Archive for March, 2014

Common Core Documentary released online, it is a MUST WATCH for all parents

March 31, 2014 3 comments

ccmovieIf you are a parent, grandparent, or just a person concerned about education in America there is a new online documentary released today that is a must see! The documentary is called Building the Machine and it takes a look at how Common Core came to be. I briefly mentioned the documentary a few days ago. The documentary has not only lived up to my expectations; but actually exceeded them by giving a good primer of Common Core history to the many Americans who have never heard about it. I also applaud the producers of the documentary (the Home School Legal Defense Association) for including proponents in the documentary (although most proponents refused).

The movie can be viewed at or on YouTube. Or even watch in the version I’ve embedded at the bottom of this post. It is well worth 40 minutes of any concerned persons life to watch this video. (tip, if you have a game console with the YouTube channel that is a great way to watch the documentary, I watched it using our WiiU.)

A part of the video that was of particular interest to me was the discussion of the Common Core standards meeting the requirements of being ‘college ready’ and ‘career ready’ at the same time. I heard this statement made a few months ago by a Common Core proponent and it has perplexed me since. Even achieving one of those two goals alone would be impossible in a diverse society of humans. To have the arrogance to think anyone could come up with a set of standards that would meet both goals seems to be almost insanity by definition.

Hopefully this documentary will get some people to think about the diversity of the children in our society and work to promote that diversity. If the nation continues down the path of Common Core I fully believe diversity and educational motivation will be stifled to a point where we as a nation will suffer. That is the point I tried to make twice last year (here & here), but the experts in this movie do a much better job of conveying that message.

I would urge everyone to watch the documentary and share the link to the video with everyone they can. It is OK if people watch the video and still believe (or newly believe) that Common Core is a good thing. I would disagree with those that think Common Core is a good thing; but as a minimum I believe everyone should watch the video and decide for themselves if they believe education in America is headed in the right direction. Adults, and not only children, have to educate themselves on certain topics. I believe each adult should be trying to understand the generalities of the public education system and some of the specifics about Common Core. Such education and possible interaction from a majority of adults would have likely prevented Common Core from even coming about. Or if Common Core had still been born it would not have done so out of secrecy.

Once again the documentary can be view at or on YouTube. Below I have embedded the video to be viewed from here as well.

Categories: Education Tags: ,

A look at the final 2014 SD legislative bills signed into law on March 28

March 31, 2014 1 comment

taber_No_Cell_Phones_AllowedToday was VETO Day in South Dakota. It was the 38th and final legislative day of the 2014 session. Theoretically today was when the legislature met to try overturning any veto’s by the governor during the two-week end session recess. But since Governor Daugard didn’t veto anything during the recess the legislature really had nothing to do today other than officially gavel out for the year. The single bill veto’d this session was SB 98, a bill that allowed a tax hike in Deadwood. As I said before, vetoing that bill was likely more political than anything, and the legislature didn’t even really try overturning the veto.

Below is a list of the final bills signed into law on March 28 by Governor Daugaard for the 2014 legislative session. I have included brief thoughts with each bill in the list. My previous posts summarizing bills signed into law can be found as follows: Feb 23, Feb 23, Feb 25, Feb 28, March 3, March 7, March 10, March 12, March 14, March 24, and March 26.

Here are the final bills signed for 2014. It is a mixture of good, bad, and horrible.

SB 1An Act to provide for the selection of the chair and vice chair of the Executive Board of the Legislative Research Council, to revise the membership of the Executive Board, to provide for the term of each constituted Executive Board, to provide for the year-round governance of the Legislative Research Council by the Executive board, and to provide for continuity of board membership.

This bill is interesting because it tries to fix some of the issues of having a part-time legislature. In particular this bill will allow better leadership stability for the LRC. I’m not sure if this is a good change or not. Personally I think a better fix of problems in Pierre have to do with removing powers from the executive branch.

SB 65An Act to revise and clarify voter eligibility for road district elections.

The big change with this bill (and a contentious one) is to change the code to saying “eligible voters” from the older language of “landowners”.

SB 108An Act to require a study of services and insurance coverage for the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder for children.

This was a hoghouse vehicle bill. The original ’empty’ bill was to affected medical services in SD. It was briefly hoghoused by the Senate State Affairs committee makes sure third-party payers don’t refuse to pay for some medical claims in certain circumstances. The bill was then re-hoghoused in the House State Affairs committee to establish a workgroup study on the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). It was then further amended to focus more on a study of the services and insurance coverage for the treatment of ASD. The hoghousing of this bill towards ASD was response to HB 1257 being killed. Basically HB 1257 would have mandated Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to be covered by insurance companies. I empathize with the parents trying to get this 1257 passed; but I cannot advocate any more mandates than ACA has already imposed on health insurance coverage. This bill, SB 108, is a bad on in my opinion. It is nothing but a two-step approach to getting the mandate passed in 2015. The study will be conducted in such a way that will ‘prove’ an insurance mandate is necessary. Hopefully other options can be looked at, including great private organizations that already help parents with children that need ABA.

SB 158An Act to revise certain funding provisions of the building South Dakota fund.

This was a bad bill! It removes the restrictions placed upon the Building South Dakota fund as passed in 2013. Basically this bill makes a liar out of the 2013 legislature and Governor Daugaard when they passed Building South Dakota and restricted it to be a lower priority than little things like education and state employee compensation. This change to Building South Dakota actually potentially attacks the states reserves to make sure money is always available for crony capitalism economic development. Add to the $30,000,000 already dropped in the Building South Dakota this year and it isn’t hard to guess the Governor’s priority in 2014…

SB 176An Act to revise the ability of the secretary of the Department of Revenue to reduce or abate taxes.

This was a small change in code, but it seems to be a good one. It does give the DoR more flexibility in dealing with people who didn’t pay certain taxes due to a misunderstanding.

SB 177An Act to make an appropriation to provide contingency funds to be made available for unanticipated costs related to medical services and to declare an emergency.

