All posts by Ken Santema

South Dakota 2012 Ballot: My Take on Constitutional Amendment N

Update – Because South Dakota Secretary of State Gant continues the refusal to do his job I am changing my vote to NO on all 4 constitutional amendments

One of the measures on the 2012 South Dakota ballot is Constitutional Amendment N, HJR1002. Here is the official text (PDF) of this ballot text from the SD Secretary of State website:

ATTORNEY GENERAL
2012 BALLOT EXPLANATION
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT N

Title: An Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution repealing certain reimbursement restrictions for travel by legislators to and from a legislative session.

Explanation:
The Constitution fixes the mileage reimbursement rate for legislators at five cents per mile for their travel to and from a legislative session.
Constitutional Amendment N repeals this constitutional limitation and allows legislator travel reimbursement to be set by the Legislature.

A vote “Yes” will eliminate the fixed travel reimbursement rate.
A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

The text for HJR1002 can be found here (PDF). The Pro side of this amendment has been provided on the 2012 Ballot Questions Pro/Con Pamphlet (PDF). Because SD Secretary of State Gant is incompetent at his job, no con was provided. However based upon the Pro that was provided many legislatures are reimbursed at the rate of five cents per mile when using their personal vehicle. According to the pro pamphlet this was set back when the SD constitution was created and took into account railroads. Honestly I do think this amendment would be good. The only downside is I think we will have to watch the legislatures closely in the future to ensure lifting this restriction is not abused.

Right now I plan to vote yes for this constitutional amendment, unless I find a reason between now and Nov. to change my mind.

South Dakota 2012 Ballot: My Take on Constitutional Amendment M

Update – Because South Dakota Secretary of State Gant continues the refusal to do his job I am changing my vote to NO on all 4 constitutional amendments

One of the measures on the 2012 South Dakota ballot is Constitutional Amendment M, HJR1001. Here is the official text (PDF) of this ballot text from the SD Secretary of State website:

ATTORNEY GENERAL
2012 BALLOT EXPLANATION
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT M

Title: An Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution regarding certain provisions relating to corporations.

Explanation:
The Constitution currently contains certain restrictions on the Legislature’s authority to enact laws regarding corporations. For example, corporate directors must be elected by cumulative voting, in which a shareholder may choose to cast all votes for a single candidate or spread the votes among two or more candidates. Corporate stock or bonds may only be issued for money, labor or property received by the corporation. Corporate stock or debt may not be increased without prior notice to and consent of current stockholders.
Constitutional Amendment M removes these restrictions, and allows the Legislature to: (1) authorize alternative methods of voting in elections for corporate directors; (2) expand the types of contributions a corporation may receive for the issuance of stock or bonds; and (3) establish procedures governing the increase of corporate stock or debt.

A vote “Yes” will remove the constitutional restrictions.
A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

The text for HJR1001 can be found here (PDF). From the little research I’ve done this amendment to the SD constitution appears to be OK. It mostly will allow the legislature to change current laws governing corporations. I can’t see a downside to this amendment, however since the incompetent Secretary of State didn’t provide cons on the 2012 Ballot Questions Pro/Con Pamphlet it is hard to know if there was a con raised. According to the pros from the pamphlet the following are benefits of this amendment:

  • Amendment M clarifies and strengthens that businesses are subject to laws enacted by our Legislature concerning the creation, operation and dissolution of corporations.
  • It would allow the shareholders to determine the manner in which directors are elected.
  • It would permit business corporations to recognize the value of innovative ideas and allow them to “buy” these ideas with corporate shares.
  • It would repeal the mandated 60 day notice to shareholders currently required prior to borrowing money for business opportunities and replace it with such notice as may be enacted by the Legislature.

This one I can actually see voting for. I am always for more flexibility with corporations. I really wish Gant had provided a Con to this amendment. I cannot find any downsides, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

As it stands I will probably vote yes for this constitutional amendment. Although I may vote no just because Gant didn’t do his job correctly on this.

South Dakota 2012 Ballot: My take on Referred Law 16

One of the initiatives on the 2012 South Dakota ballot is Referred Law 16, HB 1234 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Here is the official text (PDF) of this ballot text from the SD Secretary of State website:

ATTORNEY GENERAL
2012 BALLOT EXPLANATION
REFERRED LAW 16
Title: An education reform act to establish a teacher scholarship program; create a program for math and science teacher bonuses; create a program for teacher merit bonuses; mandate a uniform teacher and principal evaluation system; and eliminate state requirements for teacher tenure.

Attorney General Explanation
Referred Law 16 is an education reform act with five key components.

