Michael Clark: The 2018 South Dakota Legislative Review

The 2018 South Dakota Legislative session is almost in the books. This seems to be a good time to go over the good, the not so good, and the really ugly.

Over the past year, I learned some very important lessons. First, work with the Legislative Research Council early. This makes sure you have the very best bill. Second, support for a bill can come from unexpected sources. Third, never underestimate the Governor’s staff.

I worked with the Legislative Research Council, American Legislative Research Council, Freedom for individual Rights in Education, Americans for Prosperity, previous and current legislators and some other interested people and came up with the Campus Free Speech bill, HB 1073. What I was completely unprepared for was the intensity of resistance from the Board of Regents. The debate on HB 1073 and SB 198 was some of the best debates this year; it even included Skype® testimony. While both bills were sent to the 41st day, it wasn’t a total loss, the right people are now talking to each other, with the promise to update the policy.

Lessons learned. Time to move on.

I arrived in Pierre a day before session. This gave me time to get settled in, press my shirts, pick up keys, and few other things that needed to get done. I also got a chance to check out the remolded restroom behind each chamber. This year, there was some office space in the capitol that was set aside for legislators. Not really an office, more of cubicle, or rather half a cubicle, in the basement. it is a quiet place that allows me to research, get things done without interruption, and get away from some of the lobbyists. There is access to a printer, copier, coffee and a land line telephone. Still, I miss my dual monitors, full sized keyboard, and all the little things I normally use.  Our Pictures got mounted on the wall of the house this year.  It is more than a little humbling to have my face displayed  for the next 20 years on these walls.

Last year I spoke of walking up the capitol steps, and how it was a humbling experience. This year was no different. I have to admit I didn’t use the front entrance as much as I would have liked. The weather made the steps a bit slick. An Intern found that out the hard way, and ended up with a bruised wing. I have been informed the front steps can be really hard.

Waking up to a little snow in Pierre, SD

Speaking of the weather, most weekends I made the trip back home, except for one. The weather forecast indicated 6+ inches of snow with some wind. I didn’t want to find myself in a bad situation, so I opted to spend the weekend in Pierre. It was the weekend of The Farm and Home show. So, I had something to do, besides laundry. I also found firsthand how some Pierre residents treat ‘outsiders’.

Keep your hands to yourself

This year we had sexual harassment / professionalism training. Anyone who has worked for a major company knows this training well. Boiled down, guys need to act like gentlemen, and gals need to act like ladies, beyond a handshake, keep your hands to yourself. Given the press coverage with #MeToo and ‘Time’s Up Now,’ this training had some special importance. The Argus Leader has several stories related to sexual abuse in the capitol city. The press took roll and noted anyone who came in late and left early.

Johnson vs. DiSanto

I hoped everyone watched the video. With a few exceptions, few people even reacted to the incident. The whole thing was mishandled, and there is enough blame to go around for what did and didn’t happen. I’m not going to start pointing fingers. I have been told this incident has been closed, and there is nothing more to say. Beyond this incident, I will say, serving in the legislature can be tough, if you let it, it can become an emotional pressure cooker. Anyone thinking of serving should know this, and make sure you have an outlet to vent your frustrations, before you circulate your petitions.

Time to re-up.

Two years ago, I thought it would be an easy task to collect signatures for my petitions to get on the ballot, because everyone was in Pierre, that left my district all to myself. I found as an incumbent it was much easier. I had people who wanted to help me. I had a couple who wanted to use this as a teaching tool, to show their kids the process of getting elected.  Senator Peters, Representative Steinhauer and myself got together and believed it would be best if the Senior Representative made the move from the House across the rotunda to the Senate. Mrs. Peters would come over to the House of Representatives. It appears we are not going to have a primary. There is one Democrat who has filed petitions for District 09. I got my petitions signed, notarized, and delivered in to the waiting hands of the Secretary of State. No, she really wasn’t wait for my petitions. However, I can tell you that the turnaround time from petitions being turned in to being posted on the website was much quicker.

Given the some of the names popping up, this is shaping up to be an eventful election season.

2018 Summer Studies

Every year at the end of each session, legislators submits proposals for a summer study.  The executive board pick two or three then assigns legislators to study the topic and possibly produce bills for the next year.

Here are the summer studies that were submitted for 2018:

Study A
Title of Requested Study: Overcoming Obstacles to Workforce Integrations and Development: Non-English Driver License Materials and Examinations

Scope of Requested Study:
Is the lack of the ability of non-English speakers to get a driver license a workforce development problem in South Dakota? Is it keeping potential workers from moving to South Dakota? Is it a public safety issue? If so, how can these issues be remedied and at what cost? How do other states manage this? The focus of this study is to understand how other states provide for driver’s license educational materials and testing (both the knowledge and skills components) in a language other than English. The committee will explore explicit costs as well as possible revenue sources and opportunities for federal or non-profit cooperation or assistance. The committee will explore the numbers of individuals and firms affected, including the affects on following spouses and family members of those moving to South Dakota from outside of the US. The study should include an inquiry into the success rates experienced by other states regarding non-English speaking residents to maintain employment thus decreasing their need for state or federal assistance programs. Does the ability to gain a driver license speed integration into American Society? The study will be limited to all those in SD legally.

Requested By: Senator Ernie Otten, Chair of Senate Transportation

Study B
Title of Requested Study: The economic impact of illegal immigration on the