At midnight tonight 2013 will officially end. I’ve decided to take a couple of minutes to look back at what I consider to be 5 of the top under-reported political stories in South Dakota 2013. My list will not likely match up with any other top 5 in South Dakota because I am focusing on top issues I feel didn’t get enough attention. This is in no particular order.
South Dakota had some interesting gun rights bills in the legislature this year. While most of the attention was focused on the ‘School Sentinel’ bill, I found HB1129 worthy of more attention. This type of bill is often called a ‘parking lot bill’. The bill, if passed, would have prohibited employers from creating policies that restricted employees and customers from having firearms in their vehicles. As a gun rights advocate I understand what this bill was trying to do. However when creating new laws it is important to look at all rights involved and reconcile that. In this case I do not believe the property rights of a business owner should be overridden by gun rights of others. Had this bill passed I believe it would have continued the gradual erosion of property rights.
South Dakota legislators have taken a lot of heat for using taxpayer dollars to pay the dues and travel expenses associated with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). I agree, taxpayer dollars should not be spent on such groups. Groups such as ALEC are used by lobbyists and big corporations buy legislation. But, ALEC is not the only group of this kind. There are two other groups that are just as bad (if not worse) but seem to get a free pass because they are less openly conservative. The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) and the Council of State Governments (CSG). A vast majority of the bad laws, both at the state and federal level, can be connected back to one of these groups. It is quite hypocritical to attack one of these groups and ignore the others. There is no reason for taxpayer dollars to be used as dues or travel expenses for any of these groups.
Back in October the South Dakota Freedom Coalition released it’s South Dakota Freedom Index scorecard. I found this to be a good reference when grading legislators in Pierre because freedom is a huge topic for me. Just as with any scorecard it must be realized that it is targeted and does not tell a whole story. But with that in mind, I found this to be well done and agree with its findings. Scorecards like this should be one of the many tools we as constituents use to decide whether it is time to replace incumbent legislators in 2014.
South Dakota parents becoming aware of Common Core, my notes from the Lake Norden Common Core meeting
2013 became an interesting year for education in South Dakota. It is when many parents (including myself) first learned the implications of Common Core. Personally I think both sides of the issue have exaggerated some points (which is likely to happen in any politically charged issue involving children). Yet the more I look into Common Core the more I worry about the future education for our children. Part of the problem is the belief that education needs to be further standardized and centralized, I completely disagree with this approach. While this is in my ‘under-reported’ list for 2013, I actually expect this to be a top issue reported on by the mainstream media in the 2014 legislative session.
This last month in Huron the Governor hosted a Pheasant Habitat Summit. I found this to be a great event and am glad the Governor has taken this step. Conservation concepts should always be at the forefront of our minds. That is especially true for farmers and ranchers in South Dakota. Personally I don’t think a lot will come directly out of the summit, but in order for there to be a change there has to be a starting point. To me the Pheasant Habitat Summit was a good starting point for getting South Dakota focused on conservation. Perhaps with enough attention there will be private solutions that come forward and we can be proud of the steps taken within South Dakota’s borders to promote conservation.
These are five topics I felt didn’t get enough attention in 2013. They simply aren’t as ‘cool’ or ‘interesting’ when compared to the Senate Race or the EB-5/Benda scandal. It will be interesting to see what issues are under-reported in 2014.