This bill appropriates $16 million of SD money and $17.5 million of federal money for contingency use with Medicaid & CHIP. This bill is necessary for the operation of Medicaid in the state. It is interesting to see all the amending that went on. The original bill called for $22.5 million of state money and $22.5 of federal money.

SB 181An Act to define vapor products as tobacco products for the purpose of regulating the use of the products by minors and to place certain restrictions on the sale of vapor products.

This was actually a bad bill based upon perception instead of anything like fact or any problem that exists. The war on tobacco has been waged due to the many health risks that come from its use. However there is nothing to show the new vapor products have the same dangers as traditional tobacco. There is also a lack of evidence showing this is a problem for youth. This bill as passed into law will have no actual impact on the sales of vapor products, or their potential use by minors. But I guess if the legislature wants to waste time on laws that make them look like they are being responsible, that is their prerogative…

SB 183An Act to revise the trust fund requirements for perpetual cemeteries, and to declare an emergency.

Not a bill I had a lot of interest in. It definitely was amended a lot and had unanimous support. I don’t see any problems with this one.

SB 188An Act to set the per student allocation for fiscal year 2015.

This changes the per student allocation from $4,389.95 to $4,781.14. I’ll just repeat what I said in a previous post about SB 37, which revise the state aid to general education formula: “Considering the millions of “free” money found from unclaimed property this last year I thought the governor and legislature could have done better than this. But instead the legislature gave that money to the Governors program to support friends of his that have large businesses.”

HB 1040An Act to revise the General Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2014.        

This bill made adjustments to the budget for the current fiscal year (2014) based upon what has actually happened so far. I haven’t looked too much into this to see if it is good or bad. But I do see a lot of appropriations have increased. I also see some full-time employee’s (FTEs) have been added. I would have thought these change would need approval in the normal appropriations bills, instead of a previous year appropriations.

HB 1041An Act to make an appropriation for the railroad trust fund and to declare an emergency. 

This is a bill I had no problem with to begin with. Yet as I look deeper into the States management of the publicly owned portion of the rail I have little confidence the $7,200,000 will be utilized with anything near competence.

HB 1111An Act to revise certain provisions related to the design, construction, and equipping of a veterans home near Hot Springs, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

This is money well spent by the state. The purpose of this bill to deal with increased costs in the project is troubling though.

HB 1112An Act to appropriate general funds and higher education facility funds to replace a portion of the other funds appropriated for the construction of swine teaching and research facilities at South Dakota State University and to declare an emergency.

I haven’t really looked into this one too much. It just appears to shuffle money around…

HB 1122An Act to define the limitations of interstate compacts relating the collection of civil fines.

This was a good bill. It prevents South Dakota from helping third parties that collect civil fines received in other states from cameras. Most importantly it prevents the use of our drivers licence data from those companies. These speed and red light cameras used in other states are used purely for grabbing revenue and they usually have little or no due process built-in for fighting them (because they are a civil fine, and not criminal). I applaud this bill for what it does.

HB 1142An Act to enhance the support for public postsecondary technical institutes, to transfer certain funds, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

I have to agree with Rep Kaiser on this bill. Here is what he had to say on his Facebook page after voting no to it: “I voted no to adopt the conference committee report to HB 1142, an act to enhance technical institutes. This is a priority in spending bill, my priority is k-12 education, once we have that funded we can look at other education options to enhance.” I really think many of our legislators have priorities mixed up…

HB 1164 An Act to revise certain provisions regarding school board opening day decision petitions.

I really like this one. It makes it easier for parents to petition their local school board to change the start date of the school year. This has become quite an issue and school boards simply are not listening to parents when they say they want school to start after Labor Day. This puts a little more power in the hands of parents. It must be noted however that this bill does not set a new date. So even if the school board is forced to make a change is may not be for the better. So this bill isn’t perfect, but at least it is a move in the right direction.

HB 1175An Act to authorize the Board of Regents to expand university facilities at the University of South Dakota, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

This appropriation gives $1 million for use by USD expanding in Sioux Falls with no actual detail as to what it must be used for. I really can’t understand why the state is giving a million dollar check to the school without being tied to anything.

HB 1177An act to prohibit certain use of handheld electronic wireless communication devices while driving and to provide a penalty therefor.

Governor Daugaard was so proud of this bill that he announced signing it separately. This is the new statewide texting ban that takes effect on July 1. The bill is a secondary offense with a $100 fine. Since it is secondary a cop cannot pull anyone over for it, just like with the seat-belt law. The new law also specifies that law enforcement cannot take someones phone away simply because they were texting and driving. The bad side of this law is that it doesn’t prevent local governments from enacting their own harsher laws. So the problem of cities going overboard with texting bans will continue. Proponents of texting bans failed to look at the actual research that shows such bans actually potentially makes the roads more unsafe because now texters will do so under the dash, this putting their eyes further from the road. I agree with many of the proponents of this bill that more education needs to get out about the dangers of texting while driving. I just don’t see this as an answer that will actually work the way legislators think it will.

HB 1194An Act to establish certain requirements relating to the crossing of railroad rights-of-way by rural water system lines.

This one sets some rules for utilities when they need to cross a rail. It seems pretty harmless, but unnecessary since the railroad and utilities should be able to come to agreements without state intervention…

HB 1203An Act to improve the financial practices of the State of South Dakota.

This is another hoghouse vehicle bill. The House originally passed it with nothing in it, that’s your legislature at work… The hoghoused version does however seem to make some good changes to dealing with budget shortfalls. I just wish the bill could have used the normal process that is open to public input instead of being forced through in secret with a hoghouse amendment.

HB 1206An Act to authorize the payment of lease rental obligations to the South Dakota Building Authority by the Bureau of Finance and Management, to make an appropriation therefore, and to declare an emergency.

This one only makes sense. We have to pay the bills that the state is committed to.

HB 1213An Act to analyze and promote economic development for South Dakota’s Native American population and to establish a task force.

I actually really like this bill. I hope this opportunity is taken to look at how property rights and entrepreneurial endeavors can help the tribes. That will make them less reliant on federal dollars and more self sufficient and able to grow a stable economy.

