“The outrage over the Brown Bill, and it is outrage,” wrote The Argus Leader’s Jonathan Ellis, “is being voiced across the political spectrum.”
The Brown Bill, Senate Bill 166, is legislation introduced by South Dakota State Sen. Corey Brown (R-Gettysburg) to nearly double the number of signatures citizens must gather on petitions to place issues on the ballot.
“I’m quite surprised that a lot of folks are willing to not engage in an intellectual conversation,” Sen. Brown said in scuttling a hearing where such a conversation might take place. He asked that his own bill be tabled and fellow legislators obliged, of course, meaning an inglorious demise for what had been “emergency” legislation.
Perhaps what surprised the good senator were so many folks lighting up the state capitol switchboard — fervently opposed to his move to make it more difficult for voters to have a say. An online Argus Leader poll showed 87 percent of South Dakotans against making it “harder for citizens to initiative measures.”
Then again, maybe public opposition to his bill didn’t surprise Sen. Brown one little bit. Legislators routinely slap emergency clauses onto legislation because that prevents voters from petitioning to refer that legislation onto the general election ballot.
South Dakota became the first state to enact statewide initiative and referendum back in 1898. The people cherish this process.
Not surprisingly, their politicians despise it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.