District 25 State House Republican Primary: Hunt, Ecklund and Pischke

SD Legislative District 25. Screenshot from LRC website 5/23/16.
SD Legislative District 25. Screenshot from LRC website 5/23/16.

South Dakota legislative District 25 has  a Republican Primary for State House. There is also a Primary on the Democrat side, but that is a different post. District 25 is an oddly shaped district north of Sioux Falls and NE of Sioux Falls. Towns in this district include
Baltic, Brandon, Colton, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Sherman, Sioux Falls, and Valley Springs.

Incumbent Rep Kris Langer (R, Dist 25) is running for State Senate. The three Democrat candidates trying for District 22 House are incumbent Rep Roger Hunt (R, Dist 25), Courtney Ecklund (R), and Tom Pischke (R). The two winners of this primary will face the two winners of the Democrat primary in the general election.

Here is a brief look at all three candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

Roger Hunt

Rep Roger Hunt (R, Dist 25)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
SDPB Video: 2014

State Rep Roger Hunt speaking on the SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 03/10/15.
State Rep Roger Hunt speaking on the SD House Floor. Photo by Ken Santema 03/10/15.

Hunt doesn’t appear to have much of an online presence for constituents to learn about him. But that is OK. He is a sitting legislator, so there is legislation that can be looked at. For this post a few recent pieces of legislation will be looked at in order to get an idea of his priorities.

One of the biggest social issues for the legislature in 2016 was transgender use of showers and bathrooms in schools. While Hunt didn’t sponsor the bill that got the most attention, he did sponsor a pair of bills that fell within that domain. Here are the two bills in question:

HB 1111 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Require the high school interscholastic activities association to promulgate major policy statements under the procedures of the administrative rules process.

HB 1112 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Establish certain procedures regarding a transgender policy for the purposes of participation in high school activities and to declare void any present transgender policy of the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

Both of these bills were aimed directly at the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s (SDHSAA) transgender policy for locker room and bathroom use. Basically HB 1112 would have voided the current SDHSAA transgender policy and required legislative approval of any transgender policy in the future. I didn’t see HB 1112 going very far. By the time this bill came up in committee Governor Daugaard had already vetoed the big transgender bill  HB 1008 (SoDakLiberty Posts). An interesting side-note is that Hunt seemed to have gained support from a lot of conservatives in his area after submitting these bills. The support gained as people on the other side of the issue started attacking Hunt personally  instead of having a policy discussion.

The other transgender bill, HB 1111, was more interesting. It would have required the SDHSAA to submit any major rule changes to the Rules Review committee like any other state agency. Transgender issue aside, there have been multiple complaints that the SDHSAA has gone wild with power and going beyond the scope of what it should be doing. And since it is a quasi-state-agency it would have possibly been a good idea to provide the same oversight to the SDHSAA that the rules review committee does to other agencies. But since this bill was tied to the transgender issue it was easily defeated.

Both of the transgender bills show Hunts stance on social conservative issues. Personally I think the legislature and SDHSAA should have no transgender policy, but after traveling the state for the last few months I get the impression I am in the minority with that opinion.

Another bill from 2016 worth looking at is HCR 1015 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HCR 1015 is the latest version of the resolution that the legislature passes on behalf the federal Congressional delegation to commend Taiwan. That in itself is not a big deal one way or the other. The problem is that the resolution also supports the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Last fall I did three separate posts looking at TPP in SD politics:

  1. TPP and the SD legislature
  2. TPP and the SD Dept of Ag
  3. TPP and the Congressional delegation

Hunt’s support of TPP seems odd, especially since the hard right he associates so well with is also opposed to TPP.  When TPP is fully ratified it won’t be surprising if many of the conservatives that supported this resolution will suddenly speak out against TPP after finding out what is actually in it.

Courtney Ecklund

Courtney Ecklund (R)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

I don’t seem to be able to find much of anything on Ecklund. Perhaps Ecklund was a last-minute placeholder candidate that accidentally got into a primary race. Or perhaps he is focusing on door-to-door and literature drops.

Tom Pischke

Tom Pischke (R)
Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Tom Pischke. Photo from Pischke's campaign Facebook page.
Tom Pischke. Photo from Pischke’s campaign Facebook page.

Pischke has a campaign Facebook page. There isn’t much there. But I did find this in a post:

To all South Dakota Shared Parenting Friends and Supporters:

As you know, I am running for SD House of Representatives for District 25. If elected, I will by YOUR VOICE in our state legislature. I know firsthand how unethical our system is as I’ve been just another victim of the corruption of our court system and reduced to a visitor in my 3 young children’s lives and a child support paycheck to my ex-wife. I will work diligently to reform the Family Law practices of our great state

In 2014 a shared parenting law passed via SB 74 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Here is what I had to say about the bill when it passed:

This is probably one of the best laws passed this year. And it is a surprisingly libertarian take on a law. This shared parenting law basically says that custody disputes between parents shall be treated equal under the law and the court should start with the presumption of joint custody. There are provisions that can be used to change that presumption and custody can still be awarded in varying ways. But at least now both parents start on equal grounding. That is a huge victory for advocates of share parenting: equal treatment under the law!

I’ve heard from shared parenting advocates that more work needs to be done and SB 74 was not a final solution. Rather one shared parenting advocate said it was a step along the way.  It would appear Pischke is ready to take on that fight.

There isn’t much else to learn about Pischke on his Facebook page. But he does appear to be getting out in the district and letting his name be known.

District 25 State House Democrat Primary: Haagenson, Ahlers and Tellberg

SD Legislative District 25. Screenshot from LRC website 5/23/16.
SD Legislative District 25. Screenshot from LRC website 5/23/16.

South Dakota legislative District 25 has  a Democrat Primary for State House. There is also a Primary on the Republican side, but that is a different post. District 25 is an oddly shaped district north of Sioux Falls and NE of Sioux Falls. Towns in this district include
Baltic, Brandon, Colton, Dell Rapids, Garretson, Sherman, Sioux Falls, and Valley Springs.

Incumbent Rep Kris Langer (R, Dist 25) is running for State Senate and incumbent Rep Roger Hunt (R, Dist 25) is in a Republican primary. The three Democrat candidates trying for District 22 House are David Haagenson (D), Dan Ahlers (D), and Ryan Tellberg (D). The two winners of this primary will face the two winners of the Republican primary in the general election.

