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South Dakota State Legislature Update

Hello, Advocates, Cathy Brechtelsbauer for the Advocacy Project

   I hope you are all being careful to be/stay well.

   Legislators have begun a 3-day weekend. They’ll be back on Monday.

Weekend advocacy. You can help make contacts on these, or ask about them in emails or at a crackerbarrel. Try to use your own words, or better yet, make up a different question.:

SB 77, SB 86, HJR 5003,  all interfere with citizens’ rights to initiatives.

Question: Isn’t it difficult enough for citizen to exercise our right to initiative and referendum already? Why are legislators trying to add more complications and difficulties?

HB 1126  Says the secretary of state may not mail an application for an absentee ballot unless the voter has requested it. (probably Senate State Affairs)

Question: Shouldn’t the legislature be promoting voting, rather than putting limits on the Secretary of State to use his judgment in assisting voters?

SB24  provides for voter registration online. The current version allows updates, etc, but not actual registration. (probably House State Affairs)

Question: How about putting online voter registration back into the bill that was introduced to allow online voter registration?

HB 1125 takes away discretion of county auditors in conducting vote counting. If so many ballots mean a 2-day count is needed, county auditors should have discretion to call rests if needed. (Senate Local Government)

Question: If your mother were helping out as a ballot counter, should she have to stay up all night?

SB 146 allows eligibility for parole after age 50 for lifers whose crime was committed age 25 or before. (House Judiciary)

Question: Wouldn’t it make sense to allow lifers to at least request parole after age 50, if their crimes were committee over 25 years before?

HB1013  funds the tax refund program for elderly persons and persons with a disability. (in Senate Taxation committee)

Question: Will you support this small tax relief program for these certain extremely poor South Dakotans?

SB 171 needs-based scholarship funds.  (Appropriations)

Question: Do you support putting some more funds into needs-based scholarships?

HB 1194  authorize the review of certain executive orders issued by the President of the United States. (in House State Affairs)

Question: Should states get to ignore Presidential executive orders?

(FYI- These topics are mentioned in the bill: pandemic or other public health emergency, natural resources, agriculture, land use, the financial sector, guns)

Updates:

HB 1136, a proposal to rein counties and municipalities in so they don’t do more to protect public health than the state Department of Health. Happy to report, it failed in committee today   5-7-1, so it’s done.

We can thank these seven No votes:  Deutsch, Miskimins, Perry, St. John, Davis, Rehfeldt,and Keintz

SB 52, Sorry to say, it passed the House floor now, and it’s off to the governor.  Now polluters will get 10-year permits. No reviews at 5-year intervals.   

We can thank these for their opposition: Bordeaux, Cwach, Duba, Fitzgerald, Healy, Keintz, Lesmeister, Mills, Odenbach, Ernie Otten, Pourier, Jamie Smith, St. John,  Stevens

HJR 5003, to ask voters to approve a supermajority requirement for our own initiatives that involve over $10 million. It’s another way they are trying to the thumb on our ability to do initiatives.

Sorry to say, it passed on the House floor. But we can thank these rep’s for their opposition: Bordeaux, Cwach, Derby, Duba, Healy, Keintz, Lesmeister, Olson, Pourier, Reed, Jamie Smith,  Tidemann

Note: This one is not done!  Not scheduled yet, but we can be asking Senate State Affairs committee to Oppose.

2-19-21  AP,  Useful info

Advocates,

Here’s info you can use:

1. Crackerbarrels. The only info I have.

2. Reasoning on HJR 5003. Why ballot votes are different from legislators’ votes

3. Info on Medicaid expansion. A handy reference

4. ACA Insurance sign-up. How you can help. 

Here we go.

1. Crackerbarrels. The only info I have is this, but surely there are more elsewhere.

   SIOUX FALLS

#2: Sat. Feb.20,10:00-11:45am (Districts 10, 12 and 14)

#3: Sat.Feb.27,10:00-11:45am (Districts 11, 15 and 25)

Where: the Hub at Southeast Technical College (2001 N Career Ave). You can watch on Facebook Live through Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page or the Argus Leader’s Facebook page, or through www.argusleader.com . Submit questions to siouxfallslwv@gmail.com  

   DEADWOOD & all LAWRENCE CO : Sat.Feb.20, 10am. Deadwood Mountain Grand, a large space to accommodate social distancing.  For more information, Melissa at the Spearfish Chamber 605-642-2626 or Ingrid at the Deadwood Chamber 605-578-1876.

