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SD Dist 4 State House Gen Election: Mills, Kettwig, Rosdahl, and Schuelke

September 1, 2016 Comments off
SD Legislative District 4

SD Legislative District 4

South Dakota legislative District 4 has  a general election for State Representative. 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 District 4 House race is interesting because none of the four candidates seeking the two seats are incumbents. One of the incumbents, Republican Rep John Wiik, is seeking the State Senate seat. The other incumbent Republican Rep Fred Deutsch withdrew his name and was replaced by the party. John Mills of Volga was chosen by the Republicans to replace Deutsch on the ballot. Mills is joined by Jason Kettwig to represent the Republicans on the general election ballot. The Democrats have Matt Rosdahl and Peggy Schuelke to represent their party in the general election.

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. Since none of these candidates are current or former legislators I will look at their online presence to see if anything can be learned about their legislative priorities.

*** 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 Mills

John Mills. Photo from Mills' campaign Facebook page.

John Mills. Photo from Mills’ campaign Facebook page.

John Mills (R)
Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty
SDPB Audio: 2016

John Mills replaced Rep Fred Deutsch on the ballot and hails from the Volga area. Mills hasn’t really offered a lot about where he actually stands on his campaign Facebook. But he did provide audio for SDPB. Click here to listen to the audio.

In the SDPB audio Mills says the “property tax system needs to continue to be monitored and adjusted.” In particular he talked about how renters are treated. Rental properties are treated as commercial property and get a much higher property tax rate. Those higher property taxes get passed on to the renters. So Mills believes it is unfair that renters are paying a much higher tax rate than residential property owners. Mills said he believes the property taxes should be equalized on housing so there is the same rate whether a residence is owned or rented.

Mills did include a little about him in a press release sent out in June:

In addition to owning his own business, Mills has served as a board member on the Brookings Chamber of Commerce, Supervisor on the Brookings County Conservation District, and served as an Elder at Peace Lutheran Church in Brookings. He and his wife, Joy, have two married children and five grandchildren.

There isn’t much more to learn about Mills online. Perhaps as the election gets sooner I’ll catch up with him (my hometown is Volga, and I get there as much as I can).

Jason W. Kettwig

Jason Kettwig. Photo from Kettwig's campaign Facebook page.

Jason Kettwig. Photo from Kettwig’s campaign Facebook page.

Jason Kettwig (R)
Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Kettwig also fails to get any real legislative priorities or issues on his campaign Facebook page. But he does have the following in his About section:

I am running for the District 4 house seat because I feel I bring a unique amount of experience to the job. With my experience in local government, I feel that I can bring a real world perspective to Pierre that will benefit the small communities in District 4. Growing up on a rural farm outside of Hazel, SD, I love and appreciate the small town way of life and will work to ensure that the small communities have a voice in Pierre.

I have been a resident of Milbank, SD since July 2003 which is when my brother, Josh, and I purchased the local Taco Johns. I became the City Administrator in June 2005.
Prior to moving to Milbank, I spent four years in the Army on Active Duty stationed at Ft. Hood, TX. Upon returning to SD, I joined the South Dakota National Guard which is where I have spent the remainder of my 21 years of military service. I was deployed to Iraq December 2003 – February 2005 and to Afghanistan May 2010 – May 2011. I am currently the battalion commander for the 139th Brigade Support Battalion out of Brookings.

An article for the Valley Express includes this from Kettwig:

Jason explained that he will continue to work hard for the community of Milbank. “If elected, there will be an adjustment period for the City of Milbank just like the adjustment period that every employer goes through when they send a representative to Pierre. It is the nature of our representative form of government. The staff at the City of Milbank are a wonderful group of people and everyone will adjust. With today’s technology, I will still be available to the citizens of Milbank during the time that we are in session.”

Hopefully Kettwig is letting people know is actual legislative priorities as he travels the district.

Matt Rosdahl

Matt Rosdahl & spouse. Photo from Rosdahl's campaign Facebook page.

Matt Rosdahl & spouse. Photo from Rosdahl’s campaign Facebook page.

Matt Rosdahl (D)
Facebook – Twitter – InstagramBallotpedia – VoteSmart– SoDakLiberty
SDPB Audio: 2016

Rosdahl has a very active campaign Facebook page. I would suggest voters in District 4 scroll through and read his posts. He really gives a good idea of where he stands on a number of issues. But for this post I will focus on what he says in the About section of his FB page:

I will represent the interests of all my constituents in District 4 first, the state of the South Dakota second, the region third, and finally the country as a whole. I will not get caught up in party politics. My priorities lie with the people I represent over party and I will vote with conviction for what I think is right.

