Entries Tagged 'State Legislature' ↓

Letter Writer misses Jefferson’s point about ‘God’ in schools

I often chuckle when people repeat quotes of our founding fathers in order to argue for their side while ignoring what the founding fathers were actually saying. This letter writer thinks Jefferson wasn’t supporting separation of church and state, but I guess it is how you read the quote and comprehend it;

Jefferson spoke directly against such an incursion of federal power, citing the First Amendment and Tenth Amendment restrictions on the federal government: “Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or to assume authority in any religious discipline has been delegated to the General [federal] Government.”

I guess, there is no other way to comprehend this statement, except a separation of church and state. But the quote also includes this little ending to try to confuse the reader;

“It must then rest with the States.”

While the States do have their own constitutions, they must follow the highest law of the land, the US Constitution which contains the 1st Amendment. States often try to skirt this very important amendment, and have often failed. There is currently a lawsuit pending on this when it comes to out of state campaign money. But even if states were granted supreme power to ignore the 1st Amendment when it comes to placing ‘In God We Trust’ in schools;

  • Why have they offered to defend school districts in lawsuits? If they think they are creating laws that are constitutional, why would they have to have this disclaimer?
  • Who in this state asked for this legislation? While we are a representational government, who asked our representatives to change the law? Clergy? School Districts? Voters? I have never heard of one single group asking our representational government to do this. Why? Because most people with common sense know this is unconstitutional, and even if it wasn’t, what difference does it make?

Are we so ignorant and naive to believe that by posting ‘God’ in the mess hall of a school somehow we will produce a born again revolution of school kids? Give me a break. If you want your children to have a religious foundation in their education you have the option and the right to send them to a private school.

Our public schools are designed to educate, whether that is math or literature, or working together on a sports team, or creativity in the arts. Our teachers are NOT clergy. Faith is something that needs to be taught by parents with the assistance of faith based organizations that are NOT publicly funded for a reason, it violates the separation clause, something I think Jefferson was VERY clear about. Separation of Church and State is there to PROTECT people of faith from government intruding into your personal beliefs. It’s a good thing. If legislators truly want to SAVE our children from the powers of evil, the first thing they need to do is fund public education and healthcare better, something the state has the power to do, but continues to fail. Once that happens then we can talk about posting signs that actually mean something.

The liquor license dilemma

Our daily paper has an intriguing story about liquor licenses. Mostly a bunch of people whining about the process. If I was in the state legislature I would present what they do in most states and have a yearly licensing fee for selling liquor.  I think it is ok to separate beer and wine from selling full on liquor, but I would combine the those two licenses into one and double that fee.

So how would it work?

• First I would eliminate who could have them, no waiting lists, etc. As long as your establishment was of a certain size and you could prove you were opening a viable business you could have one. Obviously free market competition would stop us from having a liquor bar on every corner.

• I would charge a yearly licensing fee. In larger markets like SF it would be much higher and based on population (like it kind of is now). For example the fee in SF would be $10K a year while in Baltic it would be much lower.

• Grandfathering license holders. This wouldn’t be for eternity, but I would set a time limit for phasing them out. How would that work? First, once a yearly fee is determined you would assess the value of the license you currently own. Each town would be the same within that town. Right now a new license is worth around $190K in Sioux Falls. So if the new licensing fee was $10K a year and you owned one of these licenses in SF you wouldn’t have to pay the fee for 19 years. But I would cap it at 20 years. In other words in 20 years after the new law takes place all of the old style of licenses would be null and void.

• The old licenses would NOT be transferable to another location but could be to a new owner at the same location with the same business model.

• I would give the option of selling the old license back to the municipality at 50% of the value if you wanted to get out of the bar business. I think this change alone would eliminate a lot of the old licenses. The new licensing fees would easily cover these costs for the cities.

Everyone who owns a license now complains they would lose there investment, but I think a plan like I suggested would still give value to that license. I also think that a ‘license’ shouldn’t be considered an investment anyway. It’s a frickin’ license. I think the way the system is set up now, you have a lot of the big guys hoarding the licenses, and that’s not fair. This would even the playing field and would actually produce better establishments based on service instead of how much money you have or the value of your liquor license. Think about it, what other license in SD is forever? There isn’t one that I can think of. Even your driver’s license has to be renewed every couple of years.

Is our state legislature brave enough to take such steps? Nope. They are more worried about protecting a certain class of people instead of fostering entrepreneurship. Besides, they are more concerned about God, Guns and Abortion.

