Archive for August, 2016

SD Dist 4 State Senate Gen Election: Wiik and Tyler

August 31, 2016 Comments off
SD Legislative District 4

SD Legislative District 4

Updated 9/1/16. Incorrectly listed Brookings and Arlington as in the district. Brookings is in its own district, that kind of protrudes into Dist 4 and only a small portion of Arlington resides in Dist 4.

South Dakota legislative District 4 has  a general election for State Senate. District 4 is a rather large district on the eastern border of South Dakota. Towns in this district include Albee, Altamont, Astoria, Aurora, Big Stone City, Brandt, Bruce, Bushnell, Clear Lake, Elkton, Florence, Gary, Goodwin, Henry, Kranzburg, La Bolt, Marvin, Milbank, Revillo, Sinai, South Shore, Stockholm, Strandburg, Toronto, Twin Brooks, Volga, Wallace, and White.  Arlington has a small piece of the town on the east side of Hwy 14 inside District 4, otherwise most of Arlington is in district 22. Brookings is in its own district (7) that protrudes into what looks like it should be District 4.

The Democrat incumbent Sen Jim Peterson chose not to seek reelection. Fellow Democrat Kathy Tyler is running for this seat; she lost reelection for her house seat back in 2014. On the Republican side Rep John Wiik did not seek reelection for his House seat and instead will try to bring the District 4 State Senate seat back to the Republicans. Both candidates come from Big Stone City, which is in the northeast corner of the district. From what I’ve seen both candidates are working hard to win this election. This is probably one of the top five competitive races in the State.

Here is a brief look at both candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the general election ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate. Since both of these candidates have a legislative history I will focus on a few pieces of legislation prime sponsored from each of them.

*** It should be noted this is NOT a scorecard. This post only looks at some of the legislative priorities of these candidates. These legislative priorities may or may not have any bearing on how the candidates actually vote on legislation.

John Wiik

Rep John Wiik on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/17/16.

Rep John Wiik on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/17/16.

Rep John Wiik (R, Dist 4) – Wiik is going to try switching houses.
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LRC: House 2016 2015

After completing his freshman term in the House, John Wiik is now trying to take the State Senate seat. As a legislator Wiik does not actually bring forth a lot of legislation. So in addition to two House bills he prime sponsored in 2016 I will also look at one of the Senate bills he signed on as a House prime sponsor.

First up for Wiik is this bill from 2016:

HB 1142 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Prohibit businesses and employers from establishing certain policies against the ability of an employee or invitee to store firearms and ammunition in a locked motor vehicle parked on the premises.

Legislation such as HB 1142 is often called a “parking lot bill”. I looked at a similar bill during the 2013 session. At that time I blogged this was a bill that pitted property rights against gun rights. But supporters of parking lot bills say it is more about employers not being able to tell employees and customers what they can and can’t have in their car locked away. Part of the reason for that is the car in question is the private property of the employee or customer, and not of the employer. The House Commerce committee killed the bill 9-4. This is a bill I expect to keep coming back, perhaps by Wiik again if he is in the Senate.

Next up for Wiik is this concurrent resolution from 2016:

HCR 1005 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Urging the federal government to refrain from enacting regulations that threaten the reliability and affordability of electric power in the northern great plains.

Since Wiik lives near the Big Stone City coal fire plant it is not unusual for him to be the prime sponsor of such a concurrent resolution. The coal fire plant has gone through expensive upgrades to reduce its environmental footprint. The resolution states the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will increase the cost of coal-fired power, something bad for South Dakota because of how reliant we currently are on coal-fired power. The resolution also mentions other federal regulations continuing to add to the cost of producing coal power. This concurrent resolution only had a few Democrat no’s on the House side. Technically the resolution doesn’t do anything, but it does let DC know the state of South Dakota is against the EPA’s attack on coal power.

Finally for Wiik is this Senate bill he was the House prime sponsor for in 2016:

SB 76 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise certain codes and standards regarding wind energy system set back requirements.

SB 76 comes about because of a lawsuit. Currently a wind farm company has already placed several towers too close to neighboring land and has broken the law. This bill would have removed the 500 foot minimum setback for these towers and left the 1.1 times the height of the tower. It was amended to ensure this applied to only new towers, thus it would not have impacted the current court case. The bill was also amended to create a 1000 foot setback from occupied structures. The bill failed, I think mostly because of the pending lawsuit. I actually thought the bill would pass once the bill was amended to apply only to new wind farms. I’m guessing there will be another attempt at changing setbacks after the court issues have cleared up.

As a legislator Wiik seems to take a pretty conservative approach to prime-sponsoring legislation. He does not seem to like bringing forth a lot of legislation.

Kathy Tyler

Kathy Tyler speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 11/5/15.

Kathy Tyler speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 11/5/15.

