David Owen, president of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stopped by Mitchell on Monday for an information presentation at the Overtime Steakhouse & Sports Bar in Mitchell, offering his insight into the upcoming year in state politics.
“I think this is going to be a session of, ‘prepare the electorate to make a change in leadership in some statewide offices,’ and just do the normal job,” Owen said.
In the upcoming year, seven ballot measures will be considered, a decrease from last year’s 10 ballot measures.
One measure Owen discussed, which would allow certain elections to be conducted through a voting-by-mail process, sparked a reaction from former state Sen. Mike Vehle. Vehle, of Mitchell, raised questions about the measure on Monday.
“I think you are asking for a whole lot of fraud,” Vehle said.
Owen said he did not know how effective voting by mail is, but said other states are using the process, including Oregon.
Legalizing marijuana for medicinal use will also be considered on the ballot this year, but Owen speculated that it’s unlikely it will pass. It was one of three marijuana-related measures that garnered enough support.
Another measure, drafted by Speaker of the House Mark Mickelson, asks for a $1 increase on the state tobacco tax. The measure would generate an estimated $45 million, with $20 million designated to lowering student tuition at South Dakota’s four technical institutes.
Other measures to be considered cover topics such as establishing a cap price on prescription drugs, amending the state’s Constitution to provide for independent legislative redistricting and prohibiting contributions to ballot questions from non-residents and out-of-state political committees.
Ballot measures on physician assisted suicides and the use of gender-specific bathrooms both did not receive enough signatures.
The general election will be held in South Dakota