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(SD)-SD House Gives Final OK To High-Profile Measures

By: John Axtell Posted at: 03/07/2018 11:35 PM
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota House took final action Wednesday on three high-profile issues, sending to the voters a pair of constitutional amendments and to the governor a bill giving lawmakers a pay raise with future salaries tied the state's economy - all by wide margins.

       One of the constitutional amendments limits future amendments to a single subject. House Speaker and sponsor Mark Mickelson says the idea is to make sure voters understand what they're voting for. Critics have questioned how the proposal would work.

       The other constitutional amendment is a "fix" to the "Marsy's Law" victims' bill of rights passed by the voters two years ago. Backers of the original back the fix as well, which addresses unintended consquences that have caused problems for law enforcement and the media while sharply increasing expenses for counties.
      There are actually 2 measures involved - the constitutional amendment containing the fix and a bill that would send the fix to the voters in the June primary rather than the general election in November. Backers say waiting the extra 5 months would just cost counties that much more money.

       The election date bill includes $200,000 for costs such as printing a nonpolitical ballot, and it has an emergency provision blocking opponents from referring it to the ballot for a public vote.
     Voters have never decided a ballot question at a primary and the last special election for statewide ballot questions was in April 2001.
      It's up to Gov. Dennis Daugaard to decide if lawmakers get their first pay raise in two decades. Originally proposed as a constitutional amendment, the bill sent to the governor sets salaries at 1/5th of the state's median household income...an initial bump to over $10,000 from the current $6,000.
     Tony Venhuizen, the governor's chief of staff, says Daugaard supports a legislative pay increase and would sign the bill as long as the necessary funds are included in the state budget.


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