HB 1249An Act to revise the required hours in a school term for certain grade levels.

This bill took a small amount of power away from the Board of Education. For that alone I am happy with this being passed.

SD Bills signed into law on March 26

March 30, 2014 1 comment

johnny_automatic_money_bagsOn March 26 SD Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a little over two dozen more bills into law. Below I have included brief thoughts about each of these bills. This time there are a few BAD bills that got signed into law. Specifically the general appropriations bills and the $30 million that was thrown at Governor Daugards friends Building South Dakota. I’m a bit behind on these posts. The Governor has signed one more batch of bills emptying his desk; I will post about those tomorrow.

SB 26An Act to establish certain electronic crime victim notification procedures.

I like this bill. It cleaned up some old code and modernized the way notices can be distributed.

SB 28 An Act to make an appropriation for certain costs related to mountain pine beetle suppression and to declare an emergency.

This bill appropriated $1,950,000 to use in the fight against the mountain pine beetle. This is a huge issue west-river, but honestly I haven’t followed it too closely. But for $2 million I would expect to see results in the future!

SB 36An Act to transfer the functions of the South Dakota Railroad Authority to the South Dakota Railroad Board.

I don’t see a problem with this one. I’m not sure it was necessary. But I do like that the new language ensures no elected official is appointed to the board.

SB 37An Act to revise the state aid to general education formula.             

This one changed the per student allocation from $4389.95 to $4764.42. Considering the millions of “free” money found from unclaimed property this last year I thought the governor and legislature could have done better than this. But instead the legislature gave that money to the Governors program to support friends of his that have large businesses.

SB 38An Act to revise the state aid to special education formula.           

This one provided the same increase in education funding, but for students with disabilities. I don’t see a problem with this one, and don’t know enough about this area to know if it was sufficient.

SB 53An Act to make appropriations to fund certain programs and projects that provide economic benefits to South Dakotans and to declare an emergency.

This is a bill I hate on many levels. The original bill was to give half a million dollars to the failed South Dakota Roots program. Luckily that went away. But it went away because the bill was hoghoused (completely changed) on the House Floor. I hate it when bills are hoghoused on the floor after all public hearings have been done. That is a step purposely taken by the legislature to ensure public hearings do not take place on certain bills. In this case the hoghoused spreads a few million dollars between a few distinctly different areas. These areas may or may not be worthy of that money. Regardless of how worthy those causes are I will say this was a bad bill because of the sneaky means that were used to pass it.

SB 68An Act to adopt the uniform real property electronic recording act, to use an existing funding source to implement the provisions of this Act, and to revise certain provisions concerning electronic recording.

This was a good change to current code. Basically it allows more physical media (such as paper) to be stored electronically. As a paper-reduction type person I fully support this change.

SB 81An Act to prohibit the possession of certain items in jails, to provide a penalty therefor, and to revise the penalty for the procurement of certain items into a jail.

This one clarifies nonprescription drug possession by inmates. I don’t see any problems with this one… or any pressing need for the change.

SB 85An Act to revise certain provisions regarding confidential criminal justice information.

I like this change. It makes sure that police call logs “shall” be released to the public instead of “may” be released. One word makes a large difference.

SB 90An Act to revise certain provisions related to the High School Activities Association.

This was a hot issue this year. At the heart is whether a private association that has funding enacted through the legislature should be forced to comply with open meeting laws. Ironically the HSAA had a closed-door meeting to determine whether they should be forced out into the open. The HSAA also tried to implement some changes on their own after they seen this bill (or the House version that was tabled) would be passed. This bill passing into law was good for transparency in the HSAA organization, which is tied very closely to public schools.

SB 99An Act to revise certain provisions regarding self-funded multiple employer trusts.

This is a hoghouse vehicle bill. Basically bills like these are passed so they can be filled in later. The only good news with this particular vehicle bill is that it at least was hoghoused in committee, so public input was possible. As to the bill itself, it seems like a good change. But honestly it isn’t my area of expertise or interest so I didn’t research further (hopefully those voting for it actually did some research, but I doubt it….).

SB 125 An Act to prohibit registered sex offenders from loitering in certain areas.

I’m not sure what this one was trying to fix. It clarifies that registered sex offenders cannot loiter at the library. Since a library is where people tend to loiter (looking at books and such); how is someone to determine if a registered sex offender is loitering at a library for purposes other than books? This seems like a law being passed simply to look tough on sex offenders; yet actually does nothing.

SB 143 An Act to provide for a civil remedy for a bad faith assertion of patent infringement.

This one tries to fight back against patent trolls. It’s actually good to see the South Dakota legislature tackle this issue. I will be interested to see if this legislation actually helps in the battle against patent trolls (I have my doubts).

SB 157An Act to make an appropriation to the building South Dakota fund and to declare an emergency.

This is the number one BAD appropriation of the year! This bill takes the $30,000,000 that Governor Daugaard took from the unclaimed property fund to pre-fund Building South Dakota. The Building South Dakota fund is what the GOED office uses on the Governors behalf to choose winners and losers in the market. This is a big government program. Accounting tricks were used to ‘prove’ pre-payment of this fund will ‘save money’ for the state. Sadly our legislator fell for this trick………

SB 168An Act to authorize criminal background checks for certain officers and employees of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

This is another hoghouse vehicle bill. It passed in the Senate with nothing in it. Think about that for a minute. The South Dakota Senate passed a bill over the other body with nothing in it….  That is like giving the other body a blank check. The actual final bill I don’t really care about. I would rather see GOED go away, instead of creating more rules for it to survive under..

SB 172An Act to revise certain provisions relating to services performed by dental hygienists.

This one appears to be updating the agreement between Delta Dental and the Indian Health Service (IHS). Nothing to worry about. But if the legislature was worried about health issues on the reservations they would look at the many problems with IHS. IHS seems to be making matters worse on the reservations with its bureaucracy.

SB 187An Act to appropriate money for the ordinary expenses of the legislative, judicial, and executive departments of the state, the expenses of state institutions, interest on the public debt, and for common schools.