First, it establishes a scholarship
program for eligible college students who commit to teach in South Dakota in critical need subject areas.

Second, the referred law creates a program to provide state-funded annual bonuses for eligible math and
science teachers.

Third, the referred law develops a separate “Top Teachers” bonus program. This program provides
annual state-funded merit bonuses for up to 20% of each school district’s full-time certified teachers, as
awarded by the local school boards. Alternatively, a school board may enact its own program for teacher
bonuses, using these state-provided funds. A school board may opt out of these merit bonus programs
altogether, resulting in re-allocation of its merit bonus funds to other participating school districts.

Fourth, the referred law mandates a uniform statewide system for evaluating teachers and principals,
including a rating system.

Fifth, the referred law eliminates state requirements for continuing contracts (“tenure”) for teachers who
do not achieve tenure by July 1, 2016. School boards may, in their discretion, choose to offer continuing
contracts to non-tenured teachers.

A vote “Yes” is to enact the education reform act.
A vote “No” is against the referred law.

This one has created a lot of teachers and school boards to speak out against it. Before saying my vote let me state the pros and cons I agree with for this law:

PROS:

  • Tenure. The first pro is eliminating tenure from teacher contracts in SD. I know the opposition to this law say that “continuing contracts” are not the same as tenure. Bullshit. I can call a duck a cow, but that doesn’t change the fact it is a duck.
  • Bonuses. The opposition states that bonus programs simply do not work. However pay incentives included in a well-planned employee retention plan does improve productivity.
  • Evaluations. I see nothing wrong with principles and teachers being evaluated for how well they perform their jobs. I just had a debate with a friend that happens to be a teacher. He made two statements that are said by many people opposing educator evaluations: “How can you punish well-intended teachers because they don’t do as well as others” and “I have no control over my students outside of school”. Bullshit. As a parent of three intelligent boys I hope their teachers are good at what they do. Having well-intended but poor performing teachers simply makes the education system worse. And secondly no teacher has control over the kids outside of their classroom. Yes, teachers can and do have students that fall in bad situations. However an evaluation system could take this into account. The problem is educators have taken a “I won’t submit to any evaluation  approach, so teachers are leaving themselves out of the debate as to how evaluations should be done.

CONS:

  • Bonuses. This one was in pro, but it also belongs here. Many who oppose this law say bonuses have done nothing to improve scores. This is true and has been proven in many studies. However studies that take into account a well-rounded employee compensation and motivation program do show that bonuses are part of the answer. However they are not the ONLY answer. Simply throwing money at the problem solves nothing, and in fact will probably create even more problems.
  • Scholarship. As someone who has recieved scholarships from private organizations I understand how important they are. However it is no place of the government to give taxpayer money for higher education.
  • Evaluations. While I stated in the pro section that evaluations are good. Upon further reflection I do not believe they are good at the state level. Decisions of this kind are best left to the local school districts. But I would urge local school districts to look at evaluation standards for all staff (education and administration).

Looking at my Pros and Cons above it is clear I had more to say about the Pros. However I will be voting against this law come November. To me this looks like a law written using Republican 101 theories on getting support from voter by doing something for education. None of the measures look like they will actually improve education in South Dakota. In fact since the South Dakota Department of Education will need expansion to handle this new law I would say it will do nothing but waste taxpayer dollars.

So as it stands now this law will receive a NO for me next month.

South Dakota 2012 Ballot: My Take on Referred Law 14

One of the initiatives on the 2012 South Dakota ballot is Referred Law 14. Here is the official text of this ballot text from the SD Secretary of State website:

Title: An Act to establish the Large Project Development Fund.

Explanation:
The referred law establishes the “Large Project Development Fund.” Beginning January 1, 2013, 22% of contractors’ excise tax revenues would be transferred from the state general fund to the Large Project Development Fund.
The South Dakota Board of Economic Development would use Large Project Development Fund monies to provide grants for the construction of large economic development projects within the state. To be eligible, a project must have a cost exceeding $5 million. Examples of eligible projects include laboratories and facilities for testing, manufacturing, power generation, power transmission, agricultural processing, and wind energy. Examples of ineligible projects include retail establishments; residential housing; and facilities for lodging, health care services and the raising or feeding of livestock.
A vote “Yes” is for the establishment of the Large Project Development Fund.
A vote “No” is against the referred law.

The pros and cons from the Secretary of State website can be found here (PDF). The biggest problem I have with this bill is that its about where money from contractors excise tax revenues will go. Ideally we would look at reducing the excise tax, a move that would actually help some small businesses.

