Archive for July, 2016

A look at Constitutional Amendment S, Marsy’s law

July 31, 2016 1 comment

Up next to look at for ballot questions in the 2016 South Dakota election is Constitutional Amendment S. Amendment S is referred to as Marsy’s law and is being touted as a constitutional amendment to expand the rights of crime victims. South Dakota has constitutional protections for the accused, but this particular amendment would create constitutional protections for victims.

This post will look at some of the basics of Amendment S. I probably will blog more about this as time goes one; mostly due to how large the actual proposed amendment is (both large in size and scope). Due to the size of the Amendment I will keep this post at a high-level, and save looking at specific portions of Amendment S to future blogging.

Marsy’s Law originates in California

Marsy’s Law began in California by billionaire and philanthropist Henry Nicholas. Back in 1983 Nicholas’ sister, Marsalee, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend. A week after that incident Nicholas’ mother had walked into a grocery store after visiting Mary’s grave; only to be confronted the ex-boyfriend, who at this time was accused of the murder. The mother had no idea the accused murderer had been released on bail or that it would be possible to meet him on the streets.

Moving forward two decades Nicholas founded a campaign to get Marsy’s Law passed in California. Marcy’s Law was created as a bill of rights for crime victims. In 2008 the voters of California passed Mary’s Law as an amendment to state constitution. After the passage of Mary’s Law in California, Nicholas created Marsy’s Law for All. This new group focuses on providing “expertise and resources to victims’ rights organizations nationwide which would ensure victims’ rights for all Americans.”

Here is a quote from Nicholas about Mary’s Law from the groups website:

“If any good can come of something this horrible – the loss of my sister and the losses of other families of crime victims – it is that these violent acts served as a catalyst for change,” Dr. Nicholas said. “Marsy’s Law will provide for a more compassionate justice system for crime victims in California and make that a constitutional guarantee. Now the momentum can be put behind a U.S. Constitutional Amendment so that the rights of all crime victims, anywhere in America, can be protected.”

Marcy’s Law has also been passed by this group in Illinois. There are currently seven states, including South Dakota, which are being targeted to get Marcy’s Law passed. The map below shows the current states being targeted with Marsy’s law and how the group rates states for victims rights (click to make bigger):

US map showing where Marcy's Law has passed, where it is being worked on, and rating other states as to crime victims rights. Screenshot from on 7/31/16.

US map showing where Marcy’s Law has passed, where it is being worked on, and rating other states as to crime victims rights. Screenshot from on 7/31/16.

Looking above it seems the western states generally already have better crime victims rights in place.

Jason Glodt of Pierre is the State Director for Marsy’s Law for South Dakota. Glodt ran the campaign to get Marcy’s Law on the South Dakota ballot as Amendment S. The petition required 27,741 good signatures. Glodt turned around 53,000 signatures on November 3rd. Of those  signatures the Secretary of State office certified 34,431. Later this summer I plan to catch up with to find out more about why the people of SD should consider passing Marcy’s Law.

Text of Marcy’s Law

Marcy’s Law would add a new section to Article VI of the South Dakota Constitution. Article VI is the South Dakota Bill of Rights. The text of Marcy’s Law is quite long, with 19 sections, so I will not include in this post. I posted the text of Marcy’s Law back in December of 2015 and the Marcy’s Law website also has a PDF of the proposed law.

AG’s Explanation

The Attorney General’s office has provided this explanation for Amendment S:

Title: An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to expand rights for crime victims


Currently, state statutes provide certain rights to crime victims. This measure expands these rights and places them in the State Constitution.

Under the amendment, the rights provided to a victim generally include: protection from harassment or abuse; the right to privacy; timely notice of all trial, sentence, and post-judgment proceedings including pardon or parole; the right to confer with the attorney for the government; and the opportunity to provide input during all phases of the criminal justice process. Victims will be given written notification of their rights.

The rights may be enforced by the victim, the victim’s attorney or representative, or the attorney for the government. They may be enforced in any trial court, appeals court, or other proceeding affecting the victim’s rights.

The definition of “victim” includes a person who suffers direct or threatened harm as the result of any crime, attempted crime, or act of juvenile delinquency. It also includes that person’s spouse, children, extended family members, guardians, and others with a substantially similar relationship.

