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Posts Tagged ‘Fred Deutsch’

Reps Kaiser and Deutsch have shown a commitment to constituent communication during the 2015 SD legislative session

March 25, 2015 2 comments
SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 01/21/15

SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 01/21/15

Open government and transparency are huge issues for me. I would say anything that elected officials do to improve communication with constituents should be applauded for the commitment it shows towards the goal of open government and transparency. During the 2015 SD legislative session Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3) and Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) showed their commitment by posting why they voted the way they did on every House floor vote. This is something I noted US Rep Justin Amash doing two years ago and hoped more would follow suit. Luckily SD had two Representatives willing to step up to this informative, yet potentially dangerous, thing for a politician to do.

Kaiser has actually done this both during the 2014 and the 2015 SD legislative sessions. After every vote he goes to his public Facebook page and posts a link to the bill that was just up for a vote. He also adds how he voted and why. Actually he did make one change from 2014 to 2015. In 2014 he waited until session was done each day to post his all of his votes. During the 2015 session he posted most of the directly after doing the vote.

Deutsch is a freshman legislator this year and has also posted each vote taken on the House floor. His public Facebook page can be browsed to find the links to each bill voted on. He also adds how he voted and why he voted a certain way for each vote.

Both legislators should be applauded for this commitment towards communicating with constituents. This communication shows a commitment to legislative transparency. It is rare to find politicians willing to openly communicate so often. Actually such communication also makes my job as a blogger much easier. This constant communication from these legislators lets me understand why they vote yes or no when I feel they should have voted the other way. Sometimes I will find there is a point of view I didn’t take into account when originally reading the bill. And often that point of view was not mentioned on the House floor (that is an issue for another blog post).

On bill I followed with interest this year was HJR 1001 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which called for an Article V convention. Below are the posts from each of these two legislators about their vote. I am using this vote as an example of what can be learned because this happened to be a close vote (39-30) and these two legislators voted differently.

Here is Rep Kaiser’s post about HRJ 1001:

Here is Rep Deutsch’s post about HJR 1001:

For a constituent that is looking to find out the why of certain votes in Pierre these posts are invaluable. In just a couple of sentences each legislator was able to summarize the why of their vote. Additionally these posts can be commented on. If anyone wishes they could ask the legislator to expand upon their reasoning.

Beyond these two I have seen an increase in Facebook usage from other legislators as well. Not every legislator is going to post on Facebook about each of their vote (although I wish they would). But many have stepped up and done more frequent posts than was seen in past years. Typically these are posts about bills a particular legislator is the prime sponsor of. I applaud the legislators that have been doing this as well.

Hopefully in the 2016 session there be even more legislators willing to communicate more often with constituents through Facebook. Even if they don’t post every vote, any increased amount of communication works towards transparency in Pierre. That is a winning scenario for constituents!

PS. If you do try looking through old Facebook posts on pages such as these you have to deal with the silly highlights feature that annoys the heck out of people. Here are the steps you will have to take in order to deal with this problem when on a Facebook page:

  • Scroll down the page until you see the word “highlights” as pictured below:
    fbhighlights
  • Click on “highlights”
  • Click on “all stories”
  • You will now see all posts on that page as you scroll down. Without choosing “all stories” it will omit many posts and cause a lot of frustration.

PPS. I know this is a post about SD legislators. But I should notice I’ve seen this done at the City Council level as well. Recently Aberdeen City Councilwoman Jennifer Slaight-Hansen posting during city council meetings. I applaud her for doing so and I hope she will keep it up.

House Local Government committee has 5 bills on Thurs Feb 26

February 25, 2015 1 comment

ballot-womanOn Thursday, February 26th, at 10:00 AM the SD House Local Government committee will take on 5 bills.

SB 78 SoDakLiberty PostsAuthorize counties or medical providers to recover inmate healthcare costs from third party insurers.

Sen Corey Brown (R, Dist 23) and Rep Dan Dryden (R, Dist 34) are the prime sponsors. This bill was amended in Senate Local Government and passed that committee and the Senate floor with no opposition. If I read this correctly, it allows county jails to have inmates use their own insurance if they have medical treatment while incarcerated. I would have thought it was already that way. This could potentially be a way for county jails to reduce their expenses.

SB 81 – SoDakLiberty PostsRequire persons convicted of driving a vehicle while under influence of alcohol, drugs, or intoxicants to pay certain costs to the county.

