SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A federal judge’s ruling regarding Dakotans for Health and the state of South Dakota has been affirmed by a federal appeals court.
In an opinion released Tuesday by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, three circuit judges held up Judge Lawrence Piersol’s preliminary injunction on enforcement of Senate Bill 180 issued in June 2021. The “Ballot Question Information page” on the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office notes Piersol’s ruling and says, “In accordance with this order, the blank requesting a Circulator ID Number for paid circulators need not be completed on the petition sheet.”
“This appeal requires us to evaluate the constitutionality of a South Dakota law imposing new obligations on persons compensated to circulate initiative petitions. The district court preliminarily enjoined South Dakota officials from enforcing these requirements. We affirm,” the opinion read. You can read the full opinion attached below.
The court of appeals said the appeal of Piersol’s ruling did not address the “severability from the remainder of SB 180” and “it would leave the district court to determine in any future proceedings whether the portions of SB 180 can survive scrutiny and whether they are otherwise severable.”
Dakotans for Health, co-founded by Rick Weiland, filed the lawsuit against SB 180 in March 2021 when it was gathering signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot. Dakotans for Health ended up withdrawing its Medicaid expansion ballot measure but will start gathering signatures to place the issue of abortion rights on the 2024 ballot.
“This is another win for the people of South Dakota and the citizen initiative process,” Weiland said in a statement to KELOLAND News. “Our State Legislature has repeatedly tried to destroy the ballot initiative process with laws like SB180. The Legislature resents the fact that the people of South Dakota organize citizen led ballot initiatives and pass public policy and amend the state’s constitution without them.”
Weiland noted South Dakota was the first state to embed the citizen initiative process in its state constitution in 1889.
The 2020 law, sponsored by Sen. Jim Stalzer (R-Sioux Falls) and Rep. Jon Hansen (R-Dell Rapids), required people who are paid to collect signatures to follow several regulations.
Under the law, which passed the Senate 23-12, the House 54-11 and was signed into law by Gov. Kristi Noem, people who are paid to collect signatures must register with the state and have their names listed in a public directory. They also need to hand out pamphlets – approved by the state – to every person who signs the petition.
The defendants listed on Wednesday’s opinion from the court of appeals were Noem, Attorney General Mark Vargo and Secretary of State Steve Barnett.