If a victim’s rights provided by this amendment conflict with a criminal defendant’s rights under the South Dakota and United States Constitutions, a court may determine that the defendant’s rights take priority.

Pros of Amendment S

I believe this small write-up of why to get involved on the Marcy’s Law South Dakota page explains the pro side:

Everyday, hundreds of people in South Dakota suffer at the hands of criminals.

Then they suffer again – as victims, thrust into the complex judicial system and to navigate an unfamiliar court process. Marsy’s Law proposes a Constitutional Amendment securing permanent, enforceable rights of victims.

This post from the Marcy’s Law for South Dakota Facebook page expands further:

Did you know crime victims in South Dakota cannot get a copy of any report of law enforcement that is related to the crime, unless the State’s Attorney or judge says they can have it? This is wrong. Current law protects criminal offenders while re-victimizing the people they hurt. Victims deserve to have access to reports about the crimes committed against them and they shouldn’t have to get permission to get the report. Many states have already given crime victims the right to see such reports, it is time South Dakota victims have the same rights. Marsy’s Law will give all crime victims the right to have such reports without getting permission from anyone. Vote Yes on S in November!

Some other tidbits from the Marcy’s Law for South Dakota Facebook page:

  • After reporting her rape 4 years ago, Andrea was never told by police whether or not her rapist was charged or even arrested. From this FB post. Includes a link to YouTube video.
  • South Dakota is one of just 18 states that does not have a constitutional provision protecting victims’ rights. From this FB post. Includes a link to an online petition to support Marcy’s Law.
  • Victims of human trafficking in South Dakota do not have the rights they deserve due to a loophole in current state law. From this FB post. Includes a link to Sioux City Journal article

The Marcy’s Law campaign seems to focus a lot on the victims of human trafficking. There is an article on the Marcy’s Law website focused on the human trafficking “loophole” in South Dakota. Here is a portion of that article:

Victims of certain types of human trafficking are not considered “victims” under the current codified law in South Dakota. This is unacceptable. All victims of human trafficking deserve constitutional rights and Amendment S will close the loophole in current state law.

Under current South Dakota codified law, only certain people fall under the legal definition of “victim” which entitles them to certain victim rights under the statute. In fact, there are many serious crimes for which current law does not allow rights for victims, including crimes like simple assault, misdemeanor sexual assaults, intimidation, harassment, reckless driving, vehicular homicide, grand theft, identity theft, human trafficking or hate crimes. Every person harmed by a crime should be entitled to victim rights.

Read the whole thing here.

The article goes on to explain that the “loophole” has to do with how “force” is treated in state law. Force must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a victim of human trafficking to be treated as a victim, and have the full rights of a victim.

I plan to speak with Glodt in the next couple of months so I will end the pro section here. I am sure he will be able to give me more information as to why South Dakota voters should consider this lengthy proposed constitutional amendment.

Cons of Amendment S

I’m not finding an official group setup to oppose Amendment S yet. But the State Bar of South Dakota recently voted to oppose Marsy’s Law at a meeting in Sioux Falls. The Argus Leader has an article on the meeting. This from the article:

But opponents, including representatives from the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association and the state association of criminal defense lawyers, stood to express their disagreement with the measure. They said it was unnecessary and would clog up the justice system, preventing victims from getting appropriate resources.

Three representatives then stood to oppose it, saying victims’ rights are already covered under statute and adding the amendment would balance the scales of justice unfairly against defendants.

“This is truly an idea chasing a problem that we do not have in our state,” Mark Meierhenry, a former South Dakota attorney general, said. “This is a philosophically dangerous idea … this is a step toward more vengeance, more unforgivingness, and toward private prosecution.”

Aaron McGowan, Minnehaha County state’s attorney and president of the South Dakota State’s Attorneys Association, said the measure would be counterintuitive as it would require state’s attorneys and victims’ advocates to spend more time following up with victims of petty crime, rather than those affected by more serious crimes.

Read the whole thing on the Argus leader website.

