Reps Kaiser and Deutsch have shown a commitment to constituent communication during the 2015 SD legislative session
Open government and transparency are huge issues for me. I would say anything that elected officials do to improve communication with constituents should be applauded for the commitment it shows towards the goal of open government and transparency. During the 2015 SD legislative session Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3) and Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) showed their commitment by posting why they voted the way they did on every House floor vote. This is something I noted US Rep Justin Amash doing two years ago and hoped more would follow suit. Luckily SD had two Representatives willing to step up to this informative, yet potentially dangerous, thing for a politician to do.
Kaiser has actually done this both during the 2014 and the 2015 SD legislative sessions. After every vote he goes to his public Facebook page and posts a link to the bill that was just up for a vote. He also adds how he voted and why. Actually he did make one change from 2014 to 2015. In 2014 he waited until session was done each day to post his all of his votes. During the 2015 session he posted most of the directly after doing the vote.
Deutsch is a freshman legislator this year and has also posted each vote taken on the House floor. His public Facebook page can be browsed to find the links to each bill voted on. He also adds how he voted and why he voted a certain way for each vote.
Both legislators should be applauded for this commitment towards communicating with constituents. This communication shows a commitment to legislative transparency. It is rare to find politicians willing to openly communicate so often. Actually such communication also makes my job as a blogger much easier. This constant communication from these legislators lets me understand why they vote yes or no when I feel they should have voted the other way. Sometimes I will find there is a point of view I didn’t take into account when originally reading the bill. And often that point of view was not mentioned on the House floor (that is an issue for another blog post).
On bill I followed with interest this year was HJR 1001 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which called for an Article V convention. Below are the posts from each of these two legislators about their vote. I am using this vote as an example of what can be learned because this happened to be a close vote (39-30) and these two legislators voted differently.
Here is Rep Kaiser’s post about HRJ 1001:
Here is Rep Deutsch’s post about HJR 1001:
For a constituent that is looking to find out the why of certain votes in Pierre these posts are invaluable. In just a couple of sentences each legislator was able to summarize the why of their vote. Additionally these posts can be commented on. If anyone wishes they could ask the legislator to expand upon their reasoning.
Beyond these two I have seen an increase in Facebook usage from other legislators as well. Not every legislator is going to post on Facebook about each of their vote (although I wish they would). But many have stepped up and done more frequent posts than was seen in past years. Typically these are posts about bills a particular legislator is the prime sponsor of. I applaud the legislators that have been doing this as well.
Hopefully in the 2016 session there be even more legislators willing to communicate more often with constituents through Facebook. Even if they don’t post every vote, any increased amount of communication works towards transparency in Pierre. That is a winning scenario for constituents!
PS. If you do try looking through old Facebook posts on pages such as these you have to deal with the silly highlights feature that annoys the heck out of people. Here are the steps you will have to take in order to deal with this problem when on a Facebook page:
- Scroll down the page until you see the word “highlights” as pictured below:
- Click on “highlights”
- Click on “all stories”
- You will now see all posts on that page as you scroll down. Without choosing “all stories” it will omit many posts and cause a lot of frustration.
PPS. I know this is a post about SD legislators. But I should notice I’ve seen this done at the City Council level as well. Recently Aberdeen City Councilwoman Jennifer Slaight-Hansen posting during city council meetings. I applaud her for doing so and I hope she will keep it up.