Pubdate: Wed, 06 Nov 2002
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2002 Associated Press
Author: Bernard McGhee, Associated Press Writer


SIOUX FALLS - South Dakota voters on Tuesday soundly defeated a ballot
measure on the rights of criminal defendants.

With 39 percent of the precincts reporting, Constitutional Amendment A
had 26,912 votes in favor, or 21 percent, and 102,664 votes against
it, or 79 percent. The proposal said criminal defendants may argue
about the merits, validity and application of laws under which they
are charged.

Another issue, Initiated Measure 1, sought to legalize industrial hemp
by allowing South Dakotans to grow, process and market it. That
measure also was defeated.

With 39 percent of the precincts reporting, the measure had 48,369
votes in favor, or 37 percent, and 81,185 votes against it, or 63 percent.

Two other measures also were voted on: Amendment B, a technical change
on redistricting; and Amendment C, to give the governor extra time to
deal with some of the bills received from the Legislature.

The redistricting amendment was losing, while the other amendment was
winning late Tuesday night.

Under Amendment A, accused people could try to convince jurors that
some laws or criminal sentences are too strict, unnecessary or just
plain stupid and should be ignored.

No other state allows those arguments in criminal cases, although
three states have such provisions in their constitutions.

Supporters characterized the amendment as a common-sense measure that
would let jurors serve as a check and balance on unpopular laws. But
opponents warned it would raise havoc in the criminal justice system
by resulting in different verdicts for people facing identical charges.

Initiated Measure 1 sought to legalize industrial hemp by allowing
South Dakotans to grow, process and market it.

Supporters said hemp would provide a niche crop for some farmers.
Opponents, primarily the law enforcement community, worried that hemp
would create drug enforcement problems because it is a close cousin to

Police also warned that approval of hemp production would be a
precursor for a campaign to also legalize marijuana.

Amendment B is a technical clarification that will let the Legislature
meet and adopt new redistricting plans if state or federal judges
invalidate boundaries approved earlier by the Legislature. The new
plans would have to correspond with the court decisions.

Lawmakers meet every 10 years to set new legislative

Amendment C will give the governor extra time to deal with some of the
bills he receives from the Legislature.

When lawmakers are in session, existing constitutional language says
the governor must either sign bills within five days of receiving them
or the bills become law without his signature. The ballot measure
gives the governor some extra slack by excluding Saturdays, Sundays
and holidays.

In recent years, it has become common for legislators to send up to
200 bills to the governor near the end of lawmaking sessions. The
five-day requirement to act on them leaves scant little time for a
thorough review, especially when the clock continues to tick on
weekends and holidays.

The ballot measure also deals with those periods in which legislators
adjourn or recess for more than five days, clarifying that the
governor has 15 days to act on bills during those breaks.

Additionally, Amendment C excludes Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
when the governor vetoes bills and must return them to the Legislature
within five days. 
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