South Dakota legislative District 6 has a general election for State Representative. District 6 is directly south and southwest of Sioux Falls. Towns in District 6 include Harrisburg, Lennox, and Tea. There also appears to be a small piece of Sioux Falls that falls within District 6.
Both incumbent Republicans Rep Isaac Latterell and Rep Herman Otten are seeking reelection. Democrats Kyle Rogers and Clara Hart are seeking the two District 6 House seats. Neither the Republicans or the Democrats had a primary election.
Here is a brief look at all four 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. For candidates with a legislative history I look at a few pieces of legislation prime sponsored. For candidates with no legislative history I look at the issues I find for them online.
*** 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.
Since Isaac Latterell is a sitting legislator I will look at legislation prime sponsored by him. In Latterell’s two terms most of his legislation has fallen into two categories: abortion and Article V Convention.
First to look at for Latterell is these three abortion related bills from 2015:
None of these abortion bills were signed into law. But I think they are representative of the types of abortion bills Latterell generally brings forth. HB 1156 would have outright prohibited abortions due to an unborn child being diagnosed with Down syndrome. Latterell withdrew that bill. Instead he tried to get its sister bill HB 1155 passed through the legislature. HB 1155 would have required doctors give certain information about Down syndrome to mothers whose unborn babies have been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. This was a kind of more roundabout way to try preventing Down syndrome related abortions. That bill passed through he House and was then defeated in Senate health. Also from 2015 was HB 1230. HB 1230 was originally a bill to prevent beheading of unborn children during abortions. Technically these types of abortions are not available in SD. HB 1230 was then gutted on the house floor to simply make the following statement: “The State of South Dakota recognizes the sanctity of human life”. In that form it is no longer a bill, it is a resolution. Senate Health resisted the call to hoghouse it back to its original form, and tabled the bill unanimously. Latterell was not able to get any of his abortion bills passed in 2015. But he definitely has abortion at the very top of his legislation priorities.
The other big priority for Latterell is an Article V convention. He has had Article V related legislation for a few years. Here is the example from 2016:
This resolution is technically an application by the state to convene an Article V Convention of the States. Such a convention would allow the states to send delegates. These delegates would be able create potential amendments to the US Constitution. This particular application would have restricted an Article V convention to “proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and members of Congress”. This is an issue a lot of conservatives have looked at as a way to reign in the federal government. Opponents of an Article V convention are afraid of a runaway convention. HJR 1002 made it through the House and was then defeated by Senate tax. One very odd part of this bill being brought forth is that an application had been passed in 2015 via HJR 1001 (SoDakLiberty Posts).
Finally it is worth looking at another joint resolution Latterell prime sponsored in 2016:
HJR 1001 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Proposing and submitting to the electors at the next general election an amendment to Article IV, section 3 of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, relating to the powers and duties of the Governor.
This bill basically would have changed how US Senate appointments due to a vacancy occur. Currently the Governor would appoint a new US Senator. HJR 1001 tried to change that so the SD Legislature would have to make an appointment from within its own ranks. The resolution failed to get any support in committee and was killed. Latterell is one of the legislators I’ve heard talk about reigning in the power of executive branch in South Dakota. This could be seen as a way for him to try doing so.
Herman Otten is seeking reelection for his third term. Since Otten is a sitting legislator I will also look at a few pieces of legislation prime sponsored by him.
First up for Otten is this bill from 2016:
Technically this bill goes back to a bill Otten prime sponsored in 2015: HB 1194 (SoDakLiberty Posts). HB 1194 made a state statute for local governments to follow if signs about zoning changes or conditional use permits are to be used. Because of where the code from HB 1194 was placed it only applied to counties, and not municipalities. Otten intended the new statute to apply to municipalities as well. He brought for HB 1100 in 2016 to make sure the intent of last years bill was clear and placed in the proper section of South Dakota’s codified law. This bill does show Otten is willing to go back and fix problems with legislation he has passed in previous years.
Next up for Herman Otten is this bill from 2016:
HB 1101 was signed into law and allows municipalities without a development corporation to identify a housing need, and then create a property tax rebate program to assist that type of housing to be built. That would all be done through city ordinances. It isn’t surprising Otten would bring this bill forth. Since Otten’s district is basically in the suburbs of Sioux Falls, these rebates could be used to create housing to help those towns grow in population.
