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Hunhoff: Rejected Referenda Useful Democrat Firewall Against Bad Policy

Disclosure: I work for Bernie Hunhoff... sort of. He lets me write on his South Dakota Magazine website. My pay: the warm glow of associating with South Dakota's best monthly publication. (That's actually a pretty good deal!)

That said, Rep. Hunhoff (D-18/Yankton) offers a somewhat upbeat assessment of this month's election results and propsects for Democrats to wield power in Pierre. He tells WNAX that the public rejection of Governor Daugaard's two signature pieces of legislation this year (Referred Law 14, the corporate welfare fund; and Referred Law 16, the toxic education reform bill) gives Democrats an "ace in the hole" in fighting for better policy in the Legislature.

Rep. Hunhoff sees in the election results the same frustrating voter disconnect between policy and personality that I do. He resolves that disconnect by noting that redistricting and campaign war chests give the Republican power establishment big advantages in electing candidates. On major state policy questions, though, South Dakotans line up strongly behind Democrats. If the GOP tries floating more bad ideas, Hunhoff says Dems won't hesitate to turn those bad ideas over to the voters via more referenda.

Rep. Hunhoff also highlights one of the ways that one-party rule results in worse public policy. He points out that Democrats support government involvement in economic development. On Referred Law 14, Rep. Hunhoff says he just didn't like funding grants to large projects with contractors' excise tax. Rep. Hunhoff tells WNAX that he and other Democrats tried to offer alternatives during the 2012 Legislative session that would have preserved the state's large project fund, but the GOP ignored Dems and tried to ram through their own ideas. The result: the salvage effort failed (and rightfully so), the referendum went forward, and we killed the large project fund, leaving the state with no such program at all.

South Dakota Republicans need to learn that their systemic domination of the political process does not constitute a free pass to impose whatever policies they want. Democrats proved that point with this year's referenda. If necessary, we'll prove it again. Legislate accordingly, Republicans... and listen to Rep. Hunhoff and those other Dems across the aisle.


  1. Michael Black 2012.11.29

    How many districts had Republicans running unopposed?

  2. larry kurtz 2012.11.29

    State Education Secretary Melody Schopp woke up members of Legislature's planning committee today with her report on Native American ed gap. RT @pierremercer

  3. Roger Meyer` 2012.11.30

    I guess domination on policy by the majority is only good in Washington when the Democrats are in power. In South Dakota it is bad because the Republicans hold the reins. Bernie needs to cease his complaining but I guess that is the job of the minority leader and this minority is even smaller than the last.

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