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State Employees Give "Two Thumbs Down" to Initiated Measure 10

July 7, 2008

Pierre, SD – The group representing South Dakota state employees says a measure placed on this fall's ballot by initiative is a violation of the Constitution. It proposes to prohibit state, county, municipal and school government workers from contributing money for lobbying purposes.

South Dakota State Employees Organization executive director Corey Landeen says there might have been good intentions behind Initiated Measure 10, but the approach is wrong because it infringes on free speech.

"We view the salaries that state employees generate as their money. We don't look at it as state taxpayers' dollars. If they choose to voluntarily contribute that money to an organization such as ours, or to any other organization that may lobby, we believe that that's their constitutional right to do so."

Initiated Measure 10 is backed by the South Dakota Conservative Action Council, which says the ballot issue would bring transparency and limit influence when government contracts are awarded. Landeen disagrees, saying such initiatives brought in by outside groups aren't always what they seem, and often come with unintended consequences that hurt the state.

"We've seen this kind of effort in the past, when out-of-state money and interests come into South Dakota and try to take advantage of our system to pursue their own national agenda. Once South Dakota voters have an opportunity to take a hard look at this, they'll see the flaws and they'll vote against it."

Delegates at the recent South Dakota Republican State Convention gave the initiative a "thumbs down" vote, and the state Attorney General has said if it passes and is challenged in court, it could be ruled unconstitutional.

David Law/Steve Powers, Public News Service - SD