Kathy Tyler (D) – Tyler lost her House seat in the 2014 election.
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LRC: 2014 2013
SDPB Video: 2014 2012
SDPB Audio: 2016

Kathy Tyler lost reelection in 2014 after completing her freshman term in the State House. Her running for office again should make this an interesting race. Tyler was well known for being outspoken against corruption and how things run in Pierre. The Republicans will likely spend a lot of resources to keep her from regaining a voice in Pierre. Since Tyler is a former legislator I will look at a few pieces of legislation prime sponsored by her.

First up for Tyler is this bill from 2014:

HB 1078 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise the eligibility requirements for the South Dakota opportunity scholarship to include certain students who reside in bordering states.

One of the requirements for the South Dakota opportunity scholarship is that the high school student receiving the scholarship reside in South Dakota. There are some students in school districts along the eastern border that actually live in Minnesota; the state of Minnesota pays for those students to go to a SD school. The idea behind the scholarship is to keep more talent in South Dakota, and this would possibly be used to attract MN students to get their higher education in South Dakota. This bill made it through the House, but was defeated on the Senate floor. Tyler seemed to have a focus on education while serving in Pierre, and I believe this bill is an example of that commitment.

In 2014 Tyler had a couple of environment-related bills. One of those was:

HB 1160 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise provisions and requirements relating to certain environmental complaints.

According to Tyler’s testimony the DENR relies heavily upon complaints from the public regarding violations of the state’s water quality regulations in South Dakota. The complaint system is confidential. Tyler had received complaints from people who had made a complaint to the DENR that inspections had taken a long time, if at all. Tyler’s bill would have required the DENR make an inspection of the complaint area within 48 hours, and then give an update to the complainer within another 48 hours. Some had tried to make Tyler look anti-ag because of this bill, but I think she was trying to sell this as a pro-environment bill. HB 1160 was defeated in committee. I would expect more environment-related legislation if she is sent back to Pierre.

Finally it is worth looking at this bill from Tyler in 2014:

HB 1224 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Create a Legislative Economic Development Investigative and Oversight Committee, to provide for its composition and duties, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

This bill from Tyler would have created a new board that would oversee economic development in South Dakota. In particular this board would have been tasked to “assemble, review, and question information relevant to the current controversy regarding various projects with EB-5 funding.” State corruption and EB-5 were big issues for Tyler while she served in Pierre. HB 1224 is an example her bringing for a solution to this corruption. This bill was an interesting idea, but there is no way the Republican majority in Pierre would want such a board created and the bill was killed in committee.

If Tyler returns to Pierre I expect she will continue to take on what she sees as corruption. As the election continues I expect some of the nastier postcards to come out this fall will be against Tyler. I really don’t think the establishment Republicans want her back in Pierre.

SD Dist 3 State House Gen Election: Dennert, Kaiser, Briscoe, and Bootz

August 30, 2016 Comments off
SD Legislative District 3

SD Legislative District 3

South Dakota legislative District 3 has  a general election for State Representative. District 3 encompasses most of Aberdeen. But it also goes out to encompass Bath and Prairiewood.

One of the Republican incumbents, Rep Al Novstrup, is seeking the State Senate seat being vacated by his son Sen David Novstrup. On the Republican side there was a three-way primary between incumbent Rep Dan Kaiser and fellow Republicans Drew Dennert and Todd Kolden. Kaiser and Dennert won the Republican primary and are on the general election ballot. The Democrats have put forth Brooks Briscoe and Nikki Bootz to try unseating the Republicans in District 3.

Here is a brief look at all four candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the general election ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

*** It should be noted this is NOT a scorecard. This post only looks at some of the legislative priorities of these candidates. These legislative priorities may or may not have any bearing on how the candidates actually vote on legislation.

Drew Dennert

Drew Dennert speaking with Shantel Krebs. Photo by Ken Santema 7/7/14.

Drew Dennert speaking with Shantel Krebs. Photo by Ken Santema 7/7/14.

Drew Dennert (R)
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SDPB Audio: 2016

Drew Dennert will quite possibly be the youngest person ever elected as a SD legislator if he wins in November. Dennert does not have a large online presence. But as I noted in the post about his primary election this blurb is available on his Facebook page:

I’m running for the South Dakota State House because we need principled conservative leaders representing us in Pierre.

As a conservative Republican I strongly believe in promoting a business friendly environment by reducing regulations and keeping taxes as low as possible.

My platform is simple. I want to stand up for South Dakotans right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Fighting for the right to life and protecting the unborn is at the core of my principles.

I also want to fight for South Dakotans liberty and pursuit of happiness, by protecting our God given rights.

If elected I will fight for more liberty and less government.

I would be honored to have your support!

