I’ve updated the SD State Legislators list (available in the menu above) with the results from the leadership elections recently held.
I believe these results have already been reported by other political blogs in the state. But, for anyone that wants to know who was elected to legislative leadership positions, here are the results of the caucus meetings:
2017-2018 Senate Majority Leadership
If I understand the President Pro Tempore correctly, this is not actually elected until the full Senate is in session and the Democrats get their votes. It is unlikely to change though.
As I continue to look at results from the 2016 South Dakota general election it is time to look at the State Senate races. I’ve updated the page I used to track the legislative general election races. I’ve also updated the SD State Legislators tab above to reflect the new office holders; yes, technically it is just under two months early, but I am gearing up for the 2017 legislative session already. The big story on the state Senate side is that Republicans picked up two seats and seemed to shift further to the right. There is also one race which has a possible recount.
Below is a brief recap of who won each general election State Senate seat, and maybe some comments if a race warrants it. This list does not include any State Senate races where there was not a general election opponent, those races were already recapped back in July. These results are all unofficial until the state canvassing board certifies them next week.
This is a race that many expected to be much closer. Getting almost 40% of the vote as a newcomer is actually pretty good. But I do think this race was winnable for Heidelberger, or at least could have come much closer. I know both candidates, and have respect for both of them. Each of them has their good and bad policy standpoints in my opinion.
Looking a back I think Heidelberger was doing everything he could to get votes. Heidelberger was speaking to local groups about his candidacy and the ballot questions. He spent massive amounts of time going door to door. For a state legislative race he actually raised some pretty good funds. If Heidelberger had stuck to just these activities I believe this race would have been the tight race many expected. That may or may not have been enough to win, but it would have been close in my opinion.
Some will say the negative attack ads sent out by the SD GOP against Heidelberger tipped the balance towards Novstrup. Personally I don’t think the postcards did much, if anything. I believe what kept this from being a tight race is the same thing that caused Hillary Clinton to lose some support: social justice warriors. Heidelberger is a social justice warrior and is not afraid to use political correctness as a tool while blogging or speaking to groups. I believe this cost him a lot of votes. I’ve actually spoken with a handful of long-time Democrats in Aberdeen who were turned away from Heidelberger for often throwing out words such as bigoted, racists, misogynist, sexists, etc… Using those terms to label opponents does a great job of getting his base supporters excited, but it pushes people away who might have otherwise listened to his message. I think if the 2016 election proves anything it is that people on the whole are sick of political correctness being used to shut down discussions.
This was another race I thought would be much closer. Both candidates have name recognition in the district and both candidates were out working hard. I’m not sure if the negative ads against Tyler gave Wiik the advantage, or if the voters of District 4 could relate to Wiik’s conservative message. Either way this was a big loss for the Democrats as this seat in the State Senate was flipped to the Republicans.
This was an exciting race to watch on Tuesday night. The two candidates were going back and forth for first place as the precincts came in. And it ended within recount range. I haven’t heard yet if Parsley has asked for a recount. 94 votes is very close, but I’m not sure it is close enough for a recount to change the results. This is a hard loss for the Democrats in the State Senate. Going into this I thought Youngberg would get close, but didn’t really think he had a chance of unseating Parsley. This race does show incumbents can be defeated in South Dakota.
This is a race I didn’t think would be close. But wow, this was a fun race to watch on Tuesday night. At times it looked as if Rusch could lose his seat. In then end Rusch gained back a good lead. But it was a pretty tough race for an incumbent. This might be a district to keep an eye on in the 2018 election.
On Saturday, September 24, the Aberdeen League of Women Voters and the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum in Aberdeen. South Dakota. Earlier I posted some pictures from the event, now it is time to start getting the videos posted. This video features the District 3 legislative candidates.
All six legislative candidates were in attendance. The two candidates running for State Senate are Republican Rep Al Novstrup and Democrat Cory Heidelberger. The two Republicans seeking the State House seat are Republicans Drew Dennert and Rep Dan Kaiser. Opposing them for the State House seat are Democrats Brooks Briscoe and Nikki Bootz. Carl Perry, Chair of the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce, moderated the event.