This one I hope to do a separate post on. This is the general appropriations bill. And it is BAD!!! Here is a summary of the bill from Rep Nelson: “My dear fellow South Dakotans: For the third year in a row, the Legislature and the governor increased spending and the size of South Dakota’s government. The general appropriations bill SB 187 for this year increased spending from last session’s HB 1185 general appropriations bill by about $169 million and 124 new full-time state employees.” Read all he has to say here. All I can say is that the appropriations bill is nowhere near what I would call fiscally conservative.

HB 1087 An Act to change how rural fire protection districts conduct elections.

This seems to be a good change. Changes the requirement from property owners to registered voters.

HB 1100An Act to prohibit the use of certain photo monitoring devices to detect red light violations.

I like this one. It prevents government entities from trampling on civil rights using red light cameras. The red light cameras were never about public safety. They have been found to be faulty and used to drive revenue for municipalities that use them.

HB 1113An Act to make an appropriation to fund tax refunds for elderly persons and persons with a disability and to declare an emergency.

Personally I would prefer a tax break for everyone, but I guess we take what we can get. Now grandpa con continue having lower property taxes if he doesn’t have a lot of money. The problem with this bill is that it goes off of income. I know many that use this program and would be far from being considered poor. Yet because they are retired and their income shows small they fit into this program. That is one of the problems with progressivism in the tax code, it doesn’t look at reality.

HB 1127An Act to provide an exemption for alimony payments in debtor filings.

I don’t understand why alimony payments should be removed from debtor filings. Other types of income are not included. I see this as a bad change.

HB 1129An Act to prohibit the use of certain explosive targets in the Black Hills Forest Fire Protection District.

This was a bad bill. The bill was brought in response to some fires started in the Black Hills after some dipsticks used this targets. Yet it wasn’t the targets that started the fire. These targets don’t actually combust as they appear to. In the cases where the fires were started there were other propellants set up in a way to actually cause a big fire and/or explosion. This new law would not have prevented the fires that already happened because those people were already using the product wrong. All this law did was add more ‘feel-good’ regulation to people with no actual impact on improving public safety.

HB 1143An Act to repeal certain provisions regarding unemployment insurance benefit eligibility of workers attending approved training.

This repeals old code. I don’t see a problem with it.

HB 1148An Act to provide a license for certain businesses to allow patrons to manufacture malt beverages and wines on the licensed premises for personal use.

This is an odd one for me. It allows for the a ‘retail on premises manufacturer’ to get a $250 licence to make malt beverages or wine. Then it goes on to restrict malt beverages or wine made for personal use by saying it cannot be made in a persons business (like in the basement). This whole bill shows the sector is already over-regulated. What I really want to see is a change allowing the distilling of spirits so people can legally make some whiskey at home or for small-scale retail sale.

HB 1162An Act to prohibit the practice of sex-selective abortions, to establish certain procedures to better ensure that sex-selective abortions are not practiced in South Dakota, and to provide penalties therefor.

This one prevents someone from aborting children based purely upon the sex. There are cultures where this does happen. The bill was done to make sure the practice doesn’t happen in South Dakota. Realistically the law does nothing since someone deciding to abort a child just for the sex likely won’t tell the doctor that anyhow.

HB 1166An Act to revise the telecommunications services program to include current and developing technology.

The Governor is apparently so proud of this law that he announced it separately from the other bills signed on March 26. Daugaard touts that this program will allow the State to purchase Iphones for deaf people. While I applaud getting those with disabilities the tools that can make their life go easier in society; I fail to see how this is the job of the South Dakota government to expand on its own Obamaphone-like program. This is especially true since this bill expanded to an almost overly-vague definition of who can get one of these phones.

South Dakota legislature made a statement against transparency and free speech by endorsing the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

March 30, 2014 10 comments

Early in the 2014 South Dakota legislative session Representative Gosch brought House Concurrent Resolution 1011 (HCR 1011). This was a seemingly simple resolution aimed at showing support for South Dakota’s ‘sister state’ the Province of Taiwan. Here is the purpose of this resolution as introduce and passed by both Houses:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Endorsing Taiwan’s participation as an observer in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the thirtieth anniversary of sister state relations with the Province of Taiwan in the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Taiwan’s inclusion in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The actual text of the resolution has a lot of WHEREAS statements explaining why Taiwan’s participation in the Internation Civial Aviation Organziation (ICAO) is a good thing. I actually agree with those WHEREAS statements. It also goes on to say how things between South Dakota and Taiwan have been keen since officially becoming sister states back in 1984. Again, nothing wrong with any of that.

Finally the WHEREAS statements go into an area South Dakota should not have gone into. Here are the statements in questions:

WHEREAS, for Taiwan, the resumption of TIFA talks with the United States is only the beginning of what must be a sustained push for further and more wide-ranging trade arrangements with its myriad trading partners. A chief target should be Taiwan’s inclusion in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the near future; and
WHEREAS, Taiwan’s inclusion in the TPP would contribute substantially to the depth, viability, and quality of the TPP, Taiwan’s strong economic weight in the Asia-Pacific, its well-developed knowledge base and highly-skilled workforce, its vital position along regional supply chains and value chains, and the positive economic and strategic gains for all make Taiwan an ideal candidate economy for the TPP’s expansion:

A new successful Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) is a good thing. It was necessary in part because the Republic of China had refused to import US Beef for a number of years if the cattle had been fed with certain additives. But then the resolution has to mention the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

TPP is an issue I’ve been following for a few years now and was quit stunned when I found out the South Dakota legislature actually passed a resolution endorsing this secretive multi-national agreement. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a good summary of TPP (an infographic explains more at the end of this post):

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold:

(1) IP chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate.

(2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.