When God was handing out brains . . .

Gov Noem on Hemp; Dumber than a box of Rocks

We used to have this Chocolate Lab Mutt on the farm called Duke, but mostly we would refer to him as ‘Dumber than a box of rocks’ to our neighbors, besides wagging his big goofy tail and trying to kill our farm animals he wasn’t much good for anything.

I kind of wonder if Noem’s stance on industrial hemp isn’t the same? Just read her incredibly ignorant statement on the issue;

Dear Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives,

I respectfully return to you House Bill 1191, with my VETO. House Bill 1191 is an Act to legalize the growth, production, and processing of industrial hemp and derivative products in the state.

South Dakota must stand as an example for the rest of the country, not simply go along with others. Our focus must be on leading for South Dakota’s next generation. Our state is not yet ready for industrial hemp.

You only ‘lead the way’ when you are the first one to try something new, not last. Forty-one states are already ‘Leading the Way’. Besides that, it is a crop that has been used thousands of years across the world. Apparently Noem wants South Dakota to be dead last on Hemp production, and why not, we are last in every other category except government corruption where we are first place.

Foremost among the many defects of this bill are the challenges it creates for law enforcement. HB 1191 complicates law enforcement searches and provides a ready-made defense for those breaking our drug laws. This poorly drafted bill changes the definition of marijuana with little regard for the implications elsewhere in our Code. It would create uncertainty for prosecution under our ingestion statute because the source of THC is placed in doubt when industrial hemp products that contain small amounts of THC, such as cannabidiol or CBD, are legalized. As Governor, I will not leave it to our courts to interpret how this bill impacts our prohibition on the active ingredient in marijuana, and I do not believe the Legislature intended to complicate enforcement of our ingestion statute in this way.

Actually leaving it up to the ‘courts’ would be the right way to go, because I believe there isn’t a judge in the state that would prosecute a hemp farmer for producing a plant that contains only a trace of THC. And since Hemp isn’t Marijuana (that’s why the definition was changed) why would law enforcement be involved with harvesting it? They wouldn’t be.

Although proponents claim hemp has a wide variety of uses, the legislative debate makes it clear that this bill is less about helping farmers and more about commercial interest in one product: CBD. No other type of hemp producer or processor retained paid lobbyists this Session. HB 1191 rejected critical parts of the amendment my Administration discussed with the bill’s sponsors. It would instead allow the immediate, widespread production and use of CBD, as well as other hemp derivatives, even though the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has yet to approve them as safe for therapeutic use or for interstate commerce. In fact, the FDA has not yet begun its regulatory process on hemp derivatives, including CBD. South Dakota should be guided by the FDA on these issues, not special interests.

Well, she is right about one thing, without hemp you can’t make CBD and you can’t make CBD without growing hemp. The makers of CBD will just buy from other states and continue to make the product whether hemp is legal in SD or not. Noem seems to be under the impression that if SD doesn’t grow hemp, CBD won’t be available here. WOW! Makes you wonder where the grocery stores are getting salmon and halibut?

As I first stated many weeks ago, HB 1191 is premature. There is no urgent problem requiring an immediate solution this session. Until the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) issues its own rules, the regular growth and interstate transport of hemp cannot begin. No industrial hemp will cross into South Dakota without those rules, which USDA has announced it will not issue until late 2019. We have no way of knowing today what those rules will require. What limited structure HB 1191 does create to regulate industrial hemp in our state could very well be in conflict.

It is anything BUT premature. The law would not have gone into affect until July 1st, missing the 2019 growing period all together. Even if the legislature was able to pass this law, the first hemp crops wouldn’t be harvested until the fall of 2020. Plenty of time to review the rules and make adjustments.

Finally, I am concerned that this bill supports a national effort to legalize marijuana for recreational use. I do not doubt the motives of this bill’s legislative champions. However, an overwhelming number of contacts I have received in favor of this bill come from pro-marijuana activists. There is no question in my mind that normalizing hemp, like legalizing medical marijuana, is part of a larger strategy to undermine enforcement of the drug laws and make legalized marijuana inevitable.

Even if that BS statement is true (from her anonymous contacts), so what? Recreational marijuana is becoming more legal across the United States and eventually the Federal Government will give the green light to legalize it Nationally. It’s coming (I expect it to be legal nationwide by 2025) and a veto on industrial hemp isn’t going to stop that freight train.

