Here’s what all those ballot numbers and letters are referring to for this fall’s election. A quick guide to what you’re going to see on the ballot.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been on the run lately, but I hadn’t really noticed a guide that simply states the constitutional amendments and ballot measures that will be on the ballot this fall in order by their assigned letters, so I created this one for the sake of my own knowledge:

AMENDMENT EAn amendment to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, updating references to certain officeholders and persons. (Updating Constitutional language to include women)

AG’s Explanation: The South Dakota Constitution became effective upon the State joining the United States in 1889. The generic male pronouns he, his, and him are used in the text of the state constitution to reference certain officeholders or individuals. This amendment changes the text of the State Constitution to remove the use of generic male pronouns when referencing certain officeholders or individuals. For example, when referencing the Governor, instead of saying “he shall be commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the state,” the text will be changed to read ‘the Governor shall be commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the state.” The amendment makes similar changes to other references to the Governor, as well as to references to other officeholders including Lieutenant Governor, supreme court Justices, and circuit court Judges. The amendment also makes similar changes to references in the Constitution to general classes of people such as persons, electors, and public officers.

AMENDMENT FAn amendment to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, authorizing the state to impose work requirements on certain individuals who are eligible for expanded Medicaid. (self-explanatory, allowing work requirements to be imposed)

AG’s Explanation: The Medicaid program is funded by the State and the federal government to provide medical coverage for certain low-income people who qualify for the program. ln 2022, the voters approved a Constitutional provision that expanded Medicaid eligibility for any person over age 18 and under 65 whose income is at or below 133% of the federal poverty level, plus 5% of the federal poverty level for the applicable family size. This constitutional amendment authorizes the State to impose work requirements on any person eligible to receive benefits under the expanded Medicaid program, except for those persons who are physically or mentally disabled. The amendment does not identify any specific work requirement that may be imposed on those receiving expanded Medicaid benefits. Any work requirement proposed by the State must be approved by the federal government prior to implementation.

AMENDMENT GAn Amendment Establishing a Right to Abortion in the State Constitution. (self – explanatory)

AG’s Explanation: This initiated amendment establishes a constitutional right to an abortion and provides a legal framework for the regulation of abortion. This framework would override existing laws and regulations concerning abortion. The amendment establishes that during the first trimester a pregnant woman’s decision to obtain an abortion may not be regulated nor may regulations be imposed on the carrying out of an abortion. In the second trimester, the amendment allows the regulation of a pregnant woman’s abortion decision, and the regulation of carrying out an abortion. Any regulation of a pregnant woman’s abortion decision, or of an abortion, during the second trimester must be reasonably related to the physical health of the pregnant woman. In the third trimester, the amendment allows the regulation or prohibition of abortion except in those cases where the abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of the pregnant woman. Whether an abortion is necessary during the third trimester must be determined by the pregnant woman’s physician according to the physician’s medical judgment. Judicial clarilication of the amendment may be necessary. The Legislature cannot alter the provisions of a constitutional amendment.

AMENDMENT HAn amendment to the South Dakota Constitution Establishing Top-Two Primary Elections. (Jungle Primary Measure)

AG’s Explanation: Currently, to appear on the general election ballot, major party candidates for the following offices must participate in a partisan primary election: Governor, State Legislature, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and elected county offices. Only members of the candidate’s party may vote for that candidate unless that party has opened the primary to voters not affiliated with the party. Minor party candidates may be chosen by primary or party convention. Unaffiliated candidates (independents) are only required to file nominating petitions to appear on the general election ballot. For the listed offices, this amendment requires one primary election wherein all candidates run against each other in their respective races, including major and minor party and unaffiliated candidates. A candidate may list any party next to their name on the ballot regardless of party affiliation or registration. All voters may vote for any candidate. The two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the general election. If there is more than one candidate to be elected to an office, the number of candidates advancing to the general election is twice the number to be elected. Primary elections may be held for other offices. The amendment may be challenged on constitutional grounds.