The United States is already a part of TPP; and now South Dakota endorses TPP and Taiwans inclusion in this anti-free-speech and anti-transparency group with this RESOLVED statement in HCR 1011:

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the South Dakota Legislature is supportive of all efforts to include Taiwan in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP); and

When the resolution was being discussed on the House floor it was only Representative Kaiser that spoke against the resolution due to its inclusion of TPP. Kaiser focused on the lack of transparency used by world leaders when creating agreements through TPP. None of the meeting agendas or notes is available for the public, or even Congress, to view.

In response Representative Steele made a statement I’ve heard many politicians say on a variety of topics; and it is always wrong to say. Here is what Rep Steel said about the resolution:

I’m not sure what this TPP stands for or what it does. But, Taiwan has been a friend of the United States for many years…

He then goes on to say that any problems with TPP can be worked out elsewhere. Basically Rep Steele said he doesn’t care about what he is actually endorsing because he wanted to make Taiwan feel good. And I’m not just picking on Rep Steele here. The resolution passed the House with a vote of 64-5 (with 1 excused) and the Senate with a vote of 28-0 (with 7 excused).

By my estimation all of the legislators in Pierre that voted yes to this resolution were making one of the following statements:

  1. I don’t bother to research anything I’m voting on. Therefore I only thought this resolution was about Taiwan.
  2. I don’t care about resolutions so I’ll just vote yes and hope nobody actually holds me accountable for whatever I’ve voted on.
  3. I support a lack of transparency and support attacks on free speech at the international level.

None of the above stances are good from the viewpoint of a constituent. I’ve heard it suggested that hearings should be held on Resolutions before they reach the floor. Before I thought of that as a silly waste of time. But if the South Dakota legislature is going to thoughtlessly pass such bad resolutions maybe public input is required. Apparently few of our legislators in Pierre will take the time to actually research what they are voting on so it is up to constituents to let them know.

PS. TPP as a topic is too broad for one little blog post. The best resource for information about TPP can be found on the Knowledge Ecology International website. Alternatively the EFF has created the following Infographic explaining TPP:


25 more SD bills signed into law on March 24

March 25, 2014 2 comments

ArenaThe 25 bills SD Governor Dennis Daugaard signed into law on March 24 is listed below. I have included brief thoughts about each of these bills. Notably there are a few tax fee increases in this bunch. Also millions of dollars being spent for non-education purposes on the SDSU campus.

I should be getting near the end of these posts. There are just under 50 bills still sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting a signature or veto. On March 31 (next Monday) the legislature meets for its final day of the 2014 legislative session to deal with any veto’s that come from the Governor’s office. So far there has been only 1 veto, and that happened before the legislative two-week recess. I was curious what would happen if  the Governor simply failed to sign a bill, instead of just vetoing it. Apparently it would become law by default then. This is an excerpt from Article IV of the South Dakota Constitution in section 4 dealing with vetos:

     Whenever a bill has been presented to the Governor and the Legislature has adjourned sine die or recessed for more than five days within five days from presentation, the bill shall become law when the Governor signs the bill or fails to veto it within fifteen days after such adjournment or start of the recess.

SB 13 An Act to make use of hand-held mobile telephones while driving a commercial motor vehicle a serious traffic violation and to update certain references to federal regulations regarding the issuance of commercial driver licenses.

This was a bad bill. It was not passed to solve a problem in SD. Rather it was passed because bureaucrats in Pierre fear they may lose some federal highway funding if it isn’t passed into law.

SB 15An Act to authorize the South Dakota Building Authority and the Board of Regents to finance, design, construct, furnish, and equip a football stadium facility at South Dakota State University, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

This is to give the go-ahead on the new $65,000,000 football stadium for SDSU in Brookings. I really don’t think this was a priority for the State. Yes, the facility is 50 years old. But that doesn’t mean it is a spending priority.  I’ve heard more than a few people advocate for a new stadium because SDSU is Division 1 and should have a stadium that reflects that status. Sounds to me like education is being put in the back seat at SDSU so they can get a new $65 million dollar showpiece. This bill allows the South Dakota Building Authority to issue bonds up to $39 million. Even though it is not in the current proposal, there is also a discussion on the table with the Board of Regents to raise tuition by $1.75 per credit hour to help pay for this stadium. Apparently they are waiting for student buy-in before taking that step. Sadly this is a project that was going to go ahead no matter what. That’s what happens when sports vanity is put ahead of education…

SB 16An Act to authorize the Board of Regents to purchase improved real property in Brookings County and to make an appropriation therefor.

I guess when SDSU is spending $65 million on a stadium the measly $1.4 million in this land purchase seems small…

SB 17An Act to authorize the Board of Regents to purchase improved real property in the city of Brookings and to make an appropriation therefor.

Well, this only spends $888,000 for more SDSU land in Bookings. Just a drop in the bucket at this point…

SB 18An Act to authorize the Board of Regents to contract for the construction of a greenhouse on the campus of Northern State University and to make an appropriation therefor.

This bill appropriates $750,000 to build a new greenhouse for NSU in Aberdeen. This one at least goes towards a degree program. The new facility will allow hands-on experience with plants and ongoing reasearch projects. This seems a more suitable use of funds for a higher learning facility than unneeded stadiums.

SB 20An Act to authorize the Board of Regents to demolish buildings on the campus of South Dakota State University and to make an appropriation therefor.

This one appropriates $120,000 to demolish a couple of buildings and clock tower on the SDSU campus. More money going to Brookings…

SB 21An Act to revise certain provisions regarding the collection and setting of 24/7 sobriety program fees and regarding the monitoring of ignition interlock testing.

I guess raising taxes fees on people forced to use a service is a good way to get more revenue. Bureaucrats love so say how good this program is, yet none of the data I’ve seen shown the program actually has made any changes. It just runs well (that’s not the same as having a good outcome).

SB 22 An Act to authorize the issuance of citations for certain livestock inspection violations.

This one seems more about fixing current law.

SB 24An Act to revise certain provisions relating to pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, or phenylpropanolamine sales.

This just expands failed drug war policies. It helps ensure than when I go to the medicine aisle for myself or my family that more medicines are locked up… That way I can wait in line to ensure I’m not making meth, of which very little is made locally anyhow… Maybe someday politicians and bureaucrats will figure out the ‘war on drugs’ was failed from day 1….