As a whole I think that we need to work towards more transparency in our government. We have seen what single party dominance can do in our great state with the Republican Party at the helm. Let’s get more Democrats to Pierre so that we can work towards our shared goals of making our state the best that it can be.

The first policy area that I feel strongly about is education. I feel that the teacher pay bills signed into law this legislative session are a good start. The problem that I have with the plan is in its implementation. The ratio formula for the funding is dangerous. In my opinion if it is left alone we will see many small schools close their doors in the next five years. As an active teacher I want to add my perspective to the discussion and find a way to keep teacher pay competitive with other states while also assuring that our small schools have the resources they need to not only stay open but to thrive.

Secondly growing up on my family’s farm in rural Minnesota and living in a rural community I understand the importance of agriculture and agri-business on our region and our state. I am dedicated to being a voice for the farmers in District 4 and throughout the state of South Dakota. I pledge to meet with the local farmers and ag producers regularly to hear, work to understand, and voice their concerns.

Third I feel that on the local level we need to do what we can to create jobs and opportunities in our rural areas. We need to pass legislation that promotes companies to invest in our communities while also working to keep the existing businesses in place.

I think the above does a pretty good job letting constituents know what Rosdahl’s legislative priorities are. I wish more politicians would have a similar listing of legislative priorities available so voters know more about potential candidates.

Two areas Rosdahl called out in his SDPB interview were Medicaid Expansion and the Internet Sales Tax. As a Democrat he believes it is the right thing financially and morally to expand Medicaid in South Dakota. Additionally Rosdahl mentioned support for SB 106 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which provides for the State of South Dakota to collect sales tax from internet sales.

Peggy Schuelke

Peggy Schuelke. Photo from Schuelke's campaign Facebook page.

Peggy Schuelke. Photo from Schuelke’s campaign Facebook page.

Peggy Schuelke (D) – Schuelke ran for SD House in 2014.
Website – Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmartSoDakLiberty
SDPB Video: 2014

Peggy Schuelke doesn’t have a lot of activity on her campaign Facebook page this time around. But she does have a campaign website. The website also includes an issues page. Here are the seven issues she has listed:

  • Healthcare. As nurse Schuelke believes SD should expand Medicaid.
  • Education. Schuelke advocates for local control of community schools. She also wants to provide “adequate funding” for education at the state level. The section on education also mentions increasing teacher salaries. This might be left over on the website from when she ran in 2014, or perhaps she doesn’t feel the teacher pay increase went far enough.
  • Jobs. Schuelke wants to “promote the development of industry that would provide a living wage to more of our citizens”.
  • Guns. Here is here whole section on guns: “Hunting is a favored family pastime. Peggy fully supports responsible gun ownership.”
  • Agriculture. As the owner of a family farm Schuelke would “work to support and protect farmers in our state”.
  • Energy. Schuelke supports ethanol production and wind energy.
  • Internet. Schuelke believes investments should be made in the cyber infrastructure for a variety of reasons.

Here is what Schuelke has to say in a Valley Express article:

“I believe that we need to concentrate on legislation that makes life better for the people of South Dakota. Medicaid expansion is a priority. As a health care provider, I have seen many examples of people who have not obtained necessary medical care because they fall into the insurance gap that Medicaid expansion was supposed to fill,” Schuelke stated. “South Dakota has left millions of dollars unclaimed that would have benefited our citizens and our state.”

Medicaid expansion definitely appears to be a priority for her campaign.

SD Interim Committees scopes and members for the 2016 session finalized

June 11, 2016 Comments off

1664437I noted almost two months ago the three final selections for interim committees in 2016. In the May 16 meeting the scopes and memberships of these three committees were determined by the Executive Board. The minutes from that meeting can be found here.  Since I’ve already looked briefly at the scope of all three studies I will only report on any changes to the scopes in this post. This post will also note the membership of these committees.

Substance abuse prevent in early stages

Title of Requested Study: The study of substance abuse prevention at the earliest stages and options available to South Dakota communities.

The scope of the committee specifies meth. There was discussion during the meeting of adding alcohol and marijuana to the study. But the committee only voted to added prescription drugs to the interim study. This committee actually has its first meeting on June 16. A post looking at that meetings agenda will be forthcoming.

Here are the selected members for the substance abuse summer study:

Nursing and assisted living beds in South Dakota

Title of Requested Study: A study of the benefits, merits and negative impacts of regulating the number of nursing and assisted living beds in South Dakota. Further, recommend action that may include elimination of or revisions to regulations for the betterment of the South Dakota populace.