Here is a brief look at all three candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

David Haagenson

David Haagenson (D)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

I can’t seem to find any campaign activity for Haagenson. He appears to be a farmer from the Baltic area. Back in 2012 Haagenson was a part of the Local Teacher Reward Plan Advisory Council created by that years HB 1234 (SoDakLiberty Posts). He appears to have been on that council as a member of the Baltic School Board. Unfortunately for him that Council was never able to get any work done because HB 1234 was referred to the voters as RL 16 and subsequently rejected by the voters.

Since there doesn’t appear to be any campaign activity online for Haagenson I’ll end this look at him here. Perhaps he is relying upon local name recognition and door to door operations mixed with mailings.

Dan Ahlers

Dan Ahlers (D)
Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty
LRC: Senate 2010 2009 House 2008 2007
SDPB Video: 2012

Dan Ahlers. Picture from Ahlers' campaign Facebook page.
Dan Ahlers. Picture from Ahlers’ campaign Facebook page.

Ahlers actually has served a term in the State House and State Senate.  He was defeated by Republican Tim Rave for the Senate seat in 2010 and 2012. He doesn’t have much for recent online activity, but that is OK since a few bills he prime sponsored can be looked at to get an idea of his legislative priorities.

In 2010 Ahlers was the prime sponsor of SB 121 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 121 was an Act to “require the Department of Education to promote certain programs for children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.” The bill barely made it through the House, in fact it died on the House and only passed after a reconsideration. It was then Vetoed by Governor Mike Rounds. The Senate was able to override the veto, but House was not. The following paragraph explains Rounds reason for vetoing:

Senate Bill 121 requires the Department of Education to establish and implement a program and policy which promotes the education of children who are deaf and hard-of hearing. The program and policy shall be disseminated to all school districts and other local education agencies. Further, the program and policy require school districts to implement many specific instructional methods that are already required by federal law or extend beyond federal law. The bill is simultaneously redundant and restrictive.

The biggest change in the bill appears to be changing “may” to “shall”, plus some language clarification. Some may see this bill as a way to help certain disabled kids, while others will have seen this kid as yet another mandate on education.

Another bill from 2010 is SB 164 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 164 was an Act to “require the Board of Regents to prepare a plan for the establishment of a community college system in South Dakota.” Both the Technical Institutes and Board of Regents opposed this idea. I can’t really say that is a surprising outcome. Both of the higher education entities are already trying to get more and more money. This bill does show higher education as a priority for Ahlers (even if it was not a supported method).

The final bill to look at from Ahlers is 2009’s SB 141 (SoDakLiberty Posts). This bill was signed into law and was an Act to “revise certain codes and standards regarding wind energy system set back requirements.” Ahlers’ bill included this important section:

Each wind turbine tower of a large wind energy system shall be set back at least five hundred feet or 1.1 times the height of the tower, whichever distance is greater, from any surrounding property line.

This bill was likely Ahlers looking at creating some sort of base regulation for a newly forming industry. It also became a large issue in the 2016 legislative session. Apparently over the last year a wind energy project did not follow these guidelines and was too close to a surrounding property line. That case is now in court. There were two failed pieces of legislation from the 2016 session that tried to settle this matter by changing the requirements set forth by Ahlers bill in 2009. The failed bills were SB 76 (SoDakLiberty Posts) and HB 1106 (SoDakLiberty Posts). I’m not sure what this bill says about Ahlers, but I thought it was interesting to tie a 2016 issue into its source from 2009.

Ryan Paul Tellberg

Ryan Tellberg (D)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Tellberg is another stealth candidate. He appears to have been a Colton City Council member. But there doesn’t seem to be much more available about him. Perhaps he entered the race as a placeholder or is relying upon local campaigning to win the primary.

District 23 State House Republican Primary: Werner, Lake, Gosch, and Hoffman

SD Legislative District 23. Screenshot from LRC website 5/23/16.
SD Legislative District 23. Screenshot from LRC website 5/23/16.

South Dakota legislative District 23 has  a Republican Primary for State House. District 23 is in North-Central South Dakota just East of the river. Towns in this district include Akaska, Artas, Bowdle, Chelsea, Cresbard, Eureka, Faulkton, Gettysburg, Glenham, Herreid, Hillsview, Hosmer, Hoven, Ipswich, Java, Lebanon, Leola, Long Lake, Lowry, Miller, Mobridge, Mound City, Onaka, Orient, Pollock, Ree Heights, Rockham, Roscoe, Selby, Seneca, St. Lawrence, Tolstoy, Tulare, Wessington and Wetonka.

Incumbent Rep Justin Cronin (R, Dist 23) is term-limited and running for State Senate and incumbent Rep Michele Harrison (R, Dist 23) is not seeking reelection. The four Republican candidates trying for District 22 House are Rep Dick Werner (R, Dist 22), John Lake (R), Spencer Gosch (R) and Charlie Hoffman (R). The two winners of this primary will not face any opponents in the general election.

Here is a brief look at all four candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

Dick Werner

Rep Dick Werner (R, Dist 22)
Website – BallotpediaVoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013
SDPB Video: 2014 2012

Rep Dick Werner on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/10/15.
Rep Dick Werner on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/10/15.

Werner is currently a State Representative for District 22. He has recently moved and is seeking a seat in District 23. Some have pointed out that he shouldn’t be able to serve in one district while living in another district that he is running for election in. I haven’t looked into that issue, but it is worth keeping in mind for voters of District 23.

There is a platform page on Werner’s website. But since he is a sitting legislator I would rather look at a few pieces of legislation he has prime sponsored.

First up from the 2016 legislative session is HB 1075 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1075 is an Act to “revise the area for certain open units where nonresident waterfowl licenses are issued.” This bill is interesting because it revises an administrative rule, instead of codified law. In particular it modified ARSD 41:06:16:11, which deals with the maximum number of nonresident waterfowl licenses. Currently Unit NRW-00X includes the counties of Potter, Stanley, Sully, Hughes, and Lyman. This bill adds Campbell, Edmunds, Faulk, McPherson, and Walworth to that unit for nonresident waterfowl licenses. The counties being added see this as an economic development opportunity. Technically this doesn’t add any new nonresident waterfowl licenses, it just allows them more possible land to hunt from. The only opposition to this bill came from outside of the area. Bills such as this have gained a lot of attention from sportsmen and Werner’s willingness to take on this bill does show a certain amount of guts.

Another bill to look at from 2016 is HB 1150 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1150 is an Act to “revise certain provisions concerning the property tax exemption provided to local industrial development corporations.” This is a bill that allows local industrial development corporations to increase their property tax exemption from $100,000 to $750,000. The bill also removed the requirement that multiple local industrial development corporations in a municipality share the exemption. Proponents of the bill touted this as an economic development tool. But it could also be looked at as a property tax shift for special interest corporations that are already receiving taxpayer support in other areas.