This issue was never ripe for discussion during this legislative session, and our state government’s efforts and resources should be focused elsewhere until the federal government’s approach on this issue is clear.

For these reasons, I oppose this bill and ask that you sustain my veto.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristi Noem
Governor

It not only was a ‘ripe’ discussion, it was thoroughly vetted by farmers, constituents and farm agencies who see hemp as an incredible opportunity not only in farming but in manufacturing for our state. Like my dog Duke, Noem is ‘Dumber than a box of rocks’ when it comes to legalizing industrial hemp. It was truly a sad day in Pierre, especially in the Governor’s office. I guess not only hemp is illegal to grow in SD but so are brain cells.

Eating Cheerios in Car law fails in Legislature (H/T – Bruce)

Distracted driving what’s that? I have always fantasized about having a milk dispenser built into my dash.

Pre-K education is part of the ‘socialist’ agenda?

Not only would PRE-K education save families millions in daycare it would also better prepare young students for K-12. One of the complaints I have heard from kindergarten and even 1st grade teachers in Sioux Falls is they spend half their time teaching life skills (like wiping kids behinds) that the parents ‘should have’ thought these kids before enrolling them in regular school. All the other arguments aside, I had to laugh about the ‘socialist’ agenda argument.

In case you haven’t noticed our fore fathers based our Republic on a socialist platform. Besides regular public education (K-12) being a socialist program, the US Military is one of the biggest socialist programs we have. Add to that the interstate highway system, the VA, Social Security, Medicare, SNAP, Public Libraries and even locally snow removal and our parks system, the list goes on. We all pay taxes to promote the social welfare of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority, I know that is hard to swallow, but that’s socialism folks.

I had to laugh when recently I heard a local radio host say he was shocked about openly Socialist lawmakers in Washington like Bernie Sanders. Those lawmakers get it, we have been a socialist democracy since almost day one. This is not something NEW that would be ‘snuck’ in on Pre-K education. Let’s admit it, most lawmakers in Pierre hate public education, that’s why they try to starve it every year. They believe only the wealthy deserve to be educated. These same lawmakers also don’t want an educated work force, because they will demand higher pay. We are only shooting ourselves in the foot when we refuse to fund these programs, it hurts the state economically. Who knew that our ‘socialism’ actually benefits our ‘capitalism’.

Rep. Haugaard hates the petition/initiative process because he says ‘Direct Democracy’ doesn’t work.

Haugaard said this, this morning during the legislative coffee; “Direct democracy doesn’t work.” I about fell out of my chair laughing. Once again, another state legislator makes a ridiculous statement NOT based on facts.

First, let’s look to direct democracy in our state. Many of the greatest changes in state law have occurred due to initiatives, some of the worst changes in state law have occurred in the state legislature. I could go thru a long list of examples, but you know what I am talking about.

As for internationally, the Swiss people have had ‘Direct Democracy’ for decades and it works and is very popular. The Swiss people vote on laws 4 times a year and voter turnout is around 50% over the past 30 years (Americans are around 50% over the same time period in national elections). A recent poll shows 65% of Swiss people are satisfied with their government (Americans are at about 58% but another 61% want to see ‘significant changes’). On top of that the Swiss people have one of the highest standard of living in the world. Switzerland rates #2 in the world for per capita wealth.

I challenge Mr. Haugaard to tell a Swiss citizen that “Direct democracy doesn’t work.” They would certainly disagree. Not only does it work, it lifts people up in more ways then you can even imagine. Leave the petition/initiative process alone, it’s not broken and it works extremely well. Our state legislature, not so much.

Legislative Coffee • Sioux Falls • Feb 2, 2019

I guess not all of our legislature is Whacky. It seems (most of) this delegation supports having a Spanish driver’s license test, legalizing industrial hemp, studying making ingestion a misdemenor. But they want to change absentee voting from 45 days to ‘something else’. I don’t agree, leave it as is. As Representative Sullivan said, “I started campaigning and knocking on doors in August.” She also added we need to make it easier for people to vote. 100% Agreed!

I do however think that absentees should be mailed to the SD address, NOT snowbird address. I think if you travel for business and are out of state quite a bit that should be an exception, but if you don’t actually physically live here at least 95% of the time, you shouldn’t be able to vote. A great example is a certain individual who is extremely wealthy who has a SF address, and constantly is nosing around in city government but lives most of the time in California. I don’t agree with this. If you want to participate in state and municipal government, great, but you also have to live here. It is obvious you are keeping your SD address for tax shelter purposes (another law that should change).

