Entries Tagged 'State Legislature' ↓

Mark Mickelson, a troubling fellar

I guess according to Mark, bloggers are ‘Knotheads’. I got this interesting tidbit today;

I wish someone would explain to me why Mark Mickelson, who is Speaker of the South Dakota House of Representatives, one of the three or four most powerful political offices in our state, has apparently given up on the legislative process and turned to ballot measures to change the laws of our State? In my attempt to answer this myself, I discovered a Rapid City interview between Mr. Mickelson’s and Seth Tupper of the Rapid City Journal in which Mark says he is an impatient guy who likes “to move pretty quick on stuff” to explain his sudden attraction to our Initiative process.

After listening to the interview, I am not sure if I would characterize Mark as impatient, but his high regard for his own opinions certainly shines through. I would encourage him to relax a little and enjoy the political process like his grandfather and his father before him seemed to. He is still young and there is plenty of time to accomplish his goals while giving the rest of us the time we need to catch on to his vision of the way things should be.

Funny how Mark has an issue with out-of-state money for ballot measures but doesn’t wink a bit when his wife spends $6 a vote to get a seat that pays $75 per meeting.

Former legislator Frank Kloucek also points out Mark’s conflict of interest with CAFOs;

Is what Rep. Mark Mickelson doing with new swine Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation construction unethical and a direct conflict of interest?

Mickelson and his partner, Paul Kostboth, formed a company called A1 Development Solutions. Mickelson is directly benefiting from CAFO construction, which he is orchestrating through weakening of zoning regulations from the state down to the local level. Mickelson has already listed his partnership with Kostboth as a conflict in his legislative financial interest form filed with the Secretary of State. Should the next step for Mickelson be to decide which job he wants to do? To do both jobs, raises a lot of questions.

Is it clear that Representative Mickelson has a direct conflict of interest, which would force him to resign as a legislator or withdraw as business partner in A1 Development Solutions? Is there middle ground on this issue? Maybe, Mickelson could put his money in a solar power company instead, as long as he is not the prime sponsor of legislation to help that solar power company in South Dakota.

I think out-of-state money is the least of our problems. State lawmakers creating regs that fatten their wallets is a real problem.

South Dakota State Legislature needs to take some classes on the US Constitution, 1st Amendment and political satire

When I first saw this toon, I thought it was about Gene Abdallah’s fascination with urine.

Remember what the State Legislature told us last year? They had to repeal IM 22 because one circuit judge who is a partisan hack for the Republican Party said he felt parts of it were unconstitutional.

So what do our constitutional geniuses decide to do? They want to ban anyone from altering the state seal.

Libby Skarin, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, said the legislation is in conflict with the First Amendment, which protects freedom of expression.

“It’s not a road that’s constitutional and it’s not a road we want to go down,” Skarin said.

Peterson said she wasn’t aiming to address Mehling’s image with her bill, but advised those using the seal without express permission to reconsider.

“Anybody that is using it in a way that is not consistent with the Constitution and state law should take a look at it and not do it anymore,” Peterson said

While Peterson is concerned about how some shirt was made (maybe call the prison and have them fix it) it’s no reason to make a law that is clearly a violation of the 1st Amendment.

Over the past 12 years that I have been blogging, you can’t imagine the crap I have heard about my political cartoons. First off, you can’t make a law that stops people from altering the state seal and secondly this proposed legislation just proves, once again, how F%#@ing Stupid our (mostly Republican) state legislature is. We should pass a law that requires our legislators have a higher IQ then monkeys.

The ‘Mischief’ in Pierre has returned

From Cathy B. for the Advocacy Project


After 4 days of the legislature, I am already behind, and some bills that tamper with our rights to initiative and referendum are already moving.

1. Much of this info is from Dakota Rural Action (DRA).

HB 1004 Clarifies that the State Board of Elections can make rules regarding petition size and petition font size.  This bill could mean limiting initiatives based simply on the number of words in the text and outlawing revisions of existing code that deal with updating multiple sections.

