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.
Updated 8/16/16. Added two more legislative races without a general election due to placeholder candidates not having a replacement. These are Neal Tapio (R) for District 5 State Senate and Craig Kennedy (D) for District 18 State Senate. The possibility of District 23 State House having a candidate from the Constitution Party of SD was stopped in the court; so that race remains uncontested. With the changes there are a total of 29 candidates in 23 races that have already won the general election.
Currently there are a total of 27 candidates in 21 races that have already won the general election for the South Dakota legislature. Over the last month I have done a post about each of these won seats and will recap the list in this post. These previous posts were meant to take a look at some of the legislative priorities for candidates that have already won their general election. This is probably the last time I will blog about any of these candidates this year, unless they do something interesting on an interim committee or I run into one of them at a fair.
It should be noted I said “currently” in the first paragraph of this post. Candidates still have a few weeks to withdraw their names from the ballot. If a candidate withdraws and the local party does not find a replacement in time it could lead to the possibility of more uncontested general election races. Currently there are three Democrats showing as “withdrawn” on the Secretary of State website which have not been replaced by the local Democrat party yet. Two of these could leave a race uncontested: Ardon Wek is withdrawn from the District 19 State House race and no other Democrat is on the ballot and Chuck Groth is withdrawn from the District 22 State Senate race. It is also possible other placeholder candidates will withdraw their names as the deadline to withdraw looms closer.
Another possibility is that one of the uncontested races may in fact become contested. The Constitution Party of South Dakota recently nominated Wayne Schmidt to be a candidate for District 23 State Representative. It is now up to the court whether this will be allowed; see Ballot Access News for more information on this.
As of July 22, 2016, here is the list of South Dakota general election legislative races that have already been won.
SD District 2 State Senate is another race with no general election. The current Republican incumbent, Sen Brock Greenfield, did not face a primary and will not have a general election opponent. Just as I am doing with all non-contested races, I will look at a few pieces of legislation from Greenfield so District 2 constituents can get an idea of the legislative priority of their chosen State Senator.
District 2 is an odd shaped district that resides in northeast South Dakota. Towns in District 2 include Aberdeen (in the SW corner of town), Ashton, Bryant, Bradley, Brentford, Castlewood, Claremont, Clark, Columbia, Conde, Crocker, Doland, Estelline, Frankfort, Ferney, Garden City, Groton, Hayti, Hazel, Lake Norden, Lake Poinsett, Mansfield, Mellette, Naples, Northville, Raymond, Redfield, Stratford, Turton, Verdon, Vienna, Warner and Willow Lake.
Brock Greenfield has served in Pierre for 16 years. After winning a fairly competitive State Senate race against Democrat Chuck Welke in 2014, Greenfield now has a pass for the 2016 election. In this post I will look at three pieces of legislation prime sponsored from Greenfield during the 2016 session.
First up is SB 117 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 117 is an Act to “Permit the practice of midwifery by certain persons.” Basically this bill would have allowed people who are licensed to practice midwivery in other states to perform most midwivery duties in South Dakota. This was basically seen as a way to get the midwife field moving forward in South Dakota until a true licensure scheme is created in South Dakota; which was attempted in HB 1162 (SoDakLiberty Posts). This is an issue that conservative groups have been following and pushing for. It was not surprising to see Greenfield sponsoring this bill because he does seem to bring forth a lot of legislation that is geared towards socially conservative issues. SB 117 failed to pass through Senate Health, but it is likely this will be attempted again in 2017. Personally I think the midwivery industry should be enabled in South Dakota; but at the same time I think anyone looking into midwives should do a LOT of research on who they are considering hiring as a midwife. I was able to hear a lot of good and bad stories about certain midwives this previous legislative session.
