Specht v. City of Sioux Falls, No. 18568

CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota
Writing for the CourtAMUNDSON; MILLER, C.J., SABERS, J., and WUEST and HENDERSON; KONENKAMP
Citation526 N.W.2d 727
Decision Date24 May 1994
Docket NumberNo. 18568
PartiesMichael SPECHT and the Sioux Falls Firefighters Association, Local 814, Applicants and Appellees, v. The CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, Appellant. . Considered on Briefs

Page 727

526 N.W.2d 727
Michael SPECHT and the Sioux Falls Firefighters Association,
Local 814, Applicants and Appellees,
v.
The CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, Appellant.
No. 18568.
Supreme Court of South Dakota.
Considered on Briefs May 24, 1994.
Decided Jan. 25, 1995.

Thomas K. Wilka of Hagen, Wilka & Archer, P.C., Sioux Falls, for applicants and appellees.

Roger A. Schiager, City Atty. and Thomas L. Anderst, Asst. City Atty., Sioux Falls, for appellant.

AMUNDSON, Justice.

City of Sioux Falls appeals the trial court's peremptory writ of prohibition and declaratory judgment holding that SDCL ch. 34-11B is unconstitutional. We affirm.

FACTS

The 1992 South Dakota Legislature enacted SDCL ch. 34-11B authorizing municipalities to establish a regional emergency medical services authority (EMS authority). After public hearings, the Sioux Falls City Commission (Commission) passed Resolution 408-92 creating the Sioux Falls Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (SFREMSA). On January 4, 1993, Commission appointed commissioners to SFREMSA and, soon thereafter, it was issued a certificate of incorporation from the South Dakota Secretary of State. On July 19, 1993, Commission passed Resolution 241-93 authorizing SFREMSA to borrow funds.

On July 30, 1993, Michael Specht and the Sioux Falls Fire Fighters Association (Specht) 1 served the City of Sioux Falls (City) with an alternative writ of prohibition challenging Resolution 241-93. At that time, City was also served with an application for writ of prohibition alleging, among other things, that SDCL ch. 34-11B was unconstitutional.

Specht notified the South Dakota Attorney General of the constitutional challenge to SDCL ch. 34-11B and the State was allowed to appear as amicus curiae by the trial court. 2

Specht challenged SFREMSA and SDCL ch. 34-11B which authorized it under Article III, § 26 and § 1, of the South Dakota Constitution. 3 Specht argued SFREMSA and its enabling statutory scheme (SDCL ch. 34-11B) violates Article III, § 26, because it creates a special commission whose powers, defined by SDCL ch. 34-11B, involve an improper delegation of municipal functions. After considering written and oral arguments,

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the trial court agreed. Accordingly, the trial court issued a peremptory writ of prohibition and independently ruled SDCL 34-11B unconstitutional. City appeals.
ISSUES

I. Did the trial court use the proper standard of proof in reaching its decision?

II. Was the trial court correct in ruling SDCL ch. 34-11B unconstitutional?

DECISION

Issue I

Did the trial court use the proper standard of proof in reaching its decision?

City contends the trial court did not use the correct standard in determining the constitutionality of SDCL ch. 34-11B. City claims the trial court improperly employed Utah's burden of proof in determining the constitutionality of SDCL 34-11B, since the trial court cited Utah cases. 4

City's argument lacks merit. Nothing in the record indicates that the trial court used Utah's burden of proof in determining constitutionality. The trial court only referred to Utah's balancing approach to analyze whether prehospital emergency medical service is a "municipal function" and whether the activities of SFREMSA fall within that category. The trial court referred to Utah's precedent because Utah has a constitutional provision similar to South Dakota's Article III, § 26, and the Utah Supreme Court had recently interpreted their constitutional provision. See City of West Jordan v. Retirement Bd., 767 P.2d 530 (Utah 1988) and Utah Associated Mun. Power v. PSC, 789 P.2d 298 (Utah 1990).

