Monthly Archives: January 2016

Three bills so far in ‘never-mind’ file

Three legislators have officially withdrawn three bills — one apiece — through Thursday in the 2016 session. The bills get put in a virtual drawer and don’t get any action. They are:

HB 1070 Rep. Alex Jensen, R-Sioux Falls, wanted property lease agreement disputes to be in the court of any county where the property is located;

SB 61 Sen. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, wanted to provide more protection to homeowners on their insurance; and

HB 1093 Rep. Lee Schoenbeck, R-Watertown, wanted to broaden the length for victim-protection orders.

All three bills had extensive lists of co-sponsors from both political parties including a variety of House and Senate leaders.

Last year, the withdrawn report grew to eight House bills and 11 Senate bills. There were a few oddities but there also were some attempts to deal with issues that are back before legislators again this year such as capital outlay taxes and teacher scholarships.

The 2014 withdrawn list had two House bills, one House resolution and eight Senate bills.

The withdraw option was added in 2014. It’s a way for legislators to say “Never mind, this won’t work or this won’t be needed after all” rather than go through the process of a committee scheduling a bill for hearing and the legislator going to the committee to ask that the bill be killed aka “shooting my own dog” as many had said through the years.


2016 legislative session: Day 12 “GFP sunset”

The state Game, Fish and Parks Department made it official Wednesday by posting the job vacancy for director of the parks and recreation division: Doug Hofer is retiring. He made what might well be his last appearance in his official capacity Thursday morning before the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, where he explained the purposes of HB 1010 that covers what GFP can and can’t do on lands it owns or leases. After his testimony, Hofer (pictured) sat in the audience and listened to testimony on another bill that deals with refuges. Many committee members such as Rep. James Schaefer, R-Kennebec, (pictured) intently read the listing provided from GFP. As the meeting reached its conclusion Rep. Joshua Klumb, R-Mt. Vernon, asked Hofer whether he knew of any other bills coming that might bring Hofer back to the committee one more time. “Not yet today,” Hofer quipped. Klumb then thanked Hofer for his four decades of service to South Dakota at GFP. The committee applauded and stood in a final appreciation for his contributions throughout the state’s system of parks and recreation areas.


Is SDSU’s new football stadium driving alcohol push?

The state Board of Regents decided last month against proceeding with legislation during the 2016 session that would allow alcohol licenses for state-university locations. A cluster of legislators decided to proceed, however, and their work is now on display in SB 102, whose prime sponsor is Sen. Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings. Five of the six cities that host state universities — Madison is the exception — have legislators on the co-sponsor list and there is a surprising number of Sioux Falls-area legislators on the list too.

The new football stadium at South Dakota State University in Brookings was designed specifically with a reception-room level. The original push within the regents hierarchy seemed to originate from SDSU. Now the Brookings district’s senior legislator has brought the legislation, and the district’s two House members are co-sponsors, with Rep. Scott Munsterman, R-Brookings, as the lead House sponsor. The legislation wouldn’t repeal all of the current ban that’s in law regarding alcohol licenses for state university campuses. Instead, the legislation would repeal the ban’s application to athletic facilities, while keeping the ban in place for classrooms, administrative office and housing.

The Senate Commerce and Energy Committee gets the bill. A hearing date hasn’t been scheduled yet.

Women stand together in Legislature on pay gap

It was only a legislative resolution, meaning its power is only as deep as the paper (or computer screen) on which it is printed. And we’ve gone through a lot of resolutions in the recent past, especially in the state House of Representatives during the previous term. And legislators who are candidates for statewide office haven’t been shy about offering resolutions. All of that said, the equal-pay resolution that won approval Wednesday in the House probably deserved more public attention than it has so far received.