INITIATED MEASURE 28An Initiated Measure Prohibiting Taxes on Anything Sold for Human Consumption. (Removal of Food Tax)

AG’s Explanation: Currently, the State collects tax on the sale or use of certain goods, including foods and drinks. Many municipalities also collect these taxes. This initiated measure prohibits the State from collecting sales or use tax on anything sold for human consumption. The measure eliminates these sources of revenue for the State. Human consumption is not defined by state law. However, its common definition includes more than foods and drinks. The measure does not prohibit the collection of sales or use tax on alcoholic beverages or prepared food. Prepared food is defined by law to include food that is sold heated or with utensils. The measure may affect the State’s obligations under the tobacco master settlement agreement and the streamlined sales tax agreement. The master settlement agreement resulted from multi-state lawsuits against cigarette manufacturers for the public health effects of smoking. South Dakota’s annual share of the master settlement agreement is approximately $20 million. The streamlined sales tax agreement is a multistate program designed to simplify the collection of sales and use tax for companies selling in multiple jurisdictions. Judicial or legislative clarification of the measure will be necessary.

INITIATED MEASURE 29An Initiated Measure Legalizing the Recreational Use, Possession, and Distribution of Marijuana. (self – explanatory)

AG’s Explanation: This initiated measure allows individuals 21 years of age or older to possess, grow, ingest, and distribute marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia. Individuals may possess up to two ounces of marijuana in a form other than marijuana concentrate or other marduana products. Individuals may possess up to six marijuana plants with no more than twelve plants per household. The measure also places limits on the possession of other forms of marijuana and marijuana products. Under the measure, the possession, ingestion, and distribution of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia remains illegal for individuals under the age of 21. Driving under the influence of marijuana remains illegal. The measure restricts where individuals may possess or conslrme marijuana, such as schools or where tobacco is prohibited. The measure allows employers to restrict an employee’s use of marijuana. Property owners may also regulate the use of marijuana on their property. The measure does not affect State laws dealing with hemp. It also does not change laws concerning the State’s medical marijuana program. The measure legalizes marijuana-derived substances considered felony controlled substances under State law. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Judicial or legislative clarification of this measure may be necessary

Have you figured out your votes yet?

Weible to Monae Johnson: Resign! Johnson to Weible: Go pound sand.

KELOland News is reporting that despite unsuccessful D8 Senate Candidate Rick Weible’s demands for the Secretary of State to resign, she does not intend to act on his request:

Rick Weible, who describes himself as an election integrity expert, called for Johnson, her deputy Thomas Deadrick and the board’s members to all resign.

and..

“The claims, accusations and half-truths from South Dakota Canvassing do not warrant for any of us to resign,” Johnson said.

and..

“My office works hard with the county auditors to ensure that South Dakota has safe, secure, accurate and transparent elections. Just because someone claims fraud does not mean that there is. The dis-and misinformation that is being broadcast is a shame.”

Read the entire story here.

And the happy state of politics continues to march on in South Dakota.

SDDP National Committeeman Dennis Olson, Committeewoman Deb Knecht announce campaigns for another term of office

With his announcement on Facebook, Dennis Olson of Huron, SD has emerged as the first candidate for office in the State Democratic Party’s Convention being held this weekend in Oacoma, SD:

Olson (a fellow button collector) has previously served in the position for one term.

SDDP National Committeewoman Deb Knecht is also seeking another term in her position:

 

 

State Democrats are yet to tip their hand as to whether they will be offering a candidate for Public Utilities Commission. Current candidates include the incumbent Republican PUC Commissioner Kristie Fiegen, and recently announced Libertarian candidate Gideon Oakes.

Attorney General Jackley Confirms SCOTUS Abortion Pill Ruling Does Not Impact State Abortion Law

Attorney General Jackley Confirms SCOTUS Abortion Pill Ruling Does Not Impact State Abortion Law

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley confirms that Thursday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to restrict access to mifepristone, a widely used abortion pill, does not impact South Dakota’s current abortion law.

A group of anti-abortion doctors and medical associations challenged changes made by the Food and Drug Administration in the past 10 years that allowed more access to mifepristone.  Attorney General Jackley earlier this year had joined 21 other attorneys general in supporting the group’s opposition to the FDA policies.

In its decision, the Supreme Court did not address whether the FDA lawfully acted when it had relaxed the rules for mifepristone’s use. Rather, the justices based their unanimous decision on procedural grounds, ruling that the opponents did not have the legal right to bring the suit against the FDA.

South Dakota abortion law makes it a Class 6 felony for anyone “who administers to any pregnant female or prescribes or procures for any pregnant female” a means for an abortion, except to save the life of the mother. The crime is punishable by two years in prison, a $4,000 fine or both.