Another bill to look at from Greenfield is SB 119 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 119 was an Act to “require legislative authority for refugee actions under South Dakota law.” This bill of course came about due to the Obama administration announcing last fall that there would be an increase in the amount of refugees from Syria. Many governors around the country tried to take steps to bar these refugees from entering their states. South Dakota Governor Daugaard was not one of those governors. In response legislation such as SB 119 was brought forth in 2016. Basically the bill would have required the Department of Social Services (DSS) to get legislative approval before entering into agreements pursuant to the Refugee Act of 1980. In South Dakota that would be Lutheran Social Services (LSS). One of the problems with this bill is that DSS does not have an agreement with LSS. LSS deals directly with the federal government. Technically and legally the state of SD has no say in whether refugees come to the US and whether they enter SD. This bill died. But it was supported by hardcore conservatives and was another example of Greenfield taking on socially conservative issues.
Finally it is worth looking at a tax bill, SB 147 (SoDakLiberty Posts). SB 147 was an act to “exempt certain amateur sports coaches from sales and use tax.” Basically this bill would have exempted American Legion and VWF coaches from sales and use tax. Traditionally these coaches were not subject to sales and use tax. However a couple of years ago the Department of Revenue (DOR) reinterpreted state law and decided to go after these coaches. In response Greenfield brought forth SB 159 (SoDakLiberty Posts) in the 2015 session that would exempt American Legion and VFW coaches from sales and use tax. That bill passed both chambers but was subsequently vetoed by the governor. The legislature was unable to overturn that veto. The 2016 version, SB 147, was not able to make it off the Senate floor. This was an interesting bill because it was not presented as a new exemption, but rather as a way to overturn the reinterpretation of law by bureaucrats. Greenfield is one of the few legislators that doesn’t seem afraid to call out bureaucrats on the chamber floor.
Title of Requested Study: The study of substance abuse prevention at the earliest stages and options available to South Dakota communities.
The scope of the committee specifies meth. There was discussion during the meeting of adding alcohol and marijuana to the study. But the committee only voted to added prescription drugs to the interim study. This committee actually has its first meeting on June 16. A post looking at that meetings agenda will be forthcoming.
Here are the selected members for the substance abuse summer study:
Title of Requested Study: A study of the benefits, merits and negative impacts of regulating the number of nursing and assisted living beds in South Dakota. Further, recommend action that may include elimination of or revisions to regulations for the betterment of the South Dakota populace.
There was discussion of adding elder abuse in nursing homes to the scope. But that was determined to be a separate issue that really wouldn’t fit with this study.
Here are the selected members for the nursing and assisted living beds summer study:
Payment methodologies for Medicaid providers in long term care
Title of Requested Study: Assess existing payment methodologies for Medicaid providers to determine adequacy of payments that will provide for long term continuation of services and conclude with recommendations for any changes.
The executive committee added “impact of federal mandates” to the original scope.
Here are the selected members for the payment methodologies for Medicaid providers summer study:
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.
The bill was amended in House State Affairs to remove the part where the AG would have to defend schools in court for complying with the law. There are two private organizations that have promised to help defend the law. House State Affairs passed the bill 10-3.
It was further amended on the House floor to clarify the definition of biological sex:
The term, biological sex, as used in this Act, means the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth.
The House passed the bill 58-10.
By this time the bill started to get a LOT more media attention.
It went through Senate Education 4-2 and the Senate floor 20-15.
On Tuesday, March 1, 2016, the Governor vetoed HB 1008. Here is part of what the Governor said in his statement:
This bill seeks to impose statewide standards on “every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school.” It removes the ability of local school districts to determine the most appropriate accommodations for their individual students and replaces that flexibility with a state mandate.
If and when these rare situations arise, I believe local school officials are best positioned to address them. Instead of encouraging local solutions, this bill broadly regulates in a manner that invites conflict and litigation, diverting energy and resources from the education of the children of this state.
Actually I’m in complete agreement with the Governor. I don’t feel this is an issue the state should be dictating. For consistency the Republicans in Pierre should be advocating for local control as much as possible. More on that later in the post.
Consideration of veto on the House floor
On March 3 the House had to consider whether to override the Governor’s veto.
