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Archive for January, 2014

SB 67 dropped by sponsor and SB 66 killed in Committee

January 30, 2014 1 comment

Updated – Apparently my last paragraph dropped off after I posted this. It has been added back on.

Yesterday I posted about SB 66 and SB 67, which are two controversial bills introduced in the South Dakota legislature. Both measure are now dead. I’m not surprised. I don’t think anyone actually expected either measure to be passed.

SB 67 would have protected private businesses from lawsuits if they refused to provide certain services based upon religious objections. The bills sponsor Rep Otten withdrew the bill after being provided legal advice that the bill was redundant. Current law already protects religious reasons for denying service. That is true, but I think this new law would have helped to prevent activists from burdening small business owners with burdensome lawsuits. As I said before, I think it is silly for these businesses to refuse service (especially in the case of gay couples); but religious freedom, freedom of association, and property rights should protect such decisions, no matter how silly anyone finds these decisions.

SB 66 died in Committee by sending it to the nonexistent 41st legislative day. This was actually a pretty interesting debate to listen to. Both sides were pretty respectful of each others view and kept the discussion civil. Like SB 66, this bill also is redundant. Current law already protects clergy members from being forced to marry couples they object to. Yet, as many have said on both sides of the debate, legalized gay marriage is coming to South Dakota. The proposed bill would have protected clergy members when that was made to happen via a court decision or initiated ballot measure.

So what should those trying to protect clergy members in performing marriages do? Actually they should take a libertarian approach and work to get government OUT of the marriage business. That is exactly what I said when the Supreme Court overturned DOMA last summer (and rightfully so). Anyone that believes the government is getting too involved in religion should advocate getting the government out of this very personal portion of people’s lives. Marriage should be about a bond and commitment between two people and whatever higher power they believe in. Involving the government in marriage opens it up to being controlled by public policy.

As to the religious freedom, freedom of association, and property rights issues that were involved in these bills. I think different legislation should be tried in 2015 that isn’t so tailored towards one subject. I supported these bills because they involved these issues, but thought they were too tailored towards a single topic. In the future a bill needs to be drafted that protects a broader range of religious freedom, freedom of association, and property rights when activists try to make examples of small business owners and clergy members.

HCR 1008 fails on the House floor, 35 Representatives decide not to stop Common Core

January 30, 2014 3 comments

school-chalkboard-clipartYesterday the South Dakota House of Representatives failed to pass House Concurrent Resolution 1008. This resolution was created to stop further implementation of the Common Core State Standards and to create a path where the current standards could be ended. Here is the stated purpose of the resolution:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Urging the South Dakota Board of Education to refrain from any efforts to further expand the Common Core State Standards or any other multistate educational standards in the state and to establish a plan to end the state’s involvement with such current standards by June 30, 2017.

This HCR was a good test about how willing the House is to actually stop the Common Core standards in South Dakota. It failed by a vote of 31 Yeas to 35 Nays. I wasn’t overly surprised the resolution failed. Both sides of this hotly contested issue have been working overtime exaggerating their points and counter-points. At this point I don’t think the South Dakota legislature will do anything to stop or even slow down Common Core this year. Luckily this is an election year. The Nay vote by certain Representatives on the list is already causing some grass-roots groups to rise up against those Representatives. It will be interesting to see if this vote will cause any incumbent legislatures to lose a primary election this year.

Maybe the 2015 legislature will have the ability to actually do something about Common Core. Until then I guess we continue to watch Common Core remove innovation and diversity from public education.

SD SB 75: Preventing breed specific legislation at the local government level

January 29, 2014 3 comments
20140123_165659

My dog Lucy, maybe I should make her the mascot of SoDak Liberty.

On Jan 31, 2014, the South Dakota Senate Local Government Committee will be looking at SB 75. SB 75 has the stated purpose of prohibiting “local governments from enacting, maintaining, or enforcing regulations on certain dog breeds.” This bill is in direct response to groups trying to enact ‘pit-bull’ bans in various cities across South Dakota. I wrote a letter to the Aberdeen City Council in 2012 lobbying against breed specific legislation (BSL). Nothing has changed since then; I still wholeheartedly believe breed specific legislation is misguided and would do nothing but cause more confusion for animal control officers.

