Monthly Archives: August 2017

Nelson wants May to run for governor

It’s now known from a Facebook post that state Sen. Stace Nelson isn’t supporting U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem or state Attorney General Marty Jackley for the Republican nomination for governor in the June 2018 primary.

Instead Nelson, R-Fulton, wrote that he is encouraging another state legislator, Rep. Elizabeth May, R-Kyle, to seek the nomination.

Newsy Bits, Issue 1, Volume 1

Here is the first issue of Newsy Bits collected this morning (August 30) from my Facebook friends…

Rodeo photography impresario Jeremiah Murphy posted photos from his recent excursion to Red Scaffold, a place he describes: “Where the pavement ends and the west begins”

Matthew Cecil posted a photo of three SDSU alumni (including Matt) who are deans at MSU-Mankato

Sioux Falls city councilor Christine Vinatieri Erickson reports on her father’s stroke

Pat Springer, long ago a reporter at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader and for a long time since a reporter at the Forum in Fargo, posted a photo of a Missouri River sunset during his vacation back home in Pierre

Tim Giago reports on the status of the Indian Country Today newspaper that he founded and after 18 years sold to the Oneida and now might be on the sale block again

State Rep. Taffy Howard from Rapid City posted photos and reports on the birthday of son Austin, the only ensign in his Armed Forces unit

Jim Seward, the former lawyer in Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office, explains he’s taking advantage of a great opportunity to be a JAG leader for an infantry division of the Kansas National Guard, while also working in Rapid City

Dale Bartscher posted photos and writes about the nine days and 90 hours at the Central States Fair he worked for Marty Jackley’s campaign for governor

John Teupel posted a photo of U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem campaigning and describes her as the next governor of South Dakota

Steve Erpenbach posted a photo of daughter Grace on her twenty-second birthday with former U.S. Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and notes in the text that she’s wearing the campaign button for former U.S. Sen. George McGovern

State Public Utilities Commission chairwoman Kristie Fiegen posted photos from her recent swing through West River

State Rep. Kyle Schoenfish from Scotland posted a photo of a plate of rib bones (I won’t ruin the punch-line)

State legislators Stace Nelson from Fulton and Liz May from Kyle reposted the Angela Kennecke KELO television story interviewing LuAnn Werdel about the 2011 email she wrote warning of problems in South Dakota’s GEAR UP program for students from low-income households

Long-time newspaperwoman Sam Grosz celebrates the one-year anniversary of the 2016 birthday of her “always-young hubby” Terry

And Kelly Hines Buscher of Pierre posted a photo of daughter Meghan most evidently ‘doing well’ at the University of Wyoming in Laramie.

The back-story on the Uniform Laws Commission choice

Justin Smith is a Sioux Falls lawyer who lobbies at the Legislature (and whose portfolio of clients at South Dakota’s Capitol includes the South Dakota Newspaper Association). Smith was one of the three candidates considered for a vacancy on the national Uniform Laws Commission.

On Monday the Legislature’s Executive Board chose state Sen. Art Rusch, R-Vermillion, who is a retired judge and a former state’s attorney.

The back-story is that Smith was a protégé of the late Dick Gregerson, who was a lawyer (after earlier working as an agent for the FBI) and for a while was a state senator. Gregerson’s portfolio as a lobbyist at legislative sessions included the newspaper association and many, many others through his career.

Gregorson worked for the Woods Fuller law firm in Sioux Falls and there became the mentor for Smith. Gregerson was a member of the Uniform Laws Commission. He achieved lifetime status. He died April 25 of this year at age 84.

Technically, the vacancy filled by Sen. Rusch was for the one year remaining on the term of former legislator Mike DeMersseman, a lawyer from Rapid City. He recently achieved lifetime member status on the national commission too.

Sen. Rusch, who turned 71 this year, is a solid and respected lawmaker and could prove to a good choice for the DeMersseman vacancy. Smith, a generation (or two) younger, in seeking to follow Gregerson’s path, could very well apply again as vacancies arise in the years ahead.

Tapio plans to be fourth candidate for U.S. House

President Donald Trump soon might have a supporter seeking the Republican nomination for South Dakota’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

State Sen. Neal Tapio of Watertown said in a conversation Tuesday outside the Capitol in Pierre he is preparing to run.

Tapio is a businessman who was elected to the Legislature for the first time last year.

Describing himself as “an outsider candidate” who likely wouldn’t be attractive to established Republican donors, Tapio said he’ll put $300,000 of his money into his candidacy.

He would enter a contest where two statewide winners are already running for the Republican nomination.

They are former state Public Utilities Commission member Dusty Johnson of Mitchell and current Secretary of State Shantel Krebs of Fort Pierre.

At least one Democrat also is actively campaigning. He is Tim Bjorkman of Canistota, a recently retired judge.

The seat is open because U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem is running for the Republican nomination for the governor. She defeated Democratic incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in 2010 and won re-election three times.

Noem is competing against several other Republicans to be the party’s candidate on the 2018 general election ballot, including state Attorney General Marty Jackley, former state Rep. Lora Hubbel and Terry LaFleur.