For the last three years Otten has either prime sponsored a House bill or been the House prime sponsor of a Senate bill to handle school boundary changes. Each of these bills has passed and has been built upon the prior bill. Here is what was passed in 2016:
There have been quite a few lawsuits between school districts, particularly in the Sioux Falls area, fighting over property tax base. The 2015 version of the school district boundary change bill, SB 134 (SoDakLiberty Posts), froze all school district boundary changes for one year. Otten was a member of that task force and was the House prime sponsor of SB 5, which came out of that task force. SB 5 creates a new procedure to initiate a school district boundary change. I will freely admit I don’t understand the legislation too well. But it does show Otten taking a legislative priority of an issue that impacts his district profoundly.
Kyle Rogers may not be an incumbent, but he has at least provided a list of issues on his website so potential voters can learn something about his legislative priorities. Here is a brief breakdown of his issues:
- The South Dakota State Budget. Rogers notes the FY 2017 SD State budget is the 127th balanced budget in the history of the state. He believes such a fiscal tradition should be continued.
- The people who guarantee our freedoms. Rogers calls out the need to compensate, train, and properly equip the firefighters, soldiers, and police officers within South Dakota. I thought this was an interesting issue as it isn’t often brought up in legislative races.
- Election Finance. Rogers believes “No person or company should be able to buy an election”. So he supports Initiated Measure 22 (IM 22). IM 22 is called the South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act. It is a massive initiated measure that would make a lot of major changes to election finance law in South Dakota.
- Education. Rogers says “South Dakota needs both higher teacher pay and improved education standards”. It would be interesting to hear what Rogers has to say about Common Core. He believes “Expanded economics, financial literacy, technical skills, and critical thinking courses” should be included within the SD educational system.
- Unemployment Benefit Reform. Rogers supports social safety nets, but wants to ensure those safety nets are not being taken advantage of. Rogers believes anyone receiving unemployment benefits “should do work for the government in proportion to the unemployment benefits that citizen receives.” He does specify this doesn’t apply to those with disabilities or other reasons they cannot work. It is interesting to see a Democrat take this stance.
- Second Amendment Rights. Rogers wants to preserve the American tradition of Second Amendment rights. He also believes “basic common-sense rules” should be implemented so the amount of gun-related death can be reduced.
- Sex Trafficking. Rogers believes there is more that can be done to reduce sex trafficking in South Dakota.
- Legalization of Marijuana and Drunk Driving. Rogers explains how legalizing marijuana would hep society and liberties. At the same time he would make certain crimes have harsher punishments if there is intoxication involved. That would include things such as drunk driving.
- Single-Payer Health Care. Rogers is completely behind single-payer healthcare.
- Transgender Bathroom Bill(s) and LGBT Rights. Rogers wants to fight to support the rights of all Americans, including those in the LGBT community.
Rogers actually seems to have a left-libertarian streak in him.
Clara Hart has been getting a lot of attention as a rising star within the South Dakota Democrats. Part of that is probably due to her being from a refugee family in an election year where the refugee debate has gained a lot of attention. She has run for office before.
There is an issues portion to her campaign website with the five following priorities:
- Education. Hart is dedicated to a long-term solution to education funding. Here is part of what she says “As your representative, I will advocate for a consistent plan to make sure our schools can expect adequate resources over the long term.” This is a stance that many school boards may support, as they don’t like the current uncertainty involved in the states budgetary process.
- Health Care. Hart supports Medicaid expansion. She believes doing so “will not only reduce the state’s costs for health coverage for all South Dakotans, it will be a significant step toward building healthier communities, increasing emphasis on prevention and chronic condition management, and therefore reducing the cost burdens that come with too many individuals relying on emergency care.”
- Good Government. Hart would like to do away with “state leaders using our public resources inappropriately.” Hart wants to increase transparency and accountability in how the state of South Dakota utilizes resources.
- Growing our Local Economies. Here is part of what Hart says in this section: “Long-term growth also depends on investments we make, such as: improving our roads and other public infrastructure; expanding access to resources such as high-speed internet; ensuring adequate funding for public safety and first responders; making sure our schools can prepare our children to succeed in our global economy; and ensuring a high standard of living for our entire workforce through access to quality healthcare.”
- Clean Energy. Hart believes South Dakota should be investing in wind energy. Doing so Hart believes South Dakota could have “an economic edge and establish South Dakota as a leader in our region on sustainable energy”.
It will be interesting to see if Hart is able to make any headway in this election.