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Gant Validates HB 1234 Referendum Petition: Vote No on Referred Law 16!

Last updated on 2012.08.09

Vote No on Referred Law 16
Support Your School: No on 16!

I learn from David Lias that Secretary of State Jason Gant showed up for work today and validated the petitions submitted two weeks ago to refer House Bill 1234 to a public vote. Congratulations to Secretary Gant on the first thing he's done right in weeks.

We needed 15,855 signatures to put Governor Dennis Daugaard's really bad education policy to a public vote. A random 5% sample of the 30,096 signatures submitted finds 25,777 valid signatures with complete petition information. That 14.35% invalidation rate is the lowest of the three ballot measures filed by the public for the 2012 ballot. Good work, teachers! We've proven we can get signatures; now let's prove we can wage an effective get-out-the-vote campaign against a big corporate anti-public school, anti-labor campaign machine that's already push-polling this issue.

Governor Daugaard's school-wrecking proposal now changes name: House Bill 1234 becomes Referred Law 16, as in...

  • Not-So-Sweet 16!
  • Unclean 16!
  • Don't Be Mean: Kill 16!
  • Nix 16!

Of course, simple may be best:

No on 16!

Start making buttons (I release the above image to the public domain) and spreading the word!


  1. Brian 2012.07.02

    I am opposed to HB 1234.

    While I favor the idea of merit pay in theory, the reality is that the school system does not operate enough like a market for it to work. In the end it will just cause more problems than it solves.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.02

    We teachers appreciate your vote, Brian! On this issue, we need to get people away from theories and abstract rhetoric and get them to look at the good things already happening in their local schools. The system isn't broken; it doesn't need this fix!

  3. Donald Pay 2012.07.02

    Rep. Nelson, or any other Legislator, I have a question.

    I always wondered why the Attorney General continues to do the ballot explanations. The Attorney General is an executive branch official, while the constitution puts initiatives and referendums under the legislative branch. I can understand that having the AG do the ballot explanation made some sense before there was the Legislative Research Council, but now the legislative branch has it's own staff. Why isn't the LRC in charge of ballot explanations?

    I understand there has been some controversy there about the LRC, but I always found them to be professional (with a few rare exceptions), and more knowledgeable about legislation than the AGs office.

    The most secretive part of the initiative or referendum process is the AG ballot explanation. It's a completely closed process, and therefore subject to a lot of secret lobbying. Sometimes ballot explanations can sway an election. During one of the mining initiatives had the mining industry secretly lobbying the AG to insert a few focus-tested words into the ballot explanation. Then they based their campaign around those words that the AG inserted into the ballot explanation. The process should be opened up with hearings and moved to the LRC.

  4. grudznick 2012.07.02

    Rep. Nelson, maybe it doesn't do anything, except misdirect administrators away from giving good teachers more money and make tax payers made and the whiners and grubbers. What if it's all a red herring? Mr. H doesn't like my theory but there are so many insaner theories out there that I might as well float mine again.

  5. grudznick 2012.07.02

    Mr. Pay, I bet that's a question for the Secretary of State or his Deputy. I bet they have a law.

  6. PlanningStudent 2012.07.02

    The Attorney General is the State's lawyer, that is why the legislature entrusted him/her to write the explanation.

    12-13-9. Attorney general's statement regarding constitutional amendment proposed by legislature and referred measure. Before the third Tuesday in May, the attorney general shall deliver to the secretary of state an attorney general's statement for each amendment to the Constitution proposed by the Legislature, and any referred measure from an odd year. The attorney general's statement for each referred measure from an even year shall be delivered to the secretary of state before the second Tuesday in July. The attorney general's statement shall be written by the attorney general and shall consist of a title, an explanation, and a clear and simple recitation of the effect of a "Yes" or "No" vote. The title shall be a concise statement of the subject of the proposed amendment or referred measure authored by the attorney general. The explanation shall be an objective, clear, and simple summary to educate the voters of the purpose and effect of the proposed amendment to the Constitution or the referred law. The attorney general shall include a description of the legal consequences of the proposed amendment or the referred law, including the likely exposure of the state to liability if the proposed amendment or the referred law is adopted. The explanation may not exceed two hundred words in length. On the printed ballots, the title shall be followed by the explanation and the explanation shall be followed by the recitation.

  7. Donald Pay 2012.07.02

    To PlanningStudent: Well, I know there's a law. You can change the law.

    Here a case where you've got this explanation written the same day Gant put it on the ballot. That is really not the ordinary way this happens. The law requires delivery of the ballot explanation by the 2nd Tuesday in July. So, you have to wonder whether anyone other than the Governor and the out-of-state edu-industrial complex got any input on the wording.

  8. grudznick 2012.07.02

    Mr. Pay, if PlanningStudent can change the law, I've got some work for himher to do.

    You should tell Mr. Nelson or Mr. Lust to be changing that law. Or you should change it yourself, sir. I would, but I am old and tired, and I do not care about that law.

  9. mike 2012.07.02

    Cory just a random thought but do you know what Gant's travel budget is compared to what Chris Nelson's was when he was SOS?

  10. Troy Jones 2012.07.03

    So your previous post saying Gant allowed the law to go into effect was specious since yesterday was the first working day after July 1st. I am sure your apology is forthcoming.

    Furthermore, you should take pride it took so long since you submitted so many signatures from so many sources. I don't know if this is done but it should be done since validation is based on stats.

    Before submitting a sample of the whole for statistical analysis, they should sample each source. Or a representative sample of sources. Think quality assurance with batch analysis before global analysis.

    P.S. I don't like the fact they use stats. I think they should validate signatures starting at the top and not stop until they have 110% of the requirement. If they don't get to 110%, do a recount. We don't do stats for votes and we shouldn't either for signatures.