Finally it is worth looking at HB 1138 (SoDakLiberty Posts) from 2015. HB 1138 is an Act to “revise the penalty for the failure to wear a properly adjusted and fastened safety seat belt system in a passenger vehicle.” This is a bill many small government advocates were happy to see die on the House floor. This bill would have changed a seat-belt violation from being a petty offence to being a petty offence with a $50 fine. Many saw this as a unneeeded change.

John A. Lake

John Lake (R)
Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

John A. Lake. Picture from Lake's campaign Facebook page.
John A. Lake. Picture from Lake’s campaign Facebook page.

Lake has a campaign Facebook page. He does have one post on the page which includes a bullet point list of what he stands for:

A vote for John Lake to the House of Representatives is a vote to:

– Curb government growth
– Keep taxes low
– Maintain local control of education
– Not give up State control to the Federal Government
– Support Pro-Life legislation
– Preserve our 2nd amendment rights
– Keep state bureaucrats in check

He also has a post with his relevant experience:

Here is a short list of other positions held and organizations involved with:

– Past President of South Dakota Wheat
– National Director for National Association of Wheat Growers
– Former County Commissioner
– Gettysburg/ Whitlock Bay Development Corp.
– Gettysburg Education Foundation
– Gettysburg Cemetery Association
– Potter County Republican Chairman
– Potter County Fair Board
– Emmanuel Lutheran Church

I really don’t know much beyond that about Lake. I had hoped to attend the candidate forum in Mobridge, but life happened… He does seem to be pretty active going around District 23, so hopefully potential voters have had a chance to meet him in person.

Spencer Gosch

Spencer Gosch (R)
Website – Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Spencer Gosch. Photo from Gosch's campaign Facebook page.
Spencer Gosch. Photo from Gosch’s campaign Facebook page.

Gosch does have a Views page on his campaign website. Those are basically split into five categories: Agriculture, Taking Care of our Veterans, Business and Economic Development, Education, and Taking Care of our Finest generation.

Probably most interesting from that page is part of what he has to say about economic development:

So, where do I feel that Government fits in here? I believe that it is the Government’s job to support local business rather than regulate or tax people out of their lively hoods. It’s the Government’s job to use the money generated by the people to maintain infrastructure like roads and other public utility resources. To promote local economic development and to stay out of the way of hard working individuals that just want a piece of the American Dream!

Gosch has been very active on his campaign Facebook page as he travels District 23. He has actually been giving video updates. He doesn’t really give any information to learn more about him in these videos, but it is nice way to show all the towns he has been to.

As I said above with Lake, I was not able to attend the candidates forums in District 23 so have been unable to meet Gosch as I hoped. Perhaps sometime in the next couple of weeks it will be possible…

Charles B. Hoffman

Charlie Hoffman (R)
Website – FacebookTwitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmartOpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009

Charlie Hoffman. Picture from Hoffman's campaign Facebook page.
Charlie Hoffman. Picture from Hoffman’s campaign Facebook page.

Hoffman is no stranger to District 23 House. He was the District 23 State Representative from 2009 to 2014. After a short break he is looking to serve the District again. Hoffman does have an Issues page on his website. He also has a page listing the legislation he has worked on. Since he is a former legislator I will take some time to look at a few bills he was prime sponsor of.

First up from 2014 is HB 1093 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1093 was an Act to “prohibit public schools from starting a school term before the last Monday in August.” The bill failed, but it was an interesting bill nonetheless. There are a lot of parents who are tired of the current school year that seems to start sooner and sooner and each year. This causes complications with vacations and in some cases with work. On the other hand this is a local control issue and it is up to the local school board to set the school year calendar. The bill failed, but the resentment of many parents has not stopped. Perhaps the parents should take Hoffman’s idea and start lobbying their local school boards.

The bill worth looking at from 2013 is HB 1135 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1135 was an Act to “regulate access to and use of public waters on public and private property.” This is a topic way too big for one little paragraph. It is a topic that raises a lot of emotion between land-owners rights and sportsmens rights. In South Dakota all water is in the public trust, and is not owned by anyone (including property owners). This bill tried to create some guidelines for what private property owners with non-meandered water on their land can do to post notices and restrict access lawfully. The bill was eventually killed in Senate State Affairs in order to give the two sides time to cool down and come up with a compromise. This is an issue that is nowhere near over. Hoffman being willing to bring this bill forth showed quite a bit of political courage considering sportsmen and land owners are two groups shown to be quite vocal in Pierre.

Finally it is worth looking at HJR 1002 (SoDakLiberty Posts) from 2014. HJR 1002 was a resolution “Proposing and submitting to the electors at the next general election an amendment to Article III, section 6 of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to legislative term limits.” Basically this would have changed the term limits from 4 consecutive terms per chamber to 5 consecutive terms per chamber. There are some that feel this change would have fixed some of the balance of power between the legislative and executive branches. Theoretically by losing so many experienced legislators it means the legislature is losing in-house knowledge and thus losing power to the executive branch. In reality I don’t think that would fix any of power imbalance issues and the term limits are better left where they currently reside. The bill made it through the House and then failed on the Senate floor. Even though I think Hoffman was wrong with this particular legislation, I do think it was good to try looking for solutions to the imbalance of power between the two branches of state government.

District 22 State House Democrat Primary: Dannenbring, Wollschlager and Raschke

SD Legislative District 22. Screenshot from LRC website 5/21/16.
SD Legislative District 22. Screenshot from LRC website 5/21/16.

South Dakota legislative District 22 has  a Democrat Primary for State House. District 22 is in the central part of Eastern South Dakota. Towns in this district include Arlington, Badger, Bancroft, Broadland, Cavour, De Smet, Erwin, Hetland, Hitchcock, Huron, Iroquois, Lake Preston, Oldham, Virgil, Wessington, Wolsey, and Yale.

Incumbent Rep Peggy Gibson (D, Dist 22) is term limited. The other incumbent Rep Dick Werner (R, Dist 22) has recently moved and will be seeking election in District 23. The three Democrat candidates trying for District 22 House are Carmen Dannenbring (D), Joan Wollschlager (D) and Darrell Raschke (D). The two winners of this primary will face Roger Chase (R) and Bob Glanzer (R) in the general election.

Here is a brief look at all three candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

This post will be quite short. There simply isn’t a lot of information available about these candidates.