There was discussion of adding elder abuse in nursing homes to the scope. But that was determined to be a separate issue that really wouldn’t fit with this study.

Here are the selected members for the nursing and assisted living beds summer study:

Payment methodologies for Medicaid providers in long term care

Title of Requested Study: Assess existing payment methodologies for Medicaid providers to determine adequacy of payments that will provide for long term continuation of services and conclude with recommendations for any changes.

The executive committee added “impact of federal mandates” to the original scope.

Here are the selected members for the payment methodologies for Medicaid providers summer study:

Governors Daugaard’s first veto of the year: the transgender locker room bill

March 4, 2016 Comments off

On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, Governor Daugaard announced his first veto of the legislative session. This probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this blog since it is a bill that gained so much attention. This post will probably be a little longer than my normal weekly wrap-up posts…

HB 1008 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Restrict access to certain restrooms and locker rooms in public schools.

Status: Vetoed by Governor
SoDakLiberty Stance: Opposed
Prime Sponsors:  Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) and Sen Brock Greenfield  (R, Dist 2) are the prime sponsors.

The bills journey through the House and Senate

The bill was amended in House State Affairs to remove the part where the AG would have to defend schools in court for complying with the law.  There are two private organizations that have promised to help defend the law. House State Affairs passed the bill 10-3.

It was further amended on the House floor to clarify the definition of biological sex:

The term, biological sex, as used in this Act, means the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth.

The House passed the bill 58-10.

By this time the bill started to get a LOT more media attention.

It went through Senate Education 4-2 and the Senate floor 20-15.

Governor Veto

On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, the Governor vetoed HB 1008. Here is part of what the Governor said in his statement:

This bill seeks to impose statewide standards on “every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school.”  It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate.

If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them.  Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.

Actually I’m in complete agreement with the Governor. I don’t feel this is an issue the state should be dictating. For consistency the Republicans in Pierre should be advocating for local control as much as possible. More on that later in the post.

Consideration of veto on the House floor

On March 3 the House had to consider whether to override the Governor’s veto.

Rep Fred Deutsch taking it to heart while a fellow Representative calls him out for backing away from his bill. Photo by Ken Santema 3/3/16.

Rep Fred Deutsch taking it to heart while a fellow Representative calls him out for backing away from his bill. Photo by Ken Santema 3/3/16.

Rep Deutsch got up on the House floor and asked for the Governor’s veto to be sustained. This is part of what he said on the floor:

I still believe and objective reading of the bill is consistent with my intent to protect all of our children. All of them. To be nondiscriminatory and fair to all of our children.

He also mentioned the reality that the bill would not make it through the Senate since there is not a 2/3 majority in that chamber in support of the bill. Some Representatives did not like that argument. Many felt if it was worth voting for before, it was still worth voting for.

Rep Deutsch said something can be worked on during the summer and next session a better bill can be brought forth.

Rep Thomas Brunner (R, Dist 29) in particular took issue with voting no just because the Senate might not pass it. He also called out the 2nd floor (Governor’s floor) for supporting the bill before and then vetoing it.

The vote to overturn the Governor’s veto failed to gain the 2/3 required with a final vote of 36-29.

My Past thoughts about this bill

I looked at this bill pretty deep a couple months ago. I also published a reply from Rep Deutsch explaining the bill.

The last time I wrote about the bill I had these main reasons for opposing this bill:

  • This is the wrong avenue to fight the federal Department of Educations new reinterpretation of Title IX.
  • The legislature should look at true oversight of the SDHSAA or leave it up to the member schools. This quasi intervention on certain topics just confuses everything.
  • Transgender issues are here to stay. It can’t be legislated away.
  • Nobody is hurt if they accidentally (or purposely) see the genitalia of another person.

I still agree with what I wrote in my original post about this bill and what the bullet points from above say.

Title IX and the HSAA

Now, even though this bill is dead it doesn’t mean I think all issues are solved. In fact there are two big issues that have to be fixed: Title IX and the SDHSAA

About three months ago I looked at the SDHSAA and Title IX. At that time I posted the relevant portion of Title IX:

Sec. 1681. Sex

(a) Prohibition against discrimination; exceptions

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, except that:

It then goes on to list some exceptions (which are irrelevant to the current discussion).

The Federal Department of Education sent out guidance that basically said any schools not including gender discrimination in the above statute about sex would mean schools losing Title IX funding.

