On Tuesday, January 20th, the House Health and Human Services legislative committee will take up four bills. All of these bills are at the request of various state agencies. None of these bills are on my watch list, but I figured I would at least read each of them once and see if there is anything noteworthy about them.
HB 1045 – Revise certain provisions regarding licensure of dentists and dental hygienists and registration of dental auxiliaries.
This bill is at the request of the SD Board of Dentistry. This bill adds a lot of definitions, presumably to clarify current code used to regulate the dental field (§ 36-6A). Some other notable changes include:
- Ensuring the board officers are elected annually. Previously it appears there was no requirement as to how often officers are voted on.
- The board president cannot serve more than three one-year consecutive terms.
- The board secretary will no longer be paid a salary, and instead will receive a stipend.
Most of the rest of this bill (which is very long) appears to be clarifying and rewording current code. From reading through this bill I didn’t see any red flags… but honestly dental regulation is far from being an interest of mine…..
HB 1058 – revise certain provisions regarding contagious disease control quarantine measures and to declare an emergency.
This bill is at the request of the SD Department of Health. Governor Daugaard mentioned this legislation briefly in his State of the State address. I believe this bill is intended to allow the Dept of Health to be more efficient and timely in being able to deal with outbreaks. HB 1058 is either adding to or amending the codified law on Contagious Disease Control (§ 34-22). Here are some notables in this bill:
- This bill starts out by defining “Carrier” and “Communicable disease”. These terms had not been defined before.
- Old code specific to tuberculosis has been removed.
- Language has been added to include the “monitoring, quarantine, and isolation of any patient or carrier” falls within the realm of the Department.
- The language making it a Class II misdemeanor to purposely expose the public to a communicable disease in a public place has been reworded and clarified. I found it is interesting this was a Class II misdemeanor.
- A new section will be added to 34-22 allowing the Dept of Health to commence action through circuit court for anyone suspected of having any disease under the authority of Chapter 34-22. This is one little provision I like. It ensures the Dept of health does not try to take action on its own. Rather the dept has to work through the court, where there is theoretically some check/balance for civil liberties.
Overall I don’t see anything wrong with this bill. The main part of this bill appears to try updating outdated language. It also makes Chapter 34-22 much less specific to tuberculosis, and more aimed at any communicable disease that is a public health. The addition of having to use the circuit court for action at least creates a check and balance in case the Dept of Health tries to overstep its authority.
HB 1059 – Allow authorized entities to access immunization information in certain circumstances.
This bill is at the request of the SD Department of Health. This bill makes one little change to §34-22-12.5. This part of the code allows patients immunization records to be shared by certain entities, unless the patient specifically has prohibited refused to allow it to be shared. What this bill does is remove the old language referring to immunizations received prior to July 1, 1996, and changes the “may” to a “shall”. Basically that means these organizations have to share immunization data if asked to do so. The organizations listed are: “health care providers, health care facilities, federal or state health agencies, child welfare agencies, schools, or family day care facilities”. The current law also makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor if these organizations fail to protect this data (this bill keeps that intact). I don’t see a reason at this time this bill won’t pass. I would be interested to hear if there has been a problem with the “may” in the current code preventing organizations from sharing immunization records.
HB 1015 – repeal certain provisions regarding the South Dakota Risk Pool.
This bill is at the request of the SD Bureau of Human Resources. This bill seems to remove a lot of sections and references in codified law to the SD Risk Pool. Since ACA has basically made this state program obsolete, this bill continues the process of eliminating the SD Risk Pool. I noticed on the SD Risk Pool website that any current enrollees can keep this particular insurance until June 30, 2015. After that time it would appear this program will be gone completely. Some of the code being repealed is not being done until Jan 1, 2017; presumably for certain administrative tasks within the program. I didn’t dig too deep into what all is repealed in this law, I don’t have a lot of interest in a program that is basically gone anyhow.
SD Governor Daugaard just finished his budget proposal for FY16. I still need time to look through the details of the budget proposal, but overall I don’t think Daugaard did too bad of a job on this one. There are some areas I disagree with, but most of those I will blog about during the legislative session when I analyze the bills the expenditures are tied to.