Carmen Dannenbring

Carmen Dannenbring (D)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

I’m not sure if Dannenbring is actually a candidate, or a placeholder that accidentally got into a primary challenge. Dannenbring is very active on her personal Facebook with typical partisan Democrat posts and appears to be a Bernie Sanders supporter. But there is nothing showing publicly on her Facebook about her candidacy. The local papers have nothing post about her that I could find, other than to state Dannenbring has turned in her petitions.

Joan Wollschlager

Joan Wollschlager (D)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty
SBPB Video: 2014

Wollschlager ran for District 22 House in 2014 and got third place in the general election. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of activity online for voters to learn about Wollschlager as a candidate in 2016 other than an article in the Plainsman. The Plainsman article includes the following:

 “Serious issues like road infrastructure, property taxes, health care, education, ethics violations and bonding laws need the attention of our Legislature,” she said.

“The past couple of years of problems and violations in South Dakota should wake us up to the need for change in Pierre,” Wollschlager said in her announcement.

Those are some good issues to run on, hopefully for her sake she has been reaching out to potential voters in order to inform them of her priorities. She definitely isn’t making it easy for potential voters to learn about her.

Wollschlager’s 2014 SDBP Meet the Candidate video had her saying that education, agriculture, and economic development will be her top priorities. For agriculture she mentions needing a “fair tax structure”. It would be interesting to hear what she would find to be fair.

Darrell Raschke

Darrell Raschke (D)
Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Raschke ran for State Senate against Sen Jim White (R, Dist 22) in 2014 and lost by a rather large margin. Raschke does have a campaign Facebook page setup; but it is basically devoid of any information. Perhaps Raschke is another placeholder candidate that accidentally got into a primary race.

District 19 State House Republican Primary: Osborn, Peterson, and Schoenfish

SD Legislative District 19. Screenshot from LRC website 5/20/16.
SD Legislative District 19. Screenshot from LRC website 5/20/16.

South Dakota legislative District 19 has  a Republican Primary for State House. There is also a primary for State Senate in District 19, but that is covered in a different post. District 19 is in SE South Dakota. Towns in this district include Alexandria, Armour, Bridgewater, Canistota, Corsica, Delmont, Dimock, Emery, Farmer, Freeman, Fulton, Menno, Montrose, Olivet, Parkston, Salem, Scotland, Spencer, Tabor, Tripp, and Tyndall.

The current State Representatives, Rep Kent Peterson and Rep Kyle Schoenfish, are seeking reelection. Republican ReGina L. Osborn is hoping to take one of the two spots from the incumbents.  The two winners of this primary election will face Ardon Wek (D) in the general election.

Here is a brief look at all three candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

ReGina L. Osborn

ReGina Osborn (R)
Facebook  – BallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

ReGina Osborn picture from her Facebook campaign page.
ReGina Osborn picture from her Facebook campaign page.

Osborn is hoping to take one of the House positions from the incumbents. Her campaign Facebook page does not list any specific issues or platform. However for the last couple of months she has been very active on that page and it has become quite clear that she is running to the right of both Peterson and Schoenfish. Osborn calls herself a conservative, and if the posts she does on Facebook is any indication I would say that label seems more than appropriate.

The Mitchell Daily Republic did a small story about Osborn’s candidacy that included this:

… She is focused on reining in the tax, spend, create more government, and corruption we are all witnessing in Pierre.

I don’t think there are many conservatives that would disagree with Osborn on the above statement. In just the last two years the legislature has passed the two biggest tax increases in recent South Dakota History; those of course being the infrastructure tax increase of 2015 via SB 1 (SoDakLiberty Posts) and the teacher-pay/property-tax-reduction sales tax increase of 2016 via HB 1182 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Osborn’s opponents voted Yea to both bills. That could be an issue for her to run on.

She is dedicated to protecting family values, defending gun rights, supporting private property rights, and bringing back accessibility of our district representation to people within the community, which has been conspicuously absent the last two years.

I wish Osborn had provided a list of issues so constituents could learn more about how she would protect family values, gun rights, and private property rights. These are issues the right-wing of the Republican Party cares about and could be winning topics for her if she can reach the conservative base.

I have spoken with a few Republicans in District 19 who know Osborn. They say she is as conservative as her campaign Facebook makes her seem. It will be interesting to see if the primary voters in District 19 agree a more conservative voice is needed in Pierre.

Kent S. Peterson

Rep Kent Peterson (R, Dist 19) – Incumbent
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015
SDPB Video: 2014

Rep Kent Peterson on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 1/21/15.
Rep Kent Peterson on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 1/21/15.

Peterson has completed his first term as State Representative. He easily walked into the position without opposition in 2014 to fill the seat vacated by Stace Nelson. It will be interesting to see if he can win reelection.

Since Peterson has a legislative history (and a non-existent online presence) I will take some time to look at the bills he has prime-sponsored. He really hasn’t sponsored many bills, but even a couple of bills can show something about him as a legislator. [a lack of bills prime sponsored is not a bad thing in my opinion]

The first bill to highlight from Peterson is HB 1219 (SoDakLiberty Posts) during the 2015 legislative session. HB 1219 is and Act to “permit entities to voluntarily disclose ownership on filings with the Office of the Secretary of State and to establish a fee therefor.” The bill basically added the ability to submit the statement of voluntary disclosure of beneficial interests with the SOS office and added a $25 fee to amended annual reports. Peterson’s opponent may use this to show he is willing support a fee increase piece of legislation.

In 2016 Peterson was not the prime sponsor of any House bills, but he was the House Prime sponsor of SB 74 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 74 was an Act to “authorize members of certain governing bodies who are displaced by a natural disaster to continue their term of office.” Basically this bill would not force certain elected officials to resign if their house is destroyed by a natural disaster and are temporarily living outside of their district. This happened in Delmont. There were no problems there with the elected officials, but could have been. This legislation passed into law will give elected officials one less thing to worry about in emergency situations.

The two bills Peterson prime sponsored could show a pattern of wanting to ensure government works efficiently. HB 1219 might be used against him as a fee increase.

Kyle Schoenfish

Rep Kyle Schoenfish (R, Dist 19) – Incubment
Facebook – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013
SDPB Video: 2012

Rep Kyle Schoenfish on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/11/15.
Rep Kyle Schoenfish on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/11/15.

Schoenfish is currently on his second term as State Representative for District 19. Just like Peterson, Schoenfish’s online presence is virtually non-existent; making it very difficult for constituents to learn about him. He has only one post from 2016 on his campaign website, and it is basically someone on his campaign staff asking everyone to vote for Schoenfish and Peterson. It also asks people to vote for Caleb Finck on the Senate side.