I believe there is some merit to the argument that a lot of resources, time and money, would be spent to enforce Marcy’s Law. I believe how Marcy’s Law will interact with the Public Safety Improvement Act (PSIA) needs to be determined. The PSIA was passed into law in 2013 as SB 70. PSIA is a program the Justice Department, Attorney Generals Office, and Governors office are quite proud of because fewer people are going to state prison. But there are still just as many criminals created under PSIA (if not more). Instead of going to prison there are more criminals on probation and the burden of paying for handling these criminals has been shifted away from the state and to the counties (without any revenue shift).

Angela Kennecke with KELO news recently highlight problems with the PSIA. In her article on the KELO website Kennecke brings forth many cases where those on parole are not being sent back to the penitentiary after repeated parole violations. In fact it seems pretty hard for a parolee to be sent back to the Department of Corrections.

That relates to Marcy’s Law because many of those parolees would be involved in crimes that would include victims covered under Marcy’s Law. How will the PSIA presumptive probation program work in conjunction with Marcy’s Law? It appears from Kennecke’s article that the counties are already having problems handling all of these parolees and serving justice. Is Marcy’s Law going to make the situation worse? Should PSIA be fixed before anything such as Marcy’s Law should be considered?

I don’t really have any answers to my above questions. When I catch up with Glodt I plan to ask him not just about the inner workings of Marcy’s Law; but more importantly I plan to find out how Marcy’s Law would interact with PSIA.

My initial thoughts of how to vote

I have to admit I am VERY weary of any constitutional amendment, especially one as long as Marcy’s Law. But in theory Marcy’s Law sounds good and I support the idea of victims having rights. At this time I am leaning against Marcy’s Law, mostly because I fear how it will interact with the failing PSIA program. Additionally its length has me nervous about the number of unintended consequences that could be found out if it was added to the South Dakota constitution. Perhaps as I look closer at the actual contents of Amendment S I can find support for Marcy’s Law.

Legislative Planning Committee meeting on Aug 1, still focused on Performance Management

July 30, 2016 Comments off

Business man use ruler measureOn Monday, August 1, at 10:00 am the Legislative Planning Committee (LPC) will meet in Pierre for their third meeting of the 2016 SD legislative interim session. The agenda for this meeting can be found hereSDPB will also provide live audio for anyone wishing to listen in on the meeting.

As with the LPC meeting in May and the LPC meeting in June, a big part of this meeting with focus on the states new  Performance Management Review Process. In June I looked briefly at the Performance Management Review Process and what state agencies will be done during the next three years. I am waiting to blog too much about the results of these meetings until further down the line when it is more clear what is actually going on in each state agency being looked at.

In this August 1 meeting the departments giving presentations about their Performance Management Review Process include the following:

  • Department of Game, Fish and Parks
    • Mr. Kelly Hepler, Secretary
    • Mr. Chris Petersen, Administration Division Director
  • Department of Transportation
    • Mr. Darin Bergquist, Secretary
  • Governor’s Office of Economic Development
    • Mr. Aaron Scheibe, Interim Commissioner
  • Department of Tourism
    • Mr. Jim Hagen, Secretary

The Department of Transportation, Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the Department of Tourism gave basic presentations during the May 17 meeting. I hope to see what kind of progress these departments have made and if this actually appears to be doing any good.

Executive Committee and Johnson/Weld electors chosen at the LPSD State Convention

July 30, 2016 Comments off

Here is a repost from the Libertarian Party of South Dakota (LPSD) website:

sd_fb_profileThe Libertarian Party of South Dakota (LPSD) state convention was held in Aberdeen today. As the outgoing chair I consider the event a success and look forward to what the LPSD can do going forth! At this convention new Executive Committee members were selected. The party also chose the three Presidential Electors that will show up on the 2016 South Dakota ballot on behalf of the Johnson/Weld campaign.

Here are the members chosen by the party to be the executive committee:

  • LPSD Chair: Jon Boon McNutt 
  • LPSD Vice-Chair: Richard Shelatz
  • LPSD Treasurer: Daryl Root
  • LPSD Membership Director: Scott Baldwin
  • LPSD West-river At-Large member: Sean Metz
  • LPSD East-river At-Large member: Ken Santema

Here are the three electors that were chosen to represent the Johnson/Weld ticket on the 2016 South Dakota ballot:

  • Jon Boon McNutt
  • Elaine Kub
  • Richard Shelatz

I believe the LPSD Executive Committee has a good vision of how to move the libertarian message forward in South Dakota. More information about what occurred during the convention are forthcoming over the next few days. Stay tuned!