This record reflects the trial court imposed the correct standard of proof to assess the constitutionality of SDCL ch. 34-11B. The trial court specifically held that "there is a strong presumption as to the constitutionality of the statute and that the burden is upon [Specht] to prove that the statute--or to satisfy the court the statute is unconstitutional."

Furthermore, the trial court explained that it agreed with the authority cited by the attorney general, wherein this court held in Sedlacek v. S.D. Teener Baseball Program, 437 N.W.2d 866, 868 (S.D.1989):

There is a strong presumption that the laws enacted by the Legislature are constitutional and that presumption is rebutted only when it clearly, palpably and plainly appears that the statute violates a provision of the constitution.

Oien v. City of Sioux Falls, 393 N.W.2d 286, 289 (S.D.1986); Matter of Certain Territorial Electric Boundaries, etc., 281 N.W.2d 65 (S.D.1979). 'Further, the party challenging the constitutionality of a statute bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the statute violates a state or federal constitutional provision.' Id. at 69.

Under settled South Dakota law, the trial court was required to determine whether or not SFREMSA was engaging in a "municipal function." In ruling on this issue of first impression, the trial court considered the analysis provided by the Utah Supreme Court decisions cited above.

The Utah court, in deciding a "municipal functions" question, gave us this guidance:

Given that the cases establish no bright line test for determining whether a function is municipal and that no Utah cases have considered a situation factually analogous to the retirement system at issue, we must at least articulate our approach to this characterization issue. We reject, as a general matter, the search for any hard and fast categorization of specific functions as 'municipal' or 'state.' Instead, in determining whether a function is municipal, we think it appropriate to take a balancing approach, one which considers a number of factors that are pertinent to the specific legislation at issue. These include, but are

Page 730

not limited to, the relative abilities of the state and municipal governments to perform the function, the degree to which the performance of the function affects the interests of those beyond the boundaries of the municipality, and the extent to which the legislation under attack will intrude upon the ability of the people within the municipality to control through their elected officials the substantive policies that affect them uniquely. This last factor should serve to ensure due deference to a paramount purpose of the ripper clause, 5 as it has been interpreted in Utah: ' "to prevent interference with local self-government." ' Municipal Bldg. Auth. v. Lowder, 711 P.2d [273 at 281 (Utah 1985) ] (quoting Lehi City v. Meiling, 87 Utah at 272, 48 P.2d at 546). [ (1935) ] This sort of balancing approach is best suited to accomplishing the purposes of the ripper clause without erecting mechanical conceptual categories that, without serving any substantial interest, may hobble the effective government which the state constitution as a whole was designed to permit.

City of West Jordan, 767 P.2d at 534 (footnote added).

It is obvious the trial court in the case at bar utilized this balancing approach to determine the "municipal function" issue, but did not disregard the burden of proof precedent applicable to constitutional questions in South Dakota. This is evident in the trial court's reference to the correct standard of proof.

Issue II

Was the trial court correct in ruling SDCL ch. 34-11B unconstitutional?

City claims the trial court incorrectly declared SDCL ch. 34-11B unconstitutional. City has four grounds for its argument, namely: (1) SFREMSA is not engaging in a "municipal function" as prohibited by Article III, § 26; (2) SFREMSA is not a "special commission"; (3) SFREMSA is subject to local control and oversight; and (4) SFREMSA's power to tax is constitutional. These arguments will be addressed in order.

A. Is SFREMSA engaging in a "municipal function"?

Eight states have constitutional provisions with clauses commonly referred to as "ripper" clauses. 6 Ripper Clause, supra. As indicated, ripper clauses declare unconstitutional any legislative delegation of municipal functions to special public or private commissions. Id. South Dakota's ripper clause is Article III, § 26, as set forth in footnote three.

This court has never ruled what constitutes a nondelegable "municipal function" under Article III, § 26. 7 Here, the trial court specifically found that "municipalities are better able to govern ambulance and emergency medical services because of the wide diversity between communities and ... resources within [those] communities." The trial court found that municipalities have historically performed and are better able to perform ambulance and emergency medical service. We agree. The trial court also observed that although oversight and regulation of ambulance service and prehospital emergency care may affect some interests of people beyond the boundaries of Sioux Falls, its main concern is a city-wide function protecting the local interest only.