Just like with Peterson above, I will now take a moment to look at a couple pieces of legislation prime sponsored by Schoenfish in 2016.

First in 2016 Schoenfish was the prime sponsor of HB 1230 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1230 was an Act to “require lights on certain animal-drawn vehicles while operating on a highway.” This bill basically came about because of an Amish community in District 19. Looking back it seems odd a law had to be passed in order to deal with one specific circumstance in one community; especially since one would think the Amish in question would want to stay alive and let others know they are on the road at night. But, on the other hand this is legislation that shows Shoenfish is paying attention to issues in his district.

The other bill prime sponsored by Shoenfish in 2016 was HB 1089 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1089 was an Act to “revise provisions for accumulation of funds for certain municipal enterprises.” Here is what I said about the bill after it was signed into law:

This would change the accumulation of funds from exceeding “an amount equivalent to ten dollars per thousand dollars of taxable valuation of all property within the municipality” and change it to “The governing body shall establish a maximum amount allowed to be accumulated in the fund.” In committee the proponent testimony noted the current limit was arbitrary. This change would make it more transparent for taxpayers and easier for cities to use their money in the ways the city finds necessary.

Since the LRC website lists Schoenfish as an accountant it makes sense this type of legislation would be prime sponsored by him. He does seem to prime sponsor legislation aimed at fixing specific problems.

District 19 State Senate Republican Primary: Nelson and Finck

SD Legislative District 19. Screenshot from LRC website 5/20/16.
SD Legislative District 19. Screenshot from LRC website 5/20/16.

South Dakota legislative District 19 has  a Republican Primary for State Senate. District 19 is in SE South Dakota. Towns in this district include Alexandria, Armour, Bridgewater, Canistota, Corsica, Delmont, Dimock, Emery, Farmer, Freeman, Fulton, Menno, Montrose, Olivet, Parkston, Salem, Scotland, Spencer, Tabor, Tripp, and Tyndall.

The current State Senator, Sen Bill Van Gerpen (R, Dist 19) , is not seeking reelection. The two Republicans in this Senate race are Stace Nelson and Caleb Finck.  The winner of this primary election will face Russell Graeff (D) in the general election.

Here is a brief look at both candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

Stace Nelson

Stace Nelson (R)
Website – FacebookTwitter – Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2014 2013 2012 2011
SDPB Video: 2012

Stace Nelson speaking with voters at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema 8/16/13.
Stace Nelson speaking with voters at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema 8/16/13.

Nelson was a State Representative for District 19 until vacating his seat to run for US Senate in 2014. During that campaign I got to know Nelson pretty well. I would sum him up as a true small government advocate that cares about protecting the rights of his constituents. There are more moderate portions of the Republican party that don’t like him for various reasons; mostly because he calls out any behavior he doesn’t feel is conservative. It would be interesting to see Nelson in the SD Senate chamber.

Nelson has an issues page on his website. But since he has a legislative history I will pick out three bills from 2014 that are worth looking at to get an idea of the type of legislation he brings forth.

First up is 2014’s HB 1172 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1172 was an Act to “require certain legislative meetings to be open to the public.” The bill didn’t make it past House State Affairs, but is worth looking at for anyone who cares about open government. The bill was simple and had only one sentence:

Any gathering of a simple majority of either the South Dakota House of Representatives or the South Dakota Senate, meeting to discuss introduced legislation, shall be open to the public.

What this would have done is open up the Republican caucus meetings in Pierre to the public. Currently the Republicans enjoy a super-majority in both houses of the legislature. That means any discussion done about legislation during caucus meetings is done outside of the public eye, even though there is technically a quorum present. The Democrats have caucus meetings open to the public, there is no reason the Republicans shouldn’t be able to do the same for the sake of open government. Opening the caucus meetings to the public would go a long way to get rid the impression (or reality) that things are always done behind closed doors in Pierre.

Another bill from 2014 worth a glance is HB 1176 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1176 was an Act to “prohibit state participation in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.” Unfortunately this is another bill that didn’t pass through the legislature. Due to the many scandals surrounding the EB-5 program it might have been a good idea for the legislature to make a statement and opt out of the program.

Finally I think HCR 1023 (SoDakLiberty Posts) is worth a glance, especially in an election year. HCR 1023 was a concurrent resolution that would have rejected the Common Core State Standards plan. Over the last few years more and more people are beginning to understand that the states involvement in Common Core is not good for the education of our youth. Nelson can definitely be counted on as an advocate for empowering teachers and getting bureaucrats out of the classroom.

I’ll end my look at Nelson here but it should be noted that Nelson brought forth a lot of legislation during his four years in Pierre. This was a just a small sampling from 2014.

Caleb Finck

Caleb Finck (R)
Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

Caleb Finck picture from his campaign Facebook page.
Caleb Finck picture from his campaign Facebook page.

Finck is a recent SDSU graduate and was the Student’s Association president for a couple of years. His Facebook doesn’t offer any issues he is campaigning on, so I’ll have to rely upon what I find in other media sources in my search for information on him.

First there is this press release over at Dakota War College. Here is a part of that press release:

“I am a strong supporter of new technology and precision in farming, and I want to be a solid voice for agriculture in South Dakota,” he said. During his campaign, Finck will emphasize the pivotal role that education plays in the state’s economic development.

Finck’s rural roots guided him to select community development as his area of graduate study, and intends to put the knowledge acquired in that program to use by promoting economic growth in rural South Dakota.

From the above it would seem economic development and education are going to be Finck’s two biggest issues.

To learn more about Finck there is this article from the Mitchell Daily Republic. When talking about education Finck has this example of what rural schools have to look towards:

When he returns to Tripp in the spring, Finck intends to begin an online master’s degree program through SDSU in community development. Finck, who will be taught by educators throughout the country in the comfort of his rural Tripp residence, thinks the state’s K-12 students could benefit from similar distance education methods.

Part of the teach pay increase this year was an accompanying bill, SB 133 (SoDakLiberty Posts), that included an expansion of e-learning. It would seem this is the direction Finck would advocate in getting more education available for rural learners. SB 133 passed both chambers with overall support and any future legislation to expand upon e-learning is likely to get support.

The one issue I wish Finck would expand upon is economic development. It would be good for constituents to know what kind of programs (other than education) he would consider legislatively to promote economic development.

Finck has an uphill road in this election. He is facing a former legislator that is well-liked in Hanson county. There is likely to be some establishment money from the moderate Republicans going Finck’s way to use against Nelson. But it is hard to imagine that money will be enough to take Nelson on. This might be an interesting race to watch.

