For many years constitutional revision has been a recognized necessity for the State of South Dakota. On January 21, 1969, the governor impressed upon the joint session of the South Dakota Legislature the need for a comprehensive constitutional revision program. He noted that "We cannot run government in 1969 on the rule book of 1889 and you cannot continue with a patchwork job on the leaky roof of our basic law. Therefore, I recommend this session initiate the needed steps for a realistic revision of our outdated state constitution." 1969 S.J. 31.
The next day Senate Bill No. 1, "A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act creating a constitutional revision commission to make a comprehensive study of the Constitution of this state" was introduced in the senate. 1969 S.J. 40. The bill was later referred to the senate committee on state affairs and public institutions and was reported back to the senate with a recommendation "that as so amended said Bill do pass." 1969 S.J. 204-5. Senate Bill No. 1 passed the senate 35 to 0, 1969 S.J. 236, and was sent to the house where it was further amended and passed 65 to 1. 1969 H.J. 793.
Senate Bill No. 1 was returned to the senate which concurred in the house amendments and passed the bill 31 to 4. 1969 S.J. 646. The bill was delivered to the governor on March 12, 1969, 1969 S.J. 711, and became Ch. 225 of the 1969 Session Laws.
Section 2 of that act provides:
Section 5 provides:
In that same address to the joint session, the governor requested a statute allowing the governor's office to submit executive reorganization plans for legislative approval. "By passing this legislation, we can make a commitment either for or against greater efficiency in government." 1969 S.J. 31. This proposal did not become law
At the commission's third meeting in April of 1970, the constitution was divided into eleven areas for study, and two members were assigned the executive article.
In the meantime a new governor had been elected who echoed his predecessor on the need for constitutional reform in the following manner:
In March of 1971, House Concurrent Resolution No. 528, which passed the house by 69 to 1
It was then moved and seconded
Input was received from every department of government affected by this amendment; by any and all business and civic groups having an interest; and by all individuals who wished to appear and be heard. The commission continued to discuss and modify the new article in the light of the information received, and final approval was given by the commission in December 1971.
The new article was sent to the legislature and emerged as House Joint Resolution 513 with no change made in the deletion of the superintendent of public instruction.
"EXPLANATORY STATEMENT BY THE ATTORNEY GENERAL:
The proposed amendment received widespread publicity in all of the news media, and was the subject of intense public and private discussion preceding the submission of the amendment. The new executive article passed by a margin of 182,248 to 96,944
This is an appeal from a judgment and the issuance of a peremptory writ of mandamus by the Hughes County Circuit Court. The trial court ordered the appellant, Lorna Herseth, as secretary of state, to certify respondent Donald Barnhart's name on the 1974 ballot as a candidate for the office of superintendent of public instruction, for the reasons that (1) the entire amendment revising Article IV of the Constitution is invalid in that it violates § 1 of Article XXIII (1889)
The effect of the challenged amendment was to revise and supplant our former executive article. In so doing, the amendment made more than twenty changes in the structure of the executive branch. Among these changes were four-year instead of two-year terms for the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and commissioner of school and public lands; provision that the governor and lieutenant governor would run as a team; restriction of the governor and lieutenant governor to two consecutive terms; reduction in state government departments to no more than twenty-five, exclusive of constitutional offices; deletion of a restriction on consecutive terms by the state treasurer; and the abolition of respondent's constitutional office by deleting it from the list of constitutional officers. The amendment also gave the governor the power to convene either house of the legislature separately; extended time limitations on the governor's veto power; gave the governor power to correct errors in legislative bills and placed reorganization primarily in the hands of the governor. Thus, the challenged amendment is a multi-change amendment, but we hold that this is not determinative of invalidity under § 1 of Article XXIII (1889).
The purpose of the amendment was to engender greater efficiency and responsibility in the executive branch of state government by gathering a multitude of independent boards and commissions under the control of the governor, and to eliminate unnecessary offices and burdensome restrictions on remaining offices. The changes submitted in the 1972 amendment are all rationally related to this general purpose.
