Republican State Senator wants voting felons. Bad idea.

So, what happened to paying your debt to society? Republican State Senator Craig Tieszen want to give voting rights back to felons as soon as they’re out of prison.

According to KOTA news:

District 34 Senator Craig Tieszen will introduce a bill this legislative session to restore voting rights to felons as soon as they get out of prison.

State law dictates that felons have to wait until their parole is finished.

But keeping in line with the state’s mission to reform criminal justice, Tieszen said Friday that it is only fair that felons get the chance to take part in the voting process.

Read it here.

Sorry, but that’s just a bad move, and no reason to be soft on criminals. What’s next? A polling place at the state pen? The fact of the matter is that in 2012, South Dakota finally fixed what was a confusing patchwork system and clarified that:

Under South Dakota Codified Law § 12-4-18, a person convicted of a felony in either federal or state court on or after July 1, 2012 loses the right to vote. A person so disqualified becomes eligible to register to vote upon completion of his or her entire sentence. A person who receives a suspended imposition of sentence does not lose the right to vote.

Read that here.. If you look at that page, it details the mess we had before.

And, the truth is that there’s a lot more to sentences than jail time. There’s restitution, there’s treatment, and a host of other remedies and hoops the court may require before the felon has completed their sentence and has their full citizenship restored.

Why would we give someone less incentive to fulfill their obligations? Because while some think it might be fair for the felon, what about fairness for the victim? Shouldn’t, say an embezzler, meet the sentence requirement of restitution before having their right restored?

It’s even a worse idea this year. Why? Two words – Annette Bosworth.

Say this law passes. If Annette is convicted (or pleads guilty) to election violations, for a white collar petition felony charge, she likely would not spend one hour in prison. Which, under the Tieszen proposal, means her right to vote would suffer no consequences whatsoever.

Why would we want to do that for election violators? Shouldn’t there be some effect on a right to vote in that situation?

There are a lot of reasons to reject this. Most importantly, I keep coming back to the fact we just fixed this law in 2012. So why would we step backwards and make it a confusing mess again?

That’s just a bad idea.

Rounds’ first legislation: Keystone

From Jon Ellis, Mike Rounds is quickly moving to do what we elected him to do in working to end the federal government’s war on energy:

Rounds, who takes the oath of office on Tuesday, has agreed to sponsor a bill that would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project, sponsored by TransCanada, has been held up by the Obama administration.

Read it here.

Held up? Try sandbagged for over half a decade.

The pipeline enjoys overwhelming popular support in South Dakota – on a 2-1 basis – so there’s nothing but benefit for Senator-elect Rounds to champion the plan.

Ed groups know a tax increase for teachers is DOA.

According to education groups pushing a sales tax increase for teacher salaries, the measure likely faces both legislative resistance, and a likely Veto from the Governor.

According to the Argus Leader this morning:

Under the terms of the proposal, state sales tax would increase by a penny in June, July and August. Money from the tax hike would go into a special fund reserved for school districts.

The one-cent sales tax hike would bring in about $40 million, according to estimates. But even the people who came up with the idea are less than certain about how much support there is among lawmakers. Rob Monson, executive director of the School Administrators of South Dakota, said the plan would probably do better among voters.

His group was one of three that pitched the idea to a committee of lawmakers in September. Monson is more optimistic about the proposal’s fate as a ballot initiative than he is about it passing through the Legislature with the required two-thirds approval.

“I just find it hard to believe that we would get that kind of support,” Monson said.

Read it here.

What do you think? Should the legislature be setting local salary policy?

And is this going to be what Democrats spend their time, money, and energy on in 2016 instead of running candidates for office?

Day 2 of the Daily Digest. The genesis of the newsletter; When good ideas just go wrong.

I just kicked day 2 of the SDWC’s daily digest out the door, and…. it seems to be working. In case you’re interested in reading it, just click here.    If you haven’t signed up yet, just enter your e-mail in the sign-up form in the left hand column here at

It’s a nice place to try a few new things in terms of format, while presenting the latest from the SDWC in a different manner, as well as other noteworthy items .

The newsletter came about as an offshoot of something I wanted to do about 2 years ago, which I’d developed and started testing.

RMRAnd let’s just say the response wasn’t what I was looking for.  Because I like to embarrass myself, here’s how it started out, as you can see pictured on the left.

I was thinking “red meat” for the conservative masses, and was quite proud of the theme I’d put together with pictured of steaks, cutting boards, and steak knife bullets.  I even bought the URL.

So, after several weeks of fine tuning, I finally was able to send it out to a few people I use as a sounding board.

And, not only was it universally loathed, it was also universally mocked, and unintentionally a bit too much like the “Don’t Jerk and Drive” campaign. Let’s just say that experience put me off of developing the newsletter, and trying to come up with something new.

ddigestFast forward 18 months, and I found myself looking for ways to add value to the SDWC.  And revisiting the newsletter concept was always a consideration, especially once I got past giving up the whole red meat thing.