  11. Nick Nemec 2012.07.03

    But the fact remains Troy that Gant's predecessor, Chris Nelson, could get through a pile of petitions quicker and more efficiently than the current crew ever dreamed of.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.03

    No speciousness, no apology, Troy. Laws go into effect on July 1, regardless of day of week. Chris Nelson thought it mattered that his office get petitions validated before that deadline so there would be no confusion as to the status of the law, referred or enacted. Nick rightly notes that the man he currently wants to unemploy was able to get the same job done in much less time. Gant was off gallivanting around the state when he should have been cracking the whip.

    So many signatures from so many sources? I haven't seen the data saying that our array of sources was notably difference from those gathered on the smoking ban petitions that Nelson validated in three days. We submitted 20% more signatures than the smoking ban petitioneers, so, giving similar effort, it could have taken Gant maybe a few hours longer, not over a week longer.

    The statistical sample isn't as satisfying as a full check, but there is math that justifies that efficiency (think cost-benefit). I wouldn't begrudge a complete validation... but hey, why 110%? Isn't that like saying Kristi Noem has to win 55% of the vote to keep her job?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.03

    Mike, alas! I'm not sure where we get a travel budget for Gant's office to compare to Nelson's. The state budget report doesn't give that grain. But I do see that Jason Gant currently makes $13,400 less as SOS than Chris Nelson now does on PUC.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.03

    ...but the SOS's office has enjoyed a huge boost in federal funds over the last couple years, from a million in FY2009 and a half million in FY2010 to over $3M in FY2011 and FY2012. They also have 0.3 more FTE since FY2011. Gant apparently has a lot more money and a little more manpower than Nelson did, and he still can't validate petitions as quickly as he ought.

  15. Bill Fleming 2012.07.03

    I don't see any reason Cory should apologize for holding our elected officials accountable, Troy. On the contrary, the apology (if any is due) should come from those who would try to sweep legitimate public concern under the rug, and those who would play partisan games and brinksmanship with the sacred trust inherent in the SOS office. Cory didn't create this atmosphere of suspicion and bad faith. Don't shoot the messenger.

  16. Bill Fleming 2012.07.03

    ...I'm just sayin...

  17. Thad Wasson 2012.07.03

    I will vote no on 16 and encourage every voter in South Dakota to do likewise. The teachers union in SD has waged a great battle that awards our finest public servants with pay that is last in the nation. Why remove the union when it negotiates a better deal for taxpayers than DD ever could?

  18. Bill Fleming 2012.07.03

    Cheap shot, Thad. Is that the only kind you know how to shoot?

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.03

    I will take every No vote I can get. I'll straighten Thad's damage later. Thad, tell all your friends, Nix 16!

  20. Bill Fleming 2012.07.03

    (...main man Cory's got campaign feevah!)

  21. Carter 2012.07.03

    (I believe this may be a good time to link us to your new mix you promised us, Bill. I believe it contained the only prescription.)

  22. Thad Wasson 2012.07.03

    @ Bill - It's not cheap if it's true. A lesson I learned from the Daschle Mafia.

    @ CAH - Education reform starts with disciplined children ready to learn and listen to their teachers. HB 1234 doesn't address that issue and must be voted out. Call it "repeal and replace."

  23. grudznick 2012.07.03

    Mr. Wasson, sounds like we don't need to give any more money to teachers at all. We need to motivate and discipline the kids.

    Because turds can float to the top too.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.03

    Thad, I refuse to use language that Kristi Noem uses. Repeal is sufficient. What state law or funding would you replace Referred Law 16 with to meet the need you cite of disciplined, ready-to-learn children?

  25. Thad Wasson 2012.07.03

    I'm not afraid to give credit where credit is due. I would go with Rep. Bernie Hunhoff's idea of creating a state-wide group that looks into and finds the best practices to teach our children. Our state may have to go beyond the same education standards we have used for 100 years, I want well paid teachers, disciplined and respectful students and a motivated future workforce.

    I would convert future state gambling revenue to college grants for SD students if they maintaine a 3.0 gpa and use Keystone Pipeline dividends for teacher pay.

  26. grudznick 2012.07.03

    Form a committee of hundreds. Increase gambling to fund mediocrity. Build a pipeline through our environmentally sensitive areas and putting drinking water at risk to pay teachers who have jobs for life.

    I like it!!

  27. larry kurtz 2012.07.03

    Deadwood should be a cannabis-friendly zone where revenues ease property taxes.

  28. Troy 2012.07.03


    In the end, the petitions got validated. We can argue whether or not the extra time means anything. Maybe Chris paid overtime while Gant didn't. If you want to blast him, go ahead. Not a big deal for me and I would say the same thing if it has been Nesselhof.

    The 110% applies if they run out of petitions before getting there. Kinda like a vote recount. I could probably live with a lower number (105%). My point is only related to my abundance of caution. If they have 110% sigs valid, I'm confortable not to have recount.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.07.03

    Fair enough... and thank you for acknowledging same criticism would go for any SOS. I hope I would so honestly do the same.

    110% is a higher standard than recounts in normal elections, isn't it? Are we assuming that there is a margin of error in the count that SOS would make? If so, we need to assume that error goes both ways. When we reach 15,855, it could be that a sloppy SOS mistakenly accepted maybe 150 signatures, but it's just as likely that sloppiness incorrectly rejected 150 signatures. They do no such margin of error in the 5% random sample; if their sample count extrapolates to exactly 15,855 valid signatures, we win; if it's 15,844, we lose. Instead of playing guessing games with the margin of error, you might as well simply amend the referendum statute and require petitioners to gather signatures from 5.5% of voters instead of 5%. Saying I have to submit 110% of the number of signatures required by law raises an arbitrary and unnecessary hurdle.

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