Personally I think the Dept of Ed overstepped its bounds. I actually understand the intent of what the Dept of Ed wanted to do, and I agree transgendered students should not be discriminated against. But, being well intended does not give the Dept of Ed the right to rewrite law. The simple fact of the matter is that Title IX is specific to sex, and from what I understand gender was  part of the debate and was purposely left out of Title IX  when it passed in Congress back in the 70’s.

After that guidance from the Dept of Ed there was a member school of the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) that inquired about how to handle a transgendered student wishing to participate in sports. Then the SDHSAA enacted a new transgender policy that was based upon legislation an out-of-state special interest group had been trying unsuccessfully to get introduced in the SD legislature.

All of the sudden there was a statewide policy that covered transgendered students participating in SDHSAA events. That is when this suddenly became an issue at the legislative level.

What is going to happen going forth

Going forth this issue is not going to end. There will be more bills brought forth by conservative legislators in 2017. I don’t think any bill from Rep Deutsch will gain too much support, I think he lost some support by backing away during the veto override consideration.

Expect this to be an issue at the local legislative races in SD. What will be interesting is to see how different the candidates will treat the issue based upon whether they are in an urban or in a rural district. As I’ve traveled the state over the last few weeks I have heard a LOT of support for the transgender locker room bill in rural areas. In fact many of them seem to wonder why the media is against protecting children’s privacy from children of the opposite sex. In those areas the social conservatives will likely have an advantage being for bills such as HB 1008.

In the more urban areas there will be more support for transgender equal rights. That will align more with what is being seen on the news. But I think for the most part candidates in those areas will try harder to avoid the topic. This is not simply a Republican vs Democrat issue in the big cities. Many older people I’ve spoken with in Sioux Falls that happen to be Democrat also supported HB 1008 in principle. Candidates in the more urban areas may want to tread carefully on this topic.

What I would like to see is the many people who spoke against HB 1008 because there should not be a statewide policy to call for the SDHSAA to end its transgender policy, which is also a statewide policy. But that won’t happen because it is a statewide policy they agree with. After all this was never about local control. Both sides have made this about being a statewide policy that they agree with.

Last transgender post for a while?

Hopefully I’m done blogging about this topic for while. It seems this has been a topic I’ve had to blog about a LOT during the last two years. In reality though I expect I will be blogging about this topic a lot more this year due to the election this fall.

Rep Deutsch on HB 1008

January 24, 2016 1 comment
Rep Deutsch speaking on the SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

Rep Deutsch speaking on the SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 02/25/15.

Tomorrow House State Affairs will be taking up HB 1008 (SoDakLiberty Posts), a bill to “Restrict access to certain restrooms and locker rooms in public schools.” I looked at this bill a few weeks ago and mentioned it in my post about the Jan 25 House State Affairs committee meeting.  Yesterday Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) left a comment telling his side of HB 1008 and I thought it would be prudent to include that comment in a new post to ensure people saw it. I still don’t support the bill, but think it is worth hearing where he is coming from in submitting the bill.

Here is all of his comment:

Regarding HB 1008, the primary purpose is to protect the physical privacy of students from having to expose themselves, or be exposed to others, when in a state of undress or nakedness while at school or school functions. Under this bill, biologic boys and girls are required to shower separately, and use separate locker rooms and restrooms in SD public schools, or at SD public school events.

HB1008 has nothing to do with the SDHSAA. It has nothing to do with who can play on a high school team. This bill is completely about bodily privacy for our young people while using shower rooms, locker rooms and restrooms in SD public schools.

The bill is the result of the Obama Administration’s new interpretation of Title IX that eliminated our state’s traditional standard of bodily privacy in public schools.

Under the Administration’s new interpretation of title IX, if a student is born one gender but identifies as the other gender,public schools must provide the student full unrestricted access to restrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms consistent with his or her newly identified gender.

This means the administration wants schools to allow biologic boys and girls to use the same facilities, together, regardless of biological sex.

Even though this interpretation is merely an opinion and is not legally binding on any school in the country, the Obama Administration is aggressively pursuing schools that do not comply with their new interpretation. To date, they have not won a single case brought before federal court (Title IX clearly states that schools may maintain separate facilities based on sex) – but many schools have caved to the fed’s pressure.

So this is the essential question and the reason I bring the bill – does this legislature and our state citizens want SD public school children to be required to shower, change clothes, or share restrooms with members of the opposite biologic sex? I believe not. We’ll find out soon if my legislative colleagues agree.