2.  HJR 5003 attempts to require a supermajority (60%) for ballot initiatives. (Last weekend, I made a mess of trying to explain this. Maybe this helps.)

a. HJR 5003 is a thinly disguised plan to stop many citizen ballot initiatives.

b. Sponsor Rep.Hansen says it fits with SD’s fiscal conservatism. We agree SD is fiscally conservative, and we’re fiscally conservative enough already. In fact, it would be hard to balance the budget these days without certain past statewide ballot votes, such as the state lottery and video lottery, both of which passed with less than 60%.

c. Supporters point to legislators’ 2/3 requirement on certain fiscal matters and say the ballot votes should require a supermajority too. So why not?  [My thanks to Cory Heidelberger for help explaining this.]

   There’s a big difference. In the legislature, deliberation on bills is limited. With only 40 days (or 37 this year), bills can be rushed, even hoghoused near the end. Public scrutiny can be avoided is multiple ways. The 2/3 threshold may prevent ill-advised bills from rushing through.

    But citizen ballot measures have a long process. It starts long before the vote, even 2 years. People are out with petitions for over a year before the vote. Opponents have over a year to campaign against the initiative. Already there are a number of hurdles to overcome – large numbers of signatures, legal scrutiny before and after the election, besides winning a statewide vote. These hurdles are much harder to overcome than a 2/3 vote in the legislature.

    The citizen initiative system has enough guardrails already. We do not need more.

3.  Medicaid expansion. Of course, we should keep asking for it. This legislature could adopt it and it would start this year — much simpler and quicker than a ballot initiative.

Questions for crackerbarrels: When can we get Medicaid expansion? How hard is it to see that SD needs Medicaid expansion now? If we can’t get Medicaid expansion during a pandemic, when can we get it?

Info about Medicaid expansion is one of the sections on BFW-SD’s website: www.BreadSD.org

4. ACA Insurance Sign-Up

The Biden administration has opened up an extra sign-up period, because so many people may have missed the opportunity to get this highly subsidized health coverage. If you can help spread the word, some currently uninsured people might get covered now – this year. (The info is the same for people in most other states.) The income needed to qualify is what’s expected for 2021, so it obviously may take guesswork. My understanding is that reasonable estimates are accepted.

   There’s a section on this at www.BreadSD.org with info and a half-page handout to share. Might your local food pantry share the handout? Can you post it on a public bulletin board? Can you get it to agencies in your town? Thanks for your help.

Thanks for keeping up. The legislature will move very fast now.

Mask Mandates are NOT a 1st Amendment issue, they are a 4th Amendment issue

I often scratch my head by how little our state legislature and governor know about the US Constitution;

Governments in South Dakota, across the country and the world used mask mandates and business restrictions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some lawmakers, though, say those mitigation efforts don’t jive with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. And now a bill making its way through the legislature would narrow the scope of when cities, counties and townships can make people wear masks or force businesses to close in the name of public health.

It is NOT a 1st Amendment issue, it has to do with trespassing and property rights which is covered under the 4th Amendment;

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 5th and 14th could also apply. But I have often said that mask mandates in general are moot because the US Constitution already protects business owners from trespassers. If you have a sign on the front door of your business that says you must wear a mask and you refuse, that business can call the police and you can be prosecuted for trespassing. Those laws already exist.

I would argue that any municipal government can implement a mask mandate as long as that mandate is about private business and private property and within their 4th Amendment rights (in other words private businesses and even churches could ignore the mandate).

The 1st Amendment argument holds no water because as we saw with Trump’s Twitter ban, private business CAN limit your speech on their premises, platforms or property.

Where I would side on the 1st Amendment argument is that it would be unconstitutional for government to mandate mask wearing on their (your taxpayer funded) property.

Once again the statehouse is filling their short session with foolishness.

South Dakota State Legislature, House Bill 1026; Authorizes the State to build a National Guard Readiness Center in Sioux Falls

What makes this even more odd is that it is declared an Emergency?!
Am I missing something here?!