MESSAGE: The potential for limiting initiatives is too great; vote NO.

HB 1005 It’s often somewhat confusing whether to vote No or Yes on referred laws on the ballot. But the way we do it now needs to stay. HB1005 would make it more confusing by reversing the function of your vote on referred laws. HB1005 would say Yes means don’t change the law, while on amendments and initiatives Yes would still mean do change the law.

    For example, in 2016 the legislature voted to take away a minimum wage increase for young people that the we voters had decided they should have. This act of the legislature was challenged by Referred Law 20. To vote Yes on the referral would support what the legislature did. It took No votes to reject what the legislature did and keep what voters had wanted. Voters figured this out and expressed their displeasure with the legislature’s action voting 71% No to 29% Yes. The young workers got better wages.

MESSAGE: Amend the language on referred laws so that “yes” means pass and “no” means reject. Otherwise, Vote No on HB1005.

HB 1006: Section 1 provides for substantive comments to be made on ballot initiatives by the Legislative Research Council (LRC), which is something the LRC has already been willing to do. BUT, Section 2 creates a “blackout” period during legislative session when the LRC is not required to comment on the people’s initiatives. LRC staff indicated that dealing with citizen initiatives during the legislative session has not created an undue burden. If a future LRC decides to just sit on proposals, this “blackout” period could delay considerably our citizen ability to draft initiative petitions for circulation.

MESSAGE: STRIKE Section 2 of this bill, or vote NO.

In general on these: There will be more bills coming in the weeks ahead aimed at tampering with citizens’ initiative, referendum, and constitutional amendment process. These are the people’s tools, and it is crucial that we contact legislators with a clear message to stop tampering with it.

2. The backward proposal to add work requirements for Medicaid:

This is a way to create barriers to Medicaid. If it were really about encouraging work, states could offer all those purported work supports already. Here’s a report today from Talk Poverty:


Much of the national discussion, like this article, refers to states that have adopted Medicaid expansion.

 But work requirements make even less sense in non-expansion states like ours, where parents qualifying for Medicaid have incomes below 49% of the poverty line. That’s very deep poverty.

 If their work nets them incomes between 49% and 100%, most or all of them will have NO OPTIONS for health coverage. None. Nada. Jobs paying so little rarely have benefits. Medicaid would be cut off. No way could they afford unsubsidized insurance. And, they earn too little to qualify for subsidized insurance thru healthcare.gov.

There is no way a list of needed exemptions could cover all the work-interferring complications in the chaotic existence at less than half the poverty level.

Medicare supports health and people’s ability to work. Work requirements can be counter-productive, unless the goal is to cut people off. Many of us come from faith traditions that teach both mercy and healthcare are things we all need and that don’t have to be deserved.

MESSAGE: Reject work requirements for Medicaid. What would be better for South Dakota would be Medicaid expansion. (18 other states with Republican governors have it. We need it here.)

Refer to an earlier post for how to find and contact your state legislators. They will be reading email, even when they are not in Pierre, like this 3-day weekend. You can honor MLK day by speaking up for the marginalized and vulnerable in our society.

Its time to allow micro-breweries in SD to distribute their own beer, and, time to raise the alcohol tax

I know what you are thinking, a few contradictions there, but not really. I have often believed a tax hike in alcohol would actually help the bar business and give property tax payers a little relief from paying for criminals.

First the distribution issue. Distributors are clearly fighting this because of greed. But they have their excuses;

Distributors, meanwhile, said allowing craft breweries to work as producer, distributor and retailer in some capacity could create problems for the state in collecting tax revenue and for consumers in ensuring their beer meets quality standards.

Breweries would still be paying taxes and as for the quality issue, that is silly. Distributors ARE NOT testing the quality of the product, if they were Coors Light would no longer be available 🙂 This is clearly a way for distributors to reap a commission for basically doing nothing but acting like a keg taxi. Distributors would still be in the picture anyway for mass distribution. All brewers are asking is to brew more beer and sell it from their locations.