To expand upon that Dennert has been handing out a door hanger with the following bullet points (yes, he has been going door to door and has made it to my house):

I promise to fight for you in Pierre to:

  • Support education

  • Promote job growth

  • Respect the will of the people

  • Protect our hunting heritage

  • Fight government corruption

  • Keep taxes low

  • Support community

  • Reduce regulations

Another interesting tidbit I find on his Facebook page is a post about buffer strips:

As a farmer and rancher I support the “waterway buffer strip bill.”

This is common sense legislation that is good for farmers, good for wildlife habitat and good for our waters.

If passed farmers would be able to receive a reduction in property taxes along the edge of rivers, sloughs and lakes if you plant a grass strip on the edge.

This will be completely voluntary for all farmers.

If elected I will support this legislation and hope we can pass a bill similar to this next year.

The bill in question during the 2016 session was SB 136 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 136 was vetoed by the Governor, and the legislature didn’t have the numbers to override that veto.

I have an in-person interview scheduled with Dennert coming up. During that I hope to get more about his thoughts relating to conservation and protecting our hunting heritage.

Daniel Kaiser

Rep Dan Kaiser speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/24/15.

Rep Dan Kaiser speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/24/15.

Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3) – Incumbent
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LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013
SDPB Video: 2014 2012

For Kaiser I am simply going to repost what I wrote about him in my post about the District 3 Republican House Primary:

Kaiser does actually have an issues section on his website, which I will give him credit for.  But since he is an incumbent I would rather look at some key areas of his work as a legislator.

Also before going on I think it would be best to talk about the 2016 legislative session. Just days before the 2016 legislative session began Kaiser found out his son had been diagnosed with leukemia and would have to go through a series of treatments. Due to that Kaiser missed all but one day of the legislative session (he was there for Veto day). Personally I don’t think such a badly timed personal emergency sheds a bad light on him. But it is possible there are people who feel he should not be reelected due to missing a whole session. That is up to each voter to decide for his or her self.

One of the issues I have been blogging about over the last few years is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Kaiser happens to be one of the few legislators that actually brought up any possible misgivings about the Taiwan resolutions supporting TPP. Unfortunately Kaiser was not able to speak out against this years resolution HCR 1015 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which was the 2016 legislative session version of the Taiwan resolution.

Another issue that I think is important when talking about Kaiser is Common Core. Back in February of 2015 Kaiser led an effort to smokeout  HB 1223 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which would have ended South Dakota’s involvement in Common Core. The attempt to force HB 1223 did not completely succeed. But that doesn’t mean it was a failure. A social media #StandWithDan hashtag went viral (as far as anything purely SD political can go viral). Kaiser was able to breath new life into the battle against Common Core and give people hope this could become an issue for the 2016 election. I will be watching close this year to see if Common Core does become an issue for close races, especially west-river.

Finally I want to mention the fact that Kaiser shows his commitment to open government and transparency by posting each of his votes on Facebook. Just last year I commended Kaiser and Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) for doing this. I wish more legislators would do this! It is a great way to see why a legislator voted in a way I would find wrong. It also happens to be a great way to possibly learn something about a bill that wasn’t mentioned in committee testimony (remember these legislators get constantly hounded by lobbyists, and not all of the lobbyists are bad).

Brooks Briscoe

Brooks Briscoe hanging a Vote sign at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema 8/17/16.

Brooks Briscoe hanging a Vote sign at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema 8/17/16.

Brooks Briscoe (D)
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SDPB Audio: 2016

To learn about Brisco I found a second Facebook page linked off of his campaign Facebook page called 20 Reasons to Vote Brooks Briscoe to SD House of Representatives.  So far there are five reasons listed on the page:

#1 Equal Representation in the SD Legislature

Here is a snippet from this part of Briscoe’s reasons:

My opponents, Drew Dennert and Dan Kaiser, are both running on a platform of being “Conservative Republicans”, and I’m running as a moderate Democrat.

With that in mind District 3 and our state deserve representation for the majority of its registered voters with a fair, honest and progressive thinking member of the SD House of Representatives. A vote for me in November will help assure an unbiased, willing to compromise, common sense legislator in Pierre.

Briscoe goes on to give the statistics of how many people in Dist 3 and the state are registered with each party and Independent.  This is an approach I’ve seen many Democrats take in this election, especially with Constitutional Amendment T on the ballot this fall to decide the fate of legislative redistricting going forth.

#2 Pro 2nd Amendment, Anti NRA

Here is part of what Brisco has to say on reason number two:

Unfortunately, the NRA has become an advocate for the firearm and ammunition manufacturers as well as one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington D.C.
When our national congress is unable to pass legislation to prevent citizens on the No Fly List from buying weapons, when 90% of Americans are in favor of it, it’s obvious that corporate money and power has defeated the voice of Democracy.

I try to stay somewhat unbiased in these posts. But this one is hard for me. It scares me when a politician is willing to look at restricting a constitutionally protected right based upon a No Fly List that likely already goes against the 4th Amendment. But I do think separating his support for the 2nd Amendment from supporting the NRA may be a good move within his party.