The question here for me is whether the State of South Dakota has the right to tell the cities that they cannot enact BSL. Even if I find BSL to be misguided and illogical, does that mean the State has the right to tell the cities how they can run themselves?

On one had there are citizens of South Dakota exercising their right to have the pet of their choice. Advocates for pit-bull owners rightly point out at that science does not back the claims that pit-bulls and related breeds are more dangerous. Yes, these breeds when they bite can potentially do more damage, but that does not mean they are more or less likely to bite than other breeds. And research has shown that very few bites (from any breed) create serious medical injuries.

On the other hand there is a public perception that certain breeds are more dangerous. Everyone has ‘heard a story’ about an incident involving pit-bulls. As a result people lobby hard for their local elected officials to ‘do something’. Enacting BSL is usually the answer for Mayors and City Councils. Should these City Councils be prevented from doing what their constituents want?

In this case I would side with the State. SB 75 is attempting to prevent local governments from unduly creating arbitrary ordinances specific to a certain type of dog that is hard to classify. To explain why BSL is arbitrary I will post this definition of pit bulls:

The slang term “pit bull” can describe anywhere from 3-30+ breeds of dog and their mixes and lookalikes. (Some have even confused Chihuahuas for “pit bulls”!) That’s why “pit bull” as a designation has widely become recognized as a type, not a breed; a type that could potentially describe countless numbers of medium- and large-breed dogs and their mixes.

SB 75 doesn’t say that local governments can’t regulate dogs, only that it can’t single out certain breeds or perceived breeds of dogs. The key to SB 75 is the ‘perceived breeds of dogs’. Pit bull, as defined above, is not an actual breed and will require someone to make an arbitrary decision as to what ‘is’ or ‘isn’t’ a pit-bull. Trying to create BSL at the city level will place an undue burden on animal control officers and citizens in trying to determine what kind of breed is legal.

As the bill is written I fully support SB 75. For cities that are worried about dog bites I would direct those citizens to the root cause of dog bites (regardless of breed). These are the findings of research complied by the National Canine Research Council (NCRC):

We have always known the cause of dog bite injuries

From the first dog bite study published more than 50 years ago until today, the conclusions and recommendations of the researchers have shared a lot in common.

 ”This study of the epidemiology of dog bites would seem to indicate that human factors are more important than environmental factors in the genesis of dog bites.”

– Henry M. Parrish, 1959

 ”Education programs aimed at influencing the behavior of pet owners, particularly with respect to the responsibilities of ownership, would do much to reduce the magnitude of the problems.”

– H. Michael Maetz, 1975

 ”Poor owner control blamed for increase in dog bites.”

– Washington Post, 1975

 ”The growing problem of dog control can only be solved if dog owners realize their responsibilities as pet owners.”

– Lancaster Farming, 1978

 ”Efforts to prevent severe dog bites should be focused primarily at the level of the owner.”

– John C. Wright, 1985

 ”Generic non-breed-specific dangerous dog laws can be enacted that place primary responsibility for a dog’s behavior on the owner . . . In particular, targeting chronically irresponsible down owners may be effective.”

– Jeffrey J. Sacks, et al, 2000

 ”The dog bite problem is not a disease problem with a single vector; it is a complex societal issue that must address a wide range of human behaviors in ways that deal with irresponsible behavior that puts people and animals at risk.”

– Randall Lockwood, 2007

 If we want better outcomes in our communities, we need to promote responsible pet ownership: the humane care, custody and control of all dogs.

Representative Kaiser on SB66 and SB67

January 29, 2014 3 comments

scott_kirkwood_scalesThere are two bills in the South Dakota legislature I expected to cause some controversy this year. They are:

Senate Bill 66
Purpose: provide immunity to clergy, lay officials, and religious organizations that decline to provide certain marriage services.

Senate Bill 67
Purpose: provide protection to certain businesses or persons that decline to provide certain wedding services or goods due to the free exercise of religion.

