Wednesday, January 24, 2018

From the South Dakota Legislature's Department Of Dumb Bills

      There's a way for elected officials in South Dakota to deflect attention away from their utter failure to confront, much less solve, the issues and problems that have been building up during the last few years.   The long-tried and -true method is to push legislation that satisfies emotional needs and biases, grabs media attention, usually gets absolutely nowhere, and fritters away government and taxpayer time and resources.  Along the way some really dumb stuff comes up in Pierre during the annual January-through-March session while long-standing issues get shorted and problems remain unsolved.
     Problems, for example, like the persistent and apparently endemic shortfall in sales tax revenues, low wages, stagnant economic growth and the labor shortage should be consuming our elected officials almost nonstop during the session.   And for some, they do.  Governor Daugaard tried to set the course for substantive legislative activity in his annual addresses this Winter, but it looks like we'll have to endure another season of silliness and irrelvance from too many of our reps in the legislature who have other agendas in mind. Cory Heidelberger's excellent, Aberdeen-based blog Dakota Free Press is a good source for a running recap of bills as they materialize--and some doozies are among them.  Examples:
     Rapid City's District 30 Representative, Republican Tim Goodwin, wants to test legislators for drugs in his House Bill 1133.  A scan of the bill itself confirms that it has no chance of passage
as it doesn't contain anything in the way of methodology, and leaves enforcement nebulously up to
Representative Goodwin
Drug Test 'Em All
the "presiding officer of the house to take appropriate action."  This is supposed to become law?Goodwin and his co-sponsors are trying to make some sort of good-for-the-goose-good-for-the-gander statement about mandatory drug testing, but it's a waste of time.

     Meanwhile, from the other end of the state, Sioux Falls District 13 Representative, Republican Sue Peterson,  wants to throw people in jail for a year and fine them $2 thousand dollars for improperly displaying the South Dakota state seal.  Her House Bill 1102  would punish anybody--inside our outside of government--for displaying the seal in any manner that doesn't conform with it's state-approved appearance.  The bill particularly notes that the words "Under God The People Rule" must be included.  This is
Representative Peterson
Jail Time If You Don't Mention God
blatantly unconstitutional coercion.  Peterson and her co-sponsors know it, but it curries some favor with their religiously-driven constituents, so by gum they're for it.  Another waste of time.
     District 19  (east of Mitchell) Senator Stace Nelson wants to amend the state constitution to change the age and gender make-up of the South Dakota militia, which includes the National Guard and some sort of undefined, unorganized and nonexistent "militia." The plan is to make the ranks all-inclusive, with no upper age or gender limits.   His Senate Joint Resolution No. 2 would fit a state-developed force if one ever came into being, but it would also effectively tell the National Guard what its enlistment standards will be.  Good luck with that. Considering that the median household income in two
Senator Nelson
The SD Militia Needs You
of his district's larger towns, Tyndall and Salem, are well below the state figure (6% below for Salem, a whopping 38% below for Tyndall) Nelson might consider spending more legislative time on improving the economic situation of his constituents
     While Nelson, Peterson and Goodwin are pursuing their pet agendas I'd like to know their ideas for, say, reversing the persistent shortfalls in state sales taxes.  And how they could turn their fixes into legislation.  And what they would do about the labor shortage.  And then there's Medicaid expansion, university tuition, alternative energy development . . . and then, and then, and then.  We're looking for policy and we're getting distractions.


  1. you should put notices out when you let Pat Powers run your blog...

    Just a wee bit of journalism? Smidgeon? Reality:

  2. You're being paranoid, Marine. Nobody runs this blog but me. Now, explain why we haven't heard a peep from you about the pressing issues facing this state. You know what they are. Sound off.

    1. Calm down old timer.. I like to receive a jab and reciprocate the fun. You were channeling your inner insecure disgraced former SOS employee. You expressed a lack of knowledge on the actual SD Militia construct. I gave you the statutes which show you were incorrect in your assumptions.

      You haven’t heard a peep? Sound off about the issues? Really? I’ve got coffee clutches betting on when I turn up DOA because of how outspoken I am on major issues across the state. I’d wager a gentlemen’s steak supper you haven’t even bothered to review the bills I am carrying?

    2. I welcome a recap of or some direction toward your positions on major issues and what you've done legislatively to advance them.