Majority of Legislature and Governor must think we are going to be attacked by Canada

As you probably heard, permit-less concealed carry passed the legislature and Donita Trump said she will sign the bill. If you do any REAL research on the 2nd Amendment, you will know that it’s main purpose was to create a ‘regulated militia’ in parts of the country that didn’t have one (We have the SD National Guard) and so slave owners could control their slaves. There of course was killing critters for food. Other than that, there is really absolutely NO reason anyone needs to own a gun. But since it is legal to own a lethal weapon, the permit process is NOT broken and works fine (well, it really should be stricter by requiring owners to get an operator’s license and carry liability insurance on every firearm they own). Why are we going backwards on gun safety? I can’t answer that, even after a large majority of gun owners and non gun owners just recently polled said they are OK with the permitting process.

As we all know, this will open up a whole new market of people buying guns privately and carrying without a permit. Not all of these people could pass a background check. This will only make law enforcement’s job harder, a lot harder. It will also give a free pass to anyone who couldn’t get a gun before. It is complete insanity, and anyone who voted for this needs to have their head examined.

Besides the possible increase in crime, it could also affect tourism in our state, in fact I was surprised that the Chamber, Retailers Association and the Department of Tourism did not oppose such an ignorant bill.

It also proves that our legislature wastes a lot of time on bills that are not only not needed but harmful to the citizenry as a whole.

Once again, they have done nothing to ensure;

More open government.

Eliminating food taxes (and taxes on other necessities like clothing, utilities and hygiene products)

Expanding Medicare to assist with nursing home residents (and frankly help the economy)

Funding ALL education better (Pre-K, Higher Learning, Technical and K-12)

Giving counties more revenue through realigning alcohol taxes.

Cutting the Half-Penny tax due to the new internet sales tax revenue.

Our State Legislature is a black hole of nothingness, it has been horrible for a very long time, and this year will go down in history as one of the worst. In fact, one of the key members went to Texas for 3 days to attend a Mini-Golf concessions conference (Al Norstrup). Will his pay be cut for missing several crucial votes?

It’s time to clean house in the next couple of election cycles.

Government Secrecy costs A LOT of money!

Well, you know the old cliché, Lawyers are professional liars. They brought those talents to Pierre to try to get an open settlements law killed in committee;

“Transparency is a good thing, but at what cost?” said Sioux Falls lawyer Steve Siegel, who represented the trial lawyers. Siegel noted that parties in lawsuits use confidential agreements to keep embarrassing information out of the public, and he noted that the South Dakota Newspaper Association was in favor of the bill.

I guess we only have a right to information if it isn’t embarrassing? Only a lawyer would come up with such a ridiculous excuse. He also apparently tried to peg the SDNA as a tabloid and gossip rag organization. Hey Steve, they represent NEWS organizations, not the National Enquirer.

They also tried to use the tired old excuse that keeping things secret saves money. LOL. How would we know if the settlements are kept secret?;

David Bordewyk, the executive director of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, pointed to the secret settlement that Sioux Falls negotiated with contractors over flawed exterior panels on the Denny Sanford Premier Center. That settlement only became public because a lawsuit had not been filed. The settlement agreement showed that Sioux Falls officials mislead the public about receiving $1 million in cash from the contractors.

That settlement, in which we got $1 million of our own money back, cost taxpayers well over $100,000 to defend it’s secrecy in court. In fact, the Federal government forbids secret settlements because government secrecy tends to cost them billions of dollars a year.

This isn’t about saving money (a lie) but it is probably about embarrassment. We had a mayor who probably signed off on bad siding, and in order to cover it up he lied about a supposed settlement. And even after the city lost the Supreme Court case, the shame and embarrassment didn’t seem to bother him at all, in fact, in true Trump style he doubled down on the lies and to this day has refused to admit if he singed off on the Shi**y siding.

Opening up these settlements will save taxpayers in South Dakota millions of dollars, and maybe the ‘public embarrassment’ will keep these settlements to a bare minimum, if they are not truly deserving. But I don’t think the recipients are the ones that will be embarrassed, it will be the corrupt politicians who got our tit in a wringer to begin with, and to that I say OPEN THE BOOKS!