#3 A Realistic Approach to Problem Solving

Here is what Briscoe has to say about taxes:

My opponent has stated that if elected his priority is to create jobs and build our economy by lowering taxes and decreasing regulations. In the same interview he stated a top priority was to increase teacher pay. In the real world you generally can’t have it both ways. All you have to do is look to states like Kansas and Louisiana that cut taxes on the wealthy and deregulated corporations (and now find themselves with huge deficits and dwindling education and infrastructure programs) to see that’s a plan for disaster. Meanwhile California (who recently increased taxes on the top percent and passed more corporate regulations) has one of the fastest growing economies and top 10 education, infrastructure and healthcare programs. I support job growth, improved education, rebuilding our infrastructure and expanding healthcare, but realize lowering taxes and deregulation is not the way to achieve it.

Briscoe is definitely taking a pro tax approach. In District 3 that might actually work better than other parts of the state. This might actually help him with the more progressive independents.

#4 Transparency on Upcoming Ballot Issues

Briscoe has shared his voting intentions on all 10 Ballot Questions this fall. Briscoe also points out his opponents have not let their intentions on these ballot questions be known.


Briscoe’s final reason is a willingness to compromise. Here is what Briscoe has to say about this:

While having strong values is a great personal trait, an uncompromising value system can be a hinderance for a public servant. As a legislator I would always be willing to compromise my personal values to help the progress of my constituents and state that I’m representing. My opponents have both claimed to have uncompromising values, posting statements like “…from my cold dead hands!”. That’s the kind of thinking that has caused our US Congress to be dubbed the “do nothing” congress we’ve come to know. A vote for me in November will assure my constituents of a person that can accomplish positive progress for the state of South Dakota.

Briscoe might be able to go after his opponents for this a little bit. But at the same time Kaiser might be safe from this attack because as a Republican he actually votes against cronyistic bills brought forth by Republicans more than the Democrats do.

For voters in District 3 it might be worth keeping an eye on Briscoe’s 20 reasons page to find out if he has more reasons to vote for him upcoming.

Nikki Bootz

Nikki Bootz. Photo from Bootz campaign Facebook page.

Nikki Bootz. Photo from Bootz campaign Facebook page.

Nikki Bootz (D)
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SDPB Audio: 2016

Nikkie Bootz doesn’t have a lot of recent activity on her campaign Facebook page. But she does have this in her About Section:

Nikki Bootz moved to Aberdeen, SD in 2009 and chose Aberdeen because it’s centrally located between various family members. Nikki considers Aberdeen the perfect place where she and her to call home and enjoys the people here. She was born in Hettinger, ND in 1983 and is a graduate of Lemmon High School. So far Aberdeen has proven to be a fantastic place to raise her two children.
Passionate about helping the residents of District 3 get proper representation, Nikki has serious views on specific political issues that directly affect her own family and yours. This is why she is running our House of Representatives.
Nikki’s heart lies in being able to see concrete changes in District 3. She has long been disappointed with the lack of courage that has made the elected in Aberdeen be content with what is given to the district. Not satisfied being just a bystander Nikki pledges to dedicate all of her efforts to ensuring that her district will be recognized for having leaders who can speak up for what the people of Aberdeen and Bath really need and not for what the state sees fit for them.
Nikki will be the element of change that this district needs and not just a mouthpiece of the party. She isn’t going to back down once she arrives in Pierre. Nikki will appreciate your vote in November.

That really doesn’t tell us much about Bootz’s priorities for legislation. Perhaps I can find some time to catch up with her in the next few weeks for an interview.

Rep Dan Dryden passed away, flags to fly half-staff on day of his funeral

August 30, 2016 Comments off
Rep Dan Dryden on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/17/16.

Rep Dan Dryden on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/17/16.

Today the South Dakota Governor’s Office announced Rep Dan Dryden (R, Dist 34) had passed away. Here is the contents of the press release:

PIERRE, S.D. – State Rep. Dan Dryden of Rapid City passed away this morning. Dryden had represented District 34 in the State House of Representatives since 2011 and was the vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

“South Dakota has lost a true public servant. Dan Dryden was respected in the Legislature for his steady, common-sense approach,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “He was committed to sound financial management, and was an expert in school finance. Like many others, I admired Dan’s dedication to serving our state, even as he quietly fought his battle with cancer. Linda and I offer our condolences to Judy, the Dryden family and Dan’s many friends at this difficult time.”

Gov. Daugaard will order flags to fly at half-staff statewide in honor of Rep. Dryden on the day of his funeral, which has yet to be determined.

Rep Dryden is a candidate for District 34 State House this fall; where he was seeking reelection to his fourth term as State Representative. This does have implications on what will happen in District 24. But that is a post for a different day.