As expected the editorial board of the Aberdeen American News went on the offense against these bills. Reducing these bills to being ‘anti-gay’ fails to look into the many issues involved. Yes, I believe these bills are cropping up around the country in response to activists suing businesses owners that refuse to do business with gay couples. Personally I think those businesses were silly for refusing service, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to do so. The core of these bills revolve around religious freedom, freedom of association, and property rights. I also believe in the modern world that the free-market can and will punish businesses that discriminate in ways most of society finds offensive.

Since Representative Kaiser was specifically called out in the AAN piece I will repost his reply to the article here. His take is similar to mine, but actually gives a good example 

Recently an article in the American news attacked me about my support of SB 66, a bill that gives immunity to clergy for decline service based on their religious beliefs and SB 67 a bill that provides protection to certain business to decline goods and services due to free exercise of religion.

My history on these bills started months ago when I read an article in the winter 2013 issue of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) Intelligence report. This article is about Craig Cobb. SPLC said he is a neo-nazi , anti-Semite. The article went on to say “he has worked tirelessly to spread mindless animosity toward blacks, Latinos, the LGBT community and most passionately Jews.”

The article goes on to talk about how Craig is buying up property in Leith ND with the intent of making a little Nazi town.

I think we the people can combat and destroy this type of bigotry. The answer is clear; it is to empower the people of South Dakota through property rights. So if anybody like Craig moves into your town you will be able to flex your rights and kick this guy out of your shop and you will be covered under religious immunity. Without your rights protected in law you would be forced to serve this guy or face law suits. I cannot imagine how we would force a Jewish business man or woman to serve Craig.

I feel comfortable that if anyone in our community’s used the protection of SB 66 & 67 un-judicially, we the people would not shop at their business and thus put them out of business.

Thank you

Dan

Dan states his case well.

Personally I don’t think SB66 or SB67 will pass. I don’t feel there are enough legislators in Pierre that will be brave enough to openly debate such a controversial topic. In the modern world political correctness exerts more pressure upon politicians than individual rights. Political correctness is nothing but another form of intolerance. It is time to reverse that trend. As long as arbitrary political correctness is allowed to control legislation there can never be honest debates about legislation.

Now there are two Democrats in the South Dakota Governors race

January 29, 2014 8 comments
Susan Wismer Head Shot

South Dakota state Representative Susan Wismer

Yesterday South Dakota state Representative Susan Wismer (D-1) announced her entry into the Governors race. With her entry in the race there are now two Democrats in the primary for South Dakota Governor. The other candidate, Joe Lowe, has had a very quiet campaign so far (I’ve heard him referred to by a local Democrat as the Stealth Candidate). Maybe Wismer’s entry in the race will get Lowe excited and start his campaign.

Since the South Dakota legislature is currently in session and Rep Wismer owns a tax preparation service it is unlikely we will hear much from her until mid-April (I can relate, my wife and I own a tax prep office). Her campaign announcement doesn’t have much information about what her platform is. The closest she has to issues is this part of the release:

“South Dakotans need and deserve a state government that works for them,” said Wismer.  “It’s time we had a Governor that stands up for middle-class South Dakotans, invests in education, and brings a fresh voice to the conversation, instead of the machine that has controlled Pierre for a generation.  That’s the kind of leader I intend to be.”

Since she is a Democrat candidate it is not surprising she opens by promoting class welfare. But I am glad she is in the race. I of course don’t support her stances. Bit, I feared the Democrats would fail to field a candidate that could at least gain attention. The election process works so much better when voters have actual choices. Right now I would say Wismer should easily beat Lowe in the Primary (unless he finds some fire somewhere). After that Wismer will have a hard time unseating Daugaard, but she at least can hopefully put up enough of a fight to make Daugaard work for his re-election bid.

