Monthly Archives: November 2017

Thune talks tax reform at AFP event Nov. 21

This just hit my email in-box a bit ago:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 20, 2017

CONTACT: Andrew Curley,, (605) 370-8949

NOVEMBER 21: AFP-SD Hosting Senator Thune for Tax Reform Event

Senator Thune will speak to over 100 South Dakotans on Congress’ efforts to advance pro-growth tax reform.

Sioux Falls, SD – Americans for Prosperity-South Dakota is hosting a free lunch with Senator John Thune as he provides an update on the pro-growth tax reform plan going through Congress. Senator Thune will be speaking to AFP grassroots activists and citizens on Congress’ efforts to create a simpler, fairer tax code at the Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls at 11:30 AM on November 21.

WHAT: Senator Thune Tax Reform Address

WHO: AFP-South Dakota; Senator John Thune

WHERE: Downtown Hilton Garden Inn

201 East 8th Street

Sioux Falls, SD 57103

WHEN: 11:30AM – 1:00PM; Tuesday, November 21


Americans for Prosperity has made tax reform its top federal priority this year. The group’s 36 state chapters held over 75 grassroots events throughout the summer and fall, with AFP partnering with members of the local community, members of Congress, and policy experts to highlight the beneficial impact of tax reform done right.

In Washington, the group’s government affairs teams have advanced AFP’s vision on tax reform in over 1,000 meetings with Hill leaders. Last month, AFP key voted the 2018 House and Senate budget resolutions, which were critical to advancing tax reform.

Report of a 2015 derailment in South Dakota

Former legislator Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland, sent an email this weekend that carries a National Transportation Safety Board summary of a train derailment in South Dakota from two years ago. Here is the start of it:

“BNSF Railway Unit Ethanol Train Derailment
Executive Summary

On September 19, 2015, about 6:18 a.m., central daylight time, BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) unit ethanol train GMNXDPK717, with 3 locomotives, 96 loaded tank cars, and 2 hopper cars filled with sand, derailed at a small bridge at milepost (MP) 597.7 near Lesterville, South Dakota. Seven cars (tank car 2 through tank car 8 from the head end of the train) derailed. Two of the derailed cars breached and released 49,743 gallons of denatured fuel ethanol (ethanol) that caught fire. A third car leaked ethanol from its bottom outlet valve. There were no injuries and no evacuation. The estimated damage was $1.1 million.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the broken rail, derailment, and subsequent fire was BNSF Railway Company’s decision to defer track maintenance and continue to operate high-hazard flammable unit trains on the Aberdeen Subdivision. Contributing to the accident was the Federal Railroad Administration’s track maintenance regulation that allowed high-hazard flammable unit trains to continue to operate after the track was reclassified to a lower standard. Contributing to the tank car breach and subsequent fire was the continued use of legacy US Department of Transportation-111 tank cars to carry flammable products.”


recommendation A

recommendation B

Should lodging places get increased state rates?

State government’s Board of Finance faces at least one meaty discussion at its meeting Tuesday.

It’s a request from the South Dakota Hotel & Lodging Association to discuss the state rate for hotel stays for state employees.

The current rates set by the board for in-state lodging are $55 per night during the months of September through June and $70 per night during July and August.

Rick Murray, representing the association, spoke to board members at the July 17 meeting. Lodging businesses need to charge rates that keep pace with rising expenses, he told them.

Liza Clark, state commissioner of finance and management, responded that state government was in the same spot in July regarding tight revenues as earlier in the year.

Clark said state government agencies were asked to cut their budgets and it wasn’t a good time for the board to move forward with higher rates for lodging.

She suggested the topic be brought up again at the November meeting.

The latest report on revenue from Clark’s agency carried this summary: “Through 4 months of FY2018, total actual ongoing receipts were $8.3M lower than the adopted estimate, down from $2.7M below estimates last month.”

In other words, state government’s financial situation turned three times worse in one month.

Another item on the board’s agenda is the topic of debt write-offs. The state Department of Corrections wants 126 write-offs that total $239,924.45. The state Department of Human Services requested one write-off for $710.94.

The meeting Tuesday starts at 2 p.m. CT in the governor’s large conference room at the Capitol.

Rep. Howard Kennedy, 1928-2017

A memorial service was held earlier this month for former legislator Howard Kennedy of Beresford. He died Oct. 31. He was born April 13, 1928.

Kennedy, a Republican, served Lincoln County as well as parts of Turner and Union counties in the South Dakota House of Representatives from 1981 through 1992.

For years he and his wife, Alice, farmed and fed livestock. They had five children.

Kennedy served 14 years on the Lincoln County planning commission and eight years on the local school board.

He lost his 1992 re-election bid against Democratic incumbents Mike O’Connor of Alcester and Roland Chicoine of Elk Point, who moved back to the House from the Senate.

Kennedy and Chicoine had been part of the same freshman group in the House in 1981 but represented neighboring districts. The Legislature placed them in the same district for the 1992 elections.

Chicoine served through the 2000 session. He died in 2016 at age 93.

