The Annette Bosworth sentencing has just adjourned. She was given a concurrent suspended sentence of two years for each count, three years of probation, and 500 hours of community service. Since the judge suspended the sentence she will not spend any time in jail, and if I understand correctly if she does end up somehow serving that time it would be done currently.
The sentencing went quite quickly, it was over in less than an hour. I did live-tweet the sentencing using the hashtag #BosworthTrial.
To begin the defense had asked for the judge to consider a suspended imposition. For those of us who are not lawyers here is a definition of suspended imposition of sentencing from USLegal.com:
Suspended imposition of sentence or SIS is a sentencing option available to the trial court. In SIS, usually the defendant is placed on probation. If the defendant violates probation and faces revocation, the Judge may order any sentence within the full range of punishment for the crime convicted. If the defendant successfully completes probation, no sentence is actually ordered. Therefore normally an SIS is not considered a ‘conviction’ for anything other than law enforcement purposes.
A suspended imposition may have allowed Bosworth to keep her medical license. The prosecution did not agree with a suspended imposition because “we don’t think she earned it”. Instead the State recommended a suspended sentence. Here is how USLegal.com defines suspended sentence:
A suspended sentence is a sentence rendered by a judge which will not enforced if the defendant meets certain conditions, such as, among others, performing community service, paying restitution to the victim, completing a drug or alcohol abuse treatment program, or staying out of trouble. If the defendant fails to meet the conditions, the sentence will be enforced. State laws on suspended sentencing vary, but a suspended sentence may count as a conviction for enhancing penalties of future offenses.
The judge seemed to agree with the state that a suspended imposition of sentence was not earned by Annette Bosworth. In particular he pointed out that she continues to blame others and he heard no regret from her. During her brief time speaking she mentioned she regretted that this proceeding was happening, but had no apparent regret for her actions.
Because of Bosworth’s actions the judge gave her a suspended sentence of two years per charge, concurrent. The conditions of that suspended sentence include three years of probation and 500 hours of community service. He did mention that work overseas did not count towards that time. Additionally the court imposed costs of $104 per charge in court costs. There were no fees imposed on Bosworth by the judge.
In the end I think the judge gave an appropriate sentence. If she had some regret for her actions or taken any responsibility at all for her actions perhaps she would have deserved a suspended imposition of sentencing. But she didn’t. So instead the judge found a way to make sure Bosworth understands the seriousness of what she has done, without actually making her sit in jail. And honestly I don’t think most people want her to be sitting in jail. If she does server any jail time it will be due to her own action by breaking the terms of her suspended sentence.
I would like to think this is the last I will have to blog about the Annette Bosworth case. But an appeal is likely coming…
Today at 2:00 pm former Republican Senate candidate will be sentenced for the twelve felony counts she was convicted of back in May. Six of the felony counts are for perjury and the other six are for filing false documents. I’ve stated before I believe her conviction of the felony counts should be supported. But now that it is time for sentencing I hope the prosecution and judge allows for some leniency.
A jury found her guilty of six counts each of perjury and filing false documents. Bosworth says she’s praying the judge throws out her conviction.
Bosworth also says she plans to appeal.
I don’t see the judge throwing out her conviction. She plainly committed the crimes she was accused of and throwing out her conviction would send a bad message about the meaning of oaths. But that doesn’t mean she should, or will, get convicted for the full 24 years in prison.
Personally I think she should get a light prison sentence, which she shouldn’t have to serve as long as she behaves on parole and doesn’t break anymore oaths. She is also possibly going to be convicted to pay up to $48,000 in fines. Actually that is the part of the sentence I don’t think matters. If she is convicted for a great amount of money she will just go through another fundraising round to pay for it.
For anyone that wishes to watch the sentencing it will be livecast on KELO starting at 2:00 pm. I will be watching and possibly live-tweeting if anything interesting happens. No matter what happens it is unlikely today will be then, because as KELO story noted Bosworth is going to appeal.
The 2014 election is over! People can once again watch TV, listen to radio, get their mail, and browse the Internet again without fear of seeing or hearing constant political ads. Personally I’m ready to move on and blog about issues again, instead of elections. But I figure a brief post looking at the statewide races would be worthwhile; if for no other reason than to give closure to this election season. On the statewide races there weren’t any surprises, South Dakota will remain Red going forward.
