Wednesday was a "dark day" for the South Dakota Legislature.
The passage of House Bill 1069, brought to repeal the voters' enacted Initiated Measure 22, culminated the ugliest partisan bum's-rush of legislation since Obamacare. I publicly opposed IM 22 during the election for many reasons. The solution to bad government is not more government, and IM 22 did nothing to combat the ugly corruption of the last two governors' administrations EB-5, and GEAR UP scandals. Circumstances made me a grudging opponent of HB 1069.
Early on I encouraged senators to go slow repealing IM 22. We govern at the permission of the people. While the people give us permission to act on their behalf by electing us, we shouldn't be so arrogant as to act rashly without proper respect to their will. I suggested five to six single subject constitutional bills to review IM 22 and afford the many subjects the proper, respectful and deliberate public hearings that voters deserved. That sage advice was cast aside and HB 1069, the mirror image of IM 22 (which they contested was unconstitutional because it was multi-subject), was brought forth to repeal IM 22.
Immediately, streams of dishonest rhetoric was pushed spinning the repeal and claiming a contrived "emergency" demanding the immediate passage of HB 1069. Politicians who blithely voted for unconstitutional multi-subject bills previously, now claimed they must repeal IM 22 to protect the people's constitution, from the people!
Despite 24 legislators being personally involved in the lawsuit against IM 22, they refused to recuse themselves from the obvious conflict of interest of pushing HB 1069 through the Legislature. They did everything possible to bend to breaking every rule possible to rush HB 1069 through. To add injury to insult, senators voted to knowingly keep unconstitutional provisions within HB 1069, which require identifying information the Supreme Court of the United States of America has ruled explicitly violates persons' First Amendment rights (see McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334(1995) ).
IM 22 was allowed on the ballot by the governor, attorney general and secretary of state. That tacit support, in my opinion, removes blame of unconstitutionality from citizens who brought IM 22. Legislators brought the unconstitutional HB 1069 mess. They were obligated to abide by legislative ethics rules and our U.S. and S.D. Constitutions. The inappropriate conflicts of interests, the gross appearance of improprieties used to pass HB 1069 and the provisions of HB 1069 which were in explicit contravention of both the United States Constitution, and South Dakota's Constitution, showed who was the real threat to our Constitutions. Principle demanded that I was duty-bound to oppose HB 1069, which I did.
The manner in which HB 1069 was passed was disgraceful, and a "dark day" as Senator Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs, appropriately lamented. Politicians claimed there is no corruption in SD, in support of their rush to pass HB 1069. The EB-5 corruption and death of Richard Benda; the GEAR UP corruption and deaths of Scott, Nicole, Michael, Connor, Jaeci and Kailey Westerhuis; the recent scandal of a two-year legislative cover-up of a legislator sexually preying on pages & interns; and, the same legislators repealing the will of the voters in such a corrupt fashion, refute those assertions up utterance.
In that "dark day" there was a ray of principled sunshine. The honorable gentleman, Sen. Lance Russell, stood tall on the Senate floor and opposed the partisan stampeded herd. In the end, we earned the wrath of politicians for refusing to go along to get along and compromise the ethical principles of your government. The good news is, Sen. Russell and I slept like babies last night and we can look each one of our constituents in the eyes when we go home.
God bless & Semper Fidelis.
- South Dakota
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