SB 87An Act to make appropriations from the water and environment fund, the water pollution control revolving fund subfund, and the drinking water revolving fund subfund for various water and environmental purposes, and to declare an emergency.

This seems to be pretty standard appropriations for various water purposes. Nothing seemed nefarious or extreme here.

SB 104An Act to authorize the use of night vision equipment for hunting under certain conditions.

Previously only ‘artificial light’ was allowed to hunt certain unwanted animals at night (namely coyotes). This change allows night vision gear to be used by farmers/rancher trying to protect their livestock. There was an attempt to amend this that luckily failed. The amendment would have prohibited the use of night-vision by those same farmers/ranchers if it was an official hunting season. That made no sense at all. Supposedly that amendment would have prevented poachers from illegally using night vision gear? But that amendment failed and what was passed is actually a good change to current codified law.

SB 161An Act to revise certain provisions relating to notice provided by mineral developers.

Not a bill I followed at all. It appears to be a good bill for protecting the rights of certain property owners.

SB 182An Act to revise certain provisions relating to dual education credit.           

This is a slight expansion of a good program for high school kids. Seems like a good change.

HB 1019 An Act to provide certain provisions regarding the requirements for postsecondary institutions to participate in a multistate state authorization reciprocity agreement for distance education activities.

This seems like an OK bill. Here is my notes on the bill from before: “The Board of Regents asked for this bill. This bill will let the Board of Regents act on behalf of the State of South Dakota to enter into agreements with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). SD has been a member of WICHE since 1988. I don’t know a lot about this program, but it is aimed at boosting access to higher ed for students in the west. There are 16 states part of WICHE. ”

HB 1025An Act to revise certain statutes and administrative rules regarding licensure of nursing facility administrators and to increase certain fees.

This one cleaned up a lot of the code regarding administrative rules of nursing facilities. However, most of the ‘fees’ in this long bill were doubled over what they were before. Another way to grab more revenue.

HB 1033An Act to revise certain provisions regarding the open enrollment application review process of siblings of open enrolled students.

This bill gives priority to students trying to utilize open enrollment when there is a sibling already in that school. I agree with this change. Good change to current code.

HB 1039An Act to revise certain reversion provisions relating to the General Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2013.

Rep Kaiser had a good Facebook post as to why this was a bad bill: “I voted no on HB 1039, this bill moves money around for last years SB 70 (criminal justice reform bill, I voted against). The bill this year moves money to aid last years “dumbing” down of some crime with victims. I voted no in hopes these moneys would stay in the general fund and be available for , maybe education”

HB 1045 An Act to revise unemployment insurance contribution rates.    

A standard update. Nothing nefarious.

HB 1046An Act to revise certain provisions regarding licenses issued by the State Plumbing Commission and the fees that may be set by the commission.

Yet another tax fee hike. The residential license will be increased 50%. It is one way to indirectly put more tax burden on homeowners…

HB 1063An Act to revise certain provisions relating to jury selection.       

Just a modernization cleanup bill. Seems to be good changes.

HB 1069An Act to revise the maximum redemption fee for property tax deeds.

This doubled the fee from $200 to $400. That is a 100% increase!

HB 1096An Act to revise certain provisions regarding the challenging of certain election petitions.

This one I have mixed feelings about, but am leaning against it. I’m not a fan of voter-initiated referendums. But I don’t want them to be made harder than they need to be. I believe this change will allow special interest groups a greater chance of defeated statewide voter-initiated referendums by giving them much more time than necessary. Of course conversely the same could be said for referendums that actually started via special interest groups. Time will tell if this was a good change or not…

HB 1118An Act to clarify certain provisions about discharging firearms in safety zones.

Just a clarification of current code. A good change.

HB 1165An Act to adopt the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act.

This is a good change for those serving in the military. The Uniform Laws Commission has a good summary of the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act

HB 1199An Act to repeal certain outdated and obsolete provisions regarding family law.

A cleanup bill removing old code. Good to see.

Common Core documentary will be released on March 31st

March 25, 2014 1 comment

ccmovieOn Monday, March 31, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is releasing an investigative documentary about the Common Core State Standards Initiative (I briefly mentioned this movie back in December). The move can be watched on the website for free.

The free online version of the movie will be around 40 minutes long. Later this summer there will be a DVD released with more material and special features.  Here is the information about the documentary from the films website:

The Common Core is the largest systemic reform of American public education in recent history. What started as a collaboration between the National Governor’s Association and the Council for Chief State School Officers to reevaluate and nationalize America’s education standards has become one of the most controversial—and yet, unheard of—issues in the American public.

In 2010, 45 states adopted the Common Core States Standards Initiative (CCSSI), but according to a May 2013 Gallup Poll, 62% of Americans said they had never heard of the Common Core. Prominent groups and public figures have broken traditional party lines over the issue, leaving many wondering where they should stand.

Building the Machine introduces the public to the Common Core and its effects on our children’s education. Parents, officials, and the American public should be involved in this national decision regardless of their political persuasion.

The documentary compiles interviews from leading educational experts, including members of the Common Core Validation Committee. After a year of research and production, we present the story of the Common Core through the voices of those who know it best.

We invite you to watch our film and then explore the issues for yourself.

I am looking forward to watching the film on Monday and hope others will as well. It is important for all parents to understand the direction education in the United States has been pushed. Personally I do not feel it is too late to stop Common Core. So maybe this film will help people understand the dangers involved with centralized education standards that have been pushed by elitist special interests and bureaucrats.

Here is the trailer that was released for this film:

SD bills signed into law on March 14

March 24, 2014 6 comments

nicubunu_ScrollI’m finally getting caught up at work so I had a chance to look at the 45 bills SD Governor Dennis Daugaard signed into law on March 14. Below is a list of the bills signed into law and any thoughts I have about them.

There is a mix of good and bad bills here. None of these are overly-horrendous from my point of view, so that is something…

HB 1013An Act to authorize the South Dakota Building Authority to finance the construction of improvement in the state park system for the Department of Game, Fish and Parks and to declare an emergency.