On the good side there is a 2% increase being given to education. That is .5% above inflation. Personally I think more should have been given to education as a way to increase teacher pay. But honestly, until school boards around the state start to take responsibility for their part in teacher pay I can’t see the state giving more money.
A low-light in this budgetary address was the reduction in revenue coming from the Unclaimed Property fund. Many of us felt this source of revenue was leaned upon too hard in the 2015 budget. It was project that in FY 2015 (which we are half way through) that only $5.5 million would be paid out to people wanting their money back. But so far this year $5.8 million dollars have been paid out. That caused the Governor to adjust the payout expectation from Unclaimed Property to $10 million in FY15. I hope the legislature will take note of this during the 2015 legislative session and not rely upon this money. Daugaard said this higher payout was due to an increase in awareness of Unclaimed Property. I think that is great, much of this money should never have been taken by the state…
Here is the chart looking at Unclaimed Property that Daugaard used:
Looking at the chart it can be seen that the state still uses a lot of Unclaimed Property money. Even with the extra payout to the rightful owners of this money, there is still $54 million that is being used by the state. Hopefully the legislature will remember this money is not truly theirs and is a potential liability when passing the budget this upcoming session.
The last thing I want to mention is highway funding. At the conclusion of his proposal Daugaard mentioned the highway summer study and that he was looking forward to the discussion. Senator Vehle is likely to push for a plethora of new and higher taxes to pay for infrastructure coming out of the summer study. The progression of that debate will impact how the overall budget looks. Perhaps that will end up taking away that extra .5 percent increase being proposed for education.
Over the 2015 legislative session it should be interesting to see how close the legislature will follow this budget. Personally I don’t think the legislature will put up much of a fight to any of Daugaard’s proposals. Any fights will likely revolve around changes to deal with the results of the highway summer study.
Updated: Changed title of this post, originally I had a stated it was the State of the State address. Apparently I didn’t have enough coffee this morning. The title has been corrected to note this is the budgetary address.
I’m back from a short catch-up-on-work vacation and should be blogging daily(ish) again. To kick off the 2015 political year, today will be the South Dakota budgetary address by Governor Daugaard. It will be broadcast at 1pm Central on the SDPB website. Over at the Argus, David Montgomery said there won’t be too many surprises in this budget address.
It is worth mentioning one portion of Montgomery’s story:
Last year, Daugaard emphasized the state’s tough financial situation before his December budget proposal — and then surprised the state by announcing a huge windfall from the state’s Unclaimed Property Fund that paid for tens of millions of dollars of new spending.
There’s not likely to be anything like that this year. Unclaimed Property revenue was trailing expectations through October, and Daugaard budget chief Jason Dilges said nothing significant had changed through mid-November.
Venhuizen said attention paid to Unclaimed Property revenues has actually cost the state money. Because more people are aware South Dakota has millions of dollars in abandoned property, more people are looking up and claiming their unclaimed property.
There are two takeaways from this Unclaimed Property revenues being down. First, it is great to see that more people are getting their money back from the state. But secondly, maybe the legislature (and Governor) should be leaving unclaimed property alone. This is money that is held in the public trust (similar to water) and technically should not have been used as it was last year. During the State of the State address last year Governor Daugaard announced he was taking $30 million dollars of Unclaimed Property dollars to pre-fund Building South Dakota. Last year many people (including me) said it was unwise to touch this ‘extra’ money because it could be claimed by the rightful owners. It also has to be realized that the sudden surge of unclaimed money last year came from the legislature changing the law so the State can take money after three years of being “unclaimed”; that was down from the previous five years. It should be interesting to hear what Daugaard has to say about these funds not meeting expectations throughout the year.
I’ll be live-tweeting the event and plan to do a post afterwards.
PS. Thank-you to everyone that have been contacting me the last couple weeks wondering why I wasn’t blogging anymore. I did not abandon this blog. I just had to get caught up with my businesses.
Keystone XL is coming into the spotlight again, and will likely receive a vote within the next week on the Senate floor. Recent moves by Senator Landrieu have increased the likelihood that the Senate will vote about whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. The House is expected to pass a bill today that will approve the pipeline. No matter what, I would not be surprised to see Keystone XL approved within the next half-year. To me the bigger question is whether it will be now, or during the first few months of the 2015 legislative session.