The Democratic candidate for governor is state Sen. Billie Sutton of Burke.

A Tapio candidacy for U.S. House would mean Republicans get to nominate someone else for the legislative district’s Senate seat in 2018.

Majority of voters doesn’t want federal shutdown

The latest Morning Consult / Politico survey found voters nationally want Congress to take all necessary steps to avoid a shutdown of the federal government 69 percent to 16 percent.

President Trump recently called for a shutdown if necessary to pay for the wall he wants along the US-Mexico border.

The Aug. 24-28 online survey of 1,999 voters showed stronger support among Republican voters for the wall as the fulcrum for a shutdown: 51 percent support and 42 percent oppose.

Go here to find the chart and analysis.

Fiscal 2017 conflicts in state government

Here’s the link for the conflicts of interest authorized for state government employees in fiscal 2017. The topic is on the agenda at today’s meeting of the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee.

The authorization requirement is one of the products of the anti-corruption effort under way within state government.

The KELO interview with LuAnn Werdel

Go here to see KELO television’s Angela Kennecke’s story with LuAnn Werdel, who wrote the email Jan. 10, 2011, repeating earlier warnings about corruption in South Dakota’s GEAR UP program.

The program’s intent was to help students from lower-income households know about education opportunities available after high school.

State Education Secretary Melody Schopp terminated her department’s sub-contract with Mid Central Educational Cooperative at Platte in September 2015.

Black Hills State University now manages GEAR UP in South Dakota. Kennecke’s story aired Monday night.

The missing 23

South Dakota has 23 missing persons, according to the NamUs database operated by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Web link came to my attention this morning from an excellent story by Forum reporter Patrick Springer in the Fargo Forum on missing persons.

His reporting highlighted North Dakota and Minnesota numbers.

The South Dakota list can be found by clicking on the Missing Persons tab on the left side of the website and choosing ‘South Dakota’ for the search field.

In comparison to South Dakota’s 23, here are the numbers of active cases for missing persons currently on the DOJ database from neighboring states:

Wyoming 43; Montana 62; North Dakota 31; Minnesota 175; Iowa 85; and Nebraska 58.


Is a push coming for 70 mph?

At the meeting Thursday for state government’s Transportation Commission a member, Kyle White of Rapid City, said he spends a lot of time driving Wyoming’s two-lane highways. He wondered whether South Dakota might raise its speed limit on two-lanes to 70 mph as Wyoming has done.

Currently South Dakota’s speed limit on two-lane highways is 65 mph and four-lane expressways can be 70, according to Darin Bergquist. He is state government’s transportation secretary.

“It would take legislative action first to give the commission authority,” Bergquist said.

The change to 80 mph on much of South Dakota’s two interstate highways was inserted by then-House Speaker Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City, during final negotiations between the House and the Senate on a major highway-funding package in 2015.

The western-most 55 miles of I-90 remain 75, however, and the 13 miles between western Rapid City and Ellsworth Air Force Base are 65. Stretches of I-90 and I-29 at Sioux Falls are 65, as is part of I-29 outside Sioux City.

Roger McKellips, 1923-2017

For 16 years, Roger McKellips of Alcester served in the South Dakota Senate. Born Jan. 26, 1923, the banker was in his first term in the Senate in 1977 when he decided to run for governor.

He defeated the lieutenant governor, Harvey Wollman of Hitchcock, in the June 1978 primary election for the Democratic nomination. The results: McKellips 34,160 votes; Wollman 32,690; and John Bohr 2,743. (Anybody out there remember him?)

McKellips strung together big totals in a handful of I-29 counties in southeastern South Dakota. He clobbered Wollman in Lincoln 1,374-180; Minnehaha 6,147-3,108; and Union 1,861-94. (You read that right.)

McKellips faced the Republican primary winner, Bill Janklow of Pierre, in the November 1978 general election. Meanwhile the three-term Democratic governor, Dick Kneip, had resigned from office to be a U.S. ambassador. Wollman rose to governor but wouldn’t be on the November ballot.

Janklow defeated McKellips 147,116 votes to 112,679.

That was despite Democrats, in a rare event, actually outnumbered Republicans in voter registration for the 1978 general election. The totals were 193,345 Democrats; 191,766 Republicans; and 35,707 others.

McKellips wasn’t able to hold together his southeastern base. He won Lincoln 3,095-2,347 and Union 3,382-1,271. But Janklow captured Minnehaha 19,684-16,512.

Janklow’s victory began the longest period in South Dakota history that Republicans have held the governor’s office, continuing through the state’s current chief executive, Dennis Daugaard.

McKellips came back to the Capitol as a state senator in the next election. He was the Democratic assistant leader in the 1981-82 term. In 1983 he rose to Democratic Senate leader. He held the top post through the end of his career in 1994.

Roger McKellips died last Friday. His burial is this Saturday. Gov. Daugaard has asked that flags fly at half-staff at the state Capitol that day. It is a fitting final honor.