It’s still a work in progress, but I’m generally happy with how the final product looks so far.

And, On day 2, we’re up to 24 recipients, so the only place for the daily digest to go is up!

Next PUC hearing on Keystone XL coming this week. We still need a remedy for the problems caused by the fed’s war on energy.

From Bob Mercer, the PUC faces a Keystone XL procedural hearing on Tuesday where opponents continue to try to throw a wrench into what should be a minor hurdle in recertification.

State law calls for a project’s sponsor to seek certification from the commission if the project hasn’t commenced within four years of the permit. The purpose of certification is to show the project will continue to meet conditions set in the permit.

“Surely the Legislature did not intend for a complete bar to certification by establishing a standard that no project could satisfy,” PUC staff attorney Kristin Edwards wrote in the brief. “For example, one such change that was noted by Keystone and would likely apply to any project that was dormant for four years was an increase in cost.”

TransCanada, through its lawyers in South Dakota, opposes the dismissal. They contend various conditions in the permit were written in specific ways to allow for changes.

Read it here.

And I persist in believing that, in the face of a federal government hostile to oil, gas and coal resource development, the Legislature needs to make sure that a federal government delay should not be able to be used to force a company into having to spend the time and financial resources needed for state certification twice.

It’s a basic issue of fairness – and legislators need to recognize that. We can only hope they propose a legislative solution.

US Attorney Brendan Johnson interjects office into satellite voting center dispute

For the first time, the South Dakota U.S. Attorney’s office has interjected itself into the disputes counties are having with the Native American community over satellite voting centers; where groups are asking for centers to be set up so they don’t have to travel to the county seat to vote early as in every other other county;

After the election, the county filed a motion asking Judge Karen Schreier to toss the case, but the Department of Justice has asked her not to.

U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson says the county’s refusal to open a satellite office – the cost for which can be reimbursed through Help America Vote Act funds – was not a reasonable response, given the state’s history with the Native American community.

“Let’s be clear, South Dakota does not have a proud history when it comes to providing Native Americans an equal right to vote,” Johnson said. “We should be doing more, not less, to protect the right of every South Dakotan to vote in our elections.”


In addition to the three methods of absentee voting available in South Dakota, each Plaintiff can also vote on Election Day at their local precinct polling place, which includes a polling place at the precise location Plaintiffs are suing for an absentee voting site – Wanblee,” the lawyers wrote.

The lawsuit should be dismissed, the lawyers wrote, because it contains no proof that the decision not to open an early voting center disenfranchised Native Americans, a protected class under the Voting Rights Act.

Read it all here.

(And before it’s mentioned, yes I know it’s technically not early voting but in-person absentee. I’m just using the slang.)

US Attorney Brendan Johnson had remained silent in other cases that had come up, so it’s unclear what triggered this action by his office. Unless he’s going to run for something himself in 2016.

Early Satellite voting centers remain controversial, as most counties don’t do them. They’re more of a hands-on walk through of the absentee voting process using paid staff. They don’t necessarily use county employees, but they can. Either way, those wanting them typically sue because they want federal HAVA (Help America Vote Act) funds to pay for them.

As noted by the 2012 article linked above, centers aren’t usually buzzing hubs of activity:

Gant and Ganje arranged for a primary election voting center in Pine Ridge Village staffed by two Fall River County employees who drove 64 miles each way each day. Turnout was low, with only 46 voters showing up over the 31 actual days of voting.

Two questions – Should counties with a significant Native American presence get extra assistance with voting that isn’t provided in other counties?

And does U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson’s weighing in on the issue signal that he’s gearing up for something more political in the near future?

Press Release: Krebs Becomes South Dakota’s 28th Secretary of State

Krebs Becomes South Dakota’s 28th Secretary of State

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs was officially sworn in to office by Chief Justice David Gilbertson this morning in the South Dakota Supreme Court Chamber at the State Capitol in Pierre, SD.

Secretary Krebs opted to take the official oath of office ahead of next weekend’s traditional inauguration events.

“We have a very aggressive package of election reform legislation” , said Krebs. “We want to take advantage of an extra week of preparation before the legislative session begins.”

Along with Secretary Krebs, Deputy Secretaries of State Teresa Bray, Tom Deadrick and Kea Warne also were sworn in this morning.

Shantel Krebs is South Dakota’s 28th Secretary of State. Her prior public service includes ten years in the South Dakota legislature with three terms in the house and two in the senate. A native of Arlington, SD, Secretary Krebs now lives in Fort Pierre with her husband Mitch.


Lora Hubbel finally catching the hint on “The Hubbel Rule.” Threatens to show it to a lawyer. Not sure anyone cares.

If you recall as far back as September, I was wrting about a bylaw change that the SDGOP was proposing that we nicknamed “the Hubbel Rule.”