SD Dist 3 State Senate Gen Election: Novstrup and Heidelberger

August 30, 2016 Comments off
SD Legislative District 3

SD Legislative District 3

South Dakota legislative District 3 has  a general election for State Senate. District 3 is comprised mostly of Aberdeen. But it also goes out to encompass Bath and Prairiewood.

The Republican incumbent Sen David Novstrup is not seeking reelection. Rep Al Novstrup decided not to seek reelection for State House, and is switching over to the State Senate race to try winning the seat being vacated by his son. Challenging Novstrup is Democrat Cory Heidelberger. This is probably one of the top races to watch during this election season.

Here is a brief look at both candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the general election ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

*** It should be noted this is NOT a scorecard. This post only looks at some of the legislative priorities of these candidates. These legislative priorities may or may not have any bearing on how the candidates actually vote on legislation.

Al Novstrup

Rep Al Novstrup speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.

Rep Al Novstrup speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.

Rep Al Novstrup (R, Dist 3) – Novstrup switched from House to Senate.
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LRC: House 2016 2015 Senate 2014 2013 2012 20112010 2009 House 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003
SDPB Video: 2014 2012

Al Novstrup has served in Pierre for many years, so I will focus on a few bills he has prime sponsored in order to get an idea of his legislative priorities. First up is this open government bill from 2015:

HB 1153  (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Expand the definition of teleconference to include certain meetings conducted through electronic text colloquy and to require the retention of certain records of text colloquy meetings for public inspection.

HB 1153 would have expanded the meaning of teleconference in open meeting laws to include “e-mail, text messaging, chat services, and other similar media”. House Local Government and Senate State Affairs basically reduced the bill to almost nothing before it was killed by Senate State Affairs. In its final form the bill would only have applied to email. Too bad this bill didn’t pass, it would have been a good movement towards more open government in South Dakota.

Up next for Al Novstrup is this bill from 2014:

SB 120 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Provide for the registration and administration of navigators under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to declare an emergency.

This was an interesting bill because it was aimed directly at the implementation of Obamacare in South Dakota. The navigators in question were created by Obamacare as insurance agents to help people enroll in the ACA marketplace. Yet these navigators are not subject to state regulation as every other insurance agent in the state has to. The bill was tabled by Senate Commerce and Energy at the request of Novstrup. The stakeholders involved couldn’t find common ground to get the bill into a workable format. This is an issue that is still being battled in many states. ACA does allow the states to regulate navigators, but the federal government has resisted attempts at such regulations. In testimony Novstrup focused a lot on people’s private data and the lack of oversight of these navigators handling such data; other insurance agents have oversight and repercussions. Navigators are still unregulated in South Dakota, and until lawsuits are settled between other states and the federal government that will likely remain true.

Finally I thought it would be worth looking at this bill from 2013:

SB 187 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Allow a school district to opt out of the continuing contract requirements for teachers.

South Dakota does not have tenure for public school teachers as many other states do. Instead there is something call continuing contracts. This allows teachers contracts to be non-renewed with a simple notice for teachers that have less than four consecutive terms. Teachers with four or more terms can have their contract non-renewed with a bit more work, but can still be done. Novstrup’s bill would have allowed school boards to opt out of continuing contracts so they could focus on provisions that would be in the best interest of the school districts. Senate Education killed the bill 4-3. The SD Education Association of course testified against the bill. But also noteworthy was Rep Paula Hawks testifying against the bill. At that time Hawks was a freshman legislator, and now she is running for US House. There was no way the Education committee was going to let the bill pass, but I do think this bill had shown a commitment by Novstrup to local control of education by school boards.

Overall I would say Novstrup’s bills focus on open government and local control. The ACA navigator bill also shows that Novstrup appears to believe government should have to follow the same laws and regulations as regular people.

Cory Allen Heidelberger

Cory Heidelberger (left in picture) speaking with potential supporters at a meet and greet in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 6/30/16.

Cory Heidelberger (left in picture) speaking with potential supporters at a meet and greet in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 6/30/16.

Cory Heidelberger  (D)
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SDPB Audio: 2016

Cory Heidelberger is an interesting entry in this race. Heidelberger run the liberal South Dakota political blog Dakota Free Press, formerly Madville times. On his campaign website Heidelberger lists the three biggest issues driving him to run for office.

In this post I will only look at the top priority listed from Heidelberger; which he lists as defending voters. Here is what he has to say about defending voters:

The Legislature needs to respect us voters. When we pass a ballot measure like the minimum wage increase and “any willing provider” health insurance law of 2014, we should be able to count on legislators not to tinker with or undo what we’ve done. The Legislature should make it easier for all South Dakotans to vote, to refer and initiate laws, and circulate petitions and run for office. Instead, our current Legislature has acted as if it fears and loathes real citizen democracy. I want all of us South Dakotans to vote and to have lots of good choices when we vote. When you send me to Pierre, I’ll fight to protect the initiative and referendum, the petition process, and every South Dakotan’s right to vote.