On Wednesday it was reported by National Journal that Democrat Senator Landrieu stood on the Senate floor and asked for a vote on Keystone XL approval. Since she is in a very tight election runoff for in a state that supports Keystone XL, she has been forced to go against her party and push for a vote on the bill. As the National Journal notes, this vote would be a win for Landrieu whether it passes or not. It will allow her to show that she has fought to approve Keystone XL, while at the same time it would allow most other Democrats to vote no and keep their voting record clean. Personally I think it will pass, there simply is too much support for KXL for the Senate to deny its approval.
If the Senate does not pass the Keystone XL approval, then it will pass with no problems in the 2015 session when Republicans have the majority. Since the bill will pass no matter what, it would probably make sense for the Democrats to pass it now and amend it to include provisions that the Democrats wish. Senator Landrieu’s bill, S 24554, does have a provision I like. It has a clause that ensures the passage of this bill does not give extra eminent domain usage for the construction of the Pipeline that doesn’t already exist in law. The eminent domain abuse involved with KXL in South Dakota is one of the main reasons I have been opposed to the project. This added clause won’t necessarily stop eminent domain abuse, but it prevents one potential legal reasons for any eminent domain abuses that will occur.
To make this even more interesting, Sen Landrieu’s election runoff opponent, Rep Bill Cassidy, is the sponsor of HR 5682. HR 5682 is the House version of the same bill that Landrieu is likely to pass in the Senate. Cassidy’s bill has almost the same exact language as that sponsored by Landrieu. If the House passes this same bill it could cancel out Landrieu’s attempt to gain votes by supporting KXL. Who would have thought a runoff election would make both houses of Congress focus so hard on KXL approval.
Today President Obama said his position on KXL has not changed. Obama has hinted many times recently that he would veto KXL if a bill approving the project made it to his desk. It might be for nothing if he does veto the bill though. The Senate currently has enough Democrat supporters of KXL to potentially override a veto from Obama. And even if the veto override doesn’t happen, there will almost surely be enough votes to override a veto at the beginning of the 2015 session. Either way the KXL is likely to be approved by Congress, and it doesn’t appear there is much Obama can do to stop it.
As I said above, I oppose KXL mostly for eminent domain abuses involved with the project. But I am in a minority when it comes to the national level. A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that roughly 2/3 of respondents support KXL:
Overall support from Democrats and Independents have definitely dropped. But a majority of the country supports KXL. If Democrats are thinking 2016 (which they have to be), then it might be unwise for them to put up too much of a fight against something the public supports.
It will be interesting to see what happens over the next week. Either KXL will be approved soon or we will wait a few months. Either way it looks like KXL will unlikely be held up by the federal government going into next spring. Whether that is a good or a bad thing remains to be seen.
Back in May of this year Seanator Thune starting bringing attention to the Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) attempt to regulate more water than it currently does. The expansion of the EPA’s powers is being done in partnership with the Army Corp of Engineers by redefining what is counted as Waters of the United States (WOTUS) in the Clean Water ACT (CWA). This is a potentially troubling expansion of power by the EPA, especially for farm and ranch states such as South Dakota.
Back in June I attended the SD AG Summit in Deadwood. One of the guest speakers during the Environmental and Regulatory Issues session was Michael Formica, Chief Environmental Counsel at National Pork Producers Council. During that session Formica spoke at length about what the EPA was attempting to do. Here is part of what I wrote from that session:
The goal of the EPA and Clean Water Act (CWA) activists, according to Formica, is to make sure “all water is fishable and swimmable”. Originally the CWA only gave power to regulate ‘navigable waters’. Yet over the years the EPA has gone beyond these limitations, and has won court cases to allow wetlands regulations on waters which aren’t navigable. Formica showed how the EPA was able to do this in the Chesapeake Bay TMDL. The move has allowed the EPA to regulate six states in the DC area because of connected waters. The means used by the EPA should be familiar to anyone that follows how the federal government works: if a state isn’t complying with the EPA’s water permit process they will withhold federal dollars from that state.
