SD 2014 Ballot: My thoughts on Initiated Measure 18

Earlier this week I blogged about Initiated Measure 17, which has to do with patient choice. Now it is time to look at the other Initiated Measure on the ballot: IM 18. IM 18 was placed on the ballot to raise the minimum wage and increase the minimum wage each year automatically. The text of the IM and he actual changes to law it would make can be read at the end of the AG’s explanation.

This IM would change the basic minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50. Tipped employees have their minimum wage changed from $2.13 to 1/2 of the basic minimum wage; that would basically mean the starting minimum wage for tipped employees would be $4.25 if this IM is passed. Of course wage plus tips must still equal the basic minimum wage (if they don’t, the employer has to kick in the difference). Additionally this IM would put the minimum wage on an auto-pilot  cost of living increase that is tied to the Consumer Price Index.

I’ve seen proponents of the minimum wage increase focus on promoting economic fairness and building the economy. It’s been argued that it is unfair for unskilled labor to be making such meager wages while CEO’s are making hundreds of times the amount of money. Additionally I’ve seen it argued that putting more money in the hands of those working minimum wage will increase economic activity. Some of the statistic put out by the Pro IM 18 website include:

  • 62,000 working South Dakotans will see an increase in earnings if we raise the wage
  • 78% of those folks are over the age of 20, often with a family to support
  • 55% of those who benefit are women

Groups speaking against IM 18 seem to be focused on the never-ending increase that included in the IM. According to opponents this IM would hurt small businesses, especially in small towns, the hardest. Opponents of the IM generally use the term mandate, which is exactly what the minimum wage is. In addition, prices will go up while unskilled labor jobs will be harder to find. Opponents of IM 18 say that economic activity will actually be stunted by the passage of this minimum wage increase.

Personally I believe both groups are over-stating their cases (which is typical with a politically charged topic), but I am siding with the opponents in this particular case. I understand why the proponents of a minimum wage increase are fighting so hard. They truly feel this will help poor people in the State of South Dakota and allow some working families to better survive. But I believe the minimum wage is the wrong area to focus in helping poor people out. A better place to focus would be purchasing power. Income is a part of purchasing power, but not an overwhelming part as many believe it is. Other factors that decrease purchasing power more than anything income related include over-regulation, Federal Reserve policies, and inflation. Inflation in particular dramatically decreases the purchasing power of the poor, mostly because the increase in unskilled labor wages has to be made up somewhere. And that somewhere is usually in the decrease of unskilled jobs available and the increase in the price of goods. The very act of increasing the minimum wage to help poor people will in fact decrease their purchasing power and potentially leave them in a worse situation than they were in before the mandated change. Putting the minimum wage increase on auto-pilot will only help to ensure that the purchasing power of poor people continue to decline every year, or at the very least their purchasing power will not increase as much as it would appear.

On November 4 I will be voting against IM 18. I am not out there trying to stop people from voting yes on IM 18 however. I have a feeling IM 18 will pass because the US has been blindly following Keynesian economic theories for the last century. Even though I believe the minimum wage increase will hurt the poor more than help, I simply believe over-regulation and inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve are hurting the poor even more. If any IM’s come out to tackle either of those issues I could see voting yes.

PS. I almost forgot about this video. Earlier this year Kristina Bell released a minimum wage video that went semi-viral. Remy over at Reason TV released a great rebuttal. In this video he brings up unintended consequences.

PPS. Since this post mentioned economics it is a good time to once again view the videos of Keynes (Keynesian Economics) vs Hayek (Austrian Economics). Since Keynes promoted spending without looking at consequences or human motivational factors it is what most politicians and economists follow. Those of us who believe in looking at unintended consequences and human factors tend to follow Hayek. The infographic in this post can show more differences between Keynesian Economics and Austrian Economics.  No matter which line of economics is followed, it should be noted that both schools of thought are pure theory. There are no true “laws of economics”.

