Updated 9/1/16. Incorrectly listed Brookings and Arlington as in the district. Brookings is in its own district, that kind of protrudes into Dist 4 and only a small portion of Arlington resides in Dist 4.
South Dakota legislative District 4 has a general election for State Senate. District 4 is a rather large district on the eastern border of South Dakota. Towns in this district include Albee, Altamont, Astoria, Aurora, Big Stone City, Brandt, Bruce, Bushnell, Clear Lake, Elkton, Florence, Gary, Goodwin, Henry, Kranzburg, La Bolt, Marvin, Milbank, Revillo, Sinai, South Shore, Stockholm, Strandburg, Toronto, Twin Brooks, Volga, Wallace, and White. Arlington has a small piece of the town on the east side of Hwy 14 inside District 4, otherwise most of Arlington is in district 22. Brookings is in its own district (7) that protrudes into what looks like it should be District 4.
The Democrat incumbent Sen Jim Peterson chose not to seek reelection. Fellow Democrat Kathy Tyler is running for this seat; she lost reelection for her house seat back in 2014. On the Republican side Rep John Wiik did not seek reelection for his House seat and instead will try to bring the District 4 State Senate seat back to the Republicans. Both candidates come from Big Stone City, which is in the northeast corner of the district. From what I’ve seen both candidates are working hard to win this election. This is probably one of the top five competitive races in the State.
Here is a brief look at both candidates. The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the general election ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate. Since both of these candidates have a legislative history I will focus on a few pieces of legislation prime sponsored from each of them.
*** It should be noted this is NOT a scorecard. This post only looks at some of the legislative priorities of these candidates. These legislative priorities may or may not have any bearing on how the candidates actually vote on legislation.
After completing his freshman term in the House, John Wiik is now trying to take the State Senate seat. As a legislator Wiik does not actually bring forth a lot of legislation. So in addition to two House bills he prime sponsored in 2016 I will also look at one of the Senate bills he signed on as a House prime sponsor.
First up for Wiik is this bill from 2016:
HB 1142 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Prohibit businesses and employers from establishing certain policies against the ability of an employee or invitee to store firearms and ammunition in a locked motor vehicle parked on the premises.
Legislation such as HB 1142 is often called a “parking lot bill”. I looked at a similar bill during the 2013 session. At that time I blogged this was a bill that pitted property rights against gun rights. But supporters of parking lot bills say it is more about employers not being able to tell employees and customers what they can and can’t have in their car locked away. Part of the reason for that is the car in question is the private property of the employee or customer, and not of the employer. The House Commerce committee killed the bill 9-4. This is a bill I expect to keep coming back, perhaps by Wiik again if he is in the Senate.
Next up for Wiik is this concurrent resolution from 2016:
Since Wiik lives near the Big Stone City coal fire plant it is not unusual for him to be the prime sponsor of such a concurrent resolution. The coal fire plant has gone through expensive upgrades to reduce its environmental footprint. The resolution states the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will increase the cost of coal-fired power, something bad for South Dakota because of how reliant we currently are on coal-fired power. The resolution also mentions other federal regulations continuing to add to the cost of producing coal power. This concurrent resolution only had a few Democrat no’s on the House side. Technically the resolution doesn’t do anything, but it does let DC know the state of South Dakota is against the EPA’s attack on coal power.
Finally for Wiik is this Senate bill he was the House prime sponsor for in 2016:
SB 76 comes about because of a lawsuit. Currently a wind farm company has already placed several towers too close to neighboring land and has broken the law. This bill would have removed the 500 foot minimum setback for these towers and left the 1.1 times the height of the tower. It was amended to ensure this applied to only new towers, thus it would not have impacted the current court case. The bill was also amended to create a 1000 foot setback from occupied structures. The bill failed, I think mostly because of the pending lawsuit. I actually thought the bill would pass once the bill was amended to apply only to new wind farms. I’m guessing there will be another attempt at changing setbacks after the court issues have cleared up.
As a legislator Wiik seems to take a pretty conservative approach to prime-sponsoring legislation. He does not seem to like bringing forth a lot of legislation.
Kathy Tyler lost reelection in 2014 after completing her freshman term in the State House. Her running for office again should make this an interesting race. Tyler was well known for being outspoken against corruption and how things run in Pierre. The Republicans will likely spend a lot of resources to keep her from regaining a voice in Pierre. Since Tyler is a former legislator I will look at a few pieces of legislation prime sponsored by her.
First up for Tyler is this bill from 2014:
One of the requirements for the South Dakota opportunity scholarship is that the high school student receiving the scholarship reside in South Dakota. There are some students in school districts along the eastern border that actually live in Minnesota; the state of Minnesota pays for those students to go to a SD school. The idea behind the scholarship is to keep more talent in South Dakota, and this would possibly be used to attract MN students to get their higher education in South Dakota. This bill made it through the House, but was defeated on the Senate floor. Tyler seemed to have a focus on education while serving in Pierre, and I believe this bill is an example of that commitment.
In 2014 Tyler had a couple of environment-related bills. One of those was:
According to Tyler’s testimony the DENR relies heavily upon complaints from the public regarding violations of the state’s water quality regulations in South Dakota. The complaint system is confidential. Tyler had received complaints from people who had made a complaint to the DENR that inspections had taken a long time, if at all. Tyler’s bill would have required the DENR make an inspection of the complaint area within 48 hours, and then give an update to the complainer within another 48 hours. Some had tried to make Tyler look anti-ag because of this bill, but I think she was trying to sell this as a pro-environment bill. HB 1160 was defeated in committee. I would expect more environment-related legislation if she is sent back to Pierre.
Finally it is worth looking at this bill from Tyler in 2014:
HB 1224 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Create a Legislative Economic Development Investigative and Oversight Committee, to provide for its composition and duties, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.
This bill from Tyler would have created a new board that would oversee economic development in South Dakota. In particular this board would have been tasked to “assemble, review, and question information relevant to the current controversy regarding various projects with EB-5 funding.” State corruption and EB-5 were big issues for Tyler while she served in Pierre. HB 1224 is an example her bringing for a solution to this corruption. This bill was an interesting idea, but there is no way the Republican majority in Pierre would want such a board created and the bill was killed in committee.
If Tyler returns to Pierre I expect she will continue to take on what she sees as corruption. As the election continues I expect some of the nastier postcards to come out this fall will be against Tyler. I really don’t think the establishment Republicans want her back in Pierre.