The minimum wage was passed in 2014 via Initiated Measure 18 (IM 18). After that was passed by the voters the legislature modified the minimum wage by creating a new youth minimum wage via  SB 177 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Heidelberger took exception to the legislature changing a law passed by the voters and circulated petitions to put the youth minimum wage before the voters. The referral of SB 177 was successful and now the voters of SD will choose whether to have a youth minimum wage this fall via Referred Law 20 (RL 20). Heidelberger is running in part to protect initiated measures passed by the voters from tinkering by the legislature.

Along those same lines he mentions the “any will provider” initiated measure (IM 17) passed by the voters in 2014. There was a bill in 2016, HB 1067 (SoDakLiberty Posts), that would have undone IM 17. That particular bill was defeated in committee. But it was mentioned by Heidelberger as an example of the legislature trying to undo what was passed into law by the voters of South Dakota.

Finally Heidelberger mentions the legislature trying to make it harder for voters to participate in citizen democracy via SB 69 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 69 is a bill the majority party in the legislature appeared to use in order to make it harder for competition on the ballot. Heidelberger took exception to what the legislature did with SB 69 and led the petition effort to put it before the voters of South Dakota. That effort was successful and will be on this falls ballot as Referred Law 19 (RL 19). Agree with Heidelberger or not, he definitely has shown a willingness to actually stick up for what he believes in.

Normally I would look at a couple more stances or issues for candidates in these posts. But with Heidelberger I thought it would be more interesting to look at a different aspect of his candidacy. That aspect is the fact that Heidelberger appears to be campaigning for and against himself. Heidelberger has a lot of built-in support from local Democrats due to his liberal-leaning blog. Yet that same blog may also be costing him votes, including from fellow Democrats.

A recent example of a blog post that could be backfiring on Heidelberger is one about a 4-H pallet painted with a combination of the American flag and the christian cross.  I believe Heidelberger wrote the post as a social commentary, and in no way meant it as an attack on a young 4-H member. The public perception however was much different. The day of the post I had many people stop by my fair booth to vent about what Heidelberger has posted. One of those people who stopped by was a local Democrat who has supported Democrat candidates for at least two decades. But after Heidelberger’s post she decided this election she would abstain from voting in the District 3 State Senate race (she couldn’t see voting for Novstrup either). If enough local Democrats do that, it would make the election much easier for Novstrup. True, Heidelberger has the right to post whatever he wants and the post about the pallet did pose some interesting social questions. But at the same time Heidelberger as a candidate must understand that such posts are not always going to be perceived in the way he intended, and in fact may be seen as an attack on 4-H kids.

Another recent example comes from the Americans First, Task Force of Aberdeen, event featuring Ron Branstner. The video footage I shot of the event can be viewed here. During the event Branstner had used a blog post from Heidelberger as an example of what the “liberal rags” have to say about refugees. Heidelberger was given a chance during the question and answer portion to defend himself. But Heidelberger’s defense may have backfired somewhat. Instead of staying where he was standing and making a short statement, or ask a question, Heidelberger went into the center of the room to make what looked like a campaign speech. That made some people in the audience irate, including some local Democrats that didn’t even agree with what Branstner was trying to get people to understand. Personally I understand why Heidelberger stood and defended himself, but it did have repercussions with some older voters that now see him as somewhat of an opportunist. But then maybe this incident will be a net gain as he attracts more young voters that might not otherwise vote.

There are other examples of Heidelberger pushing away certain Democrat voters, especially the older farm Democrats. But I think these two examples show how Heidelberger being a blogger and activist will have some repercussions as a candidate. I can attest first-hand that Heidleberger has been working hard to connect with voters in Aberdeen. The political geek part of me is really interested in seeing how this election will turn out. Here are the questions that come into my mind along those lines:

  • Will Heidelberger gain or lose more votes due to his blogging and activism?
  • Novstrup is expected to get a lot of donations to keep Heidelberger out of the Senate. Will the Democrats fund Heidelberger equally?
  • Heidelberger is an intense in-your-face type of person. Will that resonate well with voters as he is gong door to door?
  • Heidelberger is running at least partly on open government, which Novstrup has actually received recognition by the Newspaper Association as an advocate of open government. Will open government even be an issue in this election (at this point I doubt it).

This should be a very interesting election to watch. When the postcards and attack ads start coming out I expect there will be more than a few aimed at the District 3 State Senate race. I also expect the attack ads against Heidelberger will simply highlight what he has written on his blog.

GOAC meeting on Tues Aug 23

August 22, 2016 Comments off

33372582On Tuesday, August 23, the Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC) will have its third meeting of the 2016 interim session. The meeting will begin at 9:00 AM CT in Room 413 of the State Capitol Building. The previous meeting was held on June 20. My post prior to that meeting can be viewed here, and the minutes from that meeting can be viewed here. There are future posts that will come out of that meeting which I am currently working on as part of another story, stay tuned.

