Campaign Finance Reform Measure introduced with significant sponsorship

House Bill 1069 was introduced this past week with an eye on reforming and rectifying the problems that have arisen in State law as a result of the passage of Initiated Measure 22, which has been declared as unconstitutional and enjoined by Circuit Court Judge Mark Barnett:

HB1069P by Pat Powers on Scribd

While the measure has significant sponsorship (I counted 50 of the 70 house members, and 27 of the 35 Senate members) there are still a few dissenters who oppose taking action.

In considering that. my attention is drawn to the oath of office legislators are required to take, as dictated in the State Constitution:

§ 3.   Oath of office. Every person elected or appointed to any office in this state, except such inferior offices as may be by law exempted, shall, before entering upon the duties thereof, take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States and of this state, and faithfully to discharge the duties of his office.

Read that here.

For the sake of discussion, if a legislator is required to swear an oath to support the constitution of the state – aren’t they almost obligated to rectify and remove laws that are contrary to it?

Your thoughts?

Governor’s final years in office dedicated to transparency.

The Mitchell Daily Republic is reporting today that the Governor’s focus for his final two years are about big projects, but about something no less important – Government transparency:

Amid his penultimate legislative session as South Dakota’s top elected official, the second-term governor and long-time politician hopes to boost governmental transparency and improve citizen access to public information as he caps off his gubernatorial tenure.

And…

As he looks to wrap up priorities like promoting government transparency, Daugaard doesn’t expect to see many major items on his plate in his final two years. Instead, Daugaard is looking to improve upon what he’s already initiated, like the Public Safety Improvement Act.

And the popular governor who was elected in two landslide victories is content wrapping up his second term by finishing what he’s started.

Read it all here.

Legislative committee to send letters? How about a scarlet one?

I think we’re starting down a path of the bizarre in the Legislature’s investigation of twenty-something year olds’ canoodling in a consensual manner:

Committee Chair Tim Johns says they are sending out letters to interns from the past two years asking if they have any information and would like to come forward.

And…

The letters sent out to interns have contact information for the Director of the Legislative Research Council Jason Hancock or Johns. They want to have forewarning before the hearing because those with information may not know what direction they plan on going. Rep. Wollmann is entitled to know the allegations against him.

Read it all here.

Sending out letters to interns to look for gossip or sex-partners? Anyone familiar with the term “slut-shaming?” Because that seems to be what’s happening in this instance:

In human sexuality, slut-shaming is a form of social stigma applied to people, especially women and girls, who are perceived to violate traditional expectations for sexual behaviors. Some examples of circumstances wherein women are “slut-shamed” include violating dress code policies by dressing in perceived sexually provocative ways, requesting access to birth control, having premarital, casual, or promiscuous sex…..

Read that here.

If this was a case where someone had complained of harassment, or something criminal, that’s one thing. But the whole thing smacks of trying to impose one’s moral code on another. 

Now we’re sending out letters looking for sexual partners to come forward – possibly to be livestreamed on keloland.com or argusleader.com, and splashed across the state’s media – to tell the committee about it?

Ugh.

Instead of a reprimand or censure, maybe the committee should plan on issuing scarlet legislative badges?

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: A New Direction

A New Direction
By Sen. John Thune

The 58th presidential inauguration, like others before it, was filled with the familiar traditions and pageantry that comes with the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. It’s an awesome event to witness in person, and it’s unlike anything else in the world. I’ve attended several inaugurations over the years for both Republican and Democrat presidents, and I’m always glad to see so many South Dakotans make the trip to Washington, D.C., to experience these historic moments, too. 

Now that President Trump and Vice President Pence have taken the oath of office and assumed the enormous responsibility that comes with holding two of the most powerful positions on the face of the earth, the hard work truly begins. I’m particularly excited for the weeks and months ahead because with a Republican-controlled Congress and a Republican in the White House, we have a good opportunity to help move the country in a new and hopefully more prosperous direction. 

Eight years after it began, the Obama administration’s government-knows-best agenda has resulted in stagnant economic growth, mountains of costly federal regulations, and a weakened position on the world stage. We need to reverse this trend, which is why I look forward to working with the new administration and my colleagues in Congress to pursue pro-growth policies that strengthen the economy, create more good-paying jobs in South Dakota and across the country, and increase our national security.