“The court’s decision does not change the current FDA rules, and State law on mifepristone remains the same,” said Attorney General Jackley.

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Court Hearings coming up for 2 former politicos on the wrong side of the law; Rocky Hayes and Shad Olson

June 2024 appears to be a month of reckoning for two former politicos who found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

After his case has been dragging on since mid-January of 2023, with multiple delays as the defense has kicked the can down the road, a former Jones Co. GOP Chair from 2020, Rocky Hayes will have his day in court for multiple charges of possessing child pornography, as the trial date has been replaced by a change of plea hearing set for June 25th at 2pm, according to UJS records.

Hayes was charged after child rape videos were discovered on his dropbox account, as noted by Sioux Falls Live:

After confirming from Midco via subpoena that the IP address belonged to Hayes, investigators continued searching through his Dropbox account, where they found two other files believed to depict child pornography. One file was a 9-second video depicting a girl, estimated to be 13 years old, performing a sex act, and another 15-minute video of a girl, estimated to be 8-10 years old, being raped.

and..

If convicted on all three counts, he could be sentenced to serve as many as 30 years in prison and pay up to $60,000 in fines. 

Read that story here.

And that can’t come soon enough.

Speaking of people accused of doing reprehensible things, Shad Olson is also scheduled to have another day in court next week, with a motions hearing scheduled for Friday, June 21.  If you’ve forgotten what the former newsreader, podcaster and media flak for Gordon Howie and Neal Tapio is accused of, let me remind you:

The victim expressed she felt lucky she was thrown on a carpeted floor, because the alleged assault did not leave her with broken bones.

and..

From there, the victim said Olson chased after her as she ran away from her home. They had been living together from some time, but she told the officer “she pays for everything in the home while Olson worries about the country,” the documents read.

The officer asked the victim if Olson had assaulted her before, with her replying “yes.”

The victim said Olson, who runs his own far-right, eponymic podcast, is “stressed over politics,” which influences his drinking. She then told the officer Olson blames his political frustrations on her.

Read the entire story here.

Olson is currently facing charges of Domestic Abuse Simple Assault, Domestic Abuse Aggravated Assault (Strangulation), and Domestic Abuse Simple Assaults/recklessly causing bodily injury. The Aggravated Assault charge is a third degree felony, while the other charges are class 1 misdemeanors.

Stay tuned.

One month before a divisive, low-turnout primary, Open Primaries Amendment had nearly 55% support in South Dakota in recent poll.

South Dakota News Watch has a story about a poll conducted in South Dakota in mid-May among 500 participants, noting that the Open Primaries measure was tracking with nearly 55% support among South Dakota voters:

South Dakotans by a wide margin support a constitutional amendment that would change the way the state conducts primary elections, according to a scientific poll of 500 registered voters co-sponsored by South Dakota News Watch.

The statewide survey, also sponsored by the Chiesman Center for Democracy at the University of South Dakota, showed that 55% of respondents favored the plan to change the state’s election format, with 33% opposed and 12% undecided.

That’s a jump in support from a similarly structured November 2023 poll, which showed 49% supporting the measure, 34% opposed and 17% undecided.

Read the entire story here.

This might portend a stormy campaign for those in the Republican Party who oppose this measure, as this polling came before the divisive primary election that was just held, with the lowest turnout in the 30 years of statewide tracking on primary election voter turnout.

Further complicating it for opponents is that the most organized opponent to the measure, the South Dakota Republican Party, finds it’s fundraising at a low point, and may be scrounging for resources to do it’s primary job – support Republican candidates this election – much less to mount an organized effort in opposing a ballot measure, which is secondary to it’s purpose of electing candidates.

I’ve spoken to a number of Republicans who have moved off of strong opposition to Open Primaries to more or less ambivalence in the wake of an election that put some fringe Republicans in the driver’s seat for the fall contest.  And that may not be good for those opposed to the Amendment.

With 55% support before the primary, I’ll be more curious to hear an updated benchmark of where it is after the primary.

That may be even more telling.

Argus burying the lede on primary election: Minnehaha County Auditor rejects 132 election ballots in one precinct, which could represent up to 85% of vote.

The Argus Leader has a story on Minnehaha County Auditor Leah Anderson’s continued goofiness, as today she wants to spend a bunch of money hand-counting every Minnehaha County vote from the June 4 primary:

Minnehaha County Auditor Leah Anderson says she’s planning on performing a hand-counted audit of the 13,058 ballots cast in the county’s June 4 primary election.