I may do a post or two in the future about topics brought up in this forum. Of particular interest was question about ag land assessment.
On Saturday, September 24, the Aberdeen League of Women Voters and the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum in Aberdeen. South Dakota. Legislative candidates for Districts 1, 2, and 3 were invited to attend. County Commissioner candidates from Brown County were also invited to attend. I will have video up later today and tomorrow so everyone can hear from the candidates (there acoustics in that room were horrible, its taken me a few days to get the audio cleaned up). But in the mean time here are some pictures from the event.
You can click on any picture to make it bigger.
Carl Perry, Chair of the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce, moderated the event.
Drew Dennert is seeking one of the District 3 State House seats.
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.
*** 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.
Drew Dennert will quite possibly be the youngest person ever elected as a SD legislator if he wins in November. Dennert does not have a large online presence. But as I noted in the post about his primary election this blurb is available on his Facebook page:
I’m running for the South Dakota State House because we need principled conservative leaders representing us in Pierre.
As a conservative Republican I strongly believe in promoting a business friendly environment by reducing regulations and keeping taxes as low as possible.
My platform is simple. I want to stand up for South Dakotans right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Fighting for the right to life and protecting the unborn is at the core of my principles.
I also want to fight for South Dakotans liberty and pursuit of happiness, by protecting our God given rights.
If elected I will fight for more liberty and less government.
I would be honored to have your support!
To expand upon that Dennert has been handing out a door hanger with the following bullet points (yes, he has been going door to door and has made it to my house):
Kaiser does actually have an issues section on his website, which I will give him credit for. But since he is an incumbent I would rather look at some key areas of his work as a legislator.
Also before going on I think it would be best to talk about the 2016 legislative session. Just days before the 2016 legislative session began Kaiser found out his son had been diagnosed with leukemia and would have to go through a series of treatments. Due to that Kaiser missed all but one day of the legislative session (he was there for Veto day). Personally I don’t think such a badly timed personal emergency sheds a bad light on him. But it is possible there are people who feel he should not be reelected due to missing a whole session. That is up to each voter to decide for his or her self.
Another issue that I think is important when talking about Kaiser is Common Core. Back in February of 2015 Kaiser led an effort to smokeout HB 1223 (SoDakLiberty Posts), which would have ended South Dakota’s involvement in Common Core. The attempt to force HB 1223 did not completely succeed. But that doesn’t mean it was a failure. A social media #StandWithDan hashtag went viral (as far as anything purely SD political can go viral). Kaiser was able to breath new life into the battle against Common Core and give people hope this could become an issue for the 2016 election. I will be watching close this year to see if Common Core does become an issue for close races, especially west-river.
Finally I want to mention the fact that Kaiser shows his commitment to open government and transparency by posting each of his votes on Facebook. Just last year I commended Kaiser and Rep Fred Deutsch (R, Dist 4) for doing this. I wish more legislators would do this! It is a great way to see why a legislator voted in a way I would find wrong. It also happens to be a great way to possibly learn something about a bill that wasn’t mentioned in committee testimony (remember these legislators get constantly hounded by lobbyists, and not all of the lobbyists are bad).
Here is a snippet from this part of Briscoe’s reasons:
My opponents, Drew Dennert and Dan Kaiser, are both running on a platform of being “Conservative Republicans”, and I’m running as a moderate Democrat.
With that in mind District 3 and our state deserve representation for the majority of its registered voters with a fair, honest and progressive thinking member of the SD House of Representatives. A vote for me in November will help assure an unbiased, willing to compromise, common sense legislator in Pierre.
Briscoe goes on to give the statistics of how many people in Dist 3 and the state are registered with each party and Independent. This is an approach I’ve seen many Democrats take in this election, especially with Constitutional Amendment T on the ballot this fall to decide the fate of legislative redistricting going forth.