A look at Constitutional Amendment R, Splitting off tech schools

July 28, 2016 1 comment

Blue letter over white backgroundAs I begin to really look at the 2016 SD Ballot Questions I though no better place to start than Constitutional Amendment R. Amendment R has also been referred to as the South Dakota Governing Technical Education Institutes Amendment. Currently the four Tech Schools are governed by the local school boards. The budgets and rules for the Tech Schools come from the Board of Education’s budget; which is responsible for K-12 education in South Dakota. SD’s Constitution puts the Board of Regents as the governing body of the states Universities. The tech schools however are not mentioned in the Constitution. This leaves an odd legal status of the tech schools as to how they should be governed if they were to split from a school board.

This post will look at some of the basics of Amendment R. There may be more posts about Amendment R coming in the future; but this post should be a good starting point for anyone trying to research R.

Amendment R started as a House Joint Resolution

During the 2015 South Dakota legislative session Rep Mark Mickelson (R, Dist 13) brought forth the following Joint Resolution:

HJR 1003 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Proposing and submitting to the electors at the next general election an amendment to Article XIV of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to the authority of the Board of Regents.

This resolution passed the House floor with only one no vote and had zero no votes on the Senate floor. I think this passed so easily because many legislators understand the problems caused by the current lack of constitutional direction as to how the Tech Schools should be governed. There really wasn’t any debate about the resolution, and it fit nicely with other some pieces of Tech School legislation Mickelson worked on in 2015.

Text of Amendment R

Amendment R would modify Article XIV, section 3, of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota as follows (underlined words are what is being added):

§ 3. The state university, the agriculture college, the school of mines and technology, the normal schools, a school for the deaf, a school for the blind, and all other educational institutions that may be sustained either wholly or in part by the state and that offer academic or professional degrees of associate of arts, associate of sciences, baccalaureate or greater, shall be under the control of a board of five members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the senate under such rules and restrictions as the Legislature shall provide. The Legislature may increase the number of members to nine. Postsecondary technical education institutes that offer career and technical associate of applied science degrees and certificates or their successor equivalents and that are funded wholly or in part by the state shall be separately governed as determined by the Legislature.

Basically this sets in the SD Constitution that the Board of Regents does NOT have governance over the Tech Schools. Instead the Tech Schools have to be governed separate, as determined by the legislature. This would take away the legal ambiguities about whether the Tech Schools should answer to the Board of Regentsif they decide to split away from the Schooll Boards into their own entity.

AG’s Explanation

The Attorney General’s office has provided this explanation for Amendment R:

Under the South Dakota Constitution, the Board of Regents is responsible for postsecondary educational institutions funded entirely or in part by the State. Constitutional Amendment R applies to postsecondary technical education institutes that receive state funding and offer career and technical associate of applied science degrees, certificates, or their equivalents. Currently, there are four such institutes: Lake Area Technical Institute, Mitchell Technical Institute, Southeast Technical Institute, and Western Dakota Technical Institute. Under the amendment, postsecondary technical institutes will be governed separately in a manner to be determined by the Legislature.

The amendment also clarifies that the Board of Regents retains control over state-funded postsecondary educational institutions offering associate of arts, associate of sciences, bachelor’s, and postgraduate degrees.

A vote “Yes” is for adding a provision to the Constitution regarding postsecondary technical educational institutes.

A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

Pros of Amendment R

Amendment R is being touted as a workforce development tool by the Governors office and legislators. South Dakota has a shortage of skilled workers. Placing more focus on the Tech Schools can be seen as an answer to this particular problem. Additionally it is seen as a way for the tech schools to better compete within the state budget. This is from a recent Capital Journal article:

Becoming enshrined in the state constitution is advantageous to the technical schools, said Greg Von Wald, executive director of the Skilled Workforce Advocacy Council.

The changes would elevate them from an “afterthought” to a position equal with the state’s K-12 schools and public universities during the legislative budgeting and policymaking process, he said.

“If you’re not in the constitution and you have no direct input into the budget, what happens to you?” Von Wald said. “You’re the red-haired stepchild.”