Here are the results of each statewide race and some brief comments about them.
United States Senator
Mike Rounds (R)
Rick Weiland (D)
Larry Pressler (I)
Gordon Howie (I)
Rounds winning really wasn’t a surprise. I was only surprised that he was able to get a majority (if only by a fraction of a percent). Over the last couple of months I’ve heard Democrats say “A vote for Pressler is a vote for Rounds”. Well, Rounds beat both Weiland and Pressler put together; and it is doubtful that the 3% of hardcore conservatives that voted for Howie would ever vote for Weiland. Plus it is doubtful all forty-seven thousand that voted for Pressler would have chosen Weiland in a two-way race. If I were the Democrat Party I would take that as a sign of an overly-progressive candidate being bad news in South Dakota. Yes, Rick was great at exciting parts of the Democrat base, but the Democrat base in South Dakota is not enough to carry a candidate. More is needed. Or actually, perhaps less is needed. The Democrat Party in SD needs to find a moderate candidate that can campaign and get a message out there that the people of SD care about.
United States Representative
Kristi Noem (R)
Corinna Robinson (D)
This was a race I didn’t vote in. I didn’t feel either candidate deserved a vote. What this race showed is how much support there is for a Democrat candidate with no campaign. A third of all votes is not going to get any wins for a Democrat in statewide races. So for the next two years we have Rep Noem. She has been showing improvements over the last term. Maybe she will continue to make improvements over the next two years. I doubt it, but its a nice thought…
Dennis Daugaard (R)
Susan Wismer (D)
Mike Myers (I)
The only thing that surprised me about this race is that Daugaard didn’t top 75%. Most people in SD have no reason to feel he has been doing a bad job. And Wismer was a bad candidate all around. She did not have the fire to truly take a fight to Daugaard. Her lack of campaign experience left her unprepared for a tough statewide race. The fact she couldn’t even get one third of the votes showed South Dakota did not have faith in her as a leader. As to Myers, he had some great ideas here and there. But his message was so scattered and he acted quite oddly during debates and public appearances. Myers was already at a handicap as an Independent, but he made it worse by having a disorganized and sometimes overly dramatic campaign. The big question now: is Daugaard going to expand Medicaid and raise taxes now that he is no longer seeking re-election?
SD Secretary of State
Shantel Krebs (R)
Angelia Schultz (D)
Lori Stacey (C)
Emmett Reistroffer (L)
Those who vote anti-Republican shouldn’t feel too bad about Krebs winning this race. I think she will try over the next four years to restore respectability to the SOS office. I think Schultz was a good candidate, but not yet for statewide office. Had she won her District 3 Democrat State Senate primary against Remily I believe she would have had a good chance of being a legislator. With four years experience as a legislator I believe Schultz would have been a huge contender for statewide office (such as the SOS office) in 2018. But as it is she was not ready and didn’t have the support to put up enough of a fight. Stacey and Reistroffer simply didn’t have the resources or message to get more than a few percentage points.
Marty Jackley (R)
Chad Haber (L)
The only surprise here is that Jackley didn’t break 90%. Personally I have a lot of policy disagreements with Jackley, but he is the only one of the two candidate that were actually qualified be the AG. Haber not only isn’t a lawyer, but most of his social media memes used to create buzz for his campaign had nothing to do with the office. All Haber did in this race was give Jackley a chance to fund-raise and get ahead for a possible 2018 run at Governor.
Steve Barnett (R)
Kurt Evans (L)
Evans did better in this race than I thought he would. Perhaps being on the ballot before in the US Senate race helped him. I think the real missed opportunity in this race came from the Democrat Party. This is where Susan Wismer should have been running. Even if she lost, this race would have allowed Wismer to gain some statewide campaign experience and statewide name recognition for higher office in the future. If the Dems want to have wins they need to start planning long-term.
Rich Sattgast (R)
Denny Pierson (D)
Ken Santema (L)
I think this is a race the Democrats could have done better at if they had run it harder and put some resources into it. Instead, only the one-third that can be expected to vote Democrat gave their support to Pierson. On a personal note I would like to thank everyone that voted for me (Santema) in this race. I am very pleased with 5% running as a third-party in a three-way race. That is also three percent higher than most political junkies had given me. (this election has also taught me the value of a party in such races).