One state east, lawsuit proceeds against school unions

Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, declared the other day his intent to offer legislation in the 2018 session that would attempt to break South Dakota’s public universities from their tenure system and negotiated faculty-union contracts.

While I refrained from writing about it –a rule I’ve generally followed in my career is that I want to see actual legislation from a legislator before I report on it — a few minutes ago I caught a story from Minnesota about a somewhat similar challenge under way there.

The story

Minnesota Supreme Court agrees to hear case challenging teachers union protections

by an Associated Press reporter says several parents filed the lawsuit. It aims at union contracts in Minnesota’s public schools. So far the parents have failed. The Minnesota Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear the case.

The premise of the Minnesota challenge is the union system fuels the achievement gap in Minnesota schools. Similar cases have been brought in New York and New Jersey.

GOED chief reports on fall business recruitment

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development found solid interest at several major recruitment events this fall, Commissioner Scott Stern said Tuesday.

Thirty-seven clients participated in the Sept. 29 buffalo roundup in Custer State Park, he told members of state government’s Board of Economic Development. and 25 prospects attended the governor’s invitational pheasant hunt Oct. 27-28,

They came from five nations and 14 states, according to Stern. He said 60 percent had projects ready for decisions in coming months on whether to open businesses in South Dakota.

The Mary Pat Bierle letter w/postscript

The received value of a letter to the editor sometimes depends on the perceived value of the sender.

That said, here’s what Mary Pat Bierle of Yankton wrote recently to the Yankton Press and Dakotan newspaper.

“As a lifelong Republican, may I respectfully make the following observations to Sen. Thune, Sen. Rounds and Rep. Noem:

“1. You cannot call yourself a Republican if you support any tax proposal that adds $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit. Such support would violate the most fundamental principle traditionally held by the Republican Party.

“2. Any tax proposal that presumes the success of supply-side economics is a hoax. We tried that in the 1980s. It didn’t work. A clichéd definition of stupidity is to repeat the same behavior, expecting different results.

“3. No tax proposal can claim to be reform unless and until it treats and taxes all income — wages and capital gains — at the same tax rate.

“The 400-page Brady proposal does not do that. Therefore, the Brady proposal is not tax reform. Please do not sacrifice the fiscal future of our children and grandchildren on the short-term altar of partisan gain.

“You are Americans and South Dakotans first — then Republicans.”

As a postscript, her father was a member of the Legislature. Don Bierle, R-Yankton, served four years in the state Senate from 1971 through 1974. He passed in 2001 at age 75.


Decker marks anniversary in state government

The Legislature’s Executive Board honored Doug Decker for 35 years of state government service Monday.

Decker, a lawyer, is code counsel for the Legislative Research Council.

He started at LRC in 1982 as an analyst. In 1990, he moved from the LRC office on the third floor of the Capitol down to the first floor, when he became staff lawyer for what then was state government’s Bureau of Personnel (now Bureau of Human Resources).

He returned to LRC in 1999.

Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark, presented Decker with a lapel pin and a nameplate.

Legislature’s Executive Board starts before sunrise Monday

The official time of sunrise for Pierre on Monday is 7:35 a.m. CT. The agenda for the Legislature’s Executive Board. calls for its chairman, House Speaker Mark Mickelson, to gavel in its meeting at 7:30.

And meeting beforehand at 6:45 a.m. is the executive committee of Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls; Senate president pro tem Brock Greenfield, R-Clark; and House Democratic leader Spencer Hawley of Brookings.

The schedule is jammed with two dozen items (and two dozen more if you add up the sub-items) — and at 4:35 p.m. the panel plans to adjourn and re-assemble as the Legislature’s Bonding Committee to receive those reports.

From the House, other board members are representatives Spencer Gosch, R-Glenham; Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls; House Republican leader Lee Qualm of Platte; Tim Reed, R-Brookings; Mike Stevens, R-Yankton; and Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City.

Senators are Jim Bolin, R-Canton; Senate Republican leader R. Blake Curd of Sioux Falls; Kris Langer, R-Dell Rapids;  Jeff Partridge, R-Rapid City;  Jim Stalzer, R-Sioux Falls; and Senate Democratic leader Billie H. Sutton of Burke.

Board of Elections ran into publication problem w/updates

Minutes from the Oct. 30 meeting for the state Board of Elections explain why the members needed to hold a second hearing on many of the same proposed rules.

The Pierre Capital Journal allegedly failed to publish the notice for the first hearing held June 15, according to the board’s draft minutes (available here, starting at the bottom of page 7).

The Legislature’s Rules Review Committee discussed the matter July 15 regarding a variety of state government agencies that ran into notice-publication problems. Here is one excerpt from those minutes regarding rules changes proposed for emergency medical services :

Senator Kennedy noted that the notices for public hearing had not been published as required by the statutes. A discussion was held regarding SDCL §§ 1-26-4 (3) and 1-26-4.1 which require the notice of hearing be published in at least three newspapers at least twenty days before the public hearing. One of the newspapers missed the deadline by one day. The lack of proper notice as required by the statutes was noted for other agencies in addition to the Department of Health. The committee members and
Mr. Decker discussed whether the agency had substantially complied with the statute so that a person likely to be affected by the rules had received sufficient notice.