SD US Senate debate tonight and statewide choices program tommorow

SD Independent US Senate candidates Larry Pressler & Gordon Howie at the SD State Fair debate. Photo by Ken Santema 08/29/14
SD Independent US Senate candidates Larry Pressler & Gordon Howie at the SD State Fair debate. Photo by Ken Santema 08/29/14

There are two televised political events worth noting this week. Tonight there is a US Senate Debate on KELO and tomorrow there is a statewide contest program on SDPB. I believe this is the last round of televised events in South Dakota (election day is less than a week away). I won’t likely blog about the Senate race tonight, but if the statewide contest program is interesting I could see doing a blog or two about it. Last week there were three televised debates. I did watch all three, but honestly I didn’t see anything new enough to blog about.

Here are the details of the two televised political events this week:

KELO SD US Senate Debate – Weds Oct 29 – 7:00 pm CT

This will be the final of the 2014 debates between Pressler (I), Howie (I), Weiland (D) and Rounds (R). I don’t really expect too much out of this one. I previously blogged about their  Dakotafest and the State Fair debates. Since I didn’t blog about the SDPB debate last week I have no written summary of it. However I will say that Gordon Howie was fighting hard for the conservative vote in that debate. If he keeps that up tonight he might cause some troubles for Rounds going into next Tuesday (I don’t think it is likely, but it is possible). The debate will be broadcast live on KELO TV and also live-streamed on the KELO Election Page.

SDPB Statewide Choices program – Thurs Oct 30 – 8:00 pm CT

SDPB is dedicating a show to look at three statewide races: Public Utilities Commission, Attorney General, and Secretary of State. In addition they will be looking at the ballot issues. This might be a good program to watch for anyone that needs more information about those races or the ballot questions. If the program is interesting I may blog about it. It is not technically a part of the 2014 debates, but probably worth some time.

For more information on the three races in question and the ballot issues I have copied the following links from my SD 2014 Ballot page:

South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (6 yr)

Wayne Schmidt – Constitution Party – Website – Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

David Allen – Democrat – Website – Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmart – SoDakLiberty

Gary Hanson – incumbent Republican – Website – Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

South Dakota Attorney General (4 yr)

Chad Haber – Libertarian – Website – Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

Marty Jackley – incumbent Republican – Website – Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

South Dakota Secretary of State (4 yr) – Current held by Republican Jason Gant, who is not seeking re-election

Lori Stacey – Constitution Party – Website – Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

Emmett Reistroffer – Libertarian – Website – Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

Angelia Schultz – Democrat – Website – Facebook – TwitterBallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

Shantel Krebs – Republican – Website – Facebook – Twitter  – BallotpediaVoteSmart – OpenStatesSoDakLiberty – LRC: 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 20092008 2007 2006 2005

Ballot Questions – The brochure provided by the SOS about the ballot questions and their Pros/Cons can be read here.

Constitutional Amendment Q – Gambling expansion in Deadwood – Enrolled Resolution passed by SD LegislatureAG Explanation – PRO websiteCON websiteBallotpediaVoteSmartSoDakLiberty

Initiated Measure 17 – Patient Choice – AG ExplanationPRO websiteCON websiteBallotpedia – VoteSmartSoDakLiberty

Initiated Measure 18 – Minimum Wage – AG Explanation – PRO websiteCON websiteBallotpedia – VoteSmart– SoDakLiberty

If I am able to watch these live I will also be live-tweeting from my @SoDakLiberty twitter account. These are important because there are too few 2014 debates.

SD 2014 Ballot: My thoughts on Initiated Measure 17

papapishu_Doctor_examining_a_patientIn 2014 South Dakota voters have two Initiated Measures on the ballot. The first of these is Initiated Measure 17, aka the “patient choice” bill. The text of IM 17 can be read on the circulating petition used to get this measure on the ballot.

In the title this IM says it will “require health insurers to include all willing and qualified health care providers on their provider lists.” Theoretically the bill will allow people to keep the doctors they wish by forcing insurance companies to accept any medical providers that meet their requirements. This IM also theoretically would lower the cost of insurance by increasing competition and expanding the choices for consumers.

The SD Attorney General is required to create explanations of all ballot questions. Here is the explanation put forth the by Attorney General’s office:

Some health insurers offer health benefit plans in which the insurer maintains a list of health care providers. Plan members must use listed providers in order to obtain the maximum plan coverage, or to have coverage at all. “Health care providers” include doctors and other licensed health care professionals, clinics and hospitals.

The initiated measure establishes who is entitled to be on the insurer’s list of providers. The measure requires that these insurers list all health care providers who are willing, qualified and meet the conditions for participation established by the insurer.

The measure does not apply to all health insurers, nor to certain kinds of insurance and plans including those involving specified disease, indemnity, accident only, dental, vision, Medicare supplement, long-term care or disability income, and workers’ compensation.

A vote “Yes” is for the law requiring health insurers to include all willing and qualified health care providers on their provider lists.
A vote “No” is against the proposed law.

As I said above this IM would theoretically allow greater choice for medical consumers and drive the cost of medical coverage down through competition. I’ve seen proponents of this IM say it will increase the relationship between doctors and patients. It is possible that could happen, but i have my doubts.

As noted by the AG this IM has a lot of exceptions. But it isn’t the exceptions that people should worry about in this IM. In reality I believe insurance companies will use their escape clause written right into the IM: “…fully qualified to meet the terms and conditions of participation as established by the health insurer.” Basically health insurance providers will be able to “adjust” their requirements for qualifications to meet their desired healthcare providers. Such moves will force the legislature to create further laws governing patient choice or force another IM in the future. I just can’t see this as the path to truly increase the relationship between patients and doctors.

Additionally this is a new mandate that appears to be coming forward because of mandates that have already been passed. For decades politicians and regulators have increased interventions into the healthcare industry, especially into the healthcare insurance industry. It is understandable that people are worried and/or upset about the Obama administrations “You can keep your doctor” line being false. But is further mandates the best fix to currently broken mandates? Using government mandates to fix government mandates is about as far from libertarian viewpoints as one can get. For that reason alone I cannot see supporting this IM.

On Nov 4 I will be voting no to IM 17. I actually agree with what the supporters of this Initiated Measure are trying to do. They are trying to bring down costs for patients while allowing them to use the doctors of their choice. But in the end I do not feel this mandate will work as expected. Plus, it is an IM I can’t support because it creates increased mandates in an industry that is already over-regulated to an extent patients have almost no control. The unintended consequences from mandates generally outweigh the good what was intended. Personally I don’t want to see firsthand what those unintended consequences will be. I would rather see reforms focused on removing mandates that keep the power in the hands of insurance companies and healthcare providers.

SD 2014 Ballot: My thoughts on Constitutional Amendment Q

roulette-wheelThere is one Constitutional Amendment for the voters of South Dakota to decide upon on the 2014 ballot. Constitution Amendment Q was passed in the Legislature as House Joint Resolution 1001. The Amendment text as passed by the legislature and passed on to the voters can be read here (or see this version to see what actually changes in the Constitution). Basically the Constitutional Amendment would allow more forms of gambling in Deadwood. Specifically it would allow roulette, keno, and craps. It also took away the ability of the citizens in Deadwood to choose what forms of gambling are legalized.

It should be noted that this amendment will not actually legalize roulette, keno, and craps in Deadwood. Rather it would allow the SD Legislature to legalize roulette, keno, and craps in Deadwood. Currently the net proceeds from card games and slot machines in Deadwood is “devoted to the Historic Restoration and Preservation of Deadwood”. The same would be true for roulette, keno, and craps; provided this amendment passes and the SD Legislature creates a law.

The SD Attorney General is required to create explanations of all ballot questions. Here is the explanation put forth the by Attorney General’s office:

An Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution authorizing the Legislature to allow roulette, keno and craps in Deadwood.
The constitution currently authorizes the Legislature to allow two kinds of games of chance in Deadwood: limited card games and slot machines. The proposed amendment authorizes the Legislature to also allow roulette, keno and craps in Deadwood.
Under federal law, any games of chance authorized by the Legislature to be offered in Deadwood would also be allowed at on-reservation tribal casinos.

A vote “Yes” is for changing the constitution to allow the Legislature to authorize roulette, keno and craps in Deadwood.

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

I didn’t realize constitutional change would also open the extra games of chance on the reservations until this Resolution was brought up in the Legislature. That is worth considering when deciding how to vote on this question. Economic development on the reservations is a big issue right now. It is worth considering if this can be used as part of a way for the reservations to help themselves.

Personally I wish this Amendment were different. I think it is bad policy to be so specific about what gambling is or isn’t allowed in the SD Constitution. If gambling has to be included in the SD Constitution it would be best done at a very high level allowing the Legislature to legalize or make illegal whatever gambling is passed in legislation; or better yet, keep gambling out of State business and let the free market determine the best types and levels of gambling that should exist within South Dakota.

But this Amendment is about modifying the way gambling is currently done in SD. In researching the CON side of this amendment I’ve seen it framed as a local control issue. Technically the Amendment does take local control away from Deadwood, because previously any gambling changes in Deadwood required 60% of the local voters to approve. With this  change the legislature can make change without any input from locals in Deadwood. That argument would have more weight if wasn’t followed up by beliefs from opponents that gambling in Deadwood must be stopped because it will cause more social ills. That is where the free market argument from opponents have fallen apart. It appears that the majority of sources fighting against Amendment Q are not fighting just against expanding gambling, but they wish to remove gambling from SD altogether. Using government power to get rid of a social ill that a particular group doesn’t like is not a free market principle. Rather it is a method used by big government proponents to shape society at the cost of freedoms.

On the Proponent side I have seen this amendment proposed as a way to keep up with gambling competition in neighboring states. The gaming industry supports tourism and reservations programs. In addition the State of South Dakota gets millions of dollars to use on programs such as education. But I think there is a better reason for supporters of free markets to support this amendment. Amendment Q will not create a true free market in South Dakota, or Deadwood and the reservations, for gambling; but Amendment Q will bring gambling closer to a free market in Deadwood and the reservations. It is unlikely a true free market in gambling (or any product/service for that matter) will appear any time soon. So in this case it would be a good to at least get a little closer to a free market in one overly regulated industry. If this amendment does pass I expect the Legislature will pass a law allowing the games in 2015; and I will applaud it because they are at least loosening some restrictions upon the market.

As of right now I plan to vote yes for this amendment. It isn’t the amendment I would have written. But at least it reduced some of the burden in one industry. Personally I don’t particularly like gambling, but just because I don’t like an industry doesn’t mean that it should be over-regulated or outright banned. If gambling was truly unwanted in SD there wouldn’t be any customers to fill the casinos…

Two pages to research the SD 2014 ballot

puzzle_magnifyI have updated two pages on this blog that include links to research the 2014 ballot in South Dakota. Both pages can be accessed on the bar above by clicking on SD 2014 Ballot or SD 2014 Legislative Races.

SD 2014 Ballot includes all of the statewide races and ballot questions.

SD 2014 Legislative Races includes the legislative races for all 35 Districts in South Dakota.

Both pages have links that can be used to research each candidate or question. I created these pages for two reasons. First, it helps shortcut my time to research candidates or questions before I attend political events or write blogs. Second, I hope it will help at least some voters make informed decisions before marking the ballot this fall.

After the election both pages will be transformed to include the same information; but focused purely upon currently elected officials. If anyone knows of any links that I am missing please let me know.

PS. That is part of why I haven’t blogged in a few days. Updating those pages took a LONG time…

Senator Johnson will be in Aberdeen on the 28th

On Tuesday, Oct 28, Senator Tim Johnson will be in Aberdeen as part of his “Tour of Thanks”. He will be at the Eagles club at 5pm. Here is the blurb sent out by the Brown County Democrats:

Senator Tim Johnson is making stops across the state to say Thank You to his constituents. Folks are invited to stop by to enjoy a short program, visit with Senator & Mrs. Johnson, and enjoy a cup of coffee and dessert.

I plan on attending the event and hope to get a blog post out of it.

PS. For all the traveling I’ve done this year for political events it just occurred to me I haven’t once run into Senator Johnson. Maybe I happen not to go to events he chooses to attend. I’ve run into Senator Thune a couple of times and spoken with him at least once, but Johnson really seems noticeably missing from SD politics.

Brown County Republicans Reagan Lunch will feature Marty Jackley

Marty Jackley in the Republican booth at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema 08/14/14
Marty Jackley in the Republican booth at the Brown County Fair. Photo by Ken Santema 08/14/14

The Brown County Republicans are hosting their monthly(ish) Reagan Lunch tomorrow, October 23rd at noon in the Aberdeen GOP Victory Center (1205 6th Ave SW). I was happy to see this also happens to be a chili feed (I’m on a high protein diet, chili is perfect!). This months guest speaker is Marty Jackley. Jackley is seeking reelection as the SD Attorney General. For those unfamiliar with Jackley, here is the blurb sent out by the Brown County Republicans about him:

Marty Jackley has been our Attorney General since September 2009. Marty was raised in Sturgis and graduated from the SD School of Mines in 1992. he then went on to receive his law degree from University of SD in 1995.

He presently serves as President of the National Association of Attorneys General.

Marty and his wife, Angela, and 2 children live in Pierre.

I did an interview with Jackley while he was in attendance at the Brown County Fair. This is a good chance to meet the Attorney General and get some chili.

Three SD political debates on TV this week

podiumThis week there will be three SD political debates/forums being broadcast on TV over the next three days. There will be debates televised for the gubernatorial race, US Senate race, and the US House race. KELO and SDBP will be hosting them. Here are the details of each debate:

KELO SD Gubernatorial Debate – Weds Oct 22 – 8:00 pm CT

Incumbent Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard will face Democrat challenger Susan Wismer and Independent challenger Mike Myers. This will be fourth and final public debate between the three candidates (Daugaard limited debates to four in June). Previously the three have faced off at Dakotafest, the State Fair, and on SDPB. Tonight will basically be the last chance for Myers and Wismer to show why they should be governor over Daugaard.

SDPB US Senate Debate – Thurs Oct 23 – 8:00 pm CT

The US Senate debate on SDPB might be interesting to watch. It will be interesting to see if Larry Pressler (I), Gordon Howie (I), and Rick Weiland (D) continue to pound Mike Rounds (R) about EB-5. I’ve blogged previously about these four debating at Dakotafest and the State Fair. This is not the final debate between the four. On Weds, Oct 29, there will be a televised KELO debate for the US Senate candidates.

KELO US House Debate – Fri Oct 24 – 7:00 pm CT

Just last week the incumbent Representative Kristi Noem (R) faced off against Corinna Robinson. That was a pretty lackluster debate, yet it was somehow an improvement over the Dakotafest debate. I wouldn’t expect too much from this one either. Robinson would have to do something pretty dramatic in her KELO debate with Noem to turn the tide of this election.

My schedule this week is pretty busy, so I may not actually follow all of the debates. But for anyone that has yet to hear from the candidates I would recommend watching them.


Democrat State Treasurer candidate Denny Pierson talking about his top priority

Denny Pierson speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14
Denny Pierson speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Denny Pierson, the Democrat candidate for State Treasurer, was in attendance at the Brown County Democrat lunch last week. In the State Treasurers race he is running against incumbent Republican Rich Sattgast and Libertarian newcomer Ken Santema (that’s me by the way, but I am always nice so I’ll treat this post as if I’m not in the race). After the lunch I took the opportunity to sit down and speak with Pierson about his top priorities if he is elected to serve in Pierre.