  3. What do you say in response to this snipe, Mr. Nelson? It seems a good opportunity to explain what you are doing outside tinkering with fantasies of violent revolution.

    "Nelson might consider spending more legislative time on improving the economic situation of his constituents"

    1. If you go to my link you'll see that Nelson's district seems pretty far behind the rest of the state when it comes to economic conditions. In addition to his avowed commitment to addressing major state issues, I'd love to know what Nelson has done to better the economic conditions in Senate District 19.

  4. And they have all this time on their hands to think this dumb stuff up???

  5. John, I’m a conservative Republican. Not to be confused with those who claim to be, but who are the exact opposite. It’s like you asking a Liberal what they have done to stop abortion. I prescribe to the free-market and limited government. Government picking winners and losers and creating government offices to administer them spending South Dakota tax dollars to run the office and raising taxes on South Dakotans to give them away in crony capitalism schemes is not what made America explode with prosperity. “Economic Development” is in fact a misnomer, more appropriately it should be called redistritribution of wealth. It is in fact a liberal scheme Democrats pushed that faux Republicans embraced and which has been at the center of massive corruption in the EB5 programs across the USA.

    I have worked tirelessly to address corruption and the losses of an estimated $100 million that was meant for Native American youth, that countless current and former state officials profited from through lucrative contracts to do little or nothing. I have supported properly paying teachers and state employees over the crony capitalism programs..

    Only Short-sighed fools think the USA is invulnerable to cataclysmic events that may someday require the infrastructure of the militia to be ready in case of emergency. NK has nuclear weapons, Iran is well on its way. Nuclear attacks of major USA cities would invite armed invasions. One of many scenarios that would require mobilization.

    I would encourage you and your readers to familiarize yourself with the Legisaltive Research Council website which lists all the bills I am sponsoring, my votes on every bill, audio records of every debate on every bill, and a plethora of other information.

    If your going to criticize? Don’t be a Powers, actually do some research and have some actual valid points vice simply throwing fecel matter around for the sake of ginning up an article.

    1. Please don't waste time and space with personal attacks. SDCL 33-2-2 already codifies what you're trying to do with your redundant resolution. It is not gender-specific and it acknowledges DoD's authority to set age limits: "The militia of the state consists of all able-bodied qualified residents of the state, and those nonresidents who are accepted into service, who are within the age limits currently authorized by the Department of Defense for enlisted personnel in the active components of the United States armed forces. The militia is divided into two classes: the National Guard and the unorganized militia." Also, I'm still waiting on an answer to the earlier question I posed. Some specificity, please?

    2. John,
      The "do the research" comment as an appropriate comment. Statute is required to follow the Constitution. Additionally, it is more than obvious that you haven't bothered to look at the actual bills I am carrying. Obviously my responses are unappreciated and disturb the safety zone so I "wont waste time" by being so foolhardy as to respond when all others shun. I'll leave you to denounce legislation without bothering to do journalistic due diligence. Obviously the input of those involved in the actual process is not required for your superior view of the situation from out in the Hills. Please feel free to testify on the bill since you clearly know more of what is going on than anyone else. I am sure the other legislators would enjoy the condescending chides from Left field.

      Sorry for giving of my personal time, you should post a warning that factual, candid responses to editorial opinions are not welcome.

      I wont make the same mistake again.

    3. Thank you for your input just the same, Stace. I'll no doubt comment on legislation that you're associated with from time to time and will continue to welcome your reaction, which I'll post in full without commenting back myself. Best of luck going forward.

  6. John: Never try to make sense out of anything Nelson says or does. There are those of us in South Dakota that have attempted many times over to engage Mr. Nelson in rationality only to have our intelligence insulted and our critical thinking skills impugned. There are any number of the states more well reasoned and coherent legislators that do their level best to simply ignore the man because he has proven, many times over, that his value to an honest, well purposed legislative effort is missing. We'd all do well to follow their lead and simply refuse to respond when the disgraceful jar head spins off on a tangent.

  7. I moved to Iowa. Not much better, but NOT SOUTH DAKOTA. Oh, at the end of the motion picture "The Road to Hong Kong" starring Bob Hope and Bing Crosby...the pair ends up on an uninhabited planet called "Plutonius" Crosby walks down a small hill he says: "Nothing-ville, South Dakota." Thanks, Bing. I might have been born there, lived there for many years, tried to make some changes, but those words hit the correct tone for Pierre during the legislature.