South Dakota Repeal Term Limits, Amendment J (2008)

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The South Dakota Repeal Term Limits Amendment, also known as Amendment J, was on the November 4, 2008 ballot in South Dakota as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was defeated. The measure would have eliminated term limits for legislators. The South Dakotan public voted to enact term limits in 1992. The legislature made an unsuccessful bid in 2006 to repeal term limits by inserting it into a broader measure.[1][2]

Election results

See also 2008 ballot measure election results

South Dakota Amendment J (2008)
Defeatedd No272,63575.73%
Yes 87,380 24.27%

Election results via: South Dakota Political Almanac, South Dakota Constitutional Amendments, Initiatives and Referendums 1970-2010

Text of measure

The text of the measure can be read here.


Members of the legislature, including those who introduced the bill: Senators Napoli, Apa, Katus, and Representatives Haverly and Moore.

Arguments For

Senator Bill Napoli, a Republican from Rapid City, wrote the "pro" arguments for the state Ballot Question Pamphlet. Sen. Napoli was originally a supporter of term limits, but has since changed his mind:

  • Limiting the amount of time that a legislator may serve will limit the amount of experienced people in the legislature.
  • Limiting experience in the legislature leaves room for more experienced lobbyists to exert undue influence.[3]


A No on Amendment J or Don't Touch Term Limits committee was formed in late September 2008 to oppose the effort to repeal South Dakota's term limits. The group raised $30,205 since July 1, with $30,000 coming from the national organization, U.S. Term Limits.[4][5]

Vermilion Representative Eldon Nygaard spoke in favor of retaining term limits, saying they "serve an important purpose, forcing change upon the Legislature."[6]

The South Dakota Conservative Action Council (SDCAC) opposed the measure.

Arguments against

Rick Skorupski and Jeff Partridge wrote the "con" arguments for the state Ballot Question Pamphlet. They are affiliates of Don't Touch Term Limits BQC:

  • The legislators who put this measure on the ballot are indulging in a power grab - they wish to remove the limits set on their terms, but not on other branches of government.
  • Term limits were already approved by 64% of voters - why change what the people obviously want?
  • Continuing the current influx of new faces and new ideas into the legislature enabled by term limits can only lead to more and more fresh ideas and more competitive elections.
  • Passage of this amendment would mean putting more power in the hands of incumbent politicians and the lobbyists who know them well.[3]

Ballot Language Controversy

Opponents of the initiative mentioned concerns that the phrasing of the question on the ballot may be confusing to voters. According to Rick Skorupski, an affiliate of Don't Touch Term Limits says, "The big issue, and the big education challenge, is to make sure people know that if they vote 'Yes' because they favor term limits, they'll actually be voting to repeal that provision. A 'No' vote supports term limits." Senetor Napoli, a proponent of the measure, agrees that Skorupski might be right.[7]


See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures.
Month of Poll Polling company In Favor Opposed Undecided
October 2008 Sioux Falls Argus Leader 30 percent 55 percent 15 percent[8]

See also

Suggest a link

External links

Additional reading


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