The agenda for the August meeting can be viewed hereSDPB will also provide live audio for anyone wishing to listen in on the meeting.

There are eight agenda items to look at. In this post I will look very briefly at each item (I separated the ACJ in my right shoulder, have to keep my posts short for a few days):

Item 1

Department of Legislative Audit to review the calendar year 2015 audit reports of the:

  • South Dakota Authority Captive Insurance Company – Audit Report
  • South Dakota Property and Casualty Captive Insurance Company – Audit Report

The two above captive insurance companies were created by the legislature in 2015 via  HB 1185 (SoDakLiberty Posts), HB 1186 (SoDakLiberty Posts), and HB 1187 (SoDakLiberty Posts). This is to cover the great amount of assets the state owns, but has remained uninsured for all these decade.

Item 2

Follow-up information on the South Dakota Developmental Center

The SDDP was a huge focus of the previous meeting. There were unanswered questions. Personally I think there are even more questions that have yet to be asked. Perhaps that will be a future post!

Item 3

Technical Institutions of South Dakota – to discuss:

  • Student numbers
  • Programs
  • Economic impacts facing the schools
  • Salary enhancements

The Tech School instructors will also receive a pay raise this year thanks to an amendment from Rep Roger Solum (R, Dist 5) to the sales tax increase of 2016 via HB 1182 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Apparently that will be a focus for GOAC in this meeting.

Item 4

University Center in Sioux Falls to provide an update on the center

Item 5

Department of Revenue to provide an update on recently passed
legislation pertaining to the direct shipment of wine

During the 2015 legislative session HB 1001 (SoDakLiberty Posts) was passed into law. HB 1001 allowed the direct shipment of certain wines in South Dakota.

Item 6

Bureau of Human Resources to present the annual report of compiled authorizations in accordance with SDCL 5-18A-17.2. The Auditor General will provide an update on conflict waiver forms received.

Item 7

The Building South Dakota Fund annual reports from:

  • South Dakota Department of Education
  • South Dakota Housing Development Authority

Item 8

Department of Transportation to provide an update on the collection and use of additional taxes and fees raised by Senate Bill 1, 2015 Session

The SB 1 (SoDakLiberty Posts) in question is the massive tax and fee increase from 2015 to pay for roads and bridges.

Regulation of Nursing and Assisted Living Beds Interim Committee on Tues Aug 23

August 22, 2016 Comments off

32219276On Tuesday, August 23, at 9:00 am CT the Regulation of Nursing and Assisted Living Beds Interim Committee will meet in Pierre. The meeting will be held in Room 414 of the State Capital building. SDPB will also provide live audio for anyone wishing to listen in on the meeting.

This will be the committees second meeting. The first meeting was held on July 12. The minutes from that meeting can be viewed here and my post prior to that meeting can be viewed here. That meeting was mostly background information and  presentations from the Department of Health (DOH) andDepartment of Social Services (DSS).

The August 23 meeting agenda can be viewed here. Since I am most interested in the legislation likely to come out of this summer study I will be paying attention to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) update being provided by NCSL Policy Specialist Ashley Noble. The bulk of the meeting revolves around the NCSL presentation and I expect it is worth listening in on.

SD District 2 State House general election: Tulson, L Greenfield, and Graham

August 22, 2016 Comments off
SD Legislative District 2

SD Legislative District 2

South Dakota legislative District 2 has  a general election for State Representative. District 2 is an odd shaped district that resides in northeast South Dakota. Towns in District 2 include Aberdeen (in the SW corner of town), Ashton, Bryant, Bradley, Brentford, Castlewood, Claremont, Clark, Columbia, Conde, Crocker, Doland, Estelline, Frankfort, Ferney, Garden City, Groton, Hayti, Hazel, Lake Norden, Lake Poinsett, Mansfield, Mellette, Naples, Northville, Raymond, Redfield, Stratford, Turton, Verdon, Vienna, Warner and Willow Lake.

The two Republican incumbents Rep Burt Tulson and Rep Lana Greenfield are being challenged by Democrat John Graham. Since there are two seats up for grab, there will be at least one seat retained by the Republicans.

Here is a brief look at all three candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

*** It should be noted this is NOT a scorecard. This post only looks at some of the legislative priorities of these candidates. These legislative priorities may or may not have any bearing on how the candidates actually vote on legislation.

Burt Tulson

Rep Burt Tulson speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/10/15.

Rep Burt Tulson speaking on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/10/15.

Rep Burt Tulson (R, Dist 2) – Incumbent
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
SDPB Video: 2014 2012

Burt Tulson has served three terms as State Representative for District 2. Tulson doesn’t bring forth a lot of legislation, but when he does it is usually focused on local issues.

