In the South Dakota Legislature,"deferred to the 41st day" usually means dead. But House Bill 1096 reminds us that resurrection is a simple matter of majority vote.
With HB 1096, Rep. Herman Otten (R-6/Tea) wanted to ban campaign signs on election day from non-public buildings used as polling places. Seems reasonable. But Secretary of State Jason Gant didn't think so, and neither did a slim majority of House Local Government. Boom—41st day. Dead.
But nine days later (February 13), Rep. Anne Hajek (R-14/Sioux Falls) moved to remove HB 1096 from the undertaker's table. House Joint Rule 7-19 allows a majority of a committee to do that. They did. HB 1096 rose from the grave, only to be bodysnatched and hoghoused into something completely different, a measure to extend the challenge period for initiative and referendum petitions from five to thirty days. Hajek's hoghouse hopped happily through committee and both chambers and got the Speaker's signature yesterday.
The new HB 1096 causes some heartburn among fans of democracy, who see the challenge extension has giving big corporations more of an opportunity to squash the voice of the people. I share that concern, but I'm hard-pressed to oppose HB 1096 on that ground. The tables could be turned: someday some corporate entity might hijack the initiative process to place a pro-corporate measure on the ballot. Regular citizens might want to file a challenge, and they might need more than five days to review the petitions themselves and decided whether a challenge will pay off.
As hoghoused, HB 1096 simply raises the accountability for petitioneers. Do your petitions right, mind your sigs and seals, and it won't matter if Evil Corporation X challenges your petitions on Day 5 or Day 30.
I might challenge the hoghoused HB 1096 for not going far enough. HB 1096 leaves the challenge period for nominating petitions at five days. I hear Senate candidate Larry Rhoden has submitted only a couple hundred more signatures than necessary to get on the ballot. I might have wanted to challenge his petitions, but I've been busy this week... and I hear yesterday was the deadline for challenging those petitions. Why extend the period for challenging initiatives and referenda and not candidate petitions?
But HB 1096 is alive again, and on the way to the Governor's desk. HB 1096 is risen to life... to make it easier to kill ballot measures. There's a twisted Easter parable in there somewhere....