I really don’t like this one. I will admit I use State Parks and know they are well utilized in this state. But was $2 million for a new visitor center and associated interpretive displays at Good Earth State Park at Blood Run really a top priority? Plus another million for a visitor center at Custer State Park? Personally I can think of many areas of state appropriations that were denied that would have been better places to put $3,000,000.

HB 1022An Act to authorize the Board of Regents to purchase improved property in Spearfish and to make an appropriation therefor.

I don’t really have any thoughts on this one. It allows the Board of Regents to buy a tract of land for Black Hills State University.

HB 1034 – An Act to revise certain provisions relating to dam maintenance and repair funding and to declare an emergency.

This one I really like. Back during the days of ‘public works projects’ there were many dam’s created around the country, and the State of South Dakota, for no actual reason other than to ‘create jobs’. There were many unintended consequences of this bad fiscal policy. One of those consequences is there are many dams in South Dakota that have had little or no maintenance. I live in Aberdeen, which happens to have a dam with repair issues pointed right at the city. That is Richmond Lake Dam and it has a leak that is getting worse year after year. Hopefully this bill will give enough flexibility with funds to actually repair and maintain these dams going forward.

HB 1038An Act to authorize the Department of Public Safety to build a highway patrol office and motorcycle training facility in Rapid City, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

The total for this facility at $1.7 million came out as a lower appropriation than a visitor center at Good Earth. Not sure this should have been an appropriations priority though…

HB 1071 An Act to change the procedure for a minor boundary change.

This bill seems to prevent developers from trying to change the school district property falls within. I really don’t like this bill. The change seems small, but appearances can be deceiving. The valuation changes for land that is to be developed seems quite arbitrary. There may be changes needed, but this one seemed like a bad answer. Unfortunately this one passed with little opposition.

HB 1106An Act to repeal certain outdated and obsolete provisions regarding the sale of petroleum products.

A cleanup bill removing obsolete code. The kind of bill I like to see.

HB 1132An Act to make a minor’s school calendar the reference point from which to permit employment that would not interfere with the minor’s education.

This was a great change to antiquated child labor law. This bill allows a student 16 and under spread out work throughout the week, instead of pushing to get all of their hours on the weekend. This bill in particular will help minors that attend private school or are homeschooled. Under the current law a minor 16 and under is still limited to 20 hours per week, but they now have more flexibility on weekdays.

HB 1133An Act to repeal or revise certain provisions concerning townships.

This one seems good. It cleans up and clarifies a bunch of old code about townships.

HB 1134An Act to clarify certain municipal powers.

This clarification seems harmless, but it also appears unnecessary…

HB 1150An Act to require that the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United States be recited at the start of each school day in every public school classroom.

A bill I don’t really care about. Of all the problems in public education I don’t see this as a solution to any of them. Its harmless, but also hollow…

HB 1159An Act to revise the documentation requirements for designation as a veteran on driver licenses, permits, and nondriver identification cards.

An OK bill, this made it a bit easier for veterans to get their proper designation on driver licenses.

HB 1161An Act to establish a cause of action for wrongful human trafficking.

With all the spotlight on human trafficking this year it is not surprising this passed. This seems a good change allowing victims to bring a cause of action in court after being a human trafficking victim.

HB 1180An Act to provide that no entity that places children for adoption or performs abortions may be registered as a pregnancy help center.

This one didn’t really do anything, since it sounds like no companies in SD apply to this change. But it could be seen as a win for RTL. This one passed both chambers pretty much along party lines.

HB 1185An Act to revise certain provisions to nonresident waterfowl licenses.

This is a bill that had a lot of opposition from sportsmen that thought the waterfowl in South Dakota would be decimated by out-of-state shirt-tale relatives. In reality it would have allowed very specific relatives to gain a special license. It was amended to a point it instead gave more power to GFP to create special out-of-state licenses. The bill was good as it originally was written, but the new version isn’t really bad either. It was a huge issue over nothing….

HB 1192An Act to designate the Black Hills Mining Museum in Lead as the official mining museum of South Dakota.

This made the Black Hills Mining Museum and ‘official’ SD museum. It was amended to make sure no taxpayer money went with this designation. Yet I feel this was a bad move. Now that this is ‘officially’ a SD museum it won’t be hard for future legislators to decide this is a good place to throw money. This law is silly at best, and at worse a potential target for pork spending in the future.

HB 1201An Act to revise the bank franchise tax apportionment of income provisions.

This was a grasp for more tax revenue by the Governor’s office. The Governors office figures by changing how the bank franchise tax works they could make about 6 million dollars. Of course they didn’t mention it would likely hurt small banks. But hey, its OK for a Republican majority to raise taxes when the average person doesn’t understand what that tax actually is. Right?

HB 1212An Act to provide for fair and open competition in certain governmental contracts, to prohibit the inclusion of certain terms in governmental contracts and documents, and to establish a procedure to grant certain exemptions after notice and a public hearing.

This one basically makes sure that union contractors don’t get an unfair advantage over non-union contractors going for government jobs. Nothing nefarious here. It was however voted straight along party lines.

HB 1120An Act to provide for alternative documentation of financial responsibility for vehicles.

This is an attempt to get codified law caught up with technology. You can now use a phone app to prove car insurance instead of finding the current document in your glove box.

HB 1229An Act to provide for the reporting of certain person’s names to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

This was a bad bill. Here is what Rep Kaiser had to say on his No vote of 1229: “I voted no on HB 1229, an act provide for the reporting of certain person’s name to the national instant criminal background check. This is a master data list kept by the federal government about who can and who can not buy a gun. There is no way to get your name off the list as of today, this is bad policy. This bill passed, 53-17”. I agree with Rep Kaiser. Not to mention it is also the government that decides what groups of people are put on that list…

HB 1184An Act to declare the fourth Saturday in July Day of the American Cowboy.

Really? No comment…

SB 2An Act to provide for the delayed arrest, under certain circumstances, in regard to certain outstanding warrants for victims of domestic abuse with minor children.

