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:
Drug Test 'Em All
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
Jail Time If You Don't Mention God
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
The SD Militia Needs You
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.