Commissioner of School and Public Lands
Ryan Brunner (R)
John English (L)
English should be commended for getting almost one quarter of the vote. If all things were equal (money and party) I believe this would have been an interesting race. Both candidates are qualified for the office and are young enough to have the ambition that is needed in the executive branch of Pierre. That being said, I look forward to continuing working with Brunner on issues in the future. He has been very helpful as a Deputy Commissioner, and hopefully will grow into an even more helpful Commissioner.
Public Utilities Commissioner
Gary Hanson (R)
David Allen (D)
Wayne Schmidt (C)
I really don’t have any comments on this race. I didn’t give it much attention. Gary Hanson has been in Pierre for a long time and I think he could run for just about anything and win.
Constitutional Amendment Q – Allow the legislature to expand gambling in Deadwood
Y or N
This was the only ballot question I voted yes on, and it was the only one I thought might not pass. It’s passage will make this next legislative session interesting. I am looking forward to the debates on the legislative floor about whether gambling will be expanded in Deadwood.
Initiated Measure 17 – Any Willing Provider
Y or N
I actually expected this one to win with about 65% of the vote. I voted against the IM because I don’t believe it will do what was intended. So it is just another mandate causing more confusion and taking the healthcare system even further from anything resembling a free market.
This ballot question finished just about where I thought it would at 55%. I voted against it because of my belief that it will continue to decline the purchasing power for poor people. But in the end there are bigger issues (such Fed Reserve policies) that are driving purchasing power down even further. It will be interesting to see what the minimum wage increase being on auto-pilot will do.
Other notable races
Yes, I’m tired of the election. So I’m only going to make a few brief comments on some local races in SD:
Chuck Welke losing his District 2 Senate seat to Brock Greenfield was a nail-biter. I actually thought Welke would squeak through (possibly in recount range). Greenfield has to be feeling good today!
Also in District 2, I thought Natasha Noethlich would win. She was ahead for a while, but in the end Burt Tunson’s incumbency allowed him to pull off the win. I may disagree with Noethlich on many (most?) issues, but I must admit she was probably one of the hardest working candidates in NE SD this election season.
District 3 had an even bigger nail-biter with Dan Kaiser defending his State House seat against Burt Elliot. Elliot was ahead until the last two voting centers were counted. In this race I liked all four candidates on a personal level; but I am glad Elliot did not win. I really think the legislature would have refused to seat him in January and Daugaard would have had a legislative appointment right away.
The Brown County Commission race also had a surprise. Many of us expected former legislator Paul Dennert to unseat either Mike Wiese or Nancy Hansen. But instead it was newcomer Doug Fjeldheim that unseated Mike Wiese. The race was within recount range, but I don’t expect for one to be called for.
Today is election day! For me personally this has been one heck of an election season that began last year. Over the last year I have been traveling to events and speaking with just about every statewide candidate in South Dakota, and many of the State Legislative candidates as well. It has been fun… and tiring! But now that election day is here I am happy with how many people I see researching the candidates online (including with my blog posts). I think it is great that a large number of voters are taking the time to do some basic research on candidates. Seeing that makes it feel like my time spent traveling to political events (most of which are boring) and writing blog posts (which is very time-consuming) has been worth it! Thank-you to every voter out there that is trying to make informed decisions when going to the ballot.
For those that have not yet voted I do have two link pages that can help research the candidates in South Dakota
SD 2014 Ballot – This page includes all of the statewide races and ballot questions. It includes links to research each candidate or ballot question.
SD 2014 Legislative Races – This pages includes all State Legislative candidates in all 35 Districts in South Dakota. I tried to gather enough links so smart voting decisions can be made for each.
I’ve talked with quite a few people over the last few days that are confused about the new Voting Centers that Brown County implemented this year. Brown County first used them for the Primary election in June, and will continue to utilize them. A brochure from the County Auditors office can be read here. Below are a few questions that have come my way over the last few days. I’ll pass on the answers I have. Hopefully this will alleviate some of the confusion.
Where do I have to vote at.
Brown County residents can go to any of the eleven Voting Centers distributed around the county. Three of the Voting Centers are in Aberdeen at the Brown County Courthouse, Ramada Convention Center, and the Best Western Ramkota Hotel. The remaining eight are located in Columbia, Westport, Warner, Stratford, Groton, Claremont, Hecla, and Fredrick. See the Brown County Auditors pamphlet for addresses.