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Based on these findings, the trial court concluded that SFREMSA was engaged in a municipal function in violation of Article III, § 26. Although City claims that the trial court's findings are erroneous and SFREMSA is not engaged in a municipal function, it has not designated which of the trial court's findings, if any, are clearly erroneous. Instead, City argues that, since the statutes allow more than one municipality to participate in an EMS authority, it is not a...

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9 practice notes
  • Certification of Questions of Law from U.S. Court of Appeals for Eighth Circuit, Pursuant to Provisions of SDCL 15-24A-1, Matter of, A-1
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • January 31, 1996
    ...when it clearly, palpably and plainly appears that the statute violates a provision of the constitution. Specht v. City of Sioux Falls, 526 N.W.2d 727, 729 (S.D.1995) (citations omitted). [p Initially, we note that many courts have invalidated limitations on damages based on their respectiv......
  • Steinkruger v. Miller, No. 21105.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • June 21, 2000
    ...a statute violates a constitutional provision. Kyllo v. Panzer, 535 N.W.2d 896, 898 (S.D. 1995) (citing Specht v. City of Sioux Falls, 526 N.W.2d 727, 729 (S.D.1995)). Ordinarily, we review the constitutionality of a statute only when it is necessary to resolve the specific matter before us......
  • State v. Martin, No. 22736
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 30, 2003
    ...presumption of constitutionality. Kyllo v. Panzer, 535 N.W.2d 896, 898 (S.D.1995) (citing Specht v. City of Sioux 674 N.W.2d 297 Falls, 526 N.W.2d 727, 729 (S.D.1995)). To be invalidated a statute must be proved a breach of legislative power beyond a reasonable doubt. City of Chamberlain v.......
  • State v. Allison, No. 20505.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • February 9, 2000
    ...a strong presumption of constitutionality. Kyllo v. Panzer, 535 N.W.2d 896, 898 (S.D.1995) (citing Specht v. City of Sioux Falls, 526 N.W.2d 727, 729 (S.D.1995)). To be invalidated a statute must be proved a breach of legislative power beyond a reasonable doubt. City of Chamberlain v. R.E. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • Certification of Questions of Law from U.S. Court of Appeals for Eighth Circuit, Pursuant to Provisions of SDCL 15-24A-1, Matter of, A-1
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • January 31, 1996
    ...when it clearly, palpably and plainly appears that the statute violates a provision of the constitution. Specht v. City of Sioux Falls, 526 N.W.2d 727, 729 (S.D.1995) (citations omitted). [p Initially, we note that many courts have invalidated limitations on damages based on their respectiv......
  • Steinkruger v. Miller, No. 21105.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • June 21, 2000
    ...a statute violates a constitutional provision. Kyllo v. Panzer, 535 N.W.2d 896, 898 (S.D. 1995) (citing Specht v. City of Sioux Falls, 526 N.W.2d 727, 729 (S.D.1995)). Ordinarily, we review the constitutionality of a statute only when it is necessary to resolve the specific matter before us......
  • State v. Martin, No. 22736
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 30, 2003
    ...presumption of constitutionality. Kyllo v. Panzer, 535 N.W.2d 896, 898 (S.D.1995) (citing Specht v. City of Sioux 674 N.W.2d 297 Falls, 526 N.W.2d 727, 729 (S.D.1995)). To be invalidated a statute must be proved a breach of legislative power beyond a reasonable doubt. City of Chamberlain v.......
  • State v. Allison, No. 20505.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • February 9, 2000
    ...a strong presumption of constitutionality. Kyllo v. Panzer, 535 N.W.2d 896, 898 (S.D.1995) (citing Specht v. City of Sioux Falls, 526 N.W.2d 727, 729 (S.D.1995)). To be invalidated a statute must be proved a breach of legislative power beyond a reasonable doubt. City of Chamberlain v. R.E. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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