#2 Pro 2nd Amendment, Anti NRA
Here is part of what Brisco has to say on reason number two:
Unfortunately, the NRA has become an advocate for the firearm and ammunition manufacturers as well as one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington D.C.
When our national congress is unable to pass legislation to prevent citizens on the No Fly List from buying weapons, when 90% of Americans are in favor of it, it’s obvious that corporate money and power has defeated the voice of Democracy.
I try to stay somewhat unbiased in these posts. But this one is hard for me. It scares me when a politician is willing to look at restricting a constitutionally protected right based upon a No Fly List that likely already goes against the 4th Amendment. But I do think separating his support for the 2nd Amendment from supporting the NRA may be a good move within his party.
#3 A Realistic Approach to Problem Solving
Here is what Briscoe has to say about taxes:
My opponent has stated that if elected his priority is to create jobs and build our economy by lowering taxes and decreasing regulations. In the same interview he stated a top priority was to increase teacher pay. In the real world you generally can’t have it both ways. All you have to do is look to states like Kansas and Louisiana that cut taxes on the wealthy and deregulated corporations (and now find themselves with huge deficits and dwindling education and infrastructure programs) to see that’s a plan for disaster. Meanwhile California (who recently increased taxes on the top percent and passed more corporate regulations) has one of the fastest growing economies and top 10 education, infrastructure and healthcare programs. I support job growth, improved education, rebuilding our infrastructure and expanding healthcare, but realize lowering taxes and deregulation is not the way to achieve it.
Briscoe is definitely taking a pro tax approach. In District 3 that might actually work better than other parts of the state. This might actually help him with the more progressive independents.
#4 Transparency on Upcoming Ballot Issues
Briscoe has shared his voting intentions on all 10 Ballot Questions this fall. Briscoe also points out his opponents have not let their intentions on these ballot questions be known.
#5. A WILLINGNESS TO COMPROMISE
Briscoe’s final reason is a willingness to compromise. Here is what Briscoe has to say about this:
While having strong values is a great personal trait, an uncompromising value system can be a hinderance for a public servant. As a legislator I would always be willing to compromise my personal values to help the progress of my constituents and state that I’m representing. My opponents have both claimed to have uncompromising values, posting statements like “…from my cold dead hands!”. That’s the kind of thinking that has caused our US Congress to be dubbed the “do nothing” congress we’ve come to know. A vote for me in November will assure my constituents of a person that can accomplish positive progress for the state of South Dakota.
Briscoe might be able to go after his opponents for this a little bit. But at the same time Kaiser might be safe from this attack because as a Republican he actually votes against cronyistic bills brought forth by Republicans more than the Democrats do.
For voters in District 3 it might be worth keeping an eye on Briscoe’s 20 reasons page to find out if he has more reasons to vote for him upcoming.
Nikkie Bootz doesn’t have a lot of recent activity on her campaign Facebook page. But she does have this in her About Section:
Nikki Bootz moved to Aberdeen, SD in 2009 and chose Aberdeen because it’s centrally located between various family members. Nikki considers Aberdeen the perfect place where she and her to call home and enjoys the people here. She was born in Hettinger, ND in 1983 and is a graduate of Lemmon High School. So far Aberdeen has proven to be a fantastic place to raise her two children.
Passionate about helping the residents of District 3 get proper representation, Nikki has serious views on specific political issues that directly affect her own family and yours. This is why she is running our House of Representatives.
Nikki’s heart lies in being able to see concrete changes in District 3. She has long been disappointed with the lack of courage that has made the elected in Aberdeen be content with what is given to the district. Not satisfied being just a bystander Nikki pledges to dedicate all of her efforts to ensuring that her district will be recognized for having leaders who can speak up for what the people of Aberdeen and Bath really need and not for what the state sees fit for them.
Nikki will be the element of change that this district needs and not just a mouthpiece of the party. She isn’t going to back down once she arrives in Pierre. Nikki will appreciate your vote in November.