Here’s the rule itself, in case you’re wondering (my emphasis):



6. Vacancies

A. Events Causing Vacancy:  The following events shall cause an officer of the State Central Committee to forfeit his or her office and the office declared vacant:  death, resignation, failure to reside in the state, failure to be a registered Republican voter, filing any document with the Secretary of State or a county auditor to be an independent candidate in a general or special election in a race for a partisan public office in which a Republican has been nominated or has filed a petition for the Republican nomination, conviction of a felony, or violation of a bond required to be posted.



6. Vacancies

A. Events Causing Vacancy:  The following events shall cause an officer of the County Central Committee or a precinct committeeman and committeewoman to forfeit his or her office and the office declared vacant:  death, resignation, failure of an officer to reside in the county, failure of a precinct committeeman and committeewoman to reside in the precinct, failure to be a registered Republican voter, filing any document with the Secretary of State or a county auditor to be an independent candidate in a general or special election in a race for a partisan public office in which a Republican has been nominated or has filed a petition for the Republican nomination, or conviction of a felony.

The State Republican Central Committee passed the bylaw easily in October, likely because of the hate and bile Lora Hubbel was spewing towards the Republican Party. Fast forward about 3 months or so to a posting from facebook today:

hubbel_rule1Lora, where have you been for the last 6 months – Running against the Republican candidate?  And now you’re feigning shock that they might consider doing something like this?

hubbel_rule2The SDGOP is “pure deception at best and evil at worst?”  The more I see of the hate that resides within Lora, the more I don’t have a problem with the party putting this rule in place. Whatsoever.

Of course, her long-past-the-date-of-expiration tantrum gets laughable when she threatens to show her lawyer!.

hubbel_rule3(Cue dramatic music…. Dum Dum Dummmmm!)  Not her lawyer!

The fact of the matter is that the purpose behind the rule change was to prevent a county GOP official from running as an independent against a Republican candidate. No Republican in the race? Fine.

But if you’re going to work against the Republican candidate, you need to step down from your seat because as a voting member of the county Republican Central Committee, you can vote in a manner which is in your interest, and against that of the Republican in the race.

Lora Hubbel had no problem engaging in utterly embarrassing and vile behavior during the election in an attempt to beat Republicans running for office. And several months later she’s surprised to find that she’s no longer part of the decision making process?

Boo hoo. And that’s the limit of my sympathy in this matter.

Ring in the New Year! What should we expect in politics? Peace and Quiet.

As we all try to remember that it’s actually 2015 as we write a check, the year to come is brand new, and full of possibilities. At dakotawarcollege, it leaves us thinking about what to expect in the realm of politics over the course of the coming months, as we count down the new election cycle to 2016.

And actually, I think it’s going to be fairly quiet. There will be moments here and there, hints of races to come, and we can always expect the unexpected. But nothing like 2014, where a US Senate race dominated the tapestry.

So, gazing into the void, what do I think is coming?

During the legislative session: Highway improvements and the funding thereof are going to receive a large part of the discussion during session. I think we’ll see a minor divide between those who want to raise taxes, and those who have foresworn against any notion of it.  But with gas tax revenues taking a hit due to a greater supply lowering prices, it’s going to be difficult to argue that the status quo will get us through another fiscal year.

As I noted in my top 10 list, I think we’ll see a freedom-of-religion act return for debate given the same-sex marriage lawsuit pending.

With even further reduced numbers in the House of Representatives, Democrats will have even less of an impact in what happens in Pierre. Speaking of which…

HouseSeatingChartSenateSeatingChart58-12 and 27-8? Representing fewer than 20% of the legislature, Dems are not going to see much of anything in terms of their legislation moving forward.

On the US Senate Front:  John Thune is arguably the most popular politician in the state. He has $9 or $10 million in the bank. Democrats have no bench, period. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.  I don’t anticipate that we will see a Democrat challenger emerge to the Senator in 2015, if we see one at all.

While there is an independent talking about running in the form of Kurt Evans, who we featured here recently for what some would consider bigoted statements about Catholics, I don’t anticipate we’ll hear anything unless he withdraws from the race in 2015 as opposed to withdrawing in 2016.  Basically, that dog isn’t going to hunt.

February will bring us some leftovers from the 2014 US Senate race as Annette Bosworth goes to court, but I don’t anticipate that’s going to be much more than getting through it, and getting the final results. The only surprise would be if she would be able to successfully avoid conviction.

I’m more curious to see if her husband will face similar charges once Annette’s are resolved one way or another.

Congressionally: I predict that Congresswoman Kristi Noem is going to run again in 2016, and Dems will largely leave her alone in the year leading up to it. They may attempt a challenger in 2016, but considering the shellacking she delivered to them in November, they’re in no hurry to deliver a lamb to the slaughter.

I know there’s more out there, and I don’t want to let this post get too long. What do you anticipate in the world of politics for 2015?  Give us your predictions under the comment section.