 Von Wald also happens to be the person to create the Statewide Ballot Question Committee named Tech Schools for South Dakota. The campaign finance reports for this organization can be found on the SD Secretary of State website. Von Wald has found a lot of supporters to give his committee money in the fight to pass this ballot question in 2016. The pre-primary report posted on May 23, 2016, shows the committee had $182,083.38 on hand at that time. So far this year the Committee has spent $22,894.77 on consulting.

That is a lot of money spent on consulting, with a lot left in the bank. There will likely be a lot of advertising pushing for Amendment R as the election approaches.

There is a “R for Jobs” campaign out there. Just as I was about to finish this post I found the R for Jobs website (it didn’t come up in my earlier Google searches). The site is pretty basic, and the social media links aren’t setup in it yet. But the website does include these bullet-points to support Amendment R:

  • Employers will have an easier time finding specialized workers with the right skillset.
  • More students will have access to programs that bring them immediate employment.
  • Technical institutes and career education programs will have direct access to government decision-makers for support and funding.
  • Amendment R improves communication and support among the career and technical education schools and their governing body.
  • As workers fill positions that would otherwise have remained empty, South Dakota’s economy grows.

I wish the Jobs for R website would actually include more information about how Amendment R would do all of this. I have spoken with supporters of Amendment R that say it will not cost anything, but I think the Jobs for R website should explain how all these changes can be made without increasing costs.

Cons of Amendment R

So far I haven’t been able to find a group opposing Amendment R. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any cons to this proposal. So in fairness I will present some cons I have been able to see.

First, this appears to be a way to create a new education bureaucracy in South Dakota. Currently between the Board of Education (K-12) and the Board of Regents (Universities) there are many that feel there is already a bloat of education bureaucrats in South Dakota. It would appear Amendment R is aimed at creating a whole new state agency just to handle the Tech Schools. Is that wise to create a whole new education bureaucracy? The Board of Education and Board of Regents already fight for every dollar. Does there really need to be a third party fighting for taxpayer dollars?

Second, where will the money for this new agency come from? Will the legislature have the political willpower to cut the Board of Educations budget and give it to the new Tech School bureaucracy? Supporters of Amendment R say this will be a way for the Tech Schools to expand. Where will the extra money come from? The taxpayers of South Dakota had two massive tax increases two years in a row; one of which was for raising teacher pay (including Tech School instructors). Are the people of South Dakota willing to let the legislature raise more taxes if this new Tech School bureaucracy is approved?

Third, what will the bonding authority of this new Tech School be? South Dakota likes to brag that it is fiscally conservative because of the “balanced budget”. But the state has a LOT of debt due to outstanding bonds (although by law this is not called debt?). This is an issue I will be blogging more about in the near future; but from what research I’ve been able to look at so far the State of South Dakota through the SD Building Authority has a lot of bond debt just on behalf of the Board of Regents. Is the legislature planning on funding this new education bureaucracy through debt? Is that really fiscally conservative?

Finally, I think there needs to be a discussion about whether the Tech Schools should fall under the Board of Regents. It is a topic I have no opinion on yet. But the Board of Regents already handles some one-off education areas such as the South Dakota School for the Deaf and the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It doesn’t seem a stretch of the imagination that perhaps all postsecondary education should fall under the Board of Regents. True, the Tech Schools don’t appear to want this outcome. But there should be a discussion as to why the Board of Regents can’t be governing body for the Tech Schools. If there is some particular problem with the Board of Regents that makes it impossible for the Tech Schools to fall under said Board; then perhaps more focus should be placed on fixing the Board of Regents instead of on creating a new bureaucracy.

Perhaps as time goes on I’ll think of other possible cons.

My initial thoughts of how to vote

Right now I am leaning towards voting NO on Amendment R. It isn’t because I am against postsecondary education or against Tech Schools. Far from it. But I do question the need to create a new education bureaucracy and how that bureaucracy will be paid for. The “R for Jobs” campaign is going to have to work hard to show what the plan is going forth; beyond simply stating it would be good workforce development. This Amendment has huge fiscal ramifications for taxpayer dollars. The taxpayers South Dakota need to know exactly how this money will be spent and why a whole new education bureaucracy needs to be created. If the Jobs for R campaign can come up with answer I will blog more about the topic!