That really doesn’t tell us much about Bootz’s priorities for legislation. Perhaps I can find some time to catch up with her in the next few weeks for an interview.
South Dakota legislative District 3 has a general election for State Senate. District 3 is comprised mostly of Aberdeen. But it also goes out to encompass Bath and Prairiewood.
The Republican incumbent Sen David Novstrup is not seeking reelection. Rep Al Novstrup decided not to seek reelection for State House, and is switching over to the State Senate race to try winning the seat being vacated by his son. Challenging Novstrup is Democrat Cory Heidelberger. This is probably one of the top races to watch during this election season.
Here is a brief look at both candidates. The candidates below are listed in the order they will appear on the general election ballot. I’ve also included the links I could find to help voters learn more about each candidate.
*** 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.
Al Novstrup has served in Pierre for many years, so I will focus on a few bills he has prime sponsored in order to get an idea of his legislative priorities. First up is this open government bill from 2015:
HB 1153 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Expand the definition of teleconference to include certain meetings conducted through electronic text colloquy and to require the retention of certain records of text colloquy meetings for public inspection.
HB 1153 would have expanded the meaning of teleconference in open meeting laws to include “e-mail, text messaging, chat services, and other similar media”. House Local Government and Senate State Affairs basically reduced the bill to almost nothing before it was killed by Senate State Affairs. In its final form the bill would only have applied to email. Too bad this bill didn’t pass, it would have been a good movement towards more open government in South Dakota.
Up next for Al Novstrup is this bill from 2014:
SB 120 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Provide for the registration and administration of navigators under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to declare an emergency.
This was an interesting bill because it was aimed directly at the implementation of Obamacare in South Dakota. The navigators in question were created by Obamacare as insurance agents to help people enroll in the ACA marketplace. Yet these navigators are not subject to state regulation as every other insurance agent in the state has to. The bill was tabled by Senate Commerce and Energy at the request of Novstrup. The stakeholders involved couldn’t find common ground to get the bill into a workable format. This is an issue that is still being battled in many states. ACA does allow the states to regulate navigators, but the federal government has resisted attempts at such regulations. In testimony Novstrup focused a lot on people’s private data and the lack of oversight of these navigators handling such data; other insurance agents have oversight and repercussions. Navigators are still unregulated in South Dakota, and until lawsuits are settled between other states and the federal government that will likely remain true.
Finally I thought it would be worth looking at this bill from 2013:
South Dakota does not have tenure for public school teachers as many other states do. Instead there is something call continuing contracts. This allows teachers contracts to be non-renewed with a simple notice for teachers that have less than four consecutive terms. Teachers with four or more terms can have their contract non-renewed with a bit more work, but can still be done. Novstrup’s bill would have allowed school boards to opt out of continuing contracts so they could focus on provisions that would be in the best interest of the school districts. Senate Education killed the bill 4-3. The SD Education Association of course testified against the bill. But also noteworthy was Rep Paula Hawks testifying against the bill. At that time Hawks was a freshman legislator, and now she is running for US House. There was no way the Education committee was going to let the bill pass, but I do think this bill had shown a commitment by Novstrup to local control of education by school boards.
Overall I would say Novstrup’s bills focus on open government and local control. The ACA navigator bill also shows that Novstrup appears to believe government should have to follow the same laws and regulations as regular people.
In this post I will only look at the top priority listed from Heidelberger; which he lists as defending voters. Here is what he has to say about defending voters:
The Legislature needs to respect us voters. When we pass a ballot measure like the minimum wage increase and “any willing provider” health insurance law of 2014, we should be able to count on legislators not to tinker with or undo what we’ve done. The Legislature should make it easier for all South Dakotans to vote, to refer and initiate laws, and circulate petitions and run for office. Instead, our current Legislature has acted as if it fears and loathes real citizen democracy. I want all of us South Dakotans to vote and to have lots of good choices when we vote. When you send me to Pierre, I’ll fight to protect the initiative and referendum, the petition process, and every South Dakotan’s right to vote.