What if I go to the place I’ve been voting at for years in Aberdeen? (I’ve heard this question a lot)
All of the polling places in Aberdeen have been reduced down to the three mentioned in the previous question. Some of the old polling places in Aberdeen, such as the Senior Center or Washington State Gym, will no longer have voting booths.
Is this electronic voting? (I’ve gotten this question a lot as well)
No, this is not electronic voting. As the Auditors pamphlet notes the only part electronic is checking in voters and verifying their name on the voter roll. The voter is then handed a paper ballot that must be filled out the traditional way with a pencil. In addition the votes from each ballot are counted in the same manner as before the Voting Center change.
Do I have to show an ID?
Yes. If a voter does not have an ID they can sign a personal identification affidavit. No voter should be turned away from the polls for not having an ID. See the Secretary of State website for more details.
What if I am turned away from a polling place?
My advice to anyone turned away for a reason they feel is incorrect should contact the County Auditor immediately. If the Brown County Auditor doesn’t help, or can’t be reached, I would contact the Secretary of State office. In the event the Secretary of State cannot be reached I would contact the local media (such as the Aberdeen American News) or even contact me on this blog. The media and bloggers cannot fix the situation, but we can bring attention to it at least.
What if I am turned away from the polling place due to “electioneering” or something that I am wearing?
I heard about this happening a few times during the primary election. Electioneering law in South Dakota (SCL § 12-18-3) is intended to keep political advertising more than 100 feet from the polling place. Basically candidates can’t do things like put signs out front of the building that is used to vote or hassle voters going into the building. The cases I’ve heard about people being turned away has to do with stickers or t-shirts that voters are wearing going into the polling place. Personally I would just put a jacket over the t-shirt while going into vote. But most of the complaints I heard about this issue weren’t just in reaction to being turned back due to a t-shirt. The people who talked to me about this were treated rudely by Voting Center staff and made to feel like a child because they didn’t understand South Dakota electioneering law. If that happens I would follow the steps from my previous question to bring attention to it. The volunteers working in a Voting Center should act in a professional manner.
Any other election-related questions can likely be answered at the Secretary of State website. Hopefully I won’t hear reports of confusion and voters being treated in a disrespectful manner during this election.
On October 23rd South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley was the guest speaker for the Brown County Republicans at their monthly Reagan Lunch. Jackley is currently seeking re-election for his second term as Attorney General. There are quite a few things I disagree with Jackley on, but I will say he actually spoke about a lot more topics than the usual politician at these type of events. He also received a good number of questions. If nothing else he has given me a lot of info to blog about!
Jackley spoke about the job of the AG. He said a big part of the AG’s office is to handle violent crime in South Dakota. He said he always believes in leading by example and has taken some of the more violent and death penalty cases himself. In particular he mentioned a murder trial that had finished this summer that ended with Matthew Tornquist being sentenced to life in jail with no opportunity of parole. Additionaly he said the AG’s office has moved forward on the Berget Case and asked for an execution in May 2015. Personally I think South Dakota needs to get rid of the death penalty. It should never be the domain of the state to murder anyone. And that is exactly what the death penalty is: murder. But his involvement in these types of cases do back up his assertion that he is a hands-on AG.
Then Jackley moved on to talk about working with local law enforcement agencies around the state in preventative efforts. As part of prevention his office is seeing meth cases “skyrocketing”. He is working with local law enforcement and the legislature to slow down the rise of meth use. In particular he thanked Rep David Novstrup and Sen Al Novstrup for their support in trying to stop the production of meth. I believe he was referring to SB 24, which makes it even more of an inconvenience when people go buy cold medicines at the drug store. Jackley said the new tracking has already “blocked several hundred inappropriate sales of methamphetamine”. Further, he noted no actual prosecutions come from these blocked sales. It is just keeping people from buying the product that can be used for meth production. He also noted the AG’s office is speaking to a large pharmaceutical manufacture about “smart drugs”. These smart drugs cannot be compounded, meaning they would be useless for meth production. Jackley noted that issue may come up in the 2015 legislative session. Personally I think South Dakota, and the AG’s office, are on the wrong track by continuing the failed War on Drugs. That doesn’t mean I think drugs are good, but prohibition has done nothing but create criminals in situations where there are no actual victims. South Dakota’s continued support of the War on Drugs has also brought South Dakota to having the 16th highest incarceration rate in the world. I’m not sure that is something the AG’s office should be proud of.