Chair Hunhoff stated that the SD Newspaper Association should be made aware of the issue that some newspapers are not publishing the notices in a timely manner resulting in a procedural defect in the rule adoption process. The problem needs to be addressed.

Legislators split 4-2 in support of allowing the emergency-medical changes to proceed. The ayes came from Rep. Julie Bartling, D-Gregory; the chairwoman, Rep. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton; Sen. Craig Kennedy, D-Yankton; and Sen. Alan Solano, R-Rapid City. Nays came from Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls, and Sen. Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs.

Later in the same rules review meeting the elections board didn’t receive the same latitude. Here is another excerpt from the legislators’ minutes:

Ms. Shantel Krebs, Secretary of State, and Ms. Kea Warne reviewed the proposed rules. Secretary Krebs noted that one of the newspapers had failed to publish the notice of hearing twenty days prior to the day of the hearing.

Senator Kennedy noted the “Law Implemented” did not reference the various House and Senate bills from the 2017 legislative session as codified that many of the rules were implementing.

Senator Kennedy moved, seconded by Senator Russell, that the rules proposed by the Office of the Secretary of State: Board of Elections be reverted to a prior step per SDCL § 1-26-4.7 (5) – the rules are not in proper form and SDCL § 1-26-4.7 (6) – the public notice was not sufficient.

A substitute motion was made by Senator Kennedy, seconded by Representative Bartling, that the review of the rules proposed by the Office of the Secretary of State: Board of Elections is complete with the recommendation the Board of Elections make the corrections to the law implemented the next time they promulgate rules. Substitute motion failed on a roll call vote with 3 ayes and 3 nays. Members voting aye: Bartling, Hunhoff, and Kennedy. Members voting nay: Haugaard, Russell, and Solano.

Another substitute motion was made by Representative Bartling, seconded by Senator Kennedy, that the rules proposed by the Office of the Secretary of State: Board of Elections be reverted to a prior step per SDCL § 1-26-4.7 (5) and (6) except for the three rules relating to the express voting machines and the random sampling (ARSD 05:02:06:01.04, 05:02:06:10.03, and 05:02:08:00.05). Substitute motion prevailed on a roll call vote with 4 ayes, 2 nays. Members voting aye: Bartling, Hunhoff, Kennedy, and Solano. Members voting nay: Haugaard and Russell.

Warne is the deputy secretary of state for elections. The legislators returned to the broader discussion about the role of newspapers. Here is the excerpt from the committee’s minutes:

A discussion of substantial compliance continued regarding the three agencies that had issues with newspapers not publishing their notice of hearing in a timely manner. Chair Hunhoff stated that in the future, if the statutory deadlines are not met, the agency must pull their rules package and ensure notices are published as required by statute. A letter will be sent to the South Dakota Newspaper Association regarding the importance of the timely publications to the State and the citizens of South Dakota.

The Board of Elections headed by Secretary Krebs did as the legislators directed and held a second hearing that began at 3 p.m. CT on Monday, Oct. 30.

Various additional changes had been proposed and the board adopted the broader package that same afternoon. Secretary Krebs presents them a second time Tuesday when she makes a return visit to the Legislature’s review panel.

The committee meeting starts at 10 a.m. CT. The elections board’s proposals are seventh on a list of more than 20 sets of changes being considered. The agenda shows a 5 p.m. adjournment time. The meeting is the last scheduled in 2017 for the committee. The panel normally doesn’t meet during the annual legislative session, which for 2018 open at Jan. 9 and ends March 26. They would need to hold a special meeting at some later date, on or before noon Jan. 9, for any further actions.

UPDATE: The Legislative Research Council sent a letter later in July to the South Dakota Newspaper Association.

SDNA executive director Dave Bordewyk provided a copy of the letter this morning (Saturday) via email and wrote: “Since then, we (SDNA) have been working with and assisting various agencies on placing their notices. It seems to be going better.”

Here is a copy: LRC letter to SDNA 7-31-17

SECOND UPDATE: Bordewyk responded to the Decker letter with an email Aug. 10. Bordewyk wrote:

Hi, Doug:

I just wanted to let you know that I had received your letter of July 31 regarding problems with publication of public notices. Also, I wanted to let you know that we are taking steps to do what we can to avoid these unacceptable publication problems and issues. I have relayed your letter to our member newspapers and have urged them to make sure they are giving full attention and priority to the proper publication of all public notices.

Also, we are letting you know, as well as various departments and agencies (via Tony Venhuizen), that SDNA can assist in placing public notices in any South Dakota newspaper. (See attached.) We are doing some of that placement work already for a few agencies. One of the chief benefits in working with our office is our ability to track missed publication or errors in publication and work quickly to rectify the problem. If these mistakes can be identified quickly, often we can help state government avoid incurring additional expense or delay in the matters related to the notice.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments. I appreciate you bringing this to our attention.