The minimum wage was passed in 2014 via Initiated Measure 18 (IM 18). After that was passed by the voters the legislature modified the minimum wage by creating a new youth minimum wage via SB 177 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Heidelberger took exception to the legislature changing a law passed by the voters and circulated petitions to put the youth minimum wage before the voters. The referral of SB 177 was successful and now the voters of SD will choose whether to have a youth minimum wage this fall via Referred Law 20 (RL 20). Heidelberger is running in part to protect initiated measures passed by the voters from tinkering by the legislature.
Along those same lines he mentions the “any will provider” initiated measure (IM 17) passed by the voters in 2014. There was a bill in 2016, HB 1067 (SoDakLiberty Posts), that would have undone IM 17. That particular bill was defeated in committee. But it was mentioned by Heidelberger as an example of the legislature trying to undo what was passed into law by the voters of South Dakota.
Finally Heidelberger mentions the legislature trying to make it harder for voters to participate in citizen democracy via SB 69 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 69 is a bill the majority party in the legislature appeared to use in order to make it harder for competition on the ballot. Heidelberger took exception to what the legislature did with SB 69 and led the petition effort to put it before the voters of South Dakota. That effort was successful and will be on this falls ballot as Referred Law 19 (RL 19). Agree with Heidelberger or not, he definitely has shown a willingness to actually stick up for what he believes in.
Normally I would look at a couple more stances or issues for candidates in these posts. But with Heidelberger I thought it would be more interesting to look at a different aspect of his candidacy. That aspect is the fact that Heidelberger appears to be campaigning for and against himself. Heidelberger has a lot of built-in support from local Democrats due to his liberal-leaning blog. Yet that same blog may also be costing him votes, including from fellow Democrats.
A recent example of a blog post that could be backfiring on Heidelberger is one about a 4-H pallet painted with a combination of the American flag and the christian cross. I believe Heidelberger wrote the post as a social commentary, and in no way meant it as an attack on a young 4-H member. The public perception however was much different. The day of the post I had many people stop by my fair booth to vent about what Heidelberger has posted. One of those people who stopped by was a local Democrat who has supported Democrat candidates for at least two decades. But after Heidelberger’s post she decided this election she would abstain from voting in the District 3 State Senate race (she couldn’t see voting for Novstrup either). If enough local Democrats do that, it would make the election much easier for Novstrup. True, Heidelberger has the right to post whatever he wants and the post about the pallet did pose some interesting social questions. But at the same time Heidelberger as a candidate must understand that such posts are not always going to be perceived in the way he intended, and in fact may be seen as an attack on 4-H kids.
Another recent example comes from the Americans First, Task Force of Aberdeen, event featuring Ron Branstner. The video footage I shot of the event can be viewed here. During the event Branstner had used a blog post from Heidelberger as an example of what the “liberal rags” have to say about refugees. Heidelberger was given a chance during the question and answer portion to defend himself. But Heidelberger’s defense may have backfired somewhat. Instead of staying where he was standing and making a short statement, or ask a question, Heidelberger went into the center of the room to make what looked like a campaign speech. That made some people in the audience irate, including some local Democrats that didn’t even agree with what Branstner was trying to get people to understand. Personally I understand why Heidelberger stood and defended himself, but it did have repercussions with some older voters that now see him as somewhat of an opportunist. But then maybe this incident will be a net gain as he attracts more young voters that might not otherwise vote.
There are other examples of Heidelberger pushing away certain Democrat voters, especially the older farm Democrats. But I think these two examples show how Heidelberger being a blogger and activist will have some repercussions as a candidate. I can attest first-hand that Heidleberger has been working hard to connect with voters in Aberdeen. The political geek part of me is really interested in seeing how this election will turn out. Here are the questions that come into my mind along those lines:
Will Heidelberger gain or lose more votes due to his blogging and activism?
Novstrup is expected to get a lot of donations to keep Heidelberger out of the Senate. Will the Democrats fund Heidelberger equally?
Heidelberger is an intense in-your-face type of person. Will that resonate well with voters as he is gong door to door?