The prime sponsor of HCR 1003 is Rep. Paula Hawks, D-Hartford. She is a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives, where Republican incumbent Kristi Noem will be seeking re-election to a fourth term this year. But joining Hawks as co-sponsors of the resolution are eight other women who are legislators — Republicans Lynne DiSanto of Rapid City, Mary Duvall of Pierre, Jacqueline Sly of Rapid City and Deb Peters of Hartford, and Democrats Angie Buhl O’Donnell of Sioux Falls, Julie Bartling of Gregory, Peggy Gibson of Huron and Karen Soli of Sioux Falls — along with four men, all Democrats.

You can read HCR 1003 here. The final sentence summarizes the overall point: “(T)hat the South
Dakota Legislature recognizes the current wage gap between men and women in the state and
encourages the Department of Labor and Regulation to enforce the laws in place to prevent the
injustice of unequal pay for equal skills.”

The House vote Wednesday was 65-3. The nays came from Republicans Jim Bolin of Canton, Lana Greenfield of Doland and Jeff Partridge of Rapid City. The resolution now moves to the Senate, where Buhl O’Donnell is the lead sponsor. It’s only a message. But it is a message.

Legislative candidates list grows a little longer

Looks like two come-backers so far who are running to re-enter the Legislature after they previously were term-limited. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, officially is a candidate for the Senate seat in District 28 now held by Sen. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City. She won the seat in the 2014 election when Maher couldn’t run again because he was up against the limit of four consecutive terms in the same seat. I guess this also confirms that Olson isn’t running again after 10 years as a legislator. Another former legislator seeking to come back is Chuck Turbiville, R-Deadwood, who’s filed for a House seat in District 31, where Rep. Fred Romkema, R-Spearfish is term-limited.

Term limits also are shaping two other Senate contests. Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, can’t seek a fifth consecutive term in the House so he has filed for the Senate seat in District 16, where the governor recently appointed Sen. William Shorma, R-Dakota Dunes, to fill a vacancy. Meanwhile Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, is up against the four-term limit for his Senate seat. Looking to win it is Rep. Joshua Klumb, R-Mount Vernon.

Here’s a complete look at who’s officially filed with the secretary of state as of mid-Wednesday.

Senate: Sen. Ernie Otten, R-Tea, District 6. Sen. Deb Soholt, R-Sioux Falls, District 14. Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, District 16. Rep. Joshua Klumb, R-Mount Vernon, District 20. Sen. Jim White, R-Huron, District 22. Ryan Maher, R-Isabel, District 28. Sen. Bob Ewing, R-Spearfish, District 30.

House: Rep. Tom Holmes, R-Sioux Falls, District 14. Rep. Mike Stevens, R-Yankton, District 18. Rep. Tona Rozum, R-Mitchell, District 20. Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade, District 28A. Rep. Sam Marty, R-Prairie City, District 30. Charles Turbiville, R-Deadwood, District 31. Rep. Dan Dryden, R-Rapid City, District 34.

2016 legislative session: Day 11 “Bills, bills, bills”

The state House of Representatives was a’scurry Wednesday morning on the eve of the deadline for the unlimited filing of legislation. Rep. Lee Qualm, R-Platte, asked Rep. Kent Peterson, R-Salem, to consider a measure he’s introducing. Three of the crew who keep the House moving behind the scenes — second assistant Jackie Driscoll, third assistant Shirleen Fugitt and chief clerk Arlene Kvislen —  looked over some of the paperwork that kept a’flowing their way.


2016 legislative session: Day 10 “Rockin’ their 50s”

AARP South Dakota brought its ribs to the Capitol rotunda for lunch for legislators Tuesday. That’s Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, talking with AARP honcho Dennis Eisnach, the former mayor of Pierre and former member of the state Public Utilities Commission, in the center. Meanwhile Sen. Jeff Monroe, R-Pierre, spent his lunch hour at his desk. Visiting with him is Rep. Steven Haugaard, R-Sioux Falls. And yes, they’re all older than 50.


Is the governor dragging his feet on school money?

Here’s the thing for the governor these days.