Time to focus on the SD 2016 Ballot Questions

July 27, 2016 Comments off

Abstract character on the white backgroundNow that I’m through looking at the legislative districts without a general election I thought it was worth taking some time to do an initial post for each of the ballot questions. I do have a page setup for links relating to the ballot questions. That page is very incomplete, but I will update the information for each ballot question as I write the post. The posts will be done in the order listed on my 2016 SD Ballot Questions page. That means Constitutional Amendment R is up first!

The initial post for each ballot question will focus on the following:

  • What the ballot questions is (or is not in some cases).
  • The origin of the ballot question.
  • Links to research the ballot question.
  • Pros and cons of each ballot question.
  • Initial recommendations on how I would vote. This may change as the election season goes and I learn more about a ballot question.

After the ballot questions are done then I will turn focus back to writing an initial post about each of the legislative races that actually have general elections. Plus I have plenty of other “summer list” posts I am still working on.  It should be a busy couple months!

Categories: Uncategorized

Advertise on!

July 27, 2016 Comments off

21568176Limited advertising space is now available on! I have a couple of advertisers that will be appearing on the site soon, but there are still a few slots available. Here is a repost of my Advertise on SoDakLiberyt page (which can be reached via the Top menu under “About”):

Advertising on is now available! Currently there are advertising spots available on the right content bar. In the future there will also be advertising options available on the left primary sidebar.

Why is a good place to advertise? SoDakLiberty consistently gets over 1,600 unique visitors per day. But more important, visitor to SoDakLiberty are actively seeking information. These visitors are interested in what is going on in South Dakota politics and the South Dakota legislature. During the legislative session and election seasons the traffic increases dramatically.

Some of the areas SoDakLiberty focuses on and does well (meaning more return visitors):

  • Covering the SD legislative session. All bills are looked at, not just the big ones that make headlines.
  • Covering the SD legislature when the legislative session is over. Anyone wanting to know what the legislature is doing in the off-season in interim committees can find that information on
  • Proving information to South Dakota voters about ALL legislative candidates. If someone in South Dakota googles to find out information about their legislative candidates during the election season there is a good chance SoDakLiberty is where they will find the best information. A lot of painstaking time has been put into researching candidates and their legislative priorities.
  • Original content. does not simply regurgitate stories from newspapers and press releases (although there is some of that at times). More time is spent focusing on original content than anything else.

Currently there are 300 x 150 advertising slots available on the right content bar.

There are very few rules for the ads on SoDakLiberty. Here is the advertising policy on

  • Being an advertiser will not impact the content of blog posts in any manner. Blog posts may be done to bring attention to an advertiser. But the presence of an advertisement will not change how a post is written. Being an advertiser also does not mean supports the message or target of that advertisement.
  • All advertisements are setup for a minimum of three months.
  • Three month blocks of advertisement space should be paid for up front. Extensions of an advertisement should also be done in three-month blocks.
  • All advertisements must be “honest”. Meaning the advertisement must not be part of a click-bait scheme or any kind of scam.

That is basically it. To advertise on simply email Ken Santema at and he will contact you with details and rates.

Categories: Uncategorized

Plan to attend the Libertarian Party of SD State Convention this Sat July 30

July 24, 2016 Comments off
Libertarian Party of South Dakota

Libertarian Party of South Dakota

On Saturday, July, 30, 2016, the Libertarian Party of South Dakota will hold its State Convention in Aberdeen. This is great news for people looking for alternatives to the big two parties. Details about the convention can be viewed on the LPSD website. There is also Facebook Event setup to learn details about the convention and RSVP (not required to attend!).

The Public Utilities Commissioner is the only SD Constitutional office up for election this year. LPSD hopes to have a candidate nominated for this position; giving the voters of South Dakota a liberty-minded choice for this important elected position. There are other nominations possible, stay tuned for details on that!

The convention is open to the public and attendance is free. Only those wishing to become voting members have any cost; and that is a mere $5 membership dues. I would urge all to attend and help shape the direction of a state party offering a liberty-minded alternative to traditional politics! Go to the Facebook Event to learn more!

I will be blogging about different aspects of the upcoming convention as the week continues. Stay tuned!

%d bloggers like this: