Proposed Weiland measure doomed to fail before it starts. And here’s why!

I was chatting with a politico today about the measure Rick Weiland is sending out to people, when the person on the other end of the line made a statement…. and the proverbial light bulb lit above my head.

There might not be much more use in condemning his ballot measure to force you to register as a lobbyist if you go to testify in front of the PUC because a pipeline is going across your land. You might not like that he wants your property taxes to pay for politicians, but never fear. There’s a strong reason why he might never be able to get the required signatures.

Brevity.    Or more specifically, the lack thereof.

If you recall the draft language of the measure, noting what Slick Rick wants to do to South Dakotans:

Rick Weiland's awful South Dakota Anti-Corruption Act DRAFT Language 150626 _ With Colors

Note the little thing at the bottom of each page (or at the bottom of the document reader window) regarding the number of pages: 44 of them.  Got it? Yes, 44 pages might not be a joke, but there’s a great punchline. ARSD 5:02:08:07.  Form of initiative petition:

5:02:08:07.  Form of initiative petition. Prior to July 1, 2010, the initiative petition form shall follow the specifications provided in this section that were in effect on December 9, 2009.

The initiative petition shall be in the following form:


WE, THE UNDERSIGNED qualified voters of the state of South Dakota, petition that the following proposed law be submitted to the voters of the state of South Dakota at the general election on November ____, _____, for their approval or rejection pursuant to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota.

Attorney General Explanation:
The text of the proposed law is as follows:
Be it enacted by the people of South Dakota.

(Insert the instructions to voters and signature blanks prescribed in § 5:02:08:00.03.)


INSTRUCTIONS TO CIRCULATOR: This section (bold) must (unbold) be completed following circulation and before filing.

Print name of the circulator                 Residence Address                                 City                  State

I, under oath, state that I circulated the above petition, that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence, that I made reasonable inquiry and to the best of my knowledge each person signing the petition is a qualified voter in the county indicated on the signature line, that no state statute regarding petition circulation was knowingly violated, and that either the signer or I added the printed name, the residence address of the signer, the date of signing, and the county of voter registration.

____________________________________   Signature of Circulator

Sworn to before me this ________ day of _____________, ______.

(Seal)         ___________________________________  Signature of Officer Administering Oath

My Commission Expires _______________

____________________________________  Title of Officer Administering Oath

Why do we care about this?  The petition form as mandated by administrative rule expressly sets forth that immediately after the Attorney General’s explanation, the text of the proposed law must be on the petition. prior to the petitionee’s signatures. As in all 44 pages of the initiated measure.

According to a note I just received from the Secretary of State confirming my suspicion:

Yes, you are correct that a petition sheet shall be self contained.  Even in the case where there is a significant amount of text that still holds true.

The size of the petition sheet can and will vary.  For example, the medical marijuana petition is 13×19 which includes the AG’s title and explanation and full text of the measure and still has 20 signature lines.

Binding of a petition is not allowed.

The medical pot measure might be on a 13×19 sheet of paper, but how large would a petition have to be to manage all 44 pages of Rick Weiland’s gobbledygook, plus have room for signatures, the circulator’s oath attesting that they were the circulator, etcetera and so on and still remain legible?

What will the printing costs be to crank out enough of these oversized mega-petitions to cover 20,000 signatures?   And how are these circulators going to manage what could be a pile of ridiculously over sized sheets of paper?

The 2014 election should have taught Rick Weiland a valuable lesson that might have done him some good in proposing his little measure. That there comes a time when he should just shut up.

It might have helped make what he’s proposing far more manageable.

10 thoughts on “Proposed Weiland measure doomed to fail before it starts. And here’s why!”

  1. It brought me a chuckle yesterday when I read it was 44 pages long as I know it has to fit in one sheet.

    Time to change that law- only the title and AG explanation are necessary on a petition signature sheet. We already require circulators handout an additional AG explanation sheet for signers who want one. It should be there are copies of the bill available at signing if a signer wants one. Cramming technical legal mumbo jumbo on 8 point font (okay’d minimum) is a joke on the petition sheet. We have minor law changes in the legislature that run into a handful of pages to just change one term. It’s unreasonable to make it all get printed on a petition.

    1. Steve –

      I’m disagreeing with you a lot lately.

      Remember Jail for Judges? Informed Jury? Voters NEED full disclosure on what they’re signing to make an informed decision. .

      1. Those who’ve circulated petitions know people don’t stop and read statutes. Summaries are sufficient with regular font size print out of the statutes available at signing for the rare few who want it. Signing isn’t voting. There is now a year and a half for voters to educate themselves on what is in the ballot.

        1. PS your argument would make sense to me if you also insisted the full statute langauge be fully printed on the ballot as well as the petition.

  2. I wonder how legislators would think if they were told they didn’t need the full bill in text but a summary written by LRC or the AG.

    If the voters are going to assume the role of legislator they should be expected to do the same amount of work with regard to reviewing the bill as legislators.

    1. That’s a really good point Troy. Maybe we should have a version of an EULA on petitions and ballots. We’ve all gotten used to clicking the “I have read and understand” box every time we get a phone or computer upgrade, so why not include the same thing for voter accountability?

  3. P.S. The devil is in the details and even the words “may” and “shall” are significant. Of course, when the Supreme Court is now in the business of interpreting intent and do so even when the words are clear the other way, maybe a summary of “I want to do this” is all that is necessary.

    The new American pledge “I pledge allegiance to the SCOTUS.”

    1. The title of the bill and the phrase “Res Ipsa Loquitur (“the thing speaks for itself”)” should suffice.

      The Courts will take care of the details.

      21st Century American Law.

  4. Rick not having any idea what he’s doing?? Wow, what’s next? Annette blaming something on someone else?

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