As for increasing the alcohol tax, I agree 100% with Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth that it is silly that property tax payers are footing the bill for crimes related to alcohol. I think if alcohol taxes increase, liquor stores and bars will charge more, which in turn could mean bigger profits and less consumption, which means less crime. MPR has a great story about this.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the cost of excessive alcohol use is $2.05 per drink — costs that create financial burdens for federal, state and local governments.

“Currently, federal and state taxes do not even come close to covering those costs,” said Dr. Timothy Naimi, author of a recent article study on state alcohol excise taxes. “Public health is a strong rationale for alcohol taxation. … If we don’t recover the costs related to alcohol sales, then it amounts to a subsidy for people who drink, and who drink excessively.”

I don’t think the habits of casual drinkers would change with a tax increase, but I do think it would help to curb reckless drinking.

No more secret siding settlements?

A proposed bill in Pierre, not sure who the sponsor is (click to enlarge);

Handy Guide to contacting your state legislator

From Bread for the World;

The State Legislature just began. You can make a difference by using your voice. Get ready now, because things move fast. They have 38 days left, counting today.
1.  Know your district number and your state senator and 2 state representatives. You can contact any legislators, but you will have the most influence with the ones from your district.
If you don’t find them here, call your county auditor or let me know: 
If the district number does not show up, remembering their names, go back and put in only your city.
2. How to contact them
• Write to them at Sen.__ or Rep.__, State Capitol, Pierre SD 57501
• Email using this format: firstname.lastname@sdlegislature.gov
• Phone:  Leave short messages 605-773-3821 for Senators, 605-773-3851 for Representatives 
• Talk with them in person. Catch them at the end of their public meetings. Or, arrange with them via email during the week for a meeting time the next time they are back in their districts. Or, go to Pierre. 

Keep this info handy, and be ready to make contacts. Things move fast.
Thanks for being a voice for people in need.
Cathy B. for the Advocacy Project

STATE of Denial . . . Literally

I like to keep things professional in Pierre. I never tell my male counterparts when I am going to the bathroom.

Grandpa Cheapskate Denny still stands by his assertion that South Dakota voters are too stupid to pass laws but somehow seem to be smart enough to continue to elect ignorant Republicans that pass stupid laws we must amend and appeal through the initiated process. Someone is certainly stupid here, we just don’t know who it is;

22 was repealed by the legislature with the governor’s blessing. I asked him, over a year later, if he still believes repealing a vote that was the will of the people was the right thing to do and he says…..yes. “It’s really hard for a voter to look at a 30 page bill….30 page initiated measure and draw a conclusion about whether it’s good or bad.”

The governor says changes for transparency should be the result of the legislative process working….not the result of an initiated measure which the governor says doesn’t allow much room for change or modification. “That doesn’t exist in an initiated measure. All you’ve got is a yes or a no. You can’t amend it. You can’t shorten it. You can’t add to it. It’s yes or no.”

First off, when it comes to anti-corruption rules in Pierre, we certainly can’t wait around for the Republican controlled legislature in both houses to act, that is why the voters came up with IM 22. And secondly, the legislature didn’t amend IM22, they annihilated it. It’s easy for Denny to talk so openly about how stupid South Dakota voters are, he doesn’t have to worry about re-election. Oh, and speaking of transparency Denny, are you going to ever tell the public why you terminated Jason Dilges? Better not, it might smear the clean and wholesome view you and Michaels have of your fine city.

Speaking of being clean and wholesome, Deb Peters backs up Lt. Gov. Michaels assertion that Pierre is Mayberry on steroids;

The woman credited with facilitating an upcoming sexual-harassment training session for legislators, state Sen. Deb Peters, told the Journal that recent sexual misconduct scandals in state government are isolated incidents and are not indicative of a cultural problem.

