South Dakota voters successfully referred two statewide laws passed by the Legislature earlier this year, meaning the laws will not go into effect until voters decide their fate in November 2016. The two laws would have become effective at midnight. One, Senate Bill 69, would have revamped a number of election-related matters and the other, Senate Bill 177, established a youth minimum wage that was one dollar less per hour than the minimum wage established by voters in the 2014 election. Corey Heidelberger, an Aberdeen-based political activist, sponsored both ballot drives. The state Democrats, which have found repeated success with statewide ballot measures, provided manpower to secure the 13,871 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
Senate Bill 69 was a large package of election reforms that sought to address issues that came up in the 2014 election. It included new timelines for candidates to collect signatures to be on the primary ballot and an extended window in which petitions could be challenged. It also fixed an issue that emerged when the independent candidate for lieutenant governor withdrew and there was no mechanism under state law to allow a new candidate on the ballot.
But the law was controversial because it contained a provision that repealed a portion of state law that allows members of registered political parties from signing the petitions of independent candidates. It would have meant that only registered independents could have signed petitions for independent candidates, a hurdle that would likely have discouraged independent candidates.