Another area of the AG’s office that Jackley talked about was government power. He said it is part of the AG’s office responsibility to stop the government when it has gone too far. Jackley called out the EPA for expanding its power without Congressional authority. And after the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) rules against the EPA they just do a “end-round” and find another way to do what they were never actually given authority to do. He says he is part of a groups of AG’s from both parties around the country that are trying to fight against the acts of the EPA. Jackley said environmental protection can best be handled at the local level by zoning authorities. He said the State DENR also works to protect South Dakota’s resources. The closest EPA agent is in Denver according to Jackley. He says the SD DENR and the AG understand South Dakota and can better enforce environmental protections in South Dakota than the EPA can. Here is an issue I am fully supportive of Jackley on! I do think he has been fighting against federal overreach fairly consistently. There are a few times I think his office didn’t step forward when it should have, but overall I’m glad to see he is supporting Federalism in the State/Federal government relationship.
The last part his opening remarks was to talk about his campaign. He said he is taking the campaign serious and is “out on the trail”. All I will say on this is that there are enough things about how Jackley runs the office that I won’t be voting for him; but at the same time I won’t be voting for his opponent. I don’t feel either candidate is worthy of a vote from anyone liberty oriented.
Question about ISIS
Jackley received a question about ISIS. He didn’t have much to say on it because State Attorney General’s don’t receive a lot information about such issue. He noted that US Attorneys actually receive briefings on this type of issue and would be more informed. I found that interesting because I had assumed AG’s got the same info as US Attorneys. Jackley did note that ISIS is “serious and the President needed to act sooner”. I think most people of the US would agree with him. Personally I think our current interventionist foreign policy is doing more to expand terrorist threats and there are be better ways to curtail terrorism. But sadly neither ruling party really cares to look at other means of handling foreign policy.
Public Safety Improvement Act
In 2013 the South Dakota Legislature passed SB 70, which was marketed as the Public Safety Improvement Act. Jackley was asked about how the progress from this reform was progressing. Jackley said the AG’s office is “moving forward cautiously” on this “prison reform act”. At its core, Jackley said this act looked at how things were being done in prisons and that the spike of prison inmates were from drug-related offenses. Before SB70 all of these offenses were a ten-year felony. After the act there were three tiers based upon use, distribution, and production. Drug users are now eligible for drug courts. He said because of growing meth use it is hard to determine if the program is working better. Jackley also noted this system does shift some costs to the local level, so in the future the Legislature may need to provide more resources to Counties. Finally he said he is concerned with the Federal government doing the same thing the State of South Dakota has done. He said Eric Holder hasn’t been straight forward with people about it. Use of controlled substances are a misdemeanor under Federal Law, so only those distributing or producing controlled substances are felonies on the Federal level. Jackley says Holder talking about releasing felons at the Federal level for drug use is inconsistent with how Federal law actually works because it isn’t drug users that are federal felons. Jackley contends the Federal drug felons are the violent criminals. I’ll just reiterate that I believe South Dakota and US are wrong in continuing the failed War on Drugs. There are other ways to tackle social issues such as drug use without using the criminal system.
Jackley was asked if he would be running for Governor in the future. He said he always works on things one step at a time. He noted he has moved his family to Pierre and will stay in State Government as long as the residents of SD want him to serve. Jackley didn’t’ say he would run for Governor in the future, but he also definitely didn’t say he wouldn’t.
Jackley was asked about the ballot questions on the SD 2014 ballot. All he really did was reiterate what the AG’s office had already released as part of their requirement to explain ballot questions. Here are the three AG explanations created for this election: IM 17, IM 18, Const Amend Q.
Jackley was asked about the Marriage Amendment in South Dakota. He noted there was statute that existed in South Dakota defining marriage between a man and a woman. In 2006 the people then voted upon it and passed it as a SD Constitutional Amendment. Jackley noted that is currently the law in South Dakota. He noted there are a number of AG’s that went to SCOTUS and asked for a clear legal decision, but SCOTUS wouldn’t answer. Jackley did say this is a tough issue and that the “people of South Dakota should define what marriage is” and that it shouldn’t be up to judges or AG’s to determine what defines marriage. He wouldn’t say whether he agrees with the current law, only that it is his job as AG to uphold the current law. In the future Jackley expects more lawsuits to keep coming forward due to the non-action from SCOUTS. He said even if SCOTUS rules against the states it would at least provide clear guidance.