Rep Deutsch got up on the House floor and asked for the Governor’s veto to be sustained. This is part of what he said on the floor:
I still believe and objective reading of the bill is consistent with my intent to protect all of our children. All of them. To be nondiscriminatory and fair to all of our children.
He also mentioned the reality that the bill would not make it through the Senate since there is not a 2/3 majority in that chamber in support of the bill. Some Representatives did not like that argument. Many felt if it was worth voting for before, it was still worth voting for.
Rep Deutsch said something can be worked on during the summer and next session a better bill can be brought forth.
Rep Thomas Brunner (R, Dist 29) in particular took issue with voting no just because the Senate might not pass it. He also called out the 2nd floor (Governor’s floor) for supporting the bill before and then vetoing it.
The vote to overturn the Governor’s veto failed to gain the 2/3 required with a final vote of 36-29.
(a) Prohibition against discrimination; exceptions
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, except that:
It then goes on to list some exceptions (which are irrelevant to the current discussion).
The Federal Department of Education sent out guidance that basically said any schools not including gender discrimination in the above statute about sex would mean schools losing Title IX funding.
Personally I think the Dept of Ed overstepped its bounds. I actually understand the intent of what the Dept of Ed wanted to do, and I agree transgendered students should not be discriminated against. But, being well intended does not give the Dept of Ed the right to rewrite law. The simple fact of the matter is that Title IX is specific to sex, and from what I understand gender was part of the debate and was purposely left out of Title IX when it passed in Congress back in the 70’s.
After that guidance from the Dept of Ed there was a member school of the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) that inquired about how to handle a transgendered student wishing to participate in sports. Then the SDHSAA enacted a new transgender policy that was based upon legislation an out-of-state special interest group had been trying unsuccessfully to get introduced in the SD legislature.
All of the sudden there was a statewide policy that covered transgendered students participating in SDHSAA events. That is when this suddenly became an issue at the legislative level.
What is going to happen going forth
Going forth this issue is not going to end. There will be more bills brought forth by conservative legislators in 2017. I don’t think any bill from Rep Deutsch will gain too much support, I think he lost some support by backing away during the veto override consideration.
Expect this to be an issue at the local legislative races in SD. What will be interesting is to see how different the candidates will treat the issue based upon whether they are in an urban or in a rural district. As I’ve traveled the state over the last few weeks I have heard a LOT of support for the transgender locker room bill in rural areas. In fact many of them seem to wonder why the media is against protecting children’s privacy from children of the opposite sex. In those areas the social conservatives will likely have an advantage being for bills such as HB 1008.
In the more urban areas there will be more support for transgender equal rights. That will align more with what is being seen on the news. But I think for the most part candidates in those areas will try harder to avoid the topic. This is not simply a Republican vs Democrat issue in the big cities. Many older people I’ve spoken with in Sioux Falls that happen to be Democrat also supported HB 1008 in principle. Candidates in the more urban areas may want to tread carefully on this topic.
What I would like to see is the many people who spoke against HB 1008 because there should not be a statewide policy to call for the SDHSAA to end its transgender policy, which is also a statewide policy. But that won’t happen because it is a statewide policy they agree with. After all this was never about local control. Both sides have made this about being a statewide policy that they agree with.
Last transgender post for a while?
Hopefully I’m done blogging about this topic for while. It seems this has been a topic I’ve had to blog about a LOT during the last two years. In reality though I expect I will be blogging about this topic a lot more this year due to the election this fall.
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:
The 2016 legislative session is almost here, and the bills have started coming in. The first bill coming down the pike not originating from an interim committee is a transgender bill. This bill appears aimed at keeping boys and girls in their respective bathrooms and locker rooms.
Section 1 makes it quite clear what is being talked about in the battle over sex/gender:
The term, biological sex, as used in this Act, means the physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and identified at birth by a person’s anatomy.
My first obvious question to this is what about hermaphrodites? Since they have both sexual organs, will some sort of chromosome test have to be done?