We don’t need revolutionary ideas or to invent a new philosophy in governing in order to achieve these goals. A lot of this can be accomplished by simply returning some of the Washington decision-making back to states and local governments. Governors and state legislatures are often in a much better position to make more localized decisions on education, health care, and a wide range of other issues. We can help grow the economy by rolling back some the most costly and egregious regulations that businesses are forced to comply with in the United States. We can help farmers and ranchers by cutting red tape, too.

A new president is often judged, at least in part, by what he is able to accomplish in the first 100 or 200 days of his administration. There’s always a high bar, but that is because the American people always have high hopes for the future. As we begin our journey toward that future, I, too, have high hopes and can’t wait to help do my part to make it as great as we possibly can.  

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: A Peaceful Transition of Power

A Peaceful Transition of Power
by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Every four years after a presidential election, Americans from all corners of the country flock to Washington, D.C., to attend the incoming president’s inauguration ceremony. At noon on January 20, 2017, President-elect Donald Trump becomes President Donald Trump, after he is administered the oath of office by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. 

The oath of office of the President of the United States is only 35 words long, and is stated in the United States Constitution: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The first president to take the presidential oath was George Washington at his inauguration on April 30, 1789, at Federal Hall in New York City, the temporary seat of government at that time. 

President Washington also set the precedent of delivering an inaugural address following his swearing-in ceremony, a tradition that has led to some of the most renowned quotes from our presidents. Washington swore to preserve “the sacred fire of liberty” and uphold the “Republican model of Government.” Other famous lines from inaugural addresses include John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” and Ronald Reagan’s “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” These remarks continue to inspire Americans today. 

The entire ceremony takes place on the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, as it has since 1981. Attendees fill the National Mall from the Capitol steps to the Washington Monument, all to catch a glimpse of living history. Following the swearing-in and inaugural address, an inaugural parade and numerous balls take place throughout Washington, D.C. 

While January 20th is the official day the president takes office, months of preparation have gone into the planning of the inauguration ceremony and official events, such as the parade and the formal balls. Since 1901, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has been in charge of setting up the swearing-in ceremonies. Thousands of men and women have been working behind the scenes to plan the ceremony and make sure the Capitol remains secure. I’d like to thank them for their hard work, as well as all the members of the law enforcement community who have been putting in long hours leading up to inauguration weekend. Their job protecting the attendees at the inauguration is incredibly difficult, and their dedication to the security of the attendees is deserving of praise. Without their commitment, this very special day for our nation could not run as effortlessly and with the dignity it deserves.  

In his inaugural speech, Thomas Jefferson said, “But every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle…We are all republicans. We are all federalists.” His wise words ring true today. Though we may disagree with one another on certain policies, we are all Americans, and our presidential inaugurations reflect a decidedly American ideal: the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next.   

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Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Path Forward for Trafficking Survivors

Path Forward for Trafficking Survivors
By Rep. Kristi Noem

I’ve heard stories like this many times over, even from within South Dakota:  A young woman falls behind on rent or faces other financial straits.  Someone steps in to help, but the apparent act of kindness comes with certain strings attached. It might begin as a requirement to just “hang out.” Perhaps they begin to date.  But then, the threats come – both physical and emotional.  A financial reliance has been established – perhaps a drug or alcohol addiction as well – so it’s difficult to find a way out.  Within months, maybe even weeks, a supposed friend becomes the victim’s trafficker. 

The manipulative control persists, often resulting in multiple run-ins with the law.  Many victims are arrested, brought up on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, prostitution or drug trafficking.  Even if they’re able to escape the horrors of trafficking, these criminal records can chain them to their past and leave them vulnerable to being exploited or trafficked again.

According to a recent survey by the National Survivor Network, around 80 percent of trafficking survivors surveyed had lost or not received employment because of their criminal convictions. Around half had suffered from barriers to accessing housing.  Trafficking survivors deserve a fair shot at rebuilding their lives, but that’s difficult when housing, employment, and education are out of reach.

With this in mind, I helped introduce the bipartisan Trafficking Survivors Relief Act earlier this year.  This legislation would create a process in which trafficking survivors with non-violent federal offenses could ask a judge to free them of their records, vacating arrests or convictions that were a direct result of being trafficked.  I’m hopeful this legislation will help relieve survivors of the past, open doors for them, and offer a path forward where healing can begin. 

If enacted, this bill would build on our accomplishments from last Congress where we passed one of the most comprehensive anti-trafficking packages seen in a decade.  The legislation allocated more resources for survivors, offered more tools to go after traffickers and buyers, and put policies in place to prevent trafficking.