Sen David Omdahl (R, Dist 11) and Rep Don Haggar are the prime sponsors. This passed Senate Local Government 5-0 and the Senate floor 30-3. Here is what I previously said about the bill: “This would add an additional fifty dollar penalty for driving under the influence cases. This money would go to the clerk of courts and given to the county treasurer for use in the counties general fund. Finally, if the fifty dollar fee isn’t paid, it is “punishable by contempt proceedings”. Is this a new way for counties to raise revenues?”

SB 87 – SoDakLiberty PostsRevise the circumstances creating a vacancy in municipal office.

Sen Terri Haverly (R, Dist 35) and Rep John Wiik (R, Dist 4) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed Senate Local Government and the Senate floor without opposition. This bill seems to replacing the language for more concise terms. It doesn’t actually seem to create any new circumstances that would create a vacancy.

SB 88 – SoDakLiberty Posts –Authorize emergency appointments to the municipal election board.

Sen Terri Haverly (R, Dist 35) and Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed Senate Local Government and the Senate floor without opposition. This seems to do exactly what the title states.

SB 111 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Repeal the provision that invalidates absentee ballots cast by voters who died before the date of the election.

This bill passed Senate Local Government 5-1 and the Senate floor 34-0. Here is what I said about the bill before, and stick with: “I don’t really see the purpose of this bill. Election day is election day. I already think SD over-uses early voting. I don’t see a problem with the current law that states if you are not alive on election day that your vote won’t count.”

Senate Education committee has 5 bills on Thurs Feb 26

February 25, 2015 1 comment

Anonymous-Country-schoolOn Thursday, February 26th, at 7:45 AM the SD Senate Education committee will take on 5 bills.

Also on the agenda: Governor Reappointment: Melody Schopp, Perkins County, Meadow, South Dakota, to the position of Secretary of the Department of Education

HB 1097 – SoDakLiberty PostsProvide for a reduced minimum fall enrollment for certain school districts.

Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) and Sen Jim Peterson (D, Dist 4) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed House Ed 15-0 and the House floor 68-1. This bill should pass easily. It will allow the Big Stone City school avoid consolidation. It’s ties with a MN school district would allow it to stay open under this bill as long as the school keeps the ratio of students for the grades offer within guidelines of a K-12 school.

SCR 6 – SoDakLiberty PostsTo direct the Department of Education to ensure South Dakota students are well-versed in civics and government.

Sen Deb Soholt (R, Dist 14) and Rep Jacqueline Sly (R, Dist 33) are the prime sponsors. I don’t really like this concurrent resolution. I agree that students should be able to pass the U.S. Citizenship Civic’s Test. But this is not the area of education I believe the legislature should be focused on. Instead I believe the legislature should be looking at ways to empower teachers and get school districts free of the many federal and state mandates. This resolution is continuing down a bad direction.

HB 1100 – SoDakLiberty PostsClarify how a vacancy on a school board is filled.

Rep Jacqueline Sly – (R, Dist 33) and Sen Deb Soholt (R, Dist 14) are the prime sponsors. The bill passed House Ed and the House floor with no opposition. This changes the process to include the vacating school board member helping to fill the vacancy.

HB 1137 – SoDakLiberty PostsExclude the passing time between classes in the number of hours required in the school term for secondary students.

Rep Jacqueline Sly – (R, Dist 33) and Sen Larry Tidemann (R, Dist 7) are the prime sponsors. This bill went through the House with no opposition. This does what the title says.

HB 1072 – SoDakLiberty PostsProvide that certain information regarding postsecondary technical institutes be given to parents and guardians of students in middle schools and high schools.

Rep Scott Munsterman (R, Dist 7) and Sen Mike Vehle (R, Dist 20) are the prime sponsors. This bill was amended in House Ed and passed 11-3. It then went to pass the House floor 62-6.

Here is what I had to say about the bill before:

Currently school districts provide a list of students and address for those in grades 7-12 to the Board of Regents. This info can then be used to inform parents/guardians of the requirements needed for post-secondary schools. This bill would also send this list to the Department of Education. The bill also allows technical institutes to use the list for the same reason. I always thought it was the job of the school counselor and other school employees to help students meet their requirements?