We find precedent for this decision in the leading South Dakota case on the subject. State ex rel. Adams v. Herried, 1897, 10 S.D. 109, 72 N.W. 93, involved a similar challenge to a constitutional amendment that (1) changed the number and powers of the regents of the state educational institutions, and (2) abolished the trustees of those various state institutions. The court held that the amendment was not defective, stating:
In essence, we held in State ex rel. Adams v. Herried, supra, that the single object of the amendment was to "place such institutions under the control of a single board," and that the various changes made were incident thereto. In the amendment now before us, the changes submitted are just as "incidental to and necessarily connected with the object intended."
We find further precedent to the same effect from many states, including our neighboring states, Minnesota and Idaho. In Fugina v. Donovan, 1960, 259 Minn. 35, 104 N.W.2d 911, the Minnesota Supreme Court held valid a constitutional amendment which (1) permitted the legislature to extend the term of any session for not more than thirty days, (2) allowed legislators to serve as notaries, and (3) permitted legislators to seek election to other offices. The court held that a provision identical to our
In Keenan v. Price, 1948, 68 Idaho 423, 195 P.2d 662, the Idaho Supreme Court held valid a constitutional amendment that (1) increased terms for constitutional officers, (2) altered residency requirements, and (3) provided that the governor could not immediately succeed himself. The court stated:
In considering the validity of this amendment we must keep in mind these basic principles. When considering a constitutional amendment after its adoption by the people, the question is not whether it is possible to condemn the amendment, but whether it is possible to uphold it. State v. Cooney, 1924, 70 Mont. 355, 225 P. 1007. It should be sustained unless it "plainly and palpably appear[s] to be invalid." State ex rel. Adams v. Herried, supra.
We conclude that the matters contained in the challenged amendment rationally relate to the overall plan of making the executive branch of state government more efficient and responsible. The strong presumption of constitutionality after adoption by the people, the interpretation of the separate amendment provision of our constitution by this court in Adams, and the interpretations of like provisions in our sister states convince us that we need not strike down the amendment to Article IV as invalid under § 1 of Article XXIII (1889).
The lower court also held that the attorney general's explanatory statement on the 1972 ballot was deficient and actively misleading as to the position of superintendent of public instruction which was being eliminated as a constitutional office. SDCL 12-13-9 states:
SDCL 12-13-12 states:
The explanatory statement of the attorney general, set out in full above, mentioned a four-year term for the governor and other constitutional officers but did not specifically mention that the constitutional office of superintendent of public instruction was being eliminated.
The explanatory statement submitted was the same on both ballot and voting machine. We find it significant that the legislature felt that the purpose of the explanatory statement could be served through the use of one hundred words or less, as the legislature certainly could not
Basic to the inquiry is the logical assertion that if the legislature had intended for all propositions to be noted on the ballot it would have required the amendment itself to appear on the ballot. We find it significant that the legislature did not so provide. Rather, the language, "purpose and legal effect," leads to the conclusion that the proposed amendment was to be identified to the electorate in easily understood language enabling the voters to distinguish this amendment from the other four propositions on the ballot in 1972.
We reject the argument that an explanatory statement must educate the electorate on the proposed amendment. The Supreme Court of Texas in Hill v. Evans, 1967, Tex. Civ.App., 414 S.W.2d 684, held a constitutional amendment valid even though the ballot statement did not inform the voters that the amendment required annual voter registration. The court stated that:
Our own court in Lovett v. Ferguson, 1897, 10 S.D. 44, 71 N.W. 765, stated:
We agree that the basic purpose of a ballot statement is to identify an amendment to an informed electorate rather than to educate it. In fact, by SDCL 12-18-15, the time a voter can be in the voting booth is limited to five minutes. As in Hill v. Evans and Lovett v. Ferguson, supra, the proposed amendment here received widespread publicity in all of the news media, and was the subject of intense public and private discussion preceding its submission. We hold that neither the reference to "other constitutional officers" nor the omission of the fact of abolition of respondent's office requires a finding that the explanatory statement was affirmatively misleading.
We conclude that the challenged ballot statement satisfies both the constitutional requirement of fair notice and the statute that created it.
The judgment of the circuit court is reversed and the peremptory writ of mandamus is quashed.
PARKER, Circuit Judge, sitting for WOLLMAN, Justice, disqualified.
"NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED * * * that the South Dakota Constitutional Revision Commission prepare packages of interrelated amendments for consideration by the * * * Legislature of the state of South Dakota." 1971 H.J. 1017-18.