With Wismer added there are now 6 candidates in the South Dakota Governors race:

  • Dennis Daugaard – Republican Incumbent (technically he hasn’t announced yet, but I’ve seen his petition being circulated).
  • Lora Hubbel – Republican challenging Daugaard in the Primary
  • Michael “Mike” Myers – Independent candidate who will have a challenge getting enough signatures
  • Curtis Strong – Constitution Party candidate from the Rapid City area
  • Joe Lowe – Democrat Party candidate that is running a stealth campaign
  • Susan Wismer – Democrat candidate currently serving in the SD legislature

A musical answer to SOTU

January 28, 2014 Comments off

I just finished watching the State of the Union address by President Obama. I took a lot of notes and planned to do a long post countering everything I heard that was wrong… but in the end I decided that post would be too long for anyone to actually read. So instead I will post a couple of songs I think sum up the SOTU address.

Don McLean – Everybody loves me

”Now, no man is beyond my claim when land is seized in the people’s name. By evil men who rob and maim, if war is hell, I’m not to blame!” This song pokes fun at a totalitarian leader.

Blues Traveler Live with Orchestra – Support Your Local Emperor

”You can see that in the end, it’s just a little bit of talk.” A song about leaders that must have their egos stroked.

And because I’m a huge Remy fan I have to post this one again (he noticeably avoided going into Obamacare too much):

If You Like Your Plan You Can Keep It: The Rap (w/ Remy)

Categories: Obama Tags: , ,

SD HCR 1007: Audit the Fed resolution passes the House

January 28, 2014 3 comments

johnny_automatic_bag_of_moneyToday South Dakota House Concurrent Resolution 1007 came the floor for debate and a vote. This concurrent resolution would petition Congress to provide for an audit of the Federal Reserve Bank. I posted on this bill previously in support of it. HCR 1007 passed with a vote of 43-25. This particular resolution got more attention on the floor than I thought it would. That is great, it means more people are thinking about whether The Fed should be audited.

Rep Kaiser (R-3) brought the bill to the floor. I thought he did a pretty good job of explaining why a private bank that is in charge of monetary policy for the United States should be audited.

Leading the opposition was Rep Ring (D-17). It is not surprising he would speak up on this bill. As a retired economics professor he is definitely a subject-matter expert. Unfortunately most of his opposing testimony revolved around Keynesian economic theories that are treated as ‘truths’ by too many economists. I would actually love to discuss the topic with Rep Ring someday. I do respect the fact he came with his opinion on this concurrent resolution (even if I disagree with his arguments).

But it wasn’t his use of economic theories that troubled me about his opposing testimony. Instead I was kind of disheartened by an economist saying the Federal Reserve doesn’t need to be audited more. Rep Ring mentioned The Fed is one of the most highly audited bodies already. That is true, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The only parts of The Fed that are audited are those which The Fed itself has not exempted from audits. There are large portions of The Fed that have been protected from audits by exemption. These areas as laid out in 31 U.S. CODE § 714 include:

  1. transactions for or with a foreign central bank, government of a foreign country, or nonprivate international financing organization; (foreign version of The Fed)
  2. deliberations, decisions, or actions on monetary policy matters, including discount window operations, reserves of member banks, securities credit, interest on deposits, and open market operations
  3. transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee
  4. a part of a discussion or communication among or between members of the Board and officers and employees of the Federal Reserve System related to clauses (1)–(3) of this subsection

If you read this closely it basically allows the Federal Reserve to choose what areas of itself can be audited. Almost anything the Federal Reserve does could be twisted to fall within the second or third subsection. I’ve debated these exemptions with others before. My opponents in this debate usually seem to believe these exemption are nothing but important tools for The Fed to do things such as raise employment. The reasoning goes further to try making the case that only the end results are important for transparency. I disagree. I believe the whole process used within the Fed should be open for scrutiny. This isn’t even a case of ‘the ends justify the means’ because the Fed gets to decide which ‘means’ they will tell Congress and citizens of the United States about.

Another opponent was Rep Gibson (D-22). Gibson seemed to believe the Fed was not important to be audited because the EB-5 program hasn’t been truly audited yet? I agree the EB-5 program also needs true forensic audits done. But it doesn’t make sense to push for one audit and then say another is unnecessary? It should be transparency all around.

In the end this concurrent resolution passed in the House. I am glad Rep Kaiser took the initiative to sponsor and gain support for the bill. Hopefully this bill can be used as a tool to show our Congressional delegation an audit of The Fed is long overdue.

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