“It’s not acceptable behavior and never should be acceptable behavior,” said Peters, a Republican from Hartford. “But do I think it’s systematic of the system? No, absolutely not. It’s an anomaly.”

Then this married woman with children admits she doesn’t hang out at the bars or hear stories about the incidents. First off, if you are not present when these incidents are taking place, how can you call it an anomaly? Secondly, how many male lawmakers are going to tell you about all the sexual harassing they were doing the night ? Peters really lives in some kind of bubble.

This line made me laugh the most;

Peters said Wollmann was “sent out to the wolves.”

I wonder if the wolves took him in?

Do South Dakota Legislators deserve a raise?

If you were asking me that question as their direct employer, I would answer ‘NO’ and probably fire about 90% of them based on job performance.

But let’s play along and pretend they actually get things done.

I would be OK with a 3-5% raise, but not 70%.

It really is our legislators fault they haven’t implemented some kind of system to give themselves automatic raise/decline each year, not the voters. To blatantly ask for a 70% raise at one time is ridiculous.

I have even argued that $6,000 a year is pretty good (they also receive per diem, mileage) and if they are smart they would receive 3 FREE squares a day from the different lobbyist groups.

You have to realize, for the average representative this is only about 40 days. $150 a day is probably around the average individual salary in SD ($39K).

Also, part of the problem is the location of the Capital. A lot of people who have regular day jobs struggle to participate because you have to venture to bum-f’ck Pierre in the middle of winter. Embracing a little technology would go a long way. It reminds me of when Rounds had a fleet of airplanes at his disposal and people wondered why he had to be at meetings in person and didn’t do more teleconferencing. I think the legislature should extend the session to 60 days. I also don’t think they should start business until 3 PM Mountain time and work until 9 or 10 PM. This would only work if legislators with no leadership or committee duties could vote and follow along with the session VIA the internet on a closed circuit channel and could also debate the issues VIA their cell phones. It would get more working class legislators involved, save the state buckets of money and most importantly working class voters could watch and follow the sessions at night if they wanted to. This 40 days in the dead of winter in the middle of nowhere is why our legislature gets away with practically murder each year. Nobody is watching the ruling class of businessmen that make up our legislature, that’s the real issue, not pay. Ironically the ‘night’ sessions would solve another problem Pierre has, the nightly drinking and sniffing around.

The legislature should get a raise, but they need to be logical about it, something that is lacking in Pierre.

South DaCola Podcast 8: Legislator & Mayoral Candidate Greg Jamison

We touched on the upcoming legislative session, Greg’s run for mayor, and a few ghost stories.

Maybe the Governor should take the lead with the sexism problem in Pierre

One of my lobbyist friends has an appropriate moniker for Pierre, he calls it a ‘toilet’. I couldn’t agree more. Trust me, I wasn’t shocked to hear all the stories coming out of Pierre. As another lobbyist said to me last year, “Everyone is screwing everyone in Pierre. It’s like some big disgusting orgy.”

Maybe the Governor and Mark Mickelson need to take the lead on this ‘sexual revolution’ going on in Pierre and own up to their own skeletons in the closet. Mark is fortunate he lives in Sioux Falls and has a buffer from the day to day operations, but Dennis should know these things are going on, in fact he does know.

He fired a high ranking cabinet director this past year and has yet to tell us why. Let’s just say it had little to do with his job performance and more to do with his extracurricular activities. All the governor told us of the termination after a brief suspension was it had to do with personnel reasons. Hardly. Ironically Janklow fired this person for some of the same reasons during his administration, and he got hired back by (I think) Rounds. Don’t they keep a file on these things?

Maybe if Dennis would have came clean on why this person was fired it would help the process of eliminating the gigantic ‘sex fest’ the legislative session has become and that continues throughout the year with state employees.

His cheesy dumb farm kid persona won’t cut it on this issue. And while Mickelson is worried about outside money on petition drives he should be more concerned about inside pocket pool going on in our capital city. Address the real issues going on in Pierre for once.