District 18 State House Democrat Primary: Svarstad, Allen and Rossiter

SD Legislative District 18. Screenshot from LRC website.
SD Legislative District 18. Screenshot from LRC website.

South Dakota legislative District 18 has  a Democrat Primary for State House. District 18 is Yankton and some of the surrounding area around Yankton. Other towns in this district include Lesterville, Utica, Volin, Mission Hill, and Gayville. It appears the very West edge of Irene may also be in this district.

The three Democrats in this House race are Christopher P. SvarstadDavid Allen, and Peter Rossiter. The two Democrats that win this primary election will face the two current Republican incumbents, Rep Jean Hunhoff (R, Dist 18) and Rep Mike Stevens (R, Dist 18), in the general election.

Here is a brief look at all three candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

This post will be shorter than some of the others in this series. There simply isn’t as much available on these candidates.

Christopher P. Svarstad

Christopher P. Svarstad (D)
WebsiteFacebook – BallotpediaVoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Christopher P. Svarstad. Photo from Svarstad's campaign Facebook page.
Christopher P. Svarstad. Photo from Svarstad’s campaign Facebook page.

I have to admit I’m at a loss as to how to treat Svarstad in this post. Both the Dakota War College and Dakota Free Press have done posts on him. He does have a Facebook page setup, I presume for his campaign. But all that is really there is an endorsement of David Allen and the following attack on Rep Mike Stevens:

Chris Svarstad vs. Rep. Mike Stevens on crime:

Svarstad supports the death penalty for first degree murderers. Stevens not only opposes the death penalty, he allowed first degree murders to have weekend passes from jail. One was Eric Stukel who murdered Tammy Haas in a robbery stabbing her 19 times, despite being incarcerated Stuckel recieved 10 weekend passes. Stuckel fled kidnapped a young couple stabbing the man and repeatedly raping his girlfriend.

Weekend passes: Mike Stevens on Crime. Worst cover-up of a crime in Yankton history.

Svarstad apparently supports the death penalty. That is really the only issue I could pin Svarstad down on online.

Like I said I really don’t know how to treat Svarstad and will just have to stop here…

David Allen

David Allen (D)
Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmart – SoDakLiberty
SDPB Video: 2012

David Allen. Picture from Allen's PUC campaign twitter account.
David Allen. Picture from Allen’s PUC campaign twitter account.

David Allen is a name that can be recognized because he was the Democrat candidate for Public Utilities Commissioner in 2014. Also back in 2012 he ran for State Senate in District 18.

Allen did an interview for the Madville Times (now Dakota Free Press) back in his run for PUC (unfortunately Allen was one of the few statewide candidates I didn’t get to interview in 2014). In that interview he has quite a bit to say about Keystone XL and renewable energy, which makes sense since he is an electrician.

To really get at his issues for legislature it might be best to go back to his SDPB Meet the Candidate video from 2012. In that Allen focused on funding education, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Allen believes  that not funding education properly puts a greater burden on welfare programs and Medicaid.  He further believes education is necessary for society to thrive.

As a small business owner Allen believes in investing in his employees. But he does not believe tax dollars should be used to fund corporations and instead should be invested in unemployment, infrastructure and schools.

Peter Rossiter

Peter Rossiter (D)
Website – Facebook – BallotpediaVoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Peter Rossiter. Picture from Rossiter campaign website.
Peter Rossiter. Picture from Rossiter campaign website.

Rossiter has an actual issues page on his campaign website. Here is the key of his candidacy:

The Plan?

I want to make state government responsive and accountable to the people of Yankton County. My goals are 1) property tax reform 2) quality health care of everyone and 3) good schools.

Property tax reform is an issue that could gain a lot of support. Too bad Rossiter doesn’t expand upon that goal.

Also on Rossiter’s issues page is the following:

The EB-5 and Gear Up scandals show the legislature is no longer acting as a watch dog over the executive branch. One-party government is corrupt government. We need a legislature that holds government accountable and not a legislature that targets the weakest and most vulnerable like trans-gender children, the poor, and the disabled. With your help I am determined to make it happen.

Holding the executive branch accountable should be an issue for every candidate. It appears Rossiter is in this race to protect “the little guy”.

District 16 SD State House Republican Primary: Jensen, Anderson and Shorma

SD Legislative District 16. Screenshot from LRC website.
SD Legislative District 16. Screenshot from LRC website.

South Dakota legislative District 16 has  a Republican Primary for State House. District 16 is the SE tip of South Dakota and includes the towns of Worthing, Canton, Hudson, Beresford, Alcester, Elk Point, Jefferson, North Sioux City and Dakota Dunes. One of the incubments, Rep Jim Bolin (R, Dist 16), is term limited and seeking the Senate Seat. The other incumbent Rep David Anderson (R, Dist 16) is seeking reelection. Sen William Shorma (R, Dist 16) is vacating the Senate seat he was appointed to in order to run for a House seat. Finally Kevin D. Jensen (R) is also running for a House seat and has been in the Republican primary a couple times previously. The two Republicans that win this primary will face Ted Curry (D) and Ann Tornberg (D) in the general election.

Here is a brief look at all three candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

Kevin D. Jensen

Kevin Jensen. Photo from Jensen's campaign Facebook page.
Kevin Jensen. Photo from Jensen’s campaign Facebook page.

Kevin D. Jensen (R)
WebsiteFacebook – Ballotpedia  – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Jensen is no newcomer to running for District 16 House. He ran in both 2012 and 2014 in the Republican primary. His website is actually one of the more useful ones I have seen to actually learn about a candidate. This small business owner definitely appears to be more towards the right spectrum of the Republican party.

His website shows he is against Common Core, against a one-size-fits-all budget formula for school funding, and against an income tax. In fact he has this to say about income taxes:

The Liberals and the Liberal Media constantly attack corporations as not paying their fair share. Corporations are not people but they pay the highest corporate taxes in the world, 35%!. They are managed by people, and those people pay income taxes. The profits that corporations make that are not taxed are the profits that are reinvested in the company for modernization, safety or growth. Besides the taxes they pay out they pay dividends to shareholdss or bonuses to employees, which are taxed once again. If you have a retirement plan, a 401k or an annuity you most likely receive dividends from these ‘evil corporations’. If the corporations had to pay additional taxes they would charge more for the goods and services they provide or you would not receive the same growth in your retirement accounts that you do now. In essence you will pay the tax for them. Don’t be fooled by Liberals!

