If you’ve been reading over the past couple of days, you noticed that a ballot measure was recently filed with the Attorney General in preparation for circulation, specifically for the purpose of re-jiggering how legislative districts are made up.
Doug Sombke of the South Dakota Farmer’s Union is the sponsor of the measure. And if you read the measure, I’d argue that his sponsorship not only is curious, it’s inexplicable given his leadership of the Farmer’s Union:
Why do I say it’s inexplicable? In terms of representation of farmers, there are parts that just don’t make sense.
According to the Rural Life Data Census center, there’s a distinct out-migration from rural communities into more urban areas. As noted at citizing.org back in 2010:
The population in South Dakota is slowly growing near urban hubs along the I29 corridor and in areas with recreational services such as in the Black Hills due to both rural migration and in-migration from neighboring states; while the rural population in 54 of South Dakota’s 66 counties continues to decline due to limited educational and employment opportunities.
As time goes by, cities increase in population and get bigger, and rural areas depopulate. Sombke’s constitutional amendment ballot measure contains a provision that upon passage, this group will redistrict right away in 2017.
Here’s where the head scratching starts as to who the Farmer’s Union is representing with the measure.
As noted in the measure they’re going to be circulating, “Districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable.” As rural areas have depopulated to some extent, cities have increased in size. As far as Sioux Falls is concerned, at the time of this proposed redistricting taking place 5 years early (as compared to the current census based redistricting every ten years), the state’s largest city will have gained anywhere from ten to twenty thousand residents, potentially giving the largest urban sector of our state another legislative seat.
And guess where is that seat going to come from…
The previously mentioned depopulating rural areas have significant populations represented by our agriculture sector of the state. And they aren’t farming in town. They’re out there where the land is.
As evidenced over time, every time we re-district these rural legislative districts, they continue to grow in geographic size as populations decrease. City districts get smaller, but as their populations grow, they’re capturing the seats being shed by those rural districts who have to scramble to look farther and wider to come up with the required populations to balance out to equal others.
This measure is great if you’re an urbanite, and want more representation in Pierre. But that brand new legislative seat in Sioux Falls has to come from somewhere.
And if you’re a farmer living in a rural area losing population…. well…… Sorry guys.
As a direct consequence of this proposed constitutional amendment, legislative district lines will be re-drawn 5 years early, shifting representation from rural to urban that much sooner. It’s inevitable anyway, but it leaves you scratching your head as to why the person fronting the Farmer’s Union would want to accelerate the continued erosion of rural/ag representation in Pierre five years early?
Especially when that previously scheduled hit in 2021 is still going to take place.
As opposed to an effort to improve the lot of agriculture in Pierre, it seems to be yet another attempt at social engineering from the party of Obama.
It’s not as if Sombke is a stranger to supporting Democrat causes. Except this time, it might be incumbent upon members of his organization to ask him how his proposed amendment benefits them. Because I just don’t see it.