HB-1018

 Introduced by: The Committee on Appropriations at the request of the Department of the Military Catchlines are not law. (§ 2-16-13.1) Underscores indicate new language. Overstrikes indicate deleted language. 


1 An Act to authorize the construction of a National Guard Readiness Center in Sioux 2 Falls, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency. 3 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA: 4 Section 1. The Department of the Military may contract for the planning, site preparation, 5 construction, furnishing, and equipping of the construction of a National Guard Readiness 6 Center, together with furnishings and equipment, including heating, air conditioning, 7 plumbing, water, sewer, electric facilities, sidewalks, parking, landscaping, architectural and 8 engineering services, and such other services or actions as may be required to accomplish 9 the project, for an estimated cost of twenty million dollars, subject to permitted adjustments 10 pursuant to section 3 of this Act. 11 Section 2. There is hereby appropriated from the general fund the sum of $500,000, and 12 the sum of $1,500,000 in federal fund expenditure authority to the Department of the Military, 13 for purposes of design and construction of a National Guard Readiness Center in Sioux Falls. 14 Section 3. The Department of the Military may adjust the cost estimates to reflect inflation 15 as measured by the Building Cost Index reported by the Engineering News Record, additional 16 expenditures required to comply with regulations adopted after the effective date of this Act, 17 or additional sums received pursuant to section 4 of this Act. However, any adjustments to 18 construction cost estimates for the project may not exceed one hundred twenty-five percent 19 of the estimated project construction cost stated in section 1 of this Act. 20 Section 4. In addition to the amounts appropriated in section 2 of this Act, the Department 21 of the Military may accept and expend for the purpose of this Act any funds obtained from 22 gifts, contributions, or any other source if the acceptance and expenditure is approved in 23 accordance with § 4-8B-10. 21.297.13 2 400 Catchlines are not law. (§ 2-16-13.1) Underscores indicate new language. Overstrikes indicate deleted language. 1 Section 5. The design and construction of this project shall be under the general charge and 2 supervision of the Department of the Military. The adjutant general of the Department of the 3 Military or the state engineer shall approve vouchers and the state auditor shall draw warrants 4 to pay expenditures authorized by this Act. 5 Section 6. Any amounts appropriated in this Act not lawfully expended or obligated shall 6 revert in accordance with the procedures prescribed in chapter 4-8. 7 Section 7. Whereas, this Act is necessary for the support of the state government and its 8 existing public institutions, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, and this Act shall be in 9 full force and effect from and after its passage and approval.  

South Dakota State Legislature could easily meet remotely

Well you know what they say, once an Authoritarian Ignoramus, always an Authoritarian Ignoramus. It seems Steve Haugaard’s Covid death dance wasn’t enough for him to change his mind;

But attending a session remotely would require a change in the rules, something Haugaard doesn’t support.


“Life has risks. I think we need to move forward and get our job done. If you’re expecting entire session to be problematic, you’ve got to consider, do I resign my position and let somebody actually get out there who can fill the role,” Haugaard said.


This has always been my strongest argument against conservatism. It’s not their stone-age views on race, sexuality, women, gun safety laws or abortion it’s their incredible incapability of excepting change, even if that change is easy, doable, economically sound and beneficial. Essentially Steve is saying, “Hey, this is how we have always done things, so tough sh*t, either Linda can show up and face possibly getting a life-threatening virus or resign.”

Sure, as bewildering as Haugaard sounds, trust me, I’m no fan of Linda Duba either. She has tried to pull the puppet strings of the South Dakota Democratic party and has tried some vindictive tricks on members of her own party (I was asked to NOT blog about it -oops, I guess I did anyway). Either way, Duba or any legislator has the right to work from home, because quite honestly, it’s pretty easy to do.

The main argument floating around is that legislators need to be in Pierre to talk to lobbyists. That is the biggest problem with Pierre, the lobbyists. They should be banned from the Capital grounds, in fact the entire city during the legislative session. If the legislators need to talk to them, they can do via Zoom, phone or email. This also includes all the dinners and drinky sessions the lobbyists throw for the legislators. Also, not necessary, and in fact should be in state law that they are banned.