Heidelberger is running at least partly on open government, which Novstrup has actually received recognition by the Newspaper Association as an advocate of open government. Will open government even be an issue in this election (at this point I doubt it).
This should be a very interesting election to watch. When the postcards and attack ads start coming out I expect there will be more than a few aimed at the District 3 State Senate race. I also expect the attack ads against Heidelberger will simply highlight what he has written on his blog.
On March 5, 2016, the third and final legislative Cracker Barrel was held in Aberdeen. This is notable because it may be the last Cracker Barrel Sen David Novstrup participates in now that he has officially announced he is not seeking re-election. Who know though, perhaps in a future year he may run again.
This event is split into four separate videos, but is presented below as one playlist.
Here is the video from the Feb 27, 2016, Cracker Barrel in Aberdeen. This was the second of three cracker barrels held in Aberdeen this year. I did try posting this video a week ago, but I had to work out some video/audio sync issues that YouTube had problems with. The video is split into four separate sections, but presented below in one playlist.
Multiple technical issues were experienced during filming. All audio is present, but a few short sections of the video was corrupted. Sorry for any inconveniences! (I had three cameras there that day, all three had issues. Luckily I also had an audio recorder going).
Here is the video, it is a YouTube Playlist of 4 videos comprising this event:
HB 1015 (SoDakLiberty Posts) – Authorize the Department of Human Services to dismantle and demolish buildings and to restore the demolition site to its natural state on the South Dakota Developmental Center campus, to make an appropriation therefor, and to declare an emergency.
The South Dakota Developmental Center was established by the state legislature in 1899. The facility opened in February 1902 as the Northern Hospital for the Insane with 45 people in a three-story building made of Sioux Falls granite. All direct contact staff as well as administrative staff lived there. All legislation concerning establishment, admissions and support indicates that these facilities were not intended to be used by people who had mentall illness, but for those persons who had a developmental disability. In 1913, the name was changed to State School and Home for the Feeble Minded. It became known as The Redfield State Hospital and School in 1951, and in 1989 we took our current name.
The population at SDDC increased rapidly, and by 1918, it had increased to 10 times its original number to 471 people. This trend in population increase continued until 1963 when SDDC’s population hit its all-time high of 1,199 people. At that time, there were 11 large buildings on campus used for housing. The TB (tuberculosis) Sanatorium at Custer, S.D., was remodeled and reopened as the Custer State Hospital and School. Several of SDDC’s people were transferred to Custer to ease the crowding at the Redfield facility. The Custer facility was closed in 1996, and the people were moved into the community.
By 1970, the population at the Redfield facility had dropped to 980, and with the passing of the Developmental Disabilities Act in 1970, which provided for the deinstitutionalization of inappropriately placed persons, the number of people living at SDDC dropped quickly. At present, SDDC serves approximately 145 persons with developmental disabilities.
Part of me wonders if some of those older buildings still exist on the campus and if that isn’t what is driving this bill. I guess we will find out when the bill is taken up in committee and the DHS actually explains the reason almost two million dollars are needed to demolish buildings on the SDDC campus.
SD has come a long way handling developmental disabilities
Personally I find it almost mind-boggling that the state would have operated a facility named the State School and Home for the Feeble Minded. The campus may have changed away from that name in 1951, but it still continued to grow for the next couple of decades when we as a society basically locked away people with developmental disabilities. To me this is a fairly modern case of morally wrong behavior in our society.
I’ve heard Rep Al Novstrup (R, Dist 3) speak a few times about the improvements that have been made by the state handling people with developmental disabilities. Specifically the state has become less directly involved. He has become somewhat of a local legislative champion for ASPIRE, Inc. in Aberdeen. I’ve seen the great work that is being done at Aspire and have heard similar programs around the state are just as well run. Hopefully we have learned our lesson and never try to institutionalize those with development disabilities again.
Bonus Video from the SDDC staff
SDDC posted this video on YouTube oft he staff and people helped by the staff getting happy