First up from 2016 is a bill that received quite a bit of attention from detractors of the bill:

HB 1178 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Authorize township boards to prohibit the operation of certain off-road vehicles along township highways.

This bill was withdrawn by Tulson before it even had a committee hearing. Basically this bill would have allowed township boards to close off certain ditches, a power which county commissioners already have. Almost immediately this was labeled as an anti-hunting/fishing bill and Tulson was pressured hard to kill the bill. Apparently there are some who feel (perhaps rightly) counties have already abused this power and there was fear the same would happen with townships. If that is true, perhaps it is time to revisit the power given to the counties and modify it. The original intent appears to be allowing local government the ability to close certain stretches of ditch that have certain hazards that make atv and snowmobile travel quite dangerous.

Up next is a bill that makes travel in SD faster and safer:

HB 1124 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Authorize motor vehicles to exceed the posted speed limit under certain conditions.

This bill as signed into law allows a vehicle that is going down a 65 mph road to pass a vehicle which is going under the posted speed limit. The person passing can do so up to ten miles an hour over the speed limit. By doing this a car can complete a pass much faster and safer than if they had to stay 65 mph or lower. This faster pass could potentially reduce the amount of accidents that occur on highways.

Finally it is worth looking at a bill from 2012 and one from 2015, both of which were passed into law and modify the same statute:

HB 1131(SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise certain provisions regarding the notice for meeting of public bodies.

HB 1125 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise certain provisions regarding the notice for meeting of public bodies.

Both bills modify § 1-25-1.1, which basically handles the notice of public meetings for all government bodies in SD except the state level bodies. The 2012 bill seemed to be mostly language cleanup and allowed for website and email to be used in giving notice.  HB 1125 from 2015 was an even simpler bill, but a good open government bill nonetheless. Basically 1125 clarified in law that agendas posted per public law for public bodies must be posted for ” at least an entire, continuous twenty-four hours immediately preceding any meeting”.

If Tulson proceeds to the 2017 legislative session I expect local issues will continue to be a priority for him.

Lana Greenfield

Rep Lana Greenfield speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 3/7/15.

Rep Lana Greenfield speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 3/7/15.

Rep Lana Greenfield  (R, Dist 2) – Incumbent
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015
SDPB Video: 2014

Lana Greenfield is currently in her freshman term as a State Representative. Greenfield does not bring a lot of legislation forth; a quality many conservative voters appreciate. In her two legislative sessions there has only been one House bill she has prime sponsored:

HB 1109 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Exempt from liability persons who voluntarily maintain certain no maintenance roads.

Rep Greenfield withdrew the bill before it was actually taken up in committee. This is a bill I wouldn’t think would be needed, and apparently it wasn’t. It isn’t uncommon for farmers to do snow removal on no maintenance roads.

As an ex-teacher and a social conservative Rep Greenfield has taken an interest in Common Core. In 2015 Greenfield was the House prime sponsor of a couple Senate bills aimed directly at Common Core. The first was this one:

SB 117 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Further protect the privacy of certain student information.

SB would have added a few pieces of personal information to the information which elementary or secondary school students should not be asked about on a survey, analysis or evaluation. In particular the student information that could not be collected would be the students biometric information, social security number, home internet protocol address, and external digital identity. None of this should be needed by the schools. The Senate education committee killed the bill.

SB 188 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Require the Department of Education to use a competitive bidding process when acquiring academic assessments.

This was another bill killed by Senate Education. SB 188 was brought forth because South Dakota spends large quantities of money on the tests that are being implemented alongside Common Core. This bill would have required the Department of Education to use open and competitive bids to develop these tests. The Department of Education fought against the bill and had it defeated.

The battle against Common Core appears to be a big focus for Rep Lana Greenfield. If she is reelected I would expect that will remain true.

John Graham

John Graham speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 9/27/14.

John Graham speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 9/27/14.

John Graham (D)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmartSoDakLiberty
SDPB Video: 2014

There doesn’t really appear to be a lot of activity this election season for John Graham. He was also a candidate in the same race back in 2014 (plus a few times prior to that). I last saw Graham at a Brown County Democrat event back in October of 2014. Here is what I had to about Graham’s part of the event:

District 2 legislative candidate John Graham was up first. Graham kept his speech very short. During the intro given to him it was mentioned that he has been to Pierre lobbying on behalf of labor. I think that is something he should be talking about when before crowds like this. Graham talked briefly about funding. Graham would like to see a day where SD isn’t depending upon the federal government for funding. But until that day happens he said it is important to use the money that South Dakota gets from the federal government where it is needed. Graham finished off by saying he is there to represent labor in Pierre.

I did speak with Graham a number of times during that election, and each time he reiterated that he felt labor was very underrepresented in Pierre.

Here is the SDPB video of Graham from the 2014 election:

I don’t see Graham as having too much of a chance in this election. Greenfield and Tulson have a solid incumbency advantage that would be hard to overcome.

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