This was a good change to codified law. No sense making a child suffer for actions of a parent. Let the parent make arrangements for the care of the child then do the arrest.

SB 3An Act to provide for continuity in the judicial review of certain lawsuits, complaints, and petitions between parties to a petition for certain protection orders.

This one seems OK. If a lawsuit is already happening between two parties  where a protection order is issued, then any further actions outside of that case should go to the same judge. That just makes sense, that just would theoretically have more information as to what is going on.

SB 7An Act to modify the persons eligible for protection from domestic abuse and to revise certain terminology.

This was a good change to current codified law. It makes sure that college roommates are not charged with domestic violence in case they get in a fight. It also is a move forward in that it allows people in “a significant romantic relationship”. This is the route the LGBT community should be applauding. It slowly allows for same-sex equal protections under the law without the general populace realizing it. It also allows it to be done without getting a huge rise out of the traditionalist conservatives.

SB 9An Act to revise provisions related to the Interim Appropriations Committee.

This basically give subpoena power to the committee, something I already thought they could do.

SB 23 An Act to revise certain provisions relating to deceptive trade practices, including unordered property or services, lodging reservation and cancellation, violation penalties, attorney’s fees, entry rights for landlords and tenants, debit card theft, and organized retail crime.

This one deserves a whole post. Some of the changes are good, but overall there are sections of this code dealing with “deceptive trade practices’ that need to go away due to ambiguity.

SB 25An Act to establish the procedure to forfeit personal property in child pornography, human trafficking, child solicitation or exploitation cases, and to direct money from the forfeitures.

I don’t see a problem the changes in this bill. I just find it sad this is even necessary.

SB 27An Act to make an appropriation from the coordinated natural resources conservation fund to the State Conservation Commission and to declare an emergency.

I would call this a misappropriation of tax dollars. The money used in this bill comes from unclaimed gas taxes. Is the legislature trying to say the roads in SD are in such great shape that money meant for the roads shouldn’t go there?

SB 31An Act to make an appropriation to reimburse certain family physicians who have complied with the requirements of the recruitment assistance program and to declare an emergency.

I don’t like this one. No matter how good the program is, I don’t see why the State needs to give $94,000 to a doctor as an incentive.

SB 32An Act to revise previous appropriations for National Guard armory construction, to make an appropriation for a land purchase adjacent to the Watertown armory, and to declare an emergency.

This one looks like scope creep. An addition to the Watertown NG armory is being increased by adding a lot more land and money necessary. Yet again it doesn’t look like SD is prioritizing correctly.

SB 46An Act to revise certain provisions regarding animal welfare and to provide a felony penalty for cruelty to animals.

I posted about this one previously. I still have mixed feelings about it. I DO feel that true cases of animal cruelty is a felonious offense. But, by making the definition of animal cruelty overly-broad it opens up the law for abuse by certain animal activists. I think a stepped approach towards a felony would have been better with the new definition.

SB 69An Act to revise certain provisions regarding good cause for voluntarily leaving employment.

Just a minor change that seems to be more of a cleanup of code.

SB 75An Act to prohibit local governments from enacting, maintaining, or enforcing regulations on certain dog breeds.

Another bill I’ve posted about previously. I was happy to see this one passed. BSL is bad! Now I don’t have to worry about fighting this in Aberdeen anymore.

SB 77An Act to repeal certain outdated and obsolete provisions regarding county prisoners.

Just a cleanup bill.

SB 82An Act to revise certain provisions concerning purchases, sales, and contracts made by public officers with the state or its political subdivisions and to revise certain provisions concerning agreements or other transactions of the South Dakota Housing Development Authority.

Another cleanup bill.

SB 84An Act to update certain statutes relating to notification of certain transfers.

More cleanup of code.

SB 97An Act to revoke professional or trade licensure obtained through false degrees.

A good change. Its one of those things I would have thought was already in law. Technically I would think any government license issued involving deceit would be null and void. I guess this makes it more clear.

SB 102An Act to provide that, upon completion of certain proceedings, magistrate judges may return or dispose of property taken in as evidence.

Apparently only circuit court judges were allowed to give property back, now magistrate judges can as well.

SB 113An Act to revise the minimum suspension requirements for students participating in extracurricular activities.

I like the changes here. It still makes sure there are repercussions for students in certain circumstances; yet it doesn’t over-punish them and keep them away from extra-curricular activities too long. Keeping kids away from extra-curricular activities too long would remove any incentive from doing activities that potentially keep them out of trouble.

SB 118An Act to revise certain criminal penalties for intentional damage to private property.

This one seems to be clarifying current code.

SB 122An Act to provide for certain insurance coverage for the treatment of hearing impairments for persons under the age of nineteen.

Yep, our Republican legislature voted to pass an insurance mandate. I agree this is a huge issue, but not one that should be dealt with by mandates. Everyone who voted yes to this is advocating for nanny state insurance mandates.

SB 124An Act to revise certain reimbursement provisions relating to legislators-elect and newly appointed legislators.

No problems here. It basically says if a newly elected or appointed legislator begins work (such as on committees) before actually being sworn in they are to be reimbursed expanses as if they were sworn in.

SB 145An Act to encourage schools to provide instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

I really like this one! This is a bill that could potentially save lives.

SB 154 An Act to establish the Jolene’s Law Task Force to study the impact of sexual abuse of children in this state and to make recommendations to the Legislature on policies to effectively address the issue.

I don’t see a problem with this one. It actually looks like a good idea.

SB 163An Act to prohibit a social host from permitting the underage consumption of alcoholic beverages on the social host’s premises and to provide penalties therefor.

This law was unnecessary and over-kill due to an over-hyped case from last year.

SB 186An Act to revise certain electronic driver license renewal requirements and to authorize electronic upgrades of restricted minor’s permits.

No problem here. It just makes the system easier for those of us that use it.

PS. Yes. This was a LONG post. And yes, I did read every last bill. That is something I wish every legislator could say….

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