Anderson informed county officials of the plan at Tuesday’s meeting of the county’s canvassing board, saying that as long as she’s within her budget she has the authority to decide to go above and beyond the state requirements, which call for auditing five percent of precincts.

Read that here.

But the item that grabbed more of my attention in the story was buried at the end, as it related to some of the election night interference that was going on from election conspiracy group SD Canvassing:

The group’s president, Jessica Pollema, made two challenges in Minnehaha County on June 4, calling for ballots to be rejected in precincts 4-16 and 5-16, claiming that the voters didn’t live in Sioux Falls.

The challenge in 5-16 was rejected, but Anderson told board members on Monday that 132 ballots had been rejected in 4-16.

Read that here.

WHOOOOAAAA… hold on here. The Argus buried the lede in this story.  In one of the lowest participation elections of 30 years, 132 ballots were rejected in one precinct based on a challenge from the election nuts who hold the auditor’s chain?   I don’t think anyone is paying attention, because that represents a TREMENDOUS number of the ballots cast in that precinct.

Go back to the story they ran from June 5th..

Pollema said she also challenged absentee ballots at precinct 4-16, which used the Word of Life Pentecostal Church as its polling location. She claimed her challenge was successful and resulted in dozens of ballots being rejected.

It is unclear if those absentee ballots were truly rejected, and if they were, how many.

Pollema and Anderson were seen talking together to some degree: An Argus Leader reporter was speaking with Pollema while ballots were being counted, when Anderson interrupted to ask if the canvassing group leader knew whether some or all of the challenged ballots were tossed. Anderson later handed Pollema, a citizen, a stack of unknown documents, as the county auditor was wrapping up the ballot count for the night.

Read that story here.

Not dozens… Over a hundred ballots were rejected.  And it’s even more interesting if you look at how many votes they actually counted in precinct 4-16:

In a race where they could choose up to 2 candidates, if we ignore the under-vote, and total the votes up, and divide by 2, we come up with roughly 23 voters who had their votes counted. If they threw out 132 ballots, Leah Anderson acting at SD Canvassing’s bidding might have thrown out up to 85% of the ballots cast in that precinct.

How does the county auditor, working with an election conspiracy group make the decision to just toss out more than 3/4 of the ballots cast in one precinct?

They had one, maybe two races to vote on, and a massive number of them were just thrown away?  Here’s what people need to focus on, especially the Secretary of State, the Minnehaha County Commission, and possibly the Attorney General.

Because if I was one of those voters, I would be asking why my vote wasn’t counted.

*Update*

If those rejected ballots were Democrat ballots, the percentage of challenged ballots would be even higher.

Don’t pet the fluffy cows. And the prairie dogs? They’re currently experiencing an outbreak of the black death.

KELOland has a story on their website today for Custer State Park tourists which most everyone in South Dakota knows – Don’t pet the fluffy cows. Because they will mess you up:

“Here at the park, it’s been decades since we’ve had any fatalities with the bison but we still have injuries,” Austin said. “So that’s why we encourage folks to give them the distance, to keep your trip safe. You don’t want to ruin it with a trip to the hospital so enjoy from the safety of your car and enjoy Custer State Park.”

Read that here.

it’s been decades since we’ve had any fatalities with the bison” should be people’s first hint.

There are also places out in the Black Hills with less intimidating wildlife. But, you probably don’t want to mess with them either, since right now they are experiencing an outbreak of sylvatic fever, a.k.a. the plague, the Black Death, etc:

South Dakota is currently experiencing an outbreak of the plague, a disease infamous throughout history for its high mortality rate, rapid transmission, and ability to incite widespread fear and dread.

Government agencies have verified that a plague outbreak is responsible for the mass deaths of prairie dogs in Badlands National Park, Buffalo Gap National Grassland, and the surrounding Conata-Badlands ecosystem area.

and..

However, this disease can also infect humans, pets, and other wildlife species.

Read that here. And more on it here (as wildlife experts are mainly concerned about the Black Footed Ferrets who eat prairie dogs)

Great to have people come and visit our great state. But some of the wildlife isn’t as cuddly as people think.

