SD Legislature Seeks to Deny South Dakotans a Vote on Referred Law 14

South Dakotans may no longer get to decide the future of a new large projects development fund if the South Dakota Legislature denies them the right to vote on Referred Law 14.

“In blatant disregard for the will of the voters, Ruling Class Republicans are trying to thwart the right of voters to decide the fate of Referred Law 14,” says Ben Nesselhuf, Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party. “This is an unprecedented, arrogant, and potentially illegal affront to the Democratic process, and the legislature should be ashamed for even contemplating it.”

Passing the House Commerce and Energy Committee today, SB 170 repeals HB 1230, the underlying measure of Referred Law 14, which takes 22% of the contractor’s excise tax from schools and hospitals that depend on the general fund to create a new large projects development fund, and replaces it with a plan that takes 18% of the contractor’s excise tax for the new large projects development fund. Over 23,000 South Dakotans signed a petition to refer the original measure in June, 2011.

But now, some legislators in Pierre cannot wait for voters to decide. They want our tax dollars now for corporate giveaways, and they refuse to wait for voters to decide the fate of the new fund.

“This isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans,” says Nesselhuf. “This is about Democracy and whether the legislature will defend it. Voters asked for a say on this issue. Now is the time for the legislature to step back and let voters exercise their right to decide the outcome.”

The measure contained in Referred Law 14 expands a failed program at a much larger annual cost to the taxpayers that the SD legislature sunsetted last year. The replacement bill that passed out of committee today neither significantly reduces the projected $18 million annual cost of the bill nor changes the revenue source from which the money will be taken.

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