Lawmakers plan to introduce changes to Marsy's Law during session

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - Lawmakers in Pierre are planning to introduce changes to Marsy's Law, about a year into its introduction in South Dakota. The national organization that campaigns for it says new data shows South Dakota voters like the law how it is.

Speaker of the House, Rep. Mark Mickelson (R-Sioux Falls) said Marsy's Law has had unintended consequences in South Dakota.

"It's hurt the intended victims its supposed to help," Mickelson said. "It didn't define what kind of a victim has these rights, it didn't make the rights to opt in, they're mandatory and it really removed the ability of the public to help solve crime as it happens."

Mickelson plans to introduce two bills and one amendment, but none of them are scheduled for a reading just yet. Mickelson said he just wants things to be a little clearer. One of the things that's been clouded by South Dakota's interpretation of the law -- who's a victim? Also, how to share information with the public and the media about where crime is occurring.

"You can't hear on the police blog [sic] anymore, 'A black Chevette just took off from the 7-Eleven on 18th and Minnesota Ave. if a member of the public spots it, call 911,'" Mickelson said. "The police can't do that anymore."

Marsy's Law for All, a national organization that's campaigned in multiple states for the law says, that's not at all the intention.

"The purpose behind the right to privacy is not to shield, let's say, your station, from getting an address to a crime that's in a public location," Gail Gitcho, spokesperson for Marsy's Law for All said.

Instead, it's meant to shield individuals.

"The intention behind the right to privacy is to keep victims' right to privacy in tact as they go through this criminal justice process," Gitcho said.

Their main concern is that Rep. Mickelson wants to repeal a certain part of the law -- the part where you can "opt in." That would remove the law from the state's constitution and make it a statute, something Gitcho said would make it nearly unenforceable.

"It gives teeth and recourse and promises to the crime victim they are going to have their rights enshrined in the constitution which is far superior to being in statute," Gitcho said.

Marsy's Law for All recently surveyed 500 South Dakota voters during the first week of January. Its survey found nearly 70 percent of voters approve of Marsy's Law as its currently written in the state's constitution.

Its full report, which is broken down by political party, men and women, Trump approvers and disapprovers and by Rapid City and Sioux Falls -- all of which surveyed in favor of Marsy's Law as it currently is -- is linked under "documents."