Last week I had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Justice about Amendment V. Jeff Justice is the person behind the Jeff 4 Justice YouTube channel. Amendment V is on the South Dakota ballot this fall and aims to get all voters to participate in the primary election process by removing party labels and having one large primary followed by a top two general election. Justice happens to be from California, which has already implemented a system similar to that being proposed in South Dakota with Amendment V. To that end, Justice created a great video explaining why he believes South Dakota should vote down Amendment V. Justice drew upon experiences in California to make his case.
When I looked at Amendment V back in August I was a tentative yes, but that was a very weak yes. Actually even at that time I felt Amendment V would not do what proponents think it would do. Now after spending more time reading through Amendment V and speaking with Justice I am leaning towards a no vote on Amendment V. It really does seem that Amendment V could end up reducing voter choice in South Dakota; which is odd because we already have too many races with no choices.
I would urge anyone that wants to learn more about Amendment V to watch the Jeff 4 Justice video embedded below. The video is about twenty-five minutes long and is well worth watching.
On Saturday, October 29, there was a rally in front of the North Dakota State Capital in Bismarck to show support and solidarity for the water protectors in Standing Rock. For those unfamiliar with the term “water protectors”, it is the term the opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) us to show they do not consider themselves to be protesters. Rather the water protectors feel it is important to stand up to DAPL in order to protect the water. This particular rally was co-hosted by Dakota Resource Council and activists Kirsten Kelsch and Caro Gonzales. For those of us in South Dakota, Dakota Resource Council is a North Dakota organization very similar to South Dakota’s Dakota Rural Action.
I have video footage of the rally, which I hope to get posted some time in the next day. This post however will focus on pictures I had taken at the rally.
ND State Patrol handled security for the rally. For the most part it seemed they were there to direct traffic. In the left hand side of the photo below there were two people making signs for the rally.
The state troopers in attendance were very friendly and professional. They stayed well away from the actual rally.
The picture below was taken towards the beginning of the rally. Notice the signs all say #WaterIsLife and Respect Existence or Expect Resistance.
Protest sign: One Wind, One Earth, One Water, Standing with the Rock.
The crowd grew as time went on. The rally members were focused on the traffic going by.
Just to the side of the rally members was this lady holding a black/white American flag with a blue stripe going through it. I’ve seen more of these flags over the last few years, especially after the #BlueLivesMatters movement started in response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. As I understand it, the blue line is to stand in solidarity with members of law enforcement that have given their lives in the line of duty; and also shows support for law enforcement officers that are still putting their lives on the line.
NO DAPL coats.
I believe this was taken when the crowd was at its maximum size.
Two rally attendees. Sign with Standing on the Side of Love!
There were quite a few members who were part of the Unitarian Universalists.
The Black Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship was in attendance.
Greed Kills sign along with a native image on the American flag.
There was actually a pretty good media turnout for this rally.
Group photo time.
Unitarian Universalists group photo.
Honk if you love water. There were quite a few people who honked as going by. Very few cars going by said anything disparaging towards the rally.
Don Morrison, Executive Directors of Dakota Resource Council, working the bullhorn towards the end of the rally.
I am currently in North Dakota conducting interviews for another media site in regards to the Dakota Access PipeLine protests going on in Cannon Ball. Because of the interviews I am doing for that other publisher, I probably won’t blog about the topic here on SoDakLiberty. But I will have pictures and videos from the #NoDAPL protest today in Bismarck and from the Cannon Ball camp. I will post various pictures and video to this blog as I find time to sort through the files and get them uploaded.
As a sneak preview, here is a picture taken towards the beginning of the protest in Bismarck today:
On Monday, October 29, at 9:00 am the Legislative Planning committee will meet in Room 413 of the State Capitol building. Following that meeting the Legislative Planning committee will convene as the Special Legislative Task Force at 12:15 PM in the same room. SDPB will provide live audio for anyone wishing to listen in on the meeting; an archive of the audio will also be available there after the meeting.
Here is a potential bill to possibly come out of this committee mentioned in the Sept 19 minutes:
Senator Vehle stated that he has draft legislation that would decrease the review period from ten years to every three years to coincide with the Board of Regents reports to the Legislative Planning Committee, and would transfer the responsibilities of this task force to the Legislative Planning Committee.
The second part of Vehle’s bill would get rid of the requirement for the Legislative Planning committee to end its meeting and reform as the Special Legislative Task Force.
The main part of the agenda for the October 31 Special Legislative Task Force meeting seems to revolve around information provided relative to the university centers by the following:
Michael Rush, Executive Director and CEO, SD Board of Regents
James W. Abbott, President, University of South Dakota Mr.
Harvey Jewett, Member of the SD Board of Regents Paul Turman,
System Vice President for Academic Affairs, SD BOR Monte
Kramer, System Vice President of Finance and Admin, SD BOR
Janelle Toman, Director, Capital University Center Craig
Johnson, Executive Dean, University Center-Sioux Falls
These might be a pair of meetings worth paying attention to for possible legislation to be brought forth.
On Monday, October 24, the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Club hosted a US Senate debate between incumbent Republican John Thune and Democrat challenger Jay Williams.. One of the topic areas for this debate was agricultural trade policy. The two really don’t have a lot of disagreement on the topic, but I think it is worth looking at briefly.
Thune and Williams were asked about their thoughts regarding international trade agreements. Specifically mentioned in the question was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). About a year ago I looked at Thune’s stances in regards to TPP. He has not only been supportive of TPP, but has tried to get Democrats to support it as well.
Thune really didn’t say much about NAFTA. Instead he said
Trade deals that have been negotiated in the past, we can re-litigate those, and maybe there is some bad deals negotiated in the past. But we need to make sure going into the future, that when we negotiate these deals, that agriculture has a seat at the table.
Thune goes on to say that the ag market has to be opened up. He didn’t say it directly, but Thune made it sound like the country would be disengaging from international trade if the US didn’t sign on to TPP.
Williams was in agreement with Thune, saying this:
You know, I agree with Senator Thune on this. I believe that the TPP is good for South Dakota.
Williams believes it will help our agricultural exports and says he in general believes in free trade. He says current trade policy has decreased global poverty internationally.
This is one of the times I wish there was someone in the debate with a different point of view. Both candidates support TPP. Neither candidate mention how widely encompassing TPP is, and that it deals with much more than trade policies. There are many good areas for the US in TPP, but I have concerns about other non-trade portions of TPP that might be very bad for the US.
Then Williams takes this odd shot at Republicans, and Thune:
The question I have is if President Obama went out and negotiated this TPP deal, and the Republicans control both houses of Congress, why is it that it hasn’t been approved? And I think the reason for it is because we have a dysfunctional Congress that won’t get along.
Thune did reply to say Obama has never sent TPP to Congress.
I think Williams little attack on Thune was odd. I don’t really care if he attacks Thune. But in this case Thune is correct that Obama had not yet officially sent TPP to Congress. The Obama administration has held onto TPP for months, and only earlier this month notified Congress he will be sending TPP to them. By law that leaves at least thirty days before Congress can address TPP. The reason for that is now Congress must wait to take up TPP until after the election. This was a clear move by the Obama administration to shield TPP from being voted down by Congress at a time when many voters believe trade deals kill domestic jobs. After the election I have no doubt TPP will pass with bipartisan support and be signed into law by Obama.
On the next question Thune noted there are other trade barriers that are not tariff related which must be dealt with. One of those barriers is Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) trade policies. Thune notes 90% of the corn and soybeans grown in South Dakota come from GMO seed. He goes on to note many countries in Europe and Asia block American ag exports because of GMO crops. Thune notes there is no scientific basis for those countries to block imports of GMO products.
Williams noted there is no longer Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) in the United States. I looked briefly at COOL last year. Williams believes South Dakota residents will buy beef made in South Dakota over beef made in Brazil, and that consumers should be able to know where that beef came from. I wish Williams had said whether he supports the World Trade Organization (WTO) policy that basically caused the US to switch the law on COOl.
TPP, GMO, and COOL are likely to be huge issues for the next Congressional session; at least in regards to the agricultural industry. I wish both candidates had spoken further about GMOs and COOL. I don’t think these are topics that will sway this election in any manner, but I do think these topics are important for South Dakota voters to understand.
On Monday, October 24, the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary Club hosted a US Senate debate. The event was broadcast on CSPAN, but it doesn’t appear to be in their video archive yet. The Argus Leader does have video of the event, which I have embedded below.
Yesterday Lutheran Social Services (LSS) held a community public meeting to speak about the organizations activities regarding refugee resettlement. The meetings goal seemed to be aimed at communicating with the Aberdeen community as to what LSS does or doesn’t do in regards to refugee resettlement.
The two speakers from LSS were:
Betty Oldenkamp, President & CEO
Tim Jurgens, Director & State Refugee Coordinator
This is an issue getting a lot of attention in the community. Jurgens and Oldenkamp were not exactly in friendly territory. Many people in the community have questions about refugees and want answers to a variety of issues regarding refugees. In this meeting Jurgens really took a lot of heat from community members. After the election when I have more time I’ll probably come back and blog about some portions of this particular meeting.
Here is the video of the event. I haven’t had time to clean up the audio yet, so there are some portions that are somewhat hard to hear. Hopefully this weekend I can find time to clean the audio up a bit.
Earlier I noted Gary Johnson will be in Rapid City on Wednesday. For those of us not living the in the Rapid City area there are events to learn more about Johnson or help support Johnson’s final push towards November 8. These social events are on Tuesday, October 25, in Brookings and Aberdeen.
Come spend an evening with other Gary Johnson supporters in Aberdeen!
We’ll have plenty of campaign materials for you. If you still haven’t received a yard sign, we will have those too. Tonight’s focus will be discussing volunteer opportunities and how you can help the campaign most in these last couple of weeks.
This event is open to anyone. If you haven’t decided who you’re voting for, come by and get some information, a good conversation, and a cold beverage!
Rep Karen Soli (D, Dist 15) will work with LRC in researching ways to make a more robust RFP program and
look at the continuum of care
Rep Wayne Steinhauer (R, Dist 9) and Rep Roger Hunt (R, Dist 25) will work with LRC in drafting legislation based
on the North Dakota system of using free enterprise for distribution of nursing home beds
Representative Hunt will work with LRC staff to draft legislation creating a rural recruitment and retention program to assist nursing home facilities with staffing
No draft legislation is posted on the LRC website yet. Hopefully after this meeting any draft legislation will be available for the public to see.
On Wednesday, October 26, Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson will be in Rapid City for a Rally. This follows up to his VP running-mate Bill Weld making appearances in South Dakota last week, including in Sioux Falls. This a great opportunity for Rapid City area voters to hear first-hand from a Presidential candidate who is fiscally conservative and socially inclusive. He is also free of the morally-questionable behaviors and scandals like the candidates of the two big parties are.