Pierson said he would like to change how unclaimed property works. He would like to make it easier for people to get connected with their property. To do that he would try to make every County Treasury office an extension of State Treasurer in dealing with Unclaimed Property. He stated that he doesn’t mean the Treasurer would be in charge of all functions of the County Treasurers office. But he would have one person trained in each County Treasurers office that could help people with claim forms right there in each county. He says that would localize the process for people to get their money back from the state. It would be much more convenient than mail for people to have an option to visit their local county courthouse. That would meet an overall goal he has to make it less cumbersome to claim Unclaimed Property. This initiative would also be part of his goal to reduce the total amount of money in the unclaimed property fund to twenty percent of what it is today.

I then asked Pierson about the change of the State moving from five to three years in taking unclaimed property. He said the move was wrong, and believes if the powers in Pierre can get away with it they will be taking the money in one or two years. Pierson would like to go back to five years before taking people’s money. He understands he would have to work with the legislature to make that change. But he would lobby hard in the legislature as the State Treasurer to get that changed back to the longer time-period.

Pierson’s last priority was to educate the public about Unclaimed Property. He would like to have Public Service Announcements (PSAs) monthly if possible to let people know about unclaimed property and get the names of people out there that are on the list. To extend his idea of working with the County Treasurers, he says the lists should also be available for viewing at the County Courthouses.

Pierson is an interesting entry into this race. His idea of expanding the Unclaimed Property area of the State Treasurers office to County Treasurers is interesting. I haven’t looked deep enough into to see whether it is a workable idea yet, but I will admit it is something worth discussing. I think the Democrats may have chosen well when putting Pierson on the ballot for State Treasurer.

Burt Elliott talks about his residency at the Brown County Democrat lunch

Burt Elliot speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14
Burt Elliott speaking in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 10/17/14

Earlier I posted about the Brown County Democrats Dollar-a-Month club meeting at Pizza Ranch in Aberdeen. After the meeting District 3 Democrat State House candidate Burt Elliott rose to talk about his housing situation for a moment. He has taken criticism from Republicans for running in District 3, while actually residing in district 2. This is a big issue. I’ve spoken with a few current legislators (including one Democrat that wishes to remain unnamed) that have stated concerns about whether Elliott will be allowed to take his seat in the State Legislature in the event Elliott wins the election. There is a possibility that the Speaker of the House can refuse to seat Elliott because he does not meet the basic requirements of a legislator from District 3.

Elliott stated that he has been in Aberdeen for fifty years. He said the apartment he bought in town was done so he can “run in the Aberdeen District. Where I live. Where I belong. Where I’ve spent fifty of sixty-seven years. Elliott says everyone in Aberdeen knows where he is all year (he is implying in Aberdeen, didn’t actually say that though). Further he said everyone in town knows his opponent (Al Novstrup) spends four months of year in Sioux Falls or Fargo. Elliott then says that during the forum a couple of weeks ago Al Novstrup made a cheap shot at his wife Elaine, who has Parkinson’s disease. Therefore he believes Al is a bully.

After this event I had the opportunity to catch up with Al Novstrup at a public meet and greet . He said he had not taken any shot at Elaine Elliott. He only wanted to point out that Burt Elliott does not live in District 3. Al says that Elliott’s residence is in District 2. His question about Elaine had to do with how moving into a basement apartment helped her reduce the use of stairs. In regards to where Al sleeps, he notes that he stays with relatives for the forty days that he sleeps in Sioux Falls for work. His wife and sock drawer remain in Aberdeen; specifically in a portion of Aberdeen that is a part of District 3.

I don’t think this issue is going away any time soon. Obviously the Republicans want to keep this seat. But going beyond that, I think everyone should be at least wary of what will happen in the event Elliott wins this race. If it is found that Elliott is not in fact living in District 3, then the Speaker of the House can refuse to seat Elliott. That will leave an open seat in the SD Legislature, and potentially lead to the Governor appointing a replacement. Even if things do not go that far it will cause a potential legal battle or continued attacks going back and forth between the two parties over the matter. I’m not sure what Elliott can do, but he needs to find a way to end this issue before November 4. If Elliott isn’t able to find a way to prove his actual residence, this small series of attacks back and forth may get truly nasty.