Section 2 of the bill makes it quite clear that if passed into law it would ensure boys and girls are to use different bathroom and locker facilities:
Every restroom, locker room, and shower room located in a public elementary or secondary school that is designated for student use and is accessible by multiple students at the same time shall be designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex. In addition, any public school student participating in a school sponsored activity off school premises which includes being in a state of undress in the presence of other students shall use those rooms designated for and used only by students of the same biological sex.
Notice how the legislation finds a way to restrict the SDHSAA policy without actually naming the SDHSAA. My question here is how the law will work for off-premises activities. Is the legislature possibly overstepping its bounds here? I’m not sure, but I’m sure it will come up in committee discussion.
Section 3 of the bill provides for accommodation of any study that believes their gender does not match their sex.
If any student asserts that the student’s gender is different from the student’s biological sex, and if the student’s parent or guardian consents to that assertion in writing to a public school administrator, or if the student is an adult or an emancipated minor and makes the assertion in writing to a public school administrator, the student shall be provided with a reasonable accommodation. A reasonable accommodation is one that does not impose an undue hardship on a school district. A reasonable accommodation may not include the use of student restrooms, locker rooms, or shower rooms designated for use by students of the opposite biological sex if students of the opposite biological sex are present or could be present. A reasonable accommodation may include a single-occupancy restroom, a unisex restroom, or the controlled use of a restroom, locker room, or shower room that is designated for use by faculty. The requirement to provide a reasonable accommodation pursuant to this section does not apply to any nonpublic school entity.
Going off a point I made with section 2: why would nonpublic school entities be exempt from Section 3, but not exempt from what was set out in Section 2. I would think nonpublic entities would be exempt from this no matter what. This bill is skirting into, if not down right intruding into, property rights.
Finally, Section 4 puts the state on the hook for any lawsuits that arise:
If any public school district, school district officer or employee, school board, or school board member is sued in state or federal court as a result of a decision based upon and consistent with a student’s biological sex, notwithstanding any assertion that the student’s gender is different than the student’s biological sex, the attorney general shall represent the school district, school district officer or employee, school board, or school board member at no cost to the school district, school district officer or employee, school board, or school board member, and the State of South Dakota shall assume all financial responsibility for the legal expenses. The legal expenses for which the state is responsible include any award for monetary damages or attorneys’ fees and costs which may be awarded and for which the school district, school district officer or employee, school board, or school board member would otherwise be responsible.
Yes, I have a feeling lawsuits will arise and that we will see the AG’s office defending this bill if passed into law.
Personally I don’t have a problem with transgendered people using whatever bathroom/locker-room they wish. But this is a battle that has been brewing for a few years and is finally coming to a head in South Dakota.
Transgender rights groups have tried hard to get legislation introduced in South Dakota for years, and failed. So instead they worked through other groups and were able to get the SDHSAA to create the policy they wanted. This is a tactic used by many activist groups: try to legislate via bureaucracies.
Personally I think transgender rights groups took the wrong approach in South Dakota. I think it would have been better to use the already established means that allowed a child to play a sport outside of their sex. If enough of students existed and cause was shown for a new policy I think cultural change would have been easier and solutions would have come forth for change.
But instead a change was made that many conservatives in South Dakota feel is an attack on their core values. That changed this situation from being a slowly evolving cultural war, into a legislative cultural battle with both sides going after total victory. That is just unproductive for both sides of the issue; and I think even more unproductive for those fighting for transgender rights. Legislation will not force anyone to change their opinion about what makes a boy a boy or what makes a girl a girl.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a topic I’ve been covering over the last couple of years. TPP is the massive ‘free trade’ agreement that has been negotiated between a dozen Pacific Rim countries (including the US). This agreement has been criticized by many (including myself) for a number of reasons. Personally I think President Obama and the Republicans in Congress will wait until after the 2016 election to officially sign off on the agreement. No matter when the agreement actually comes up for a vote I thought it would be worth looking at some of the actions taken by politicians in South Dakota to promote or speak against TPP.
This will be the first of three posts. First this post will take a look at TPP in the South Dakota Legislature. Then two more posts will be done about TPP in regards to the SD Secretary of Ag office and TPP actions taken by South Dakota’s federal delegation.