However since that is not what this initiate is about I will be voting against Referred Law 14. The “pro” view is backed by a number of sources including farmers, various Chambers of Commerce, along with various cities and counties. It is quite obvious this program is to become a way for tax dollars to be used as corporate welfare. Of course the pro side calls this ‘incentives’. However providing corporate welfare money to large companies is the government choosing a winner in the open market. This policy hurts businesses (small and large) that do not receive these “incentives.”

The Democratic Party oposition to this law also make a good point. This law would allow the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to spend a large portion of tax revenues with little or no oversight. No guidelines have been provided as to how the GOED can spend the money. This is wrong. However the Democratic party says this money should remain the general fund. I differ with them in that I think the actual tax should be reduced. But there never seems to be a debate of how to reduce tax burden; instead the debate focuses upon how to spend more money!

If there is a key point I am missing in this debate I may change my mind. However as it stands now I am opposed to Referred Law 14 and will vote against it this November.

Is Kristi Noem a closet Libertarian?

I was just having an interesting conversation with a fellow libertarian who wondered if Representative Kristi Noem is really a closet libertarian. This was said in jest and neither of us believe she is a libertarian (even though she has been called libertarian by the press at times). However the following actions by Noem do align her with some libertarian goals.

  • Lack of attendance record doing her job. Noem has taken a lot of heat from state Democracts due to her lack of attendance for committee meetings and legislative votes. Libertarians have a primary goal of reducing government regulation and the overall amount of new laws passed. By missing a lot of time at work she is actually helping the libertarian cause. Every time  she is absent it keeps  a vote out of the system. Of course a true libertarian would show up, vote NO, and say why she voted no. But either means has the same end result.  Good job Kristi!
  • Kristi has no respect for current laws. According to Keloland Kristi has had 20 speeding tickets, three stop sign violations, two seat belt violations, and no drivers licence. Of course libertarians tend to focus more on victim-less crimes such as cannabis use, but she does take a stand against seat belt use! By not using a seat belt she is aligning with libertarians on personal choice over government coercion in the name of ‘public safety’. Of particular interest is six court notices for failure to appear and two arrest warrants  There is no better way to say you disagree with the system than to ignore the courts! Good job Kristi!
  • Kristi is embracing capitalism by making herself a brand: She was voted by the Huffington Post readers as the Hottest Freshman in Congress last year, she advertises her ranch in political ads, and tells her kid she will work on getting $42,000 for him. OK,  yes all of these were taken out of context. But when libertarians run for office they are pummeled for not taking on  issues that people actually care about. In this case I believe she is trying to build her brand so she can make more money. As a libertarian I am all for making more money. Good job Kristi!

Of course all of this is silly. Her lack of attendance has to do with bad priorities and an apparent poor work ethic. Her lack of respect for current laws aligns her with everyone in the country, that constantly breaks laws (knowingly or unknowingly) because there are simply too many. And finally her odd political campaigns centered around her horse are irrelevant  I’m not sure where she is going with some of them. But no matter if its incompetence (my belief) or she really is a closet libertarian I want to thank her for showing a lack of support for how the government works!  Good Job Kristi!

SD SOS doesn’t follow law on new ballot measures

South Dakota has a total of 7 ballot measures this year, 4 of which are constitutional amendments. By law the Secretary of State (currently Jason Gant) has to publish each ballot measure and provide a ‘”pro” and a “con” explanation for each measure.  A PDF from the S0S can be found here of the document provided by Gant. When looking at this document the first thin that becomes clear is the total lack of a “con” argument for any of the 4 constitutional amendments. The other three measures all have con arguments on them.

The Rapid City Journal recently had an article highlighting state Senator Stan Adelstein accusing Jason Gant withholding these cons on purpose. In Senator Adelstein’s opinion Gant is doing this simply because Governor Daughtry wants the measures passed. Personally I’m not sure if this is true, but wouldn’t be surprised.

All I know for sure is Jason Gant should have been able to find opposition arguments to put in the con side of the amendments. As pointed out in the Rapid City Journal article none of these measures went with 100% yes votes by lawmakers. Reaching out to these lawmakers that said no would have been a good start. By dropping the ball on this I wonder if Gant has inadvertently left an opening for the measure being declared unconstitutional because voters were not properly informed. It will be interesting to see what happens.

South Dakota voters cannot write-in candidates name

Many Ron Paul supporters have been working on a write-in campaign since he was unable to gain the Republican nomination. I think this is a very noble gesture, however depending up on the state you live in this may not be possible. According to the SD Secrectary of State: In South Dakota instance write-in votes are not allowed on the ballot.

Since it is not actually possible to complete a write-in for Ron Paul I would urge these votes instead go towards the Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, or abstain from voting. Either option does more than a ‘vote for the less evil’.