Any wetland that can even remotely said to be connected with the Mississippi would fall under EPA control if they are allowed to regulate the Mississippi River Basin in the same fashion that has been done with Chesapeake Bay. And connected does not appear to be what most would think it means. It would include water that is adjacent, neighboring, or connected via a floodpain (whether or not there is water there or not).
Being a part of the Mississippi River Basin basically means virtually all (if not exactly all) water in SD will fall under the domain of the EPA. *** An interesting side-thought: How would this impact the current fight between sportsmen and land owners in the battle of water being in the public trust for the people of SD? This move by the EPA would theoretically work against both groups and take the water away from the public trust of South Dakota.
Today Thune has released an interactive map on his website showing just how each state would be impacted by the proposed EPA expansion. The map is well worth looking at for anyone that owns land, especially farm for ranch land. I’ve already shown it to a couple of farmers in NE SD today, and they were quite concerned to see their land would potentially be impacted.
Here is a screen shot of the whole state of SD. The red ares are the WOTUS areas the EPA would regulate if the change were to happen:
Basically the only areas not impacted are those that are barren of water. As I said above, this move by the EPA will theoretically impact all farmers and ranchers in SD.
What is most troubling about this move is that the EPA is doing it despite the wishes of Congress. On a legal level there is a huge battle going on to determine if the EPA can do this under the current language included in the CWA. I don’t think the courts should be deciding this. Instead it is up to Congress to properly utilize their oversight authority and do something to keep the EPA in line with what Congress has asked. Remember, it is not the job of the EPA to decide what it should do; rather it is the job of the EPA to enforce laws it has been empowered to enforce.
A good move by Congress would be to pass Senate Bill 2496 (S. 2496), the Protecting Water and Property Rights Act of 2014. Senator Thune is one of 38 cosponsors (all Republican) of this bill. The bill is actually pretty simple. It would forbid the EPA from enforcing the rule if they should pass it. This bill doesn’t actually change the CWA, rather it prevents the EPA from expanding their interpretation of the CWA without congressional approval. Senator Reid has not allowed this bill to come out of committee. So in January the Senate will likely have to re-introduce this bill. Hopefully with the Republicans in charge of both houses some headway can be made to reign back the EPA.
I would urge those with land in South Dakota to view the interactive map and find out if water connected to said land is about to be under EPA regulation. To many people this is not about clean water, but rather it is about a federal bureaucracy self expanding itself and giving itself power that it never should have had. Everyone wants clean water, but not everyone believes he EPA is the best method to protect natural resources such as SD water.
To end this post I will pass on part of what I wrote about during a recent political event with SD AG Marty Jackley. There are many (most?) areas I disagree with our AG on, but this is an area I believe he is well worth listening to. Here is the relevant part of my blog post about Jackley’s ramarks:
Another area of the AG’s office that Jackley talked about was government power. He said it is part of the AG’s office responsibility to stop the government when it has gone too far. Jackley called out the EPA for expanding its power without Congressional authority. And after the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rules against the EPA they just do a “end-round” and find another way to do what they were never actually given authority to do. He says he is part of a groups of AG’s from both parties around the country that are trying to fight against the acts of the EPA. Jackley said environmental protection can best be handled at the local level by zoning authorities. He said the State DENRalso works to protect South Dakota’s resources. The closest EPA agent is in Denver according to Jackley. He says the SD DENR and the AG understand South Dakota and can better enforce environmental protections in South Dakota than the EPA can.
Hopefully Thune as a US Senator and Jackley as the SD AG can keep the battle going against the EPA.
The 2014 election is over! People can once again watch TV, listen to radio, get their mail, and browse the Internet again without fear of seeing or hearing constant political ads. Personally I’m ready to move on and blog about issues again, instead of elections. But I figure a brief post looking at the statewide races would be worthwhile; if for no other reason than to give closure to this election season. On the statewide races there weren’t any surprises, South Dakota will remain Red going forward.
Here are the results of each statewide race and some brief comments about them.
