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VA law prevents utility shutoffs in extreme circumstances; MI construction industry responds to a high number of worker suicides; 500,000 still without power or water in the Houston area; KY experts: Children, and babies at higher risk for heat illness.

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The House passes the SAVE Act, but fails to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in inherent contempt of Congress, and a proposed federal budget could doom much-needed public services.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

New group asks SD abortion petition signers to rescind

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Thursday, May 30, 2024   

South Dakota's Secretary of State received more than enough signatures to get a decision on abortion rights on the November ballot but some signees are now getting calls to rescind their support.

South Dakota currently outlaws all abortions except those to save the life of the mother. Secretary of State Monae Johnson recently validated a citizen ballot initiative to enshrine some protections to abortion in the state's constitution. The state is one of nineteen with a direct citizen initiative process but it might be the only one where initiative signatures can be removed.

Samantha Chapman, advocacy manager for the ACLU of South Dakota, said it is due to a new law passed this spring with an emergency clause she contended was designed to block abortion access.

"Every single committee hearing that was had on this bill, the discussion was almost entirely and solely about this one singular abortion rights ballot measure, even though the law would obviously affect all ballot measures," Chapman pointed out.

The prime sponsor of the bill, Rep. Jon Hansen, R-Dell Rapids, is also behind a new political action committee, South Dakota Petition Integrity, which began making calls to signers of the abortion initiative before the group was registered with the state, leading Secretary of State Johnson to release an official warning of potential scams.

Paid ballot circulators who collected signatures for the abortion rights initiative had to apply and register with the state and carry a badge with an ID number. To rescind a signature, a signer must send a notarized letter to the state. There are no requirements for people asking signers to rescind their signatures.

"There's so many requirements that petition circulators have to adhere to," Chapman emphasized. "And so there's just not the same level of scrutiny and standards that are applied to the reversal of your signature."

According to the Secretary of State's website, the office does not track how many signatures have been rescinded but makes the information available to parties involved in any court challenge.


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