Legislators MAIN engagement should be with constituents, via phone, email, etc. and anybody can testify via zoom or phone during the committee meetings and hearings, even legislators. Sessions and voting should also be no different.

A former legislator admitted to me that being in Pierre is the optimal place to legislate, but it could be done remotely with little inconvenience.

In fact moving forward I think that legislative sessions should be remote (or partially remote). There is no reason for legislators to drive to middle of nowhere in the middle of winter to talk about legislation next to each other in person. It’s actually a very primitive concept considering they don’t really pass anything until the last couple of days of session. We could save taxpayers thousands of dollars NOT paying per diem for travel and lodging. It would also give the opportunity for people to run who are NOT self-employed with more flexibility to serve. You only have to turn on your laptop when it is time to participate in discussion and debate and voting instead blowing 40 full days in the barren land of Pierre.

Like I said above, the more we re-elect and elect conservatives, the farther behind we become as state. Let legislators participate from the safety of their homes and stop acting like a cavemen.

Is the South Dakota Legislature considering legislation to appoint county auditors and treasurers?

There was a rumor roaming around the halls of the Minnehaha County Administration building that a District 13 Republican legislator is considering sponsoring a law that would allow county commissioners to appoint their treasurers and auditors instead of electing them.

I know what their main arguments will be, they want to appoint someone with experience in the field. But I am no dummy, that is a ruse. They want to appoint people they can control, and since most legislators and county commissions are Republicans that means these appointees will be Republicans.

I will tell you why I am against this move;

• Keeping our county officials who run elections and collect taxes as elected officials means accountability to the taxpayers not the county commission.

• There is more transparency from elected officials versus bureaucrats.

• This is a power grab by the SD Republican Party since they control all the other bodies of power in local government they can now snatch up one party rule in these offices.

• Less compassion and understanding with tax collection. If the treasurer doesn’t have to answer to the citizens, they can pursue all means possible to collect taxes and inflict harm and penalties.

• The appointed auditor may also set policies forward that inflict voter suppression in certain districts.

This is a bad idea all the way around. There are simpler changes to the law to get more qualified elected officers. First you could make the positions non-partisan (I would say this for the county commissioners also). You could also require candidates to at least have education or experience in accounting or auditing before they could be allowed on the ballot.

If it makes it to the floor of the legislature, which I think it will, it will likely pass and give even more power to the super-majority authoritarian fascist radical right SD GOP.

I have also heard the recently appointed (non-elected) auditor who replaced Litz got quite the pay bump over what Litz was getting. There was also some shuffling of deck chairs between the treasurer’s and auditor’s office due to conflicts of interest. Another reason why appointing these officers is a bad idea.

Is Lt. Governor Rhoden getting out of the ranching business?

Don’t quote me on this, it’s what Larry said on a hot microphone to state legislator, Steve Haugaard before Noem’s budget address just moments ago.

I have often warned elected officials across the state and locally to watch what you ramble in proximity of a microphone before a public meeting, it could be recording.

The conversation between Steve and Larry started out dry, literally, Steve asked if he needed to fill a glass of water for Kristi, which made me laugh, because it is further proof that all these guys do is carry water for her 🙂 Larry told Steve not to worry about it because Maggie will take care of it, and as we both know, she carries a lot of water for Kristi in attacking the fake news.

Then after a long uncomfortable period Steve asked Larry what he has been up to? Larry said, “I’m getting out of the ranching business . . . selling my cattle next spring.” Then he talked about his plan to sell the herd to a young rancher who has been “renting grass from him.”

While this probably isn’t earth shaking news, it may explain why Rhoden all of sudden became a full-time employee for Kristi.

Kristi and her ilk have been government welfare recipients for decades, and it seems to continue as governor when Rhoden needs to get out of the ranching business. And why not, it’s a lot more lucrative warming a chair in Pierre on the taxpayer’s dime.

UPDATE: It was also interesting to watch Stormland-TV pan the camera across the floor and focusing on those wearing and not wearing masks. My rough estimate is that about 33% of legislators were wearing masks, and it was a good mix of Republicans and Democrats (NO Democrats were unmasked). What surprised me was there was several Republican legislators from the Sioux Falls area not wearing masks.

South Dakotans knew exactly what they were voting for in Amendment ‘A’

I only got one prediction correct this election season, that Amendment ‘A’ for Recreational Mary would pass with 52-54% of the vote. Before Tuesday many asked me what I based that number on. It was simple. Amendment A has been polling since July at around 51%. I figured since that polling number stayed consistent over that many months it would pass. I added the extra percentage points because some people tend to lie about voting for making drugs legal. I know, weird!

What I want to remind legislators, unlike their argument for repealing IM22, South Dakotans knew what they were voting for with Rec Mary. It is a drug that used to be legal in this country about 80 years ago Federally. It is also a plant that has been used for thousands of years throughout the world. Trust me, when South Dakotans said they want this, they want it, it should not be misconstrued. Every state so far that has moved towards legalization has NOT overturned their position, there is a reason for that.

I have no doubt the Fascist Republican Party that now has an overwhelming majority in the State Legislature will regulate the piss out of it virtually making it unavailable in a dispensary, but the good news is you will still be able to possess it, use it and grow it. I expect the only retail to cash in on legalization will be hardware stores, since many people will be gardening from home.

I think it is foolish for the state or local entities to deny dispensaries because they will be missing out on the sales tax revenue. I also think this will just drive people to buy from the black market (these folks don’t pay taxes).

It is hard to understand how South Dakotans can do something so smart as legalize a pretty harmless drug, but continue to vote for legislators who want to take away our other rights. But if our lawmakers try to F’ck with Amendment ‘A’ like they did with IM22, there will be Hell to pay.

District 9 Candidate, Bethany Soye is violating campaign rules

A foot soldier sent me these pictures today of a fundraising letter they received from Soye. She failed to put a ‘paid for’ disclaimer on her materials which is a violation of campaign rules. Maybe we can find our AG or SOS to sort this out? They will probably rule that Bethany thought she hit a deer.

South Dakota ‘RADICAL RIGHT’ sends out misleading postcard

For full disclosure, I don’t live in Healy’s District, but do live right next to it in D13. I haven’t always agreed with some of the things she has done in the legislature either, but the RADICAL RIGHT has been destroying our state for decades and they won’t be happy until they turn the working class in this state into poverty stricken SLAVES with the only ones surviving are the rich and elite with their corporate welfare handouts.

That’s what is so ironic about this postcard and what Healy said ‘owners of slaves’. I guess I would take it as the radical right in South Dakota wants to praise slave ownership by putting them on the capital building. I mean really that is essentially what Noem is saying, ‘Praise the slave owners.’

I also think Erin’s comment was also really about the push to put more statues of dead slave owners on display in South Dakota. Really?! During the middle of a pandemic and an agricultural and economic crisis the governor of our state is worried about more statues?

Do I think Jefferson and Washington were great leaders? Sure, but as Healy said, they were not perfect. While I think tearing down monuments of them or defacing them is wrong, and I am sure Healy would agree, I don’t think we need to put up more. I think we need to learn from the mistakes of the past so we don’t continue to repeat them. I hope we learn hard lessons from the past 4 years.

As I said at a council meeting a few months ago, Sioux Falls and cities across the country should be building parks dedicated to peace and memorials about those who promote peace, instead of war.

Of course, I expected this kind of garbage from the Rushmore PAC. They have a track record of spewing hate and division across the state, and it’s NO mystery that the SD GOP Chair is behind the PAC since it’s official address is his home address in Dakota Dunes. Why didn’t the SD GOP just pay for the postcard? Because the radical right has to hide behind PACs so the public doesn’t know where the money is coming from. Make NO mistake folks, THE RADICAL RIGHT in South Dakota only wants to divide and conquer and they won’t be happy until 90% of us become their low wage slaves. No wonder they want to build more monuments to slave owners, they aspire to this greatness themselves.

SD State Sen. Kris Langer on Inside Town Hall

I was a little disappointed, I thought Kris was going to show us how to make her favorite cocktails. Why this person wasn’t thrown out of the legislature on her behind is beyond me. I would also note that someone running for re-election should not be using a taxpayer funded platform like this. But once again the ethics rules don’t apply to Republicans in this state, because they didn’t do anything ‘illegal’. Freaking Clowns.