Many legislators are opting not to attend because someone might be trying to play gotcha

  2. Springer

    Can it be repealed? Is it legal for the legislature to repeal it? That should be the first item of business on the calendar. And people should vote NO, NO, NO on any initiated measure from here on out unless it is about one sentence long and has had a lawyer review it! And even then, vote NO!!!

  3. Troy Jones

    I want to stress I have not made a decision between Noem and Jackley.

    That said, the more I read about this law the less I think the AG’s description of the bill is accurate and the more I think he bent over to “appear” objective to the point he wasn’t objective.

    1. Anonymous

      The $100 limit is a cumulative annual one, which means that is it not difficult to reach with only a couple of events.

  4. Ryan Maher

    Pat – here is my situation up here in little ole Isabel. I own an insurance agency that sells progressive insurance along with quite a few other companies as an indepent agent. I receive commissions every month from these companies which is over $100. I am at a loss right now with what to do with an entire agency. I also own a cafe I had a big event planned with Moreau Grand Electric they now had to cancel as the would be in violation of IM22. The local bank and health clinic both have Chritmas parties scheduled, well they are going to have to cancel them. The list just continues.

    1. Anonymous

      Ryan, the voters spoke. Parties have to be cancelled? Oh, the horror!!! How will the state ever recover from this travesty?

      1. Ryan Maher

        Well the last time I check this is how sales taxes are collected for the state. I have to have people walk through the door and purchase a meal inorder to pay sales taxes. This is also how a restaurant operates you kind of need these Christmas Parties to help meet payroll, pay the utilities, etc thats what it takes to run a business.

        But since IM22 past, when these groups come into my business its all of a sudden classified as a type of gift as I own the business therefore it’s compensation.

  5. Anonymous

    after repealing this…the next item should be that these IM do not take effect until July 1 like all other bills…thereby giving the legislature the time to react to them if needed

    1. Anonymous

      Going forward – everyone please remind the proponents to actually read the law they are creating to serve their fairly cynical political ends. What a cluster.

      Steve Willard

  6. anon

    I hope the lesson learned from IM22 is that the factions in the Republican Party can COME TOGETHER to strongly push back against this strategic assault by the Dems.

    Make no bones about it, IM22 was nothing other that a full frontal all out assault on the Republican Party. All the stuff they sold the public with their $1milion out-of-state budget was total baloney.

  7. Anonymous

    I happen to know of a certain registered lobbyist who attends a church who’s pastor is a new legislator. I wonder if this law prevents him from registering as a lobbyist or stopping his giving to his church?

  8. MC

    Wow. this is totally crazy.

    We need to stop this madness. Some how stop this either by the courts or by a special session, which ever faster.

    We just had an election, we know how the different districts voted. Let’s break down this monster in the different sections, then take the show on the road, and hold public hearings in those districts that overwhelming voted for the measure and get those people input. then put together a package of bills.

    Last and not least, We all know Rick Weiland was behind this effort. This is his mess, and he needs to help clean it up. I don’t want his money, or his appointee, or someone he hires to take his place, I want him, to spend the time to work with republicians and clean it up.

      1. Springer

        Well, he sure isn’t around huffing and puffing about how great this thing is, and I think he would be proud and slapping himself on the back all over this. Maybe he realizes it will be like Obama’s signature achievement, Obamacare, and will and is imploding all by itself.

  9. Anon

    Anon 9:23, the measure wouldn’t have passed without a lot of republicans voting yes. Guess voters and PACs and associations did not do their homework!!!

    1. Springer

      Very few voters actually read these IM’s, especially ones as long as this; they rely on a soundbite, this time “anti-corruption” and vote accordingly. I hope the voters get smarter next time. I also hope the legislature makes it almost impossible to get these things on the ballot again. And I am disappointed in the AG’s explanation on the ballot.

  10. Adam Zobel

    This is why I voted no on the whole slate of ballot questions. IM22 should have been challenged in court the day after the election and the governor should be calling a special session instead of lamenting about the demise of his planned Medicaid expansion. In fact, a special election should be held with repealing IM22 on the ballot and legislators telling the voters how these changes will make public service impossible in SD.

  11. Anonymous

    Funny how all this sudden outrage didn’t happen a bit sooner. Did nobody on either side bother to read it and understand the implications? If all you kibitzers had triggered a month ago, it may actually have been defeated. Instead, we wind up with a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth after the horse has left the barn. Don’t blame Weiland, don’t blame the voters, don’t blame the AG – blame yourselves for not getting off your duffs and doing something sooner. Personal responsibility? Pfft.

  12. Troy Jones

    Anonymous 10:38:

    I admit I didn’t read it. I admit I relied on the AG summary (which was sufficient for me to vote against it). I didn’t realize the magnitude of the bad sections since they weren’t mentioned by the AG. I admit my biggest mistake was relying on the AG.

    The result is I expect either the Legislature to throw it out or have it referred by Referendum. Nobody has to live with their mistakes forever, especially when they admit it.

  13. MC

    Those that are politically active generally voted against this. however most people cam cite the Minnesota Twins stats from memory. and could care less about politics

    They way this thing was being sold was an ‘anti-corruption’ measure, After the EB-5 and Gear up scandals, we have five bodies, and a lot of money is missing Who wouldn’t be for an anti-corruption measure?