The only reason to ask for an income tax is to increase spending. We need to clean up our state budget before we consider doing that.

Beyond his willingness to let constituents know his stance on issues I think there is one more part of his website worth taking note of. Right on the front page he has this posted:

If Shorma and Anderson both win the house seats that means 100% of your House Representation is hand picked by the Governor and essentially your vote means NOTHING!
They are hand picked by the Governor because they will agree with him, will introduce his bills and vote how he wants them too. If you want to have an unincumbered voice in Pierre, I am your only choice.

This is a very good point by Jensen. Both of his opponents were Governor appointees. There are many (including myself) who believe the current Governor has had an overly large amount of appointees in the legislature. Republican voters in District 16 might want to take this into account when going to the polls.

David L. Anderson

Rep David Anderson (R, Dist 16) – Incumbent
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 (appointed)

Rep David Anderson on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/18/16.
Rep David Anderson on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/18/16.

Anderson was appointed to fill the House seat being vacated by Patty Miller in 2013. He then won the election in 2014 to stay in Pierre for another two years. The LRC lists his occupation as Farming/Insurance. Since Anderson is a sitting legislature I will look at a couple of the bills he has been prime sponsor for in order to learn about his priorities.

In 2016 Anderson was the prime sponsor of HB 1084 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1084 is an Act to “define when concurrent employment may be used to calculate earnings in workers’ compensation cases”. This bill came about because of a Supreme Court decision last year. Currently state law says that if a person has multiple jobs, and a person gets hurt at Job A, only Job A is considered for workman’s compensation. The Supreme Court ruling last year stated each job had to be taken into account for workman’s compensation. This bill is an attempt to comply with that ruling; and also to legislate what was left unknown by that ruling. I think Anderson sponsoring this bill shows he is willing to take on what many would consider a complex and messy issue.

The other bill Anderson prime sponsored in 2016 was HB 1204 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1204 is an Act to “provide a sales and use tax exemption for certain nonprofit corporations created for the purpose of fire protection.” This bill came forward because of an issue in Canton, which is in District 16. The city has  fire department and owns fire department trucks, those are exempt from sales tax. The firemen have their own nonprofit and lend their services to the city and surrounding area. The rural community also owns truck and equipment as an unincorporated association. So they began the process of creating a fire district, but that didn’t make sense. Then a nonprofit was created for the area around Canton to own firetrucks and equipment. Now this association is looking at buying a new pumper truck, DOR said this association is exempt from excise tax, but not from the sales and use portion for all the equipment to be put on the truck. This bill fixed that. I think this is another example of Anderson willing to take on a complex issue.

Anderson doesn’t seem to sponsor a lot of bills. But when he does sponsor a bill it seems he is willing to take on complex issues. Too bad he doesn’t make more information about himself readily available online for potential constituents to learn more about him.

William “Bill” Shorma

Sen William Shorma (R, Dist 16) – New appointee Shorma is switching to the House so Bolin can run for State Senate.
Ballotpedia – VoteSmartOpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: Senate 2016 2015 (appointed)

Sen William Shorma on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/19/16.
Sen William Shorma on the SD Senate floor. Photo by Ken Santema 2/19/16.

Shorma was first appointed to his position by Governor Daugaard in 2015 to replace Dan Lederman.  He is not seeking the Senate seat again and is instead trying to get elected to the SD House. The LRC website lists his occupation as Business Owner. Shorma did not prime sponsor any Senate Bills, but he did sign on to be prime sponsor of a few House bills during the 2016 session. He was the House sponsor for Rep Anderson’s HB 1084 (mentioned above).

Shorma was also the Senate prime sponsor for HB 1135 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1135 is an Act to “establish venue for certain actions arising out of real property lease agreements. Basically this bill would make sure that legal disagreements between the two parties in a lease agreement is tried in the county where the land is. This bill is only interesting because there are many who thought this was already true.

Other than that there really isn’t much to learn about Shorma online. He definitely is not going out of his way to make his stances known to potential constituents.

Board of Internal Control and other executive appointments listed in the May 2 register

I’m reviewing the May 2, 2016  South Dakota LRC Register and notice more executive appointments listed.

Most of these appointments are for the  Board of Internal Control. This board was created during the 2016 legislative session via SB 162 (SoDakLiberty Posts). The Board of Internal Control is the result of the Governor’s office trying to look like it is doing something with the many scandals such as GEAR-UP. Lt. Gov. Matt Michels has been taking the lead on this little project. Here is part of what the press release about this bill had to say:

SB 162 establishes the Board of Internal Control to develop and implement a system of internal control to be utilized throughout state government. The board will ensure sub-recipients are enforcing conflict of interest policies, adhering to internal controls systems, and posting audits and internal revenue findings.

I don’t think this can really be looked at as an independent boy. I would also question how effective this board will be since this is not an independent body. Here is the portion of SB 162 that sets the membership of this Board:

There is hereby created a State Board of Internal Control that consists of seven members. Three members shall represent state agencies under control of the Governor and shall be appointed by the Governor. Each member appointed by the Governor shall serve a three-year term. However, the initial appointments shall be for staggered terms. The remaining members shall be the commissioner of the Bureau of Finance and Management, the state auditor, a Board of Regents administrator’s designee, and a member appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Any four of the seven members constitutes a quorum. The commissioner of the Bureau of Finance and Management shall be chair of the board.

These are definitely all insiders. Here are the appointees listed in the May 2 register:

Steve Barnett speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 8/4/14
Steve Barnett speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 8/4/14

Steve Barnett, Pierre, was appointed on April 20, 2016, to the Board of Internal Control, effective immediately.

Barnett fill a position on the board due to being the State Auditor.

Tami Darnall, Pierre, was appointed on April 20, 2016, to the Board of Internal Control, effective immediately and shall continue until March 29, 2019.

Darnall is the Director of the Division of Finance and Management for the SD Department of Education and is on this board as a Governor’s appointment.

Jason Dilges, Pierre, was appointed on April 20, 2016, to the Board of Internal Control, effective immediately.

Dilges is on the board because of his position as the Commissioner of the Bureau of Finance and Management

Monte Kramer, Pierre, was appointed on April 20, 2016, to the Board of Internal Control, effective immediately.

Kramer is the System VP of Finance & Administration for the SD Board of Regents and was appointed by the Board of Regents.

Greg Sattizhan, Pierre, was appointed on April 20, 2016, to the Board of Internal Control, effective immediately.

Sattizhan is the State Court Administrator for the SD Unified Judicial System and fills the position appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Laura Schaeffer, Pierre, was appointed on April 20, 2016, to the Board of Internal Control, effective immediately and shall continue until March 29, 2018.