When you appoint a special “blue ribbon” commission that spends months working on ideas regarding teacher availability, teacher shortages and teacher pay, you create an expectation of action.

When the commission’s work is done before the state budget speech, there is an expectation the plan might be part of the state budget recommendations. When you say instead in the budget speech that you’ll show your plan in the State of the State speech set for one month later, you fuel the expectation.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard delivered on those expectations in his State of the State speech. But then came a gap that is growing longer every day. It’s now day 10 of the 38-workday session. He hasn’t filed the legislation for the complicated plan.

There’s much, much more involved than just increasing the state sales tax by one-half cent and spending the money on teacher pay, some additional programs and property-tax relief. He also wants school reserves and capital outlay taxes addressed, and he wants all sources of revenue considered in measuring a school district’s local effort.

Any one of those topics would be a big deal, especially for the many legislators who haven’t worked much on school finance issues. There is a hunger among legislators for details that will be available only in legislation they can study line by line.

There’s a tradition in recent decades of governors holding back on the legislation for their big plans. Fair enough.

But hungry people sometimes don’t care who satisfies their need. And we’re starting to see some of that in recent days as lawmakers such as Sen. Ried Holien, R-Watertown, and House Republican leader Brian Gosch of Rapid City call out the governor for not yet delivering his legislation.

Gosch, who doesn’t want the governor’s plan, said he’ll be working on a plan with a few other legislators opposed to the governor’s plan.

Whether Gosch commands the minimum of 24 nays needed to block a two-thirds majority in the House won’t be publicly known until there is an actual roll call on the governor’s plan.

But by getting together a plan of his own, Gosch will be offering a refuge for those legislators in both chambers who are unsure about Daugaard’s plan.

The keys will be how much money would be involved in the Gosch plan and its proposed sources.

The sales-tax exemptions list could be a likely place where lawmakers look. Each exemption comes with its own constituency. None of any size would be easily taken away.

But taking away an exemption requires only a majority vote while a sales tax increase needs a two-thirds majority.

We are in for a long, difficult round of negotiations that will run into March.

The negotiations won’t be among leaders such as Daugaard and Gosch, however. The negotiations will be one at a time between each of two rival leaders and each of the Republican legislators.

This will come down to how each legislator answers whether South Dakota should change and how. Those answers will tell the citizens of South Dakota what they can expect for their state’s future.

2016 legislation session: Day 9 “The bathrooms hearing”

As Libby Skarin, the American Civil Liberties Union policy director for South Dakota, testified Monday morning against legislation that would limit school bath rooms and locker rooms to youths of the same biological sex regardless of whether they believe themselves to be of the opposite gender, Family Heritage Alliance lobbyist Dale Bartscher re-gathered his materials after testifying in favor of HB 1008 and promising support from an affiliated organization in case of a Title IX lawsuit. The bill’s prime sponsor, Rep. Fred Deutsch, R-Florence, replied to a question from House Speaker Dean Wink, R-Howes: “This is a way for our state to say, Back off federal government.” The House State Affairs Committee endorsed the measure 10-3 and sent it to the full House of Representatives for action possibly as early as Wednesday afternoon. You can read the original bill and the amendment here.


Associated School Boards neutral on bathrooms fight

Wade Pogany, executive director for the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, said Monday morning his organization will stay neutral on Rep. Fred Deutsch’s legislation that would limit bathrooms and locker rooms to students of the same biological sex. The House State Affairs Committee removed a section of HB 1008 that dealt with legal costs before endorsing its approval 10-3. The amendment removed this section from the bill:

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.

Section 4 was opposed by Attorney General Marty Jackley, according to one of his aides, Jeromy Pankratz. He told the House committee that the office could have found itself representing both sides in a case that resulted from the restrictions proposed in HB 1008. The Associated School Boards is neutral, according to Pogany, because there will be lawsuits either way.

Shown below are Wade Pogany (top) and Jeromy Pankratz.