South Dakota Length of Legislative Session, Constitutional Amendment I (2008)

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South Dakota Length of Legislative Session, Constitutional Amendment I appeared on the November 2008 ballot in South Dakota. The measure was referred to the ballot by the South Dakota Legislature acting on House Joint Resolution 1004 (HJR 1004). It was a proposed amendment to Article III, Section 6 of the South Dakota Constitution.

The measure provides for a maximum of forty legislative days each year.

Election results

See also 2008 ballot measure election results

These results are based on the Elections Division of South Dakota.[1]

South Dakota Amendment 1 (2008)
Approveda Yes 184,668 52.40%

Specific Provisions

Attorney General's Explanation

"The Constitution limits the length of regular legislative sessions held during odd-numbered years to no more than forty legislative days, and those held during even-numbered years to no more than thirty-five legislative days. Constitutional Amendment I would set all regular legislative sessions at a maximum of forty legislative days."[2]

Arguments For

Bill Peterson, a Republican from Sioux Falls and the Majority Leader for the House of Representatives, wrote the "pro" arguments for the state Ballot Question Pamphlet:

  • The Executive Branch of South Dakotan government is full-time, whereas the Legislative Branch is only part-time. This creates an imbalance of power.
  • Adding days to the legislative session would help to correct the current imbalance of power between the Executive and Legislative branches.
  • The Legislature already meets in 40 day sessions every odd numbered year, why not have the option of doing so every year?
  • The Legislative Article (the section of the Constitution setting out guidelines for the legislature) has been changed very little since statehood. The world however, has changed quite a bit and it is not as easy to write laws as it once was. The Legislature needs more time to do it's job.[3]

Arguments Against

Senator Jerry Apa, a Republican from Lead and Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, wrote the "con" arguments for the state Ballot Question Pamphlet:

  • There is an added cost to the taxpayers if the session is lengthened of $550 per legislator per day, plus additional travel costs. The total additional costs would be at least $115,000 per year.
  • On a number of occasions the Legislature has finished it's business and gone home before the end of the session. Why give more time if it is not needed?
  • Making the session longer will only result in important work being put off to the last minute.
  • A vote for Amendment I is a vote for expanded government.[4]
  • Amendment I is basically the legislature trying to give itself a raise.[5]


  • The Press Dakotan has endorsed the passage of Amendment I.[6]

See also

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