United States Senator
|Mike Rounds (R)||140722||50.38%|
|Rick Weiland (D)||82408||29.50%|
|Larry Pressler (I)||47728||17.09%|
|Gordon Howie (I)||8469||3.03%|
Rounds winning really wasn’t a surprise. I was only surprised that he was able to get a majority (if only by a fraction of a percent). Over the last couple of months I’ve heard Democrats say “A vote for Pressler is a vote for Rounds”. Well, Rounds beat both Weiland and Pressler put together; and it is doubtful that the 3% of hardcore conservatives that voted for Howie would ever vote for Weiland. Plus it is doubtful all forty-seven thousand that voted for Pressler would have chosen Weiland in a two-way race. If I were the Democrat Party I would take that as a sign of an overly-progressive candidate being bad news in South Dakota. Yes, Rick was great at exciting parts of the Democrat base, but the Democrat base in South Dakota is not enough to carry a candidate. More is needed. Or actually, perhaps less is needed. The Democrat Party in SD needs to find a moderate candidate that can campaign and get a message out there that the people of SD care about.
United States Representative
|Kristi Noem (R)||183797||66.54%|
|Corinna Robinson (D)||92438||33.46%|
This was a race I didn’t vote in. I didn’t feel either candidate deserved a vote. What this race showed is how much support there is for a Democrat candidate with no campaign. A third of all votes is not going to get any wins for a Democrat in statewide races. So for the next two years we have Rep Noem. She has been showing improvements over the last term. Maybe she will continue to make improvements over the next two years. I doubt it, but its a nice thought…
|Dennis Daugaard (R)||195374||70.47%|
|Susan Wismer (D)||70508||25.43%|
|Mike Myers (I)||11367||4.10%|
The only thing that surprised me about this race is that Daugaard didn’t top 75%. Most people in SD have no reason to feel he has been doing a bad job. And Wismer was a bad candidate all around. She did not have the fire to truly take a fight to Daugaard. Her lack of campaign experience left her unprepared for a tough statewide race. The fact she couldn’t even get one third of the votes showed South Dakota did not have faith in her as a leader. As to Myers, he had some great ideas here and there. But his message was so scattered and he acted quite oddly during debates and public appearances. Myers was already at a handicap as an Independent, but he made it worse by having a disorganized and sometimes overly dramatic campaign. The big question now: is Daugaard going to expand Medicaid and raise taxes now that he is no longer seeking re-election?
SD Secretary of State
|Shantel Krebs (R)||155627||60.24%|
|Angelia Schultz (D)||84132||32.57%|
|Lori Stacey (C)||10253||3.97%|
|Emmett Reistroffer (L)||8320||3.22%|
Those who vote anti-Republican shouldn’t feel too bad about Krebs winning this race. I think she will try over the next four years to restore respectability to the SOS office. I think Schultz was a good candidate, but not yet for statewide office. Had she won her District 3 Democrat State Senate primary against Remily I believe she would have had a good chance of being a legislator. With four years experience as a legislator I believe Schultz would have been a huge contender for statewide office (such as the SOS office) in 2018. But as it is she was not ready and didn’t have the support to put up enough of a fight. Stacey and Reistroffer simply didn’t have the resources or message to get more than a few percentage points.
|Marty Jackley (R)||208810||82.00%|
|Chad Haber (L)||45826||18.00%|
The only surprise here is that Jackley didn’t break 90%. Personally I have a lot of policy disagreements with Jackley, but he is the only one of the two candidate that were actually qualified be the AG. Haber not only isn’t a lawyer, but most of his social media memes used to create buzz for his campaign had nothing to do with the office. All Haber did in this race was give Jackley a chance to fund-raise and get ahead for a possible 2018 run at Governor.
|Steve Barnett (R)||191720||79.95%|
|Kurt Evans (L)||48076||20.05%|
Evans did better in this race than I thought he would. Perhaps being on the ballot before in the US Senate race helped him. I think the real missed opportunity in this race came from the Democrat Party. This is where Susan Wismer should have been running. Even if she lost, this race would have allowed Wismer to gain some statewide campaign experience and statewide name recognition for higher office in the future. If the Dems want to have wins they need to start planning long-term.
|Rich Sattgast (R)||155737||61.19%|
|Denny Pierson (D)||85153||33.46%|
|Ken Santema (L)||13609||5.35%|
I think this is a race the Democrats could have done better at if they had run it harder and put some resources into it. Instead, only the one-third that can be expected to vote Democrat gave their support to Pierson. On a personal note I would like to thank everyone that voted for me (Santema) in this race. I am very pleased with 5% running as a third-party in a three-way race. That is also three percent higher than most political junkies had given me. (this election has also taught me the value of a party in such races).
