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S.D. Const. art. III, § 26 provides: The legislature shall not delegate to any special commission, private corporation or association, any power to make, supervise or interfere with any municipal improvement, money, property, effects, whether held in trust or otherwise, or levy taxes, or to select a capital site, or to perform any municipal functions whatever.
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). Subsequently, SFREMSA was issued a certificate of incorporation from the South Dakota Secretary of State. Michael Specht and the Sioux Falls Fire Fighters Association argued that SFREMSA and its enabling statutory scheme, SDCL ch. 34-11B, violated Article III, § 26, because it created a special commission whose powers, defined by SDCL ch. 34-11B, involved an improper delegation of municipal functions. The trial court agreed and issued a peremptory writ of prohibition and independently ruled SDCL 34-11B unconstitutional. The City appealed, arguing that the trial court did not use the correct standard in determining the constitutionality of SDCL ch. 34-11B. The City claimed that 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. The City further argued that the trial court incorrectly declared SDCL ch. 34-11B unconstitutional.
1) Did the trial court use the proper standard of proof in reaching its decision?
2) Was the trial court correct in ruling SDCL ch. 34-11B unconstitutional?
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court, holding first that the trial court used the proper standard of proof in reaching its decision. According to the court, nothing in the record indicated 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 was a "municipal function" and whether the activities of SFREMSA fell within that category. The record reflected that the trial court imposed the correct standard of proof to assess constitutionality when it held that there was a strong presumption as to the constitutionality of the statute. Anent the second issue, the court held that the SFREMSA was engaged in a municipal function prohibited by S.D. Const. III, § 26. The SFREMSA was also a special commission. The SFREMSA was not subject to local control and oversight. For instance, its commissioners could not be replaced. The SFREMSA's power to tax was not constitutional because it was not limited by proper standards. All provisions of the Act were wholly interdependent and the Act was wholly invalid.