South Dakota Legislature
The South Dakota Legislature isn’t directly related with TPP. Yet over the last couple of years the legislature has spoken up in favor of TPP as a body through resolutions. Every year in recent history the South Dakota Legislature passes a resolution to endorse sister state relations with the Province of Taiwan in the Republic of China. Examples of these resolutions can be seen with HCR 1016 in 2012 and HCR 1007 in 2013. These are pretty standard resolutions showing support for Taiwan and endeavors that Taiwan is undertaking (although I wonder if the legislators noticed the inclusion of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – UNFCCC – in the 2013 resolution.)
WHEREAS, for Taiwan, the resumption of TIFA talks with the United States is only the beginning of what must be a sustained push for further and more wide-ranging trade arrangements with its myriad trading partners. A chief target should be Taiwan’s inclusion in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the near future; and
WHEREAS, Taiwan’s inclusion in the TPP would contribute substantially to the depth, viability, and quality of the TPP, Taiwan’s strong economic weight in the Asia-Pacific, its well-developed knowledge base and highly-skilled workforce, its vital position along regional supply chains and value chains, and the positive economic and strategic gains for all make Taiwan an ideal candidate economy for the TPP’s expansion:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the South Dakota Legislature is supportive of all efforts to include Taiwan in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP); and
It can be seen from that resolution that the SD legislature believed TPP to be important, and that Taiwan should join the US in the agreement. Only Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3) spoke against the resolution on the floor. Kaiser pointed out the secrecy of the agreement and how transparency should be expected in such undertakings. Rep Manny Steele (then Republican representative for District 12) actually spoke in favor of this resolution by saying “I’m not sure what this TPP stands for or what it does. But, Taiwan has been a friend of the United States for many years…”. I find it almost mind-boggling that a politician would be so honest as to admit they don’t understand what they are voting for and at the same time urge everyone else to vote for it.
To put into context of this SD legislative session. Yesterday the SD House passed HCR 1005, which would Urge congress to pass the Regulation Freedom Amendment. HCR 1005 is a good resolution. It aims to reduce the regulator burden DC places upon the United States. Now SCR 2 would do the opposite. If TPP is finalized and the US is a member of TPP it will essentially allow bureaucrats from overseas to regulation certain industries within the United States. Theoretically every legislator that voted in favor of HCR 1005 yesterday should be voting against SCR 2 today.
On the House floor Rep Roger Hunt (R, Dist 25) spoke in favor of the Resolution and made it clear this resolution was not only about Taiwan, but the trade organizations included within. Rep Kaiser did offer an amendment to remove the language about TPP from the resolution. Kaiser noted he also wanted to support Taiwan, but did not feel it appropriate to commend TPP. He listed a few reasons to be wary of TPP: the secretive nature of the TPP meetings; the fact the US Congress and the US public cannot read the text; there are many portions of TPP that have nothing to do with trade. Rep Hunt spoke against the amendment to remove the TPP language by saying:
I can appreciate the representatives concerns about TPP. But the problem is we can find similar concerns with every, well with most every, international organization. I’ll name the United Nations as one. We don’t agree with everything they do. But we go there and we participate so we can get our viewpoint across.
Rep Hunt’s remarks might make sense if TPP were simply an organization. It is not. TPP is legally binding trade agreement, much of which has nothing to do with trade, that would create new regulations for Americans to follow; all done without transparency and without input from US citizens or elected officials.
Sadly the resolution passed both houses. The resolution passed the State Senate unanimously 35-0 and passed the State House 64-3. The only three representatives to vote no were Rep Elizabeth May (R, Dist 27), Rep Dan Kaiser (R, Dist 3), and Rep Kevin Killer (D, Dist 27).
I wonder if the same resolution will be brought forward in 2016. I also wonder if the Democrats (who have opposed TPP nationally) will have more than Rep Killer opposing TPP. It is an issue I will definitely keep an eye on!