Yes, there was an EB-5 question for Jackley. Democrats have turned this into a partisan issue recently, but I’ve heard just as many Republicans (if not more) in the Aberdeen area worried about EB-5 than I have heard from Democrats. The morning of this event Aberdeen News had the front page story saying the FBI was investigating SDRC and EB-5. The question was about law enforcement coming in shortly before an election and announcing something like this. Jackley said as AG he had waited until after the Primary election to deal with two cases that had come to him (including his opponents wife Annette Bosworth) so as not to sway the election one way or the other. Jackley noted the Federal authorities have been looking into this long before the AG’s office was involved. Last year GOAC received a federal grand jury subpoena that was then passed on by the Governor to the AG’s office. He says the AG’s office then investigated and reported what he believes was some wrongdoing. Jackley was sure to point out his investigation was done in October of 2013 when he authorized a felony arrest warrant. He was careful to say the warrant was for what he believes was wrongdoing, he worded that carefully because there was not a subsequent trial or grand jury to determine if there truly was felony activity. Jackley asked what the federal authorities have been doing in the year since last October. He noted the FBI’s current subpoena was done in a way to make it a public record. He said as AG he has been trying to be as transparent and open as possible when allowed. He also reiterated that the evidence the AG’s office found had no connections with Mike Rounds at all.
I won’t go into the whole EB-5 situation in this post. But I will back Jackley on part. I believe he acted right in refraining from going after Bosworth until after the Primary election. If the FBI had released its subpoena in a way to create publicity that close to an election it does look suspicious and like the possible use of federal resources to electioneer. Additionally, I would add that I believe it is unlikely Rounds will ever be found to have done anything illegal. But at the same time I do think there were a lot of unethical things done in regards to EB-5 in South Dakota, and Rounds may or may not have been involved with breach of ethics.
Checks and Balances
Jackley went on to a conversation about Checks and Balances after talking about EB-5. He said the federal level does not have the checks and balances that exist in South Dakota. He noted the AG and SD Legislature are both elected and actually create some checks and balances. If the AG’s office acts in a way the Legislature doesn’t like, they can act through GOAC or defund his department. He says the current AG of the US enforces whatever laws he wants. Examples Jackley gave include: drug laws, immigration laws, marriage laws. Jackley noted that State AG’s also typically work quite well with the US Ag, regardless of party; but that has simply not happened with Holder in office. It is odd seeing a state AG speaking against the US AG. Remember, these are all lawyers and they typically stick together. With a quick Google search it can be seen that many AG’s from around the US and both parties have been consistently speaking against Holder. Perhaps it is good Holder announced his resignation.
There are some local residents concerned about whether Burt Elliot should be in the District 3 House race because he allegedly lives in District 2 and only rents an Apartment in District 3 to run for office (meaning he doesn’t actually sleep in District 3, only rents a place to keep an address). The question to Jackley was specifically about perjury. Jackley said perjury cases are always difficult to prove, even for the AG’s office. He also noted it is up to the Secretary of State to determine whether ballot access requirements have been met. Going back to what he said earlier, even if Jackley would somehow become involved in this situation, nothing would happen until after the election. That would also likely involve a US Attorney if this became a criminal issue.
But for ballot access issues he said that is not really an AG issue. Later when talking individually with people he was asked about the AG’s office getting involved if the SD Legislature refuses to seat Elliot. Due to prescience from the SD Judicial system he says the Executive branch (including the AG’s office) likely could not legally get involved. I think the big lesson to take out of this as that no matter what happens with Elliot, it is unlikely the AG’s office will be involved.
Jackley covered a heck of a lot of issues for what is usually a meet and greet type of meeting. As I said before, I won’t vote for him. But he is willing to at least speak on a number of topics when he knows there are people there that disagree with him. I also wish he had covered some of his work on consumer fraud protection in this meeting. Maybe I’ll catch up with him some time after the election to see what he will focus on for consumer fraud protection in the next four years.
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”.
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 debate 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.
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:
In 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.
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.
There 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.
An Amendment to the South Dakota Constitution authorizing the Legislature to allow roulette, keno and craps in Deadwood. Explanation:
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…