The mission to end human trafficking is one that each of us can participate in. I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the signs of human trafficking.  Is someone you know not free to come or go as they wish? Are they fearful, anxious, tense or paranoid?  Do they appear malnourished or show signs of abuse? Do they lack control over their own money or financial records?  These are just some of the indicators a victim may exhibit.  To learn more, I encourage you to visit humantraffickinghotline.org.

Additionally, if you or someone you care about is being trafficked or at risk, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline immediately at 1-888-373-7888.  Correspondence with the National Hotline is confidential and you may request assistance or report a tip anonymously.  

Those who have been trafficked should be treated as survivors, not criminals.  I’m hopeful our latest proposal can help clear the path for them to rebuild their lives. 

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Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Taking On The Meth Problem

Taking On The Meth Problem
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

I recently heard a story about a young man who was exposed to meth as a child. The young man, named Chris, grew up around meth and the violence that the drug brings. Like any normal kid, he wanted attention from the adults in his life. But while most kids are trying to gain approval by getting good grades, making the basketball team or winning a role in the school play, at 12 years old Chris began to use and deal meth to receive that attention. Using and dealing led Chris to get into fights and to start stealing. At age 17, Chris overdosed.

Meth is a problem in South Dakota. Like other states, we are seeing an increase in methamphetamine trafficking and more meth-related arrests and convictions. To address the epidemic, we need to stop meth from coming into our state, prevent meth use and help those who are addicted.

I am joining with the attorney general to propose a joint drug interdiction task force, comprised of four new Highway Patrol officers, joined by designated agents of the Division of Criminal Investigation.

The attorney general and the Department of Social Services are also both focused on educating young people about meth, and a legislative interim committee considered this issue as well. Starting this year, the managers of state anti-meth programs will meet regularly to coordinate these efforts and maximize their impact.

For those who are on probation or parole, I am proposing measures to reinforce good behavior and to punish bad behavior. We will establish a mandatory sanction of required jail time for anyone on probation or parole who fails a drug test. This will guarantee swift and certain sanctions for offenders who choose to use drugs. Conversely, to help those who are already addicted to meth, I am proposing we incentivize effective completion of treatment. We will allow supervision to be terminated early for parolees and probationers who stay clean, complete treatment and don’t violate the terms of their supervision for at least a year. Offenders who complete all court-ordered treatment within one year will be given one opportunity to reduce a drug possession or ingestion charge from a felony to a Class 1 misdemeanor. This option would only be available once for each offender.

I am also recommending grants to expand HOPE 24/7 Probation to all counties. HOPE 24/7 is similar to the successful 24/7 program for alcohol offenders. HOPE 24/7 has been implemented in ten counties, and provides intensive probation and treatment for serious drug offenders, who are required to take random drug tests to ensure that they stay clean.

Meth is an extremely addictive drug that ruins homes and destroys lives. Meth changes brain functions and affects the central nervous system. Those who use the drug may experience paranoia, delusions, severe tooth decay and skin sores. Trying meth just once can lead to death.

Thankfully, the young man I described is still with us, and he has been sober for a year now. When Chris moved to South Dakota, he was arrested for having drugs in his vehicle and placed in the juvenile justice system. That is where his journey to recovery began.

These reforms have the potential to help those who, like Chris, enter the criminal justice system because of a drug addiction. There will be more opportunities for offenders to receive help and fight the vicious family cycle of drug abuse. The proposals will save our taxpayers money, make our communities safer and, ultimately, bring more South Dakotans to begin the journey to recovery.

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State Senator Stace Nelson named as informant in Wollmann matter

There was an interesting detail in the Wollmann matter that’s being taken up in the State House right now that’s escaped attention, but had a mention in at least one of the news articles. 

What was the detail? That State Senator Stace Nelson has direct involvement in the accusations:

Wollmann said he decided to come forward after he was approached Tuesday by a television station and asked about the situation. Qualm said Wollmann discussed the issue with him and in the House Republican caucus.

Qualm said he was first informed and started looking into the process of what lawmakers should do after an email in recent days from Republican Sen. Stace Nelson.

Read that all here.

Why is this an important footnote? Because Nelson’s actions would seem to be for a reason:

negative_stace_1 negative_stace_2

This is a postcard that Wollmann sent out against Nelson, after the actions of Nelson and his supporters in what was arguably one of the dirtiest campaigns in recent history, where Wollmann chided the opposition for dirty attacks on a young person who returned to his hometown to run for office.

With Nelson noted by Qualm as the accuser that had him looking into it, it certainly flavors a reason for the accusations.