PIERRE | State Rep. Mark Mickelson wants to repeal the Marsy’s Law amendment that voters approved in 2016. It put victims' rights in the South Dakota Constitution.
Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, said the constitutional amendment duplicated state laws in a variety of instances. "Our constitution is pretty sacred," he told South Dakota Public Radio on Tuesday.
Mickelson said the first step for the Legislature in the 2018 session would be passing laws to cover gaps in victims' rights.
Next would be a resolution asking legislators to put the constitutional repeal on the 2018 ballot. A majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate would be needed.
Mickelson, who is speaker for the South Dakota House of Representatives, said he expects support from the South Dakota county commissioners association, the sheriffs association and the state’s attorneys association.
Voters favored the Marsy's Law amendment in 61 of South Dakota's 66 counties. By comparison, voters opposed Initiated Measure 22 in 42 counties, but it passed statewide 180,634 to 169,199 due to support in counties with larger voter registrations.
Many Republicans in the Legislature worked to repeal IM 22 in the 2017 session but replaced some key pieces.
The deadline for initiated laws and constitutional amendments is one year before South Dakota’s next general election. However, the Legislature can propose constitutional amendments regardless of the year.
Key supporters of IM 22 are circulating another ballot measure this year for the 2018 election. It is a constitutional amendment that the Legislature couldn’t repeal. IM 22 would have placed many restrictions on legislators and family members, including conflict of interest bans.
Adding to the tumult, South Dakota Republican central committee chairman Dan Lederman recently urged voters to read wording before they sign ballot-measure petitions.
An interesting twist in the Marsy's Law fight is the role of political consultant Jason Glodt of Pierre. He led the campaign to pass the victim-rights constitutional amendment.
Glodt is campaign manager for state Attorney General Marty Jackley, who is running for the 2018 Republican nomination for governor.
Jackley didn’t take a public position on Marsy’s Law. State law requires the attorney general to write a statement about possible effects of ballot measures. Jackley headed a Marsy's Law implementation panel after it passed 215,565 to 146,084.
Mickelson's effort to overturn Marsy's Law coincided with U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem releasing her first video as a Republican governor candidate Tuesday. Mickelson said in the South Dakota Public Radio interview that he doesn’t have any interest in running for lieutenant governor.
Glodt, in running the Marsy's Law campaign, said he wanted the constitutional amendment in part to prevent the Legislature from directly overturning it. He is executive director for GSG Strategies, a political consulting group.
The other partners in GSG have been Bob Gray, a Republican former state senator from Pierre, and Rob Skjonsberg, a longtime aide to now-U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds.
Mickelson has been gathering signatures for two proposals he seeks for the 2018 ballot to ban out-of-state money and to increase tobacco tax.
One person paid for the Marsy’s Law campaign. Henry Nicholas of Aliso Viejo, California, donated more than $2 million.
The State Bar of South Dakota opposed Marsy’s Law. In the formal statement against the proposal, Ryan Kolbeck of the lawyers group wrote, “Many counties will see increased costs to comply with this state mandate.”