A look at the first transgender bill filed for the SD 2016 legislative session

December 31, 2015 1 comment
Locker Room © Calyx22 | Dreamstime.com

Locker Room © Calyx22 | Dreamstime.com

The 2016 legislative session is almost here, and the bills have started coming in. The first bill coming down the pike not originating from an interim committee is a transgender bill. This bill appears aimed at keeping boys and girls in their respective bathrooms and locker rooms.

Somehow I have blogged about transgender legislation more than I would ever have believed. The last time was two weeks ago when I looked at the SDHSAA and Title IX. But a look at the SDHSAA tag on SoDakLiberty.com shows the new transgender policy adopted by the SDHSAA has been an ongoing legislative theme all year. I have a feeling this issue will not go away anytime soon.

Here is the legislation actually being proposed and a brief look at its contents:

HB 1008 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Restrict access to certain restrooms and locker rooms in public schools.

The bill is prime sponsored by Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) and Sen Brock Greenfield  (R, Dist 2).

Section 1 makes it quite clear what is being talked about in the battle over sex/gender:

The term, biological sex, as used in this Act, means the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.

My first obvious question to this is what about hermaphrodites? Since they have both sexual organs, will some sort of chromosome test have to be done?

Section 2 of the bill makes it quite clear that if passed into law it would ensure boys and girls are to use different bathroom and locker facilities:

Every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex. In addition, any public school student participating in a school sponsored activity off school premises which includes being in a state of undress in the presence of other students shall use those rooms designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex.

Notice how the legislation finds a way to restrict the SDHSAA policy without actually naming the SDHSAA. My question here is how the law will work for off-premises activities. Is the legislature possibly overstepping its bounds here? I’m not sure, but I’m sure it will come up in committee discussion.

Section 3 of the bill provides for accommodation of any study that believes their gender does not match their sex.

If any student asserts that the student’s gender is different from the student’s biological sex, and if the student’s parent or guardian consents to that assertion in writing to a public school administrator, or if the student is an adult or an emancipated minor and makes the assertion in writing to a public school administrator, the student shall be provided with a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation is one that does not impose an undue hardship on a school district. A reasonable accommodation may not include the use of student restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms designated for use by students of the opposite biological sex if students of the opposite biological sex are present or could be present. A reasonable accommodation may include a single-occupancy restroom, a unisex restroom, or the controlled use of a restroom, locker room, or shower room that is designated for use by faculty. The requirement to provide a reasonable accommodation pursuant to this section does not apply to any nonpublic school entity.

Going off a point I made with section 2: why would nonpublic school entities be exempt from Section 3, but not  exempt from what was set out in Section 2. I would think nonpublic entities would be exempt from this no matter what. This bill is skirting into, if not down right intruding into, property rights.

Finally, Section 4 puts the state on the hook for any lawsuits that arise:

If any public school district, school district officer or employee, school board, or school board member is sued in state or federal court as a result of a decision based upon and consistent with a student’s biological sex, notwithstanding any assertion that the student’s gender is different than the student’s biological sex, the attorney general shall represent the school district, school district officer or employee, school board, or school board member at no cost to the school district, school district officer or employee, school board, or school board member, and the State of South Dakota shall assume all financial responsibility for the legal expenses. The legal expenses for which the state is responsible include any award for monetary damages or attorneys’ fees and costs which may be awarded and for which the school district, school district officer or employee, school board, or school board member would otherwise be responsible.

Yes, I have a feeling lawsuits will arise and that we will see the AG’s office defending this bill if passed into law.

Personally I don’t have a problem with transgendered people using whatever bathroom/locker-room they wish. But this is a battle that has been brewing for a few years and is finally coming to a head in South Dakota.

Transgender rights groups have tried hard to get legislation introduced in South Dakota for years, and failed. So instead they worked through other groups and were able to get the SDHSAA to create the policy they wanted. This is a tactic used by many activist groups: try to legislate via bureaucracies.

Personally I think transgender rights groups took the wrong approach in South Dakota. I think it would have been better to use the already established means that allowed a child to play a sport outside of their sex. If enough of students existed and cause was shown for a new policy I think cultural change would have been easier and solutions would have come forth for change.

But instead a change was made that many conservatives in South Dakota feel is an attack on their core values. That changed this situation from being a slowly evolving cultural war, into a legislative cultural battle with both sides going after total victory. That is just unproductive for both sides of the issue; and I think even more unproductive for those fighting for transgender rights. Legislation will not force anyone to change their opinion about what makes a boy a boy or what makes a girl a girl.

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.

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