Senate Education committee has 3 bills on Thurs Feb 19

February 18, 2015 1 comment

primary-quizUpdated 2-19-15 – Earlier I incorrectly stated this is the last day to move bills from the chamber of origin to the floor. There is in fact one more opportunity to do so for these committees on next Tuesday!

On Thursday, February 19th, at 7:45 AM the SD Senate Education committee will take on 3 bills.

This is the second to last day this committee has to move Senate bills from the committee to the Senate floor.

Also on the agenda: Governor Appointment: Deb Shephard, Codington County, Watertown, South Dakota, to the South Dakota Board of Education

SB 189 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Provide a tax credit to insurance companies that contribute to an organization providing educational scholarships to certain students and instructional supply grants to certain teachers and parents.

Sen Phyllis Heineman (R, Dist 13) and Rep Brian Gosch (R, Dist 32) are the prime sponsors. Section 2 of the bill has the crux of this Act:

The partners in education tax credit program is hereby established. Through the program, any company that is liable to pay the insurance company premium and annuity tax pursuant to § 10-44-2 may claim credit for contributions made to the scholarship and grant funding organization. The tax credit may be claimed by the company in an amount equal to up to ninety percent of the total contributions made to the funding organization in any taxable year.

There are restrictions in the bill as to how much the program can pay out per year. I think it is great when companies provide educational scholarships and such. But… companies should be doing this on their own. A tax credit isn’t needed. This is just a roundabout way for the legislature to direct taxpayer dollars outside of the normal appropriation process. If the legislature really wants to help education they should find ways to do it in a more direct manner.

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

Sen Phil Jensen (R, Dist 33) and Rep Lana Greenfield  (R, Dist 2) are the prime sponsors. The testing being implemented with Common Core in South Dakota is costing atrociously vast amounts of dollars. In response comes this bill. Here is the entirety of the new code being added by the bill:

Before entering into any contract relating to the development or acquisition of academic assessments to be administered in school districts pursuant to § 13-3-55, the Department of Education shall utilize an open and competitive bid process. The department shall award the contract to the lowest bidder which, in the opinion of the department, provides assessments that are in the best interests of the State of South Dakota.

I agree with what this bill is doing. This should be the case in ALL state government business. It will be interesting to see if Secretary Schopp opposes the bill. Technically it doesn’t take any power away from the Dept of Ed. The Dept still chooses the eventual winner of the bid. Really all this does is ensure the Dept of Ed utilizes and open and competitive bid process.

HB 1097 – SoDakLiberty PostsProvide for a reduced minimum fall enrollment for certain school districts.

Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) and Sen Jim Peterson (D, Dist 4) are the prime sponsors. This bill passed House Ed 15-0 and the House floor 68-1. This bill should pass easily. It will allow the Big Stone City school avoid consolidation. It’s ties with a MN school district would allow it to stay open under this bill as long as the school keeps the ratio of students for the grades offer within guidelines of a K-12 school.

House Ed has three bills on Fri Jan 30

January 29, 2015 1 comment

schoolOn Friday, January 30th, at 7:45 AM the SD House Education committee will take on 3 bills.

HB 1005 – SoDakLiberty Posts – Repeal the foundation program fund and references thereto.

Rep Munsterman (R, Dist 7) is the House prime sponsor of this bill at the request of the Legislative Planning Committee. Just as it says this removes references to the foundation program fund and replaces it with state aid.

HB 1097 – SoDakLiberty PostsProvide for a reduced minimum fall enrollment for certain school districts.

Rep Deutsch (R, Dist 4) is the House prime sponsor of this bill. Here is the language being added to the current code requiring school districts with fewer than 100 students:

For any school district that does not operate a high school and contracts with an adjoining school district in Minnesota to educate its resident high school students, the minimum fall enrollment that the school district must maintain pursuant to this section is not one hundred, but rather is equal to a pro-rated share of one hundred based upon the number of grades offered within the school district

I will likely listen to the testimony to see what town(s) this would apply to.

Interesting side-note. HB 1005 (from above) would also change the current code in this section by removing a reference to the foundation program.

HB 1117 – SoDakLiberty PostsProvide for the approval of postsecondary courses for certain nonpublic school students and students receiving alternative instruction.

Rep Klumb (R, Dist 20) is the House prime sponsor of this bill. This seems to make sense, why keep students away from postsecondary courses just because they are not in a public school.

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