US Senator Mike Rounds Weekly Round(s) Up for June 3-9, 2024

WEEKLY ROUND[S] UP: JUNE 3-9, 2024

Welcome back to another edition of the Weekly Round[s] Up! We had another busy week in the United States Senate, getting back to business after our Memorial Day in-state work period. While I was back in South Dakota, I attended the ‘Let Freedom Fly International Airshow’ in Pierre which was the product of many hours of work by local and national organizations. Events like these are important as we look to recruit the next generation of young men and women who will serve our country in the military. I went to Brookings and Watertown for Memorial Day activities to recognize and honor our veterans. I also went to Sioux Falls and hosted a health care roundtable with NIH Director Bertagnolli and South Dakota health care stakeholders on how AI could be the key to curing cancers and other deadly diseases. I am grateful Dr. Bertagnolli accepted my invitation to visit South Dakota and see firsthand all the work being done in the state. This past week in Washington, we welcomed several South Dakota groups to our nation’s capital, including nearly 250 students and parents from South Dakota schools. I also introduced two new pieces of legislation which will impact folks living in the rural parts of our country. More on that in my Weekly Round[s] Up:

South Dakotans I met with: Students from Madison, Dakota Valley, Harrisburg and Sioux Falls; South Dakota members of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition; members of the South Dakota Health Care Association; South Dakota members of the National Grain and Feed Association; Dr. Steve Smith, professor at the South Dakota School of Mines; Mike Mimick of South Dakota’s UBS branch; and Colby Olson with the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association. I also stopped by a gathering hosted by the South Dakota State Society on Wednesday to celebrate 605 Day.

Met with South Dakotans from: Aberdeen, Black Hawk, Dakota Dunes, Harrisburg, Madison, Marion, Mitchell, Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

Other meetings: General Ahmad Husni, Director of Jordan’s General Intelligence Department; Harry Coker Jr., National Cyber Director; Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities; Ken Kartsen, Senior VP at Trellix; Seleshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United States; Directors from national labs affiliated with the Department of Energy; and the Defense Strategy Institute’s SmallSat & Space Access Summit. I spoke with members of the Healthcare Leadership Council about our work on artificial intelligence in the Senate.

I also attended our Senate Prayer Breakfast, where our speaker was Mary Landrieu, a former United States Senator from Louisiana. While our prayer breakfast consists mostly of current members of the Senate, we always enjoy welcoming our former colleagues back to participate.

Votes taken: 8 – most of these were on nominations to a judge position in the District of Columbia, as well as executive positions in the Department of State and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

We also voted on the Right to Contraception Act. I voted no on this bill. Senate Democrats brought this legislation to the floor as an election year scare tactic. There is no threat to contraceptive access in the United States. There are no restrictions on contraceptives. They are required by law to be offered at no cost by health insurers. In addition, if you read the fine print, this bill could open the door for public elementary schools to offer contraceptives to little kids. It could even allow the federal government to force religious institutions and schools to offer contraceptives. It’s massive government overreach.

Legislation introduced: This week, I introduced the Postal Processing Protection Act, legislation that would require the US Postal Service to consider consequences for rural areas during their closure or downsizing review process. Rural mail services are a lifeline for residents of many communities across South Dakota. USPS should be required to consider the impact of closing processing facilities on rural residents, just as they consider it when closing retail locations. I’m pleased to be introducing this legislation to make certain rural residents receive their mail in a timely and efficient manner.

I also introduced legislation that would reauthorize the Reclamation Rural Water Supply Act which lapsed in 2016. This bill would allow the Bureau of Reclamation to carry out the required feasibility studies for rural water supply projects instead of Congress. This would streamline the process of getting approval for rural water improvement systems including three rural water projects in South Dakota: the Water Investment in Northern South Dakota (WINS), the Western Dakota Regional Water System and the Dakota Mainstem which are all looking to spread water from the Missouri River throughout the state.

Student Loan Letter: I joined my colleagues Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) in sending a letter to the Department of Education urging them to withdraw their latest student loan forgiveness plan. This proposed rule will cost hard-working Americans an additional $147 billion and bring the total student loan debt transferred to taxpayers to as much as $1 trillion.

Hearings: I had one hearing in the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Classified briefings: I attended one classified briefing this week: our bi-weekly cyber education seminar on U.S. Cyber Command and International Partnerships.

My staff in South Dakota visited: Aberdeen, Brookings, Deadwood, Mitchell, Salem, Sturgis and Vermillion.

Steps taken this past week: 44,890 steps or 22.57 miles.

Photos of the week: