A look at Constitutional Amendment R, Splitting off tech schools

Blue letter over white backgroundAs I begin to really look at the 2016 SD Ballot Questions I though no better place to start than Constitutional Amendment R. Amendment R has also been referred to as the South Dakota Governing Technical Education Institutes Amendment. Currently the four Tech Schools are governed by the local school boards. The budgets and rules for the Tech Schools come from the Board of Education’s budget; which is responsible for K-12 education in South Dakota. SD’s Constitution puts the Board of Regents as the governing body of the states Universities. The tech schools however are not mentioned in the Constitution. This leaves an odd legal status of the tech schools as to how they should be governed if they were to split from a school board.

This post will look at some of the basics of Amendment R. There may be more posts about Amendment R coming in the future; but this post should be a good starting point for anyone trying to research R.

Amendment R started as a House Joint Resolution

During the 2015 South Dakota legislative session Rep Mark Mickelson (R, Dist 13) brought forth the following Joint Resolution:

HJR 1003 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Proposing and submitting to the electors at the next general election an amendment to Article XIV of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to the authority of the Board of Regents.

This resolution passed the House floor with only one no vote and had zero no votes on the Senate floor. I think this passed so easily because many legislators understand the problems caused by the current lack of constitutional direction as to how the Tech Schools should be governed. There really wasn’t any debate about the resolution, and it fit nicely with other some pieces of Tech School legislation Mickelson worked on in 2015.

Text of Amendment R

Amendment R would modify Article XIV, section 3, of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota as follows (underlined words are what is being added):

§ 3. The state university, the agriculture college, the school of mines and technology, the normal schools, a school for the deaf, a school for the blind, and all other educational institutions that may be sustained either wholly or in part by the state and that offer academic or professional degrees of associate of arts, associate of sciences, baccalaureate or greater, shall be under the control of a board of five members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the senate under such rules and restrictions as the Legislature shall provide. The Legislature may increase the number of members to nine. Postsecondary technical education institutes that offer career and technical associate of applied science degrees and certificates or their successor equivalents and that are funded wholly or in part by the state shall be separately governed as determined by the Legislature.

Basically this sets in the SD Constitution that the Board of Regents does NOT have governance over the Tech Schools. Instead the Tech Schools have to be governed separate, as determined by the legislature. This would take away the legal ambiguities about whether the Tech Schools should answer to the Board of Regentsif they decide to split away from the Schooll Boards into their own entity.

AG’s Explanation

The Attorney General’s office has provided this explanation for Amendment R:

Under the South Dakota Constitution, the Board of Regents is responsible for postsecondary educational institutions funded entirely or in part by the State. Constitutional Amendment R applies to postsecondary technical education institutes that receive state funding and offer career and technical associate of applied science degrees, certificates, or their equivalents. Currently, there are four such institutes: Lake Area Technical Institute, Mitchell Technical Institute, Southeast Technical Institute, and Western Dakota Technical Institute. Under the amendment, postsecondary technical institutes will be governed separately in a manner to be determined by the Legislature.

The amendment also clarifies that the Board of Regents retains control over state-funded postsecondary educational institutions offering associate of arts, associate of sciences, bachelor’s, and postgraduate degrees.

A vote “Yes” is for adding a provision to the Constitution regarding postsecondary technical educational institutes.

A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

Pros of Amendment R

Amendment R is being touted as a workforce development tool by the Governors office and legislators. South Dakota has a shortage of skilled workers. Placing more focus on the Tech Schools can be seen as an answer to this particular problem. Additionally it is seen as a way for the tech schools to better compete within the state budget. This is from a recent Capital Journal article:

Becoming enshrined in the state constitution is advantageous to the technical schools, said Greg Von Wald, executive director of the Skilled Workforce Advocacy Council.

The changes would elevate them from an “afterthought” to a position equal with the state’s K-12 schools and public universities during the legislative budgeting and policymaking process, he said.

“If you’re not in the constitution and you have no direct input into the budget, what happens to you?” Von Wald said. “You’re the red-haired stepchild.”

 Von Wald also happens to be the person to create the Statewide Ballot Question Committee named Tech Schools for South Dakota. The campaign finance reports for this organization can be found on the SD Secretary of State website. Von Wald has found a lot of supporters to give his committee money in the fight to pass this ballot question in 2016. The pre-primary report posted on May 23, 2016, shows the committee had $182,083.38 on hand at that time. So far this year the Committee has spent $22,894.77 on consulting.

That is a lot of money spent on consulting, with a lot left in the bank. There will likely be a lot of advertising pushing for Amendment R as the election approaches.

There is a “R for Jobs” campaign out there. Just as I was about to finish this post I found the R for Jobs website (it didn’t come up in my earlier Google searches). The site is pretty basic, and the social media links aren’t setup in it yet. But the website does include these bullet-points to support Amendment R:

  • Employers will have an easier time finding specialized workers with the right skillset.
  • More students will have access to programs that bring them immediate employment.
  • Technical institutes and career education programs will have direct access to government decision-makers for support and funding.
  • Amendment R improves communication and support among the career and technical education schools and their governing body.
  • As workers fill positions that would otherwise have remained empty, South Dakota’s economy grows.

I wish the Jobs for R website would actually include more information about how Amendment R would do all of this. I have spoken with supporters of Amendment R that say it will not cost anything, but I think the Jobs for R website should explain how all these changes can be made without increasing costs.

Cons of Amendment R

So far I haven’t been able to find a group opposing Amendment R. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any cons to this proposal. So in fairness I will present some cons I have been able to see.

First, this appears to be a way to create a new education bureaucracy in South Dakota. Currently between the Board of Education (K-12) and the Board of Regents (Universities) there are many that feel there is already a bloat of education bureaucrats in South Dakota. It would appear Amendment R is aimed at creating a whole new state agency just to handle the Tech Schools. Is that wise to create a whole new education bureaucracy? The Board of Education and Board of Regents already fight for every dollar. Does there really need to be a third party fighting for taxpayer dollars?

Second, where will the money for this new agency come from? Will the legislature have the political willpower to cut the Board of Educations budget and give it to the new Tech School bureaucracy? Supporters of Amendment R say this will be a way for the Tech Schools to expand. Where will the extra money come from? The taxpayers of South Dakota had two massive tax increases two years in a row; one of which was for raising teacher pay (including Tech School instructors). Are the people of South Dakota willing to let the legislature raise more taxes if this new Tech School bureaucracy is approved?

Third, what will the bonding authority of this new Tech School be? South Dakota likes to brag that it is fiscally conservative because of the “balanced budget”. But the state has a LOT of debt due to outstanding bonds (although by law this is not called debt?). This is an issue I will be blogging more about in the near future; but from what research I’ve been able to look at so far the State of South Dakota through the SD Building Authority has a lot of bond debt just on behalf of the Board of Regents. Is the legislature planning on funding this new education bureaucracy through debt? Is that really fiscally conservative?

Finally, I think there needs to be a discussion about whether the Tech Schools should fall under the Board of Regents. It is a topic I have no opinion on yet. But the Board of Regents already handles some one-off education areas such as the South Dakota School for the Deaf and the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It doesn’t seem a stretch of the imagination that perhaps all postsecondary education should fall under the Board of Regents. True, the Tech Schools don’t appear to want this outcome. But there should be a discussion as to why the Board of Regents can’t be governing body for the Tech Schools. If there is some particular problem with the Board of Regents that makes it impossible for the Tech Schools to fall under said Board; then perhaps more focus should be placed on fixing the Board of Regents instead of on creating a new bureaucracy.

Perhaps as time goes on I’ll think of other possible cons.

My initial thoughts of how to vote

Right now I am leaning towards voting NO on Amendment R. It isn’t because I am against postsecondary education or against Tech Schools. Far from it. But I do question the need to create a new education bureaucracy and how that bureaucracy will be paid for. The “R for Jobs” campaign is going to have to work hard to show what the plan is going forth; beyond simply stating it would be good workforce development. This Amendment has huge fiscal ramifications for taxpayer dollars. The taxpayers South Dakota need to know exactly how this money will be spent and why a whole new education bureaucracy needs to be created. If the Jobs for R campaign can come up with answer I will blog more about the topic!

Time to focus on the SD 2016 Ballot Questions

Abstract character on the white backgroundNow that I’m through looking at the legislative districts without a general election I thought it was worth taking some time to do an initial post for each of the ballot questions. I do have a page setup for links relating to the ballot questions. That page is very incomplete, but I will update the information for each ballot question as I write the post. The posts will be done in the order listed on my 2016 SD Ballot Questions page. That means Constitutional Amendment R is up first!

The initial post for each ballot question will focus on the following:

  • What the ballot questions is (or is not in some cases).
  • The origin of the ballot question.
  • Links to research the ballot question.
  • Pros and cons of each ballot question.
  • Initial recommendations on how I would vote. This may change as the election season goes and I learn more about a ballot question.

After the ballot questions are done then I will turn focus back to writing an initial post about each of the legislative races that actually have general elections. Plus I have plenty of other “summer list” posts I am still working on.  It should be a busy couple months!

Advertise on SoDakLiberty.com!

21568176Limited advertising space is now available on SoDakLiberty.com! I have a couple of advertisers that will be appearing on the site soon, but there are still a few slots available. Here is a repost of my Advertise on SoDakLiberyt page (which can be reached via the Top menu under “About”):

Advertising on SoDakLiberty.com is now available! Currently there are advertising spots available on the right content bar. In the future there will also be advertising options available on the left primary sidebar.

Why is SoDakLiberty.com a good place to advertise? SoDakLiberty consistently gets over 1,600 unique visitors per day. But more important, visitor to SoDakLiberty are actively seeking information. These visitors are interested in what is going on in South Dakota politics and the South Dakota legislature. During the legislative session and election seasons the traffic increases dramatically.

Some of the areas SoDakLiberty focuses on and does well (meaning more return visitors):

  • Covering the SD legislative session. All bills are looked at, not just the big ones that make headlines.
  • Covering the SD legislature when the legislative session is over. Anyone wanting to know what the legislature is doing in the off-season in interim committees can find that information on SoDakLiberty.com.
  • Proving information to South Dakota voters about ALL legislative candidates. If someone in South Dakota googles to find out information about their legislative candidates during the election season there is a good chance SoDakLiberty is where they will find the best information. A lot of painstaking time has been put into researching candidates and their legislative priorities.
  • Original content. SoDakLiberty.com does not simply regurgitate stories from newspapers and press releases (although there is some of that at times). More time is spent focusing on original content than anything else.

Currently there are 300 x 150 advertising slots available on the right content bar.

There are very few rules for the ads on SoDakLiberty. Here is the advertising policy on SoDakLiberty.com:

  • Being an advertiser will not impact the content of blog posts in any manner. Blog posts may be done to bring attention to an advertiser. But the presence of an advertisement will not change how a post is written. Being an advertiser also does not mean SoDakLiberty.com supports the message or target of that advertisement.
  • All advertisements are setup for a minimum of three months.
  • Three month blocks of advertisement space should be paid for up front. Extensions of an advertisement should also be done in three-month blocks.
  • All advertisements must be “honest”. Meaning the advertisement must not be part of a click-bait scheme or any kind of scam.

That is basically it. To advertise on SoDakLiberty.com simply email Ken Santema at sodakliberty@gmail.com and he will contact you with details and rates.

Plan to attend the Libertarian Party of SD State Convention this Sat July 30

Libertarian Party of South Dakota
Libertarian Party of South Dakota

On Saturday, July, 30, 2016, the Libertarian Party of South Dakota will hold its State Convention in Aberdeen. This is great news for people looking for alternatives to the big two parties. Details about the convention can be viewed on the LPSD website. There is also Facebook Event setup to learn details about the convention and RSVP (not required to attend!).

The Public Utilities Commissioner is the only SD Constitutional office up for election this year. LPSD hopes to have a candidate nominated for this position; giving the voters of South Dakota a liberty-minded choice for this important elected position. There are other nominations possible, stay tuned for details on that!

The convention is open to the public and attendance is free. Only those wishing to become voting members have any cost; and that is a mere $5 membership dues. I would urge all to attend and help shape the direction of a state party offering a liberty-minded alternative to traditional politics! Go to the Facebook Event to learn more!

I will be blogging about different aspects of the upcoming convention as the week continues. Stay tuned!

Governor Daugaard signed Executive Order declaring state of emergency due to drought conditions

As I was looking at the July 18, 2016, South Dakota LRC Register I couldn’t help but notice an Executive Order from Governor Dennis Daugaard listed. The executive order is to declare a state of emergency due to drought conditions in western South Dakota. This is technically the fourth Executive Order of 2016. All of the Governors executive orders can be viewed on the Secretary of State website (you can filter by year, which makes it much easier).

Here is a copy of the executive order (click to make bigger):

SD Drought Executive Order. Downloaded from SD SOS website.
SD Drought Executive Order. Downloaded from SD SOS website.

This executive order will allow the Emergency Management portions of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to use government resources to help those impacted by the drought. In particular this is aimed at the farmers and ranchers that are impacted by the drought conditions.

Emergency Management’s twitter feed points to the United States Drought Monitor as a resource to see current drought conditions. Here is a screenshot of the current conditions as of July 19, 2016, on the US Drought Monitor website:

Screenshot of SD Drought Monitor conditions on July 19 from the US Drought Monitor website.
Screenshot of SD Drought Monitor conditions on July 19 from the US Drought Monitor website.

The red is considered a D3 intensity drought, which the site lists as Extreme Drought.

Emergency Management doesn’t really provide any information about this particular emergency. I would think EM would provide more information to the public about a situation they feel rises to the level of a state emergency.

The SD Department of Agriculture points to the The Great Plains Interagency Dispatch website to see current fire dangers. Here is the current fire danger for Saturday July 23, 2016:

Current Fire Danger listed for July 23, 2016, on the gacc.nifc.gov website.
Current Fire Danger listed for July 23, 2016, on the gacc.nifc.gov website.

It isn’t looking very good for some west river counties!

Just as with DPS, I would have though the SD Department of Agriculture would have more information about this actual emergency. Perhaps these state agencies can learn to disseminate information more timely for state emergencies.

PS. Anyone watching this situation may also want to keep the FEMA Disaster Declarations for South Dakota website bookmarked. If this raises to the level of a federal emergency it will be listed there.

25 Executive Appointments and Reappointments listed in the July 18 SD Register

SD State Capital. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.
SD State Capital. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.

July has been a busy month for South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard in regards to executive appointments. The July 18, 2016, South Dakota LRC Register lists 25 executive appointments and reappointments made by the Governor.

Below is a list of the four executive appointments and twenty-one executive reappointments. If I find anything interesting about any of these appointments I’ve included that information.

Executive Appointments

Doug Balvin, Huron, was appointed on June 30, 2016, to the State Banking Commission, to replace Paul Christen, effective immediately and shall continue until October 30, 2018.

Balvin holds the Public Member slot on the board. Christen was appointed to this board last October. Bavin will hold the position until October 30, 2018; which was the same term end date as Christen had.

Linda Anderson, Rapid City, was appointed on July 10, 2016, to the State Arts Council, to replace Donald Montileaux, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2019.

Montileaux held the Visual Arts position on the board.  Anderson held a position on this board before.

Steve Willard, Belle Fourche, was appointed on July 10, 2016, to the Critical Teaching Needs Scholarship Board, to replace Timothy Mitchell, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2017.

Willard fills a Superintendent position on the board.

Mike Wordeman, Rapid City, was appointed on July 10, 2016, to the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, to replace Ralph Kemnitz, effective immediately and shall continue until April 14, 2019.

Executive Reappointments

Paul R. Batcheller, Sioux Falls, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Research and Commercialization Council, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2018.

Batcheller fills a Member at Large position on the board.

Barbara L. Christianson, Rapid City, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Civil Service Commission, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Peggy L. Dixon, Rapid City, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Water Management Board, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Dixon fills a Domestic position on the board.

Rodney Freeman, Jr., Huron, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Water Management Board, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020

Freeman fills an Industrial position on the board.

Robert E. Grandpre, Pierre, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Civil Service Commission, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Grandpre fills a position on the board that requires Law Enforcement Experience.

Judith D. Greff, Huron, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Civil Service Commission, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Rexford A. Hagg, Rapid City, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Board of Minerals and Environment, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Hagg is the chair of this board.

James O. Hansen, Pierre, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Hansen fills one of three commission spots on the WICHE board. In 2014 the Board of Regents was able to get HB 1019 (SoDakLiberty Posts) passed so it could enter into agreements with WICHE.

Theodore H. Hustead, Wall, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Board of Tourism, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Hustead fills the Black Hills region on the board. Hustead is also a member of the Board of Economic Development, which the SD Senate had to confirm earlier this year.

James Hutmacher, Oacoma, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Water Management Board, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Hutmacher fills a Licensed Well Driller position on the board.

Doyle R. Karpen, Jefferson, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Board of Minerals and Environment, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Deanna B. Lien, Rapid City, was reappointed on July 10, to the State Arts Council, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2019.

Lien fills a Lay Person position on the board.

David Link, Sioux Falls, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Research and Commercialization Council, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2018.

Richard Little, Spearfish, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the South Dakota Athletic Commission, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2019.

Valentina R. Merdanian, Oglala, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the HagenHarvey Memorial Scholarship Board, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2021.

Dr. John Miller, Brookings, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the State Capitol Complex Restoration and Beautification Commission, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Dennis L. Rowley, Spencer, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Petroleum Release Compensation Board, effective immediately and shall continue until May 1, 2021.

Rowley is the chair of this board. He fills a position for Insurance or Claims Adjusting.

Frank Smith, Gettysburg, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Board of Tourism, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Smith fills the SD Missouri River Region position on the board.

Eddie J. Sullivan, Tea, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Research and Commercialization Council, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2018.

Verle Valentine, Sioux Falls, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the South Dakota Athletic Commission, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2019.

Valentine was origninally appointed to this board in December of 2015.

Kristi M. Wagner, Whitewood, was reappointed on July 10, 2016, to the Board of Tourism, effective immediately and shall continue until June 30, 2020.

Wagner fills a Black Hills Region position on the board.

Recap of the South Dakota legislative races without a general eleciton

SD State Capital Building. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.
SD State Capital Building. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.

Currently there are a total of 27 candidates in 21 races that have already won the general election for the South Dakota legislature. Over the last month I have done a post about each of these won seats and will recap the list in this post. These previous posts were meant to take a look at some of the legislative priorities for candidates that have already won their general election. This is probably the last time I will blog about any of these candidates this year, unless they do something interesting on an interim committee or I run into one of them at a fair.

It should be noted I said “currently” in the first paragraph of this post. Candidates still have a few weeks to withdraw their names from the ballot. If a candidate withdraws and the local party does not find a replacement in time it could lead to the possibility of more uncontested general election races. Currently there are three Democrats showing as “withdrawn” on the Secretary of State website which have not been replaced by the local Democrat party yet. Two of these could leave a race uncontested: Ardon Wek is withdrawn from the District 19 State House race and no other Democrat is on the ballot and Chuck Groth is withdrawn from the District 22 State Senate race. It is also possible other placeholder candidates will withdraw their names as the deadline to withdraw looms closer.

Another possibility is that one of the uncontested races may in fact become contested. The Constitution Party of South Dakota recently nominated Wayne Schmidt to be a candidate for District 23 State Representative. It is now up to the court whether this will be allowed; see Ballot Access News for more information on this.

As of July 22, 2016, here is the list of South Dakota general election legislative races that have already been won.

District 1 State Senator

Democrat Sen Jason Frerichs won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 1 candidates can be read here.

District 1 State Representative

Democrats Rep Steven McCleerey and Susan Wismer won this election with no Primary or General election. Wismer is going back to Pierre by taking the place of term-limited Democrat Rep Dennis Feickert. My post about the District 1 candidates can be read here.

District 2 State Senator

Republican Sen Brock Greenfield won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 2 State Senate seat can be read here.

District 15 State Senator

This seat had been vacated by Democrat Sen Angie Buhl O’DonnellReynold Nesiba won the seat in the Democrat Primary against Rep Patrick Kirschman; who was term-limited in the House. My post about the District 15 State Senate seat can be read here.

District 20 State Representative

Republicans Lance Carson and Rep Tona Rozum won this election with no Primary or General election. Carson is going back to Pierre by taking the place of fellow Republican Rep Joshua Klumb. Klumb is seeking the State Senate seat. My post about the District 20 State House candidates can be read here.

District 21 State Senator

Democrat Sen Billie Sutton won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 21 State Senate race can be read here.

District 23 State Senator

Republican Rep Justin Cronin won this election with no Primary or General election. The incumbent Sen Corey Brown is term limited. My post about the District 23 candidates can be read here.

District 23 State Representative

Neither incumbent sought reelection for this seat; Rep Justin Cronin entered into the State Senate race and Rep Michele Harrison did not run for a second term. Republicans Spencer Gosch and John Lake won the Republican Primary. They defeated former legislator Charlie Hoffman and current legislator for District 22 Rep Dick Werner. My post about the District 23 candidates can be read here.

District 24 State Senator

Republican Sen Jeff Monroe won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 24 candidates can be read here.

District 24 State Representative

Republicans Rep Mary Duvall and Rep Tim Rounds won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 24 candidates can be read here.

District 26 State Senator

Democrat Sen Troy Heinert won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 26 candidates can be read here.

District 26A State Representative

Democrat Rep Shawn Bordeaux won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 26 candidates can be read here.

District 26B State Representative

Republican Rep James Schaefer won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 26 candidates can be read here.

District 27 State Senator

Incumbent Democrat Sen Jim Bradford is term-limited in the Senate and running for State House. Fellow Democrat Rep Kevin Killer was term-limited in the House and won this seat without a Primary or General election. My post about the District 27 State Senate race can be read here.

District 28 State Senator

Incumbent Republican Sen Betty Olson is not seeking reelection. Fellow Republican and former legislator Ryan Maher  won this seat in the Republican Primary against Steven Ritch and now faces no General election opposition. My post about the District 28 candidates can be read here.

District 28A State Representative

Incumbent Democrat Rep Dean Schrempp is term-limited. Fellow Democrat Oren Lesmeister won this seat without a Primary or General election. My post about the District 28 candidates can be read here.

District 28B State Representative

Incumbent Republican Rep Sam Marty defeated Karen Wagner in the Republican Primary and faces no General election opposition. My post about the District 28 candidates can be read here.

District 29 State Representative

Republicans Rep Thomas Brunner and Larry Rhoden won this seat without a Primary or General election. Former legislator Rhoden is returning to Pierre and taking the place of term-limited Rep Dean Wink. My post about the District 29 State Representative candidates can be read here.

District 31 State Senator

Republican Sen Bob Ewing won reelection with no Primary or General election. My post about the District 31 candidates can be read here.

District 31 State Representative

Republicans Rep Timothy Johns and former legislator Charles Turbiville won the Republican Primary. Rep Fred Romkema was term-limited. Johns and Turbiville defeated Michael Weyrich in the Republican Primary. There is no General election opposition. My post about the District 31 candidates can be read here.

District 35 State Senator

Republican Sen Terri Haverly defeated Tina Mulally in the Republican Primary and faces no General election opposition. My post about the District 35 State Senate race can be read here.

Dist 35 State Senate reelection already won by Haverly

SD Legislative District 35. Screenshot from LRC website 5/31/16.
SD Legislative District 35. Screenshot from LRC website 5/31/16.

District 35 is the last South Dakota legislative district to look at with no general election for State Senate. This race was decided during the Republican primary since there is no general election opposition. District 35 is the east side of Rapid City and area east of Rapid. This includes the town of Box Elder.

The incumbent Sen Terri Haverly defeated her Republican primary challenger Tina Mulally. My post looking at that primary matchup can be read here. Since there is no general election opponent Haverly has won her reelection bid.

Even though Haverly has already won the general election I will still do a post on her. It is still worth if for the constituents of District 35 to know a thing or two about the legislative priorities of Haverly. Since I already looked at Haverly in the primary I am simply going to copy/paste what I had written before.

*** 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.

District 35 State Senate

Terri L. Haverly

Sen Terri Haverly. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.
Sen Terri Haverly. Photo by Ken Santema 1/27/16.

Sen Terri Haverly (R, Dist 35) – Incumbent
Facebook – Twitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: Senate 2016 2015
SDPB Video: 2014

Since I already looked at the legislative priorities of Haverly I will simply copy/paste what I wrote about her in the District 35 Republican State Senate Primary post:

Haverly is up for a primary in her first reeleciton bid. She does have an online presence, but as with other sitting legislators I would rather look at the bills she has prime sponsored to get an idea of legislative priorities.

First up is this bill from 2016:

SB 92 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Continue a math pilot project at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.

This appropriates $250,000 to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for the continuation of the 2015 math pilot project. It was amended on the Senate floor. Originally the bill would have taken money from the general fund, the amendment changes that money to come from the workforce education fund.

This is a bill that some had mixed feelings about. First it is a program that was being privately funded and some thought the school should have found private money to continue supporting the program. But the bigger issue was the fact that so many students are arriving at the School of Mines without the basic math skills needed to enter the school. Instead of proving summer tutoring before students attend class, perhaps it is time to realize the current education system is going the wrong direction and find ways to make public education work. This bill does show Haverly is working on legislation for local issues such as the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

Next up is a set of bills from, one from 2016 and one from 2015:

SB 85 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise certain provisions regarding motorcycle license plates.

SB 85 (SoDakLiberty Posts )– Repeal certain requirements regarding the handlebar height on motorcycles.

It is just an odd coincidence that Haverly had a motorcycle bill two years in a row with the same Senate Bill number. They are both good laws though. The 2016 bill clarified that a motorcycle doesn’t need two license plates and the 2015 bill got rid of a law that isn’t based on any true public safety grounds.

Finally from 2015 it is worth looking at this bill:

SB 94 – Signed by Governor – SoDakLiberty Posts – Establish a license fee for electric-powered motorcycles.

Yes, it is another motorcycle bill. But it is also about fees. In this case it appears there was no place in law where a fee had been set for  licensing an electric motorcycle. Part of this bill could be seen as enabling legislation for a product that is hitting the market. But on the other hand the fee charged is set to the “highest fee level authorized by this section”. So no matter what all electric motorcycles will be given the highest fee, even though gas powered motorcycles are done by power rating.

Interim Appropriations meeting on July 22, ORC and LEAN audit of BIT

On Friday, July 22, at 9:00 am CT the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations the Legislative Research Council  will meet in Pierre. The meeting will be held in LCR 1 of the State Capital building. SDPB will also provide live audio for anyone wishing to listen in on the meeting. The agenda for this meeting can be found here.

This post will call out just two areas of the agenda in which I am paying close attention to: the ORC and the Lean audit of BIT.

Update on the ORC

I have been blogging quite a bit about the states new Obligation Recovery Center (ORC). The ORC is the new collection agency to be targeted against SD citizens that owe money to the state. It will have the power to withhold licenses.  I recently noted the ORC was scheduled to come online July 15. At this meeting the ORC will only be operational for about a week. But it is still worth paying attention to this update and hearing if the implementation is going according to the new schedule.

Lean implementation for BIT

This agenda item actually has four sub topics:

a. Update on Executive Board approval – Executive Board Members
b. Update on initial discussions with South Dakota entities using Lean principles – Commissioner
Zolnowsky, Bureau of Information and Telecommunications
c. Discuss criteria and scope of study for Lean implementation
d. Approve JCA Action Plan

I recently blogged about the Appropriations committee because of a request for money it is making from the Executive board. Appropriations wants a LEAN audit of the Bureau of Information and Telecommunications (BIT). I go into some of the history of this action in my previous post.

In my previous post I mentioned this might be a doubling of effort because the newly implemented Board of Internal Control (BIC) is doing roughly the same thing for each department. I was able to speak with a couple of legislators from the Executive Board. They do not feel this is a doubling of effort because the new internal control board is only dealing with a conflict of interest and a code of conduct for state agencies. I disagree. The bill that was passed by the legislature appears to have given this new board the ability to create true internal controls, which is very similar to Lean. I would suggest the legislature take a look at what the internal control board is actually doing; it might not be what they thought was being signed into law. It is also possible the internal control board is going beyond the scope of what was intended. And it is also possible I am misreading the similarities in implementing a full internal controls system and implementing Lean (full disclosure, I have experience with implementing Six SIgma).

While speaking with a couple of the legislators there was also concern about the new internal control board doing a lean audit of BIT. The board is made up of state agency insiders. There are valid questions as to whether the internal control board can truly do an independent audit of BIT.

The Executive Board didn’t exactly give the Appropriations committee a blank check. Instead the following motion was listed in the minutes from the Exec Board meeting:

A MOTION WAS MADE BY SENATOR BROWN, SECONDED BY REPRESENTATIVE WINK, TO HAVE LRC STAFF DRAFT A MEMO ON BEHALF OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD TO THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS THAT THE BOARD IS SUPPORTIVE OF THE CONCEPT OF A LEAN AUDIT OF THE BUREAU OF INFORMATION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND THE JOINT COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS SHOULD USE WHATEVER LEGAL MEANS NECESSARY TO IDENTIFY AN APPROPRIATE CONTRACT AT WHICH POINT IF THE CONTRACT MEETS THE OBJECTIVE THE BOARD IS WILLING TO AUTHORIZE THE FUNDING NOT TO EXCEED $200,000. The motion prevailed on a roll call vote with 12 voting AYE, 2 voting NAY, and 1 EXCUSED. Those voting AYE: Brown, Heineman, Parsley, Sutton, White, Bolin, Hawley, Hunt, Johns, Romkema, Wink, Cammack. Those voting NAY: Omdahl, Haggar. EXCUSED: Gosch.

There were questions during the meeting what legal requirements would have to be met. Thus the language added to ensure any RFP’s or other requirements would need to be met.

I still think the Appropriations committee should look at what the internal control board is doing before moving on. Even if they continue with the Lean audit of BIT, it is quite clear the internal control board at least thinks it is going to do what the Appropriations committee wants to do. This mess needs to be cleaned up.

Dist 31 State Senate and House seats already won by Ewing, Johns, and Turbiville

SD Legislative District 31. Screenshot from LRC website 5/25/
SD Legislative District 31. Screenshot from LRC website 5/25/

District 31 is another South Dakota legislative district with no general election for State Senate or State House. These races have been decided with a Republican primary election on the State House side and no primary on the State Senate side. District 31 is in the center of South Dakota’s Western border. Towns in this district include Central City, Deadwood, Lead, Spearfish, and Whitewood.

There was not a primary election for District 29 State Senate. The current State Senator, Sen Bob Ewing, put in his petition for reelection and had no opposition.

District 31 did have a Republican primary election this year. My post looking at that primary can be read here. One of the incumbent Representatives, Rep Fred Romkema (R, Dist 31) is term-limited. The other incumbent, Rep Timothy Johns (R, Dist 31), faced Charles Turbiville and Michael Weyrich for the two House seats. Johns and Turbiville won the primary; making them the winners of the primary election by default.

Even though these three have already won the general election I will still do a post on them. It is still worth if for the constituents of District 31 to know a thing or two about the legislative priorities of these politicians. In this post I will look at a few pieces of legislation prime sponsored by each of them.

*** 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.

District 31 State Senate

Bob Ewing

Sen Bob Ewing on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/30/15.
Sen Bob Ewing on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/30/15.

Sen Bob Ewing (R, Dist 31) – Incumbent
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: Senate 2016 2015 2014 2013

Ewing did not face a primary election opponent and has no general election opponent. He will get reelected simply by having submitted his petition. Ewing does not have a great online presence, but that is OK since I will focus on legislation he has prime sponsored. That should give the constituents of District 31 some idea as to who represents them.

First up for Ewing is the only bill he prime sponsored in 2016:

SB 2 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise the distribution of the revenue from the alcoholic beverage fund.

Previously 25% of revenue from the alcohol tax went to municipalities and the rest went to the state. This bill as originally submitted would have changed that to 1/3 to the municipalities, 1/3 to the counties, and 1/3 to the state. This was done because the state continues to impose more costs on the counties, without actually giving them a new source of revenue for those costs. This bill was amended in Senate Local Government to change that distribution to 25% municipalities, 25% counties, and 50% state. That still gets more revenue to the counties, but does not increase the municipal take. As of July 1 the counties should now see this extra revenue.

Personally I think it should have been amended back to 1/3 each, but as is this bill as signed into law will help the counties. The state has dramatically shifted law enforcement costs to the counties without shifting revenue.

Up next for Ewing is this bill from 2015:

SB 80 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Increase the selling price of a towed vehicle that exempts the seller of the vehicle from certain vehicle dealer licensing requirements.

This bill has to do with abandoned vehicles. The tow companies that end up with these vehicles have to store and eventually sell the vehicles. Any towing company that ended up selling one of these vehicles for more than $200 were required to get a dealers license. Ewing made the case this is a hardship for small business towing companies that really don’t want to be in the used car business.  This bill as signed into law changed the threshold from $200 to $1200.

Finally it is worth looking at this tax bill from 2014:

SB 98 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Increase the selling price of a towed vehicle that exempts the seller of the vehicle from certain vehicle dealer licensing requirements.

This is an interesting bill because it was the only bill in the 2014 legislative session that was vetoed. Here is my brief description of the bill from my post about the veto:

The bill in question is SB 98 and has a stated purpose to “allow certain municipalities to charge a higher occupational tax.” A better way to explain the bill would be: allow the city of Deadwood to increase its occupation tax from $2 per room to $3 per room.

Here is part of Governor Daugaard’s reason for the veto:

The property tax opt-out already allows local officials to raise additional tax revenues.  I do not support expanding the ability of local governments to raise taxes, especially when such a raise cannot be referred to a public vote.

The Senate was unable to overturn the Governor’s veto. This was an interesting bill because it put the “local control” and “no new taxes” crowds against each other in the Republican party.

District 31 State Representative

Timothy R. Johns

Rep Timothy Johns on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.
Rep Timothy Johns on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/29/16.

Rep Timothy Johns (R, Dist 31)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013

For Johns I will simply repost what was written for the District 31 Republican House primary:

Johns doesn’t have much of an online presence. That is OK because like all sitting legislators a few bills Johns has prime sponsored can be looked at to get an idea of his legislative priorities.

The first bill to look at from 2016 is:

HB 1057 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise the rule-making authority of the South Dakota Commission on Gaming.

This bill is was submitted on behalf of Deadwood, which falls within District 31. HB 1057 was signed into law and will allow blackjack/poker to have rules promulgated by the South Dakota Commission on Gaming. It also allows variations of limited card games, craps or roulette. Johns bringing this bill forth is not surprising considering gambling in Deadwood would be a big revenue driver for his district. There was a lot of resistance to the bill on the House floor, but that is not surprising for a gambling bill. It is likely any legislator for District 31 will have to have some sort of working relationship with the South Dakota Commission on Gaming.

Another bill to look at from 2016 was:

HB 1059 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise provisions related to the garnishment of debts and property.

This is another bill that was signed into law. A lot of this bill is cleanup of old language. There is a mixture of good and bad to the parts of the bill with substance. On the good side this bill changes the minimal amount taken from a check from $10 to $25. This change is good because some people actually end up owing more on their debt after the bank and collection services have taken their cuts with the minimum being at $10. A possible bad side to HB 1059 is that registered mail has been added as a means to serve papers. It just seems odd that a method of delivery with no confirmation of receipt could be used to serve papers. This bill was brought forth from the State Bar’s Debtor-Creditor committee. Johns is a lawyer.

Finally it is worth looking at one of Johns failed bills:

HB 1149 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Provide authority to establish a special purpose district for recreational purposes.

HB 1149 was brought forth as a way for West River locations to cash in on more tourism dollars. Johns bill would have created a new taxing district authority. There are already a number of special purpose tax districts:

county road, ambulance, rural fire protection, sanitary, irrigation, watershed, and water project districts

I think there is a large difference between the existing special purpose tax districts which are focused on core infrastructure projects; and this proposed special purpose tax district created for recreational undertakings. With landowners already feeling the pressure of high property taxes the House killed the bill by a good margin. This type of bill could either be seen as a local control bill, or as a proposed tax increase.

Charles M. Turbiville

Charles Turbiville. Photo from LRC website.
Charles Turbiville. Photo from LRC website.

Charles Turbiville (R)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmartOpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005

As with Johns, for Turbiville I will simply repost what was written for the District 31 Republican House primary:

Turbiville is a former legislator and current Mayor of Deadwood. In fact he won reelection for Mayor just this year by one vote.  One thing voters should consider is if they want a sitting legislator to also be the sitting Mayor of Deadwood.Turbiville says he can do it, but voters should make that determination for themselves. Since Turbiville is a former legislator it is worth looking at a few pieces of legislation he prime sponsored.

In 2012 Turbiville sponsored this bill:

HB 1130 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise the fee schedule for certain documents filed with the county register of deeds, to create a county and statewide fund for the purpose of modernizing and preserving records, and to distribute certain revenue.

One of the good parts of this bill was to create a mechanism for modernizing and preserving records electronically. But at the same time this included a good number of fee increases. These fee increases are to help pay for the modernization and preserving of records. This is another one of those bills that can be looked at two different ways. First it can be seen as just another fee increase. Or it can be seen as the users of a service paying to upgrade the services provided via that fee.

A bill from 2009 worth looking at is:

HB 1090 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Prohibit the possession of Salvia divinorum or salvinorin A and to declare an emergency.

Salvia divinorum is a plant known to have some psychoactive effects.  Historically it has been used for spiritual visions and the like. Back around the time this bill was passed there was a great scare that Salvia use was on the rise. Also since Salvia is not a federally controlled substance it was legal. Turbiville brought for HB 1090 to make it a Class 1 misdemeanor to possess 2 ozs or less of Salvia and a Class 6 felony to possess more than 2 ozs of Salvia. Voters for or against the War on Drugs may want to keep this bill in mind when voting.

Finally, from 2009 it is worth looking at a Deadwood bill:

HB 1261 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Allow slot machines to be substituted for video lottery machines in certain alcoholic beverage establishments.

This bill died in committee. But it is an example of legislation that someone serving in District 31 is likely expected to  carry in Pierre. Looking at the legislative history of District 31 legislators it has become clear that Deadwood centered bills are common. Since Turbiville is the current Mayor of Deadwood it could possibly be expected he will not only carry on the tradition, but increase it.

South Dakota political blogging from a libertarian-leaning individual

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