Schaeffer is a Deputy Financial Officer for the SD Department of Social Services and is on the board as a Governor’s appointee.

Kari Williams, Pierre, was appointed on April 20, 2016, to the Board of Internal Control, effective immediately and shall continue until March 29, 2017.

Williams is a Finance Officer for the SD Department of Health and is on the board as a Governor’s appointee.

Other Executive Appointments listed in the May 2 register:

Reed Kessler, Aberdeen, was appointed on April 19, 2016, to the Board of Economic Development, to replace Timothy Kessler, effective April 20, 2016, and shall continue until April 19, 2020.

Andrew Kightlinger, Pierre, was appointed on April 20, 2016, to the State Arts Council, to replace Jim Speirs, effective July 1, 2016, and shall continue until June 30, 2019.

Kightlinger fills a Media Arts position on the board.

Paula McMahan, Elk Point, was appointed on April 25, 2016, to the South Dakota Professional Teachers Practices and Standards Commission, to replace Kenneth Vander Vorst, effective immediately and shall continue until December 31, 2018.

Eric Stroeder, Glenham, was appointed on April 25, 2016, to the South Dakota Professional Administrators Practices and Standards Commission, to replace Pamela Haukass, effective immediately and shall continue until December 31, 2018.

Stroeder is listed on the board as a School Board Member.  He is a school board member from the Mobridge-Pollock school district and is currently the President of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota.

District 15 SD State Senate Democrat Primary: Nesiba and Kirschman

legdist15
SD Legislative District 15

South Dakota legislative District 15 has  a Democrat Primary for State Senate. District 15 seems to be mostly in North Sioux Falls.  The incumbent, Sen Angie Buhl O’Donnell (D, Dist 15) , is not seeking reelection. These two candidates are the only in the race for District 15 State Senate; so whoever wins this primary will by default also win the general election. The term-limited Rep Patrick Kirschman (D, Dist 15) is running for this Senate seat and is being challenged by Reynold F. Nesiba (D).

Here is a brief look at both candidates.  The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the primary ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.

Reynold F. Nesiba

Reynold F. Nesiba (D)
Website – Facebook – Twitter – Ballotpedia  – VoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Reynold Nesiba picture from his campaign Facebook page.
Reynold Nesiba picture from his campaign Facebook page.

Nesiba actually has a pretty active online presense, making it easier to research him. Here is Nesiba’s brief bio from his campaign website:

I currently serve as Professor of Economics at Augustana University, where I have been employed since 1995. I plan to maintain that position. However, if elected, I will reduce my teaching load so that I can meet my responsibilities as a State Senator in Pierre beginning in January of 2017.

Nesbia does have somewhat of an issues page on his campaign site. But I think more can be learned back on his bio page listing his legislative priorities:

My legislative priorities are to protect the use of ballot measures, to continue to rein in predatory lenders, to properly fund education, and to advocate for economic development policies that prioritize workers and local entrepreneurs over out of state corporations. I am also enthusiastic about working with other citizens and legislators to restore the health of our Big Sioux River.

Speaking of ballot measures and payday lenders, Nesiba is the treasurer for South Dakotans for Responsible Lending. This is the group that circulated petitions for Initiated Measure 21 (IM21), which would cap interest rates for payday lenders at 36%. Due to the many dirty tricks already taken by the payday lending industry to fight IM21 I wouldn’t be surprised if the industry didn’t throw some money at Nesiba’s opponent just to retaliate.

One of Nesiba’s campaign blog posts is about the minimum wage, and also ties into ballot measures:

In the classroom, I make strong arguments both for and against the minimum wage. I do, after all, want my students to be able to think critically and to reach and be able to defend their own opinions about matter of public policy. In my own thinking, I have publicly supported a higher minimum wage in the state of South Dakota through collecting ballot petition signatures, speaking out in a variety of different venues, and in this case co-authoring a column in the Argus Leader with a colleague from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

I think it is pretty clear Nesiba is an advocate of direct democracy. I also see he is one of the more active candidates on Facebook, trying to communicate out to potential constituents.

Patrick Kirschman

Rep Patrick Kirschman (D, Dist 15)
Ballotpedia – VoteSmart – OpenStates – SoDakLiberty
LRC: House 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
SDPB Video: 2014

Rep Patrick Kirschman on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/2/16.
Rep Patrick Kirschman on the SD House floor. Photo by Ken Santema 3/2/16.

Kirschman is term-limited in the House and now seeks District 15’s Senate seat. Unlike Nesiba, Kirschman does not have any discernible online presence. Kirschman is listed as a retired baker on the LRC website. But since Kirschman is a sitting legislator it is easy to look at some of his legislative priorities.

In 2016 Kirschman was the prime sponsor of a trio of bills aimed at fixing ballot question issues that occurred in Sioux Falls. These bills are:

  • HB 1194 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise the authority of state’s attorneys to take action regarding certain local open government violations.
  • HB 1195 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Revise certain provisions regarding ballots used in municipal referendum elections.
  • HB 1196 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Create a deadline for the preparation of statements for municipal referendum ballots.

House Local Government killed all three bills. But I think it shows Kirschman has an interest in making sure the election process is fair and open.

Along those lines…

In 2015 Kirschman was the prime sponsor of HB 1175 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1175 would have prevented the legislature from making changes to an initiated measure for year. That of course became an issue because of the new minimum wage initiated measure passed by the voters of SD in 2014. At that time it was expected one more portions of the new minimum wage would be changed by the Republican majority legislature. One portion of the new minimum wage law was changed by the legislature in SB 177 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 177 created a lower minimum wage for teens. SB 177 was referred to the voters and will be on the ballot this fall as Referred Law 20 (RL20). Had Kirschman’s bill passed it would not be as easy to immediately undo initiated measures.

Finally I think it would be worth looking at HB 1207 (SoDakLiberty Posts) from 2014. Kirschman brought this law forth to undo the gag law that had been passed in the mid-90’s to keep a certain elected official quiet about certain financial dealings (that might be a historic post for later this summer). This law was originally passed due to the Unclaimed Property fund, but it could easily be used for many other areas of state government.  With this gag law in place it prevents certain state officials from commenting on certain topics while there is an active audit. That might sound reasonable, but it goes against open government. Unfortunately House Judiciary killed Kirschman’s bill.

Despite his lack of an online presence, he seems to have some of the same interactive democracy priorities as Nesiba.

South Dakota political blogging from a libertarian-leaning individual

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