Commissioner of School and Public Lands
|Ryan Brunner (R)||174782||76.46%|
|John English (L)||53807||23.54%|
English should be commended for getting almost one quarter of the vote. If all things were equal (money and party) I believe this would have been an interesting race. Both candidates are qualified for the office and are young enough to have the ambition that is needed in the executive branch of Pierre. That being said, I look forward to continuing working with Brunner on issues in the future. He has been very helpful as a Deputy Commissioner, and hopefully will grow into an even more helpful Commissioner.
Public Utilities Commissioner
|Gary Hanson (R)||167700||65.74%|
|David Allen (D)||74780||29.31%|
|Wayne Schmidt (C)||12634||4.95%|
I really don’t have any comments on this race. I didn’t give it much attention. Gary Hanson has been in Pierre for a long time and I think he could run for just about anything and win.
Constitutional Amendment Q – Allow the legislature to expand gambling in Deadwood
|Y or N||Votes||Percent|
This was the only ballot question I voted yes on, and it was the only one I thought might not pass. It’s passage will make this next legislative session interesting. I am looking forward to the debates on the legislative floor about whether gambling will be expanded in Deadwood.
Initiated Measure 17 – Any Willing Provider
|Y or N||Votes||Percent|
I actually expected this one to win with about 65% of the vote. I voted against the IM because I don’t believe it will do what was intended. So it is just another mandate causing more confusion and taking the healthcare system even further from anything resembling a free market.
Initiated Measure 18 – Minimum Wage increase indefinitely
|Y or N||Votes||Percent|
This ballot question finished just about where I thought it would at 55%. I voted against it because of my belief that it will continue to decline the purchasing power for poor people. But in the end there are bigger issues (such Fed Reserve policies) that are driving purchasing power down even further. It will be interesting to see what the minimum wage increase being on auto-pilot will do.
Other notable races
Yes, I’m tired of the election. So I’m only going to make a few brief comments on some local races in SD:
- Chuck Welke losing his District 2 Senate seat to Brock Greenfield was a nail-biter. I actually thought Welke would squeak through (possibly in recount range). Greenfield has to be feeling good today!
- Also in District 2, I thought Natasha Noethlich would win. She was ahead for a while, but in the end Burt Tunson’s incumbency allowed him to pull off the win. I may disagree with Noethlich on many (most?) issues, but I must admit she was probably one of the hardest working candidates in NE SD this election season.
- District 3 had an even bigger nail-biter with Dan Kaiser defending his State House seat against Burt Elliot. Elliot was ahead until the last two voting centers were counted. In this race I liked all four candidates on a personal level; but I am glad Elliot did not win. I really think the legislature would have refused to seat him in January and Daugaard would have had a legislative appointment right away.
- The Brown County Commission race also had a surprise. Many of us expected former legislator Paul Dennert to unseat either Mike Wiese or Nancy Hansen. But instead it was newcomer Doug Fjeldheim that unseated Mike Wiese. The race was within recount range, but I don’t expect for one to be called for.
That’s a wrap on this election season!
I thought I would create a small playlist for Election Day. These five songs seem somehow appropriate today.
First up a song from Don McLean poking a little fun at totalitarian politicians (of which there are plenty).
Up next is a great tune from Cream! A song about the true intentions of many status quo politicians. Lets not vote for politicians that won’t practice what they preach!
Indi artist Jordan Page is up next with a song that I believe many can relate to. It is about the many of us stuck in a place that doesn’t align well with either major party.
Going on the theme from the last song, we have the classic song from Ten Years After. I think many people are confused come time to vote, and this song encapsulates that feeling well!
And finally, we come to a more recent song from Kid Rock. I often listen to this song before blogging, reminding me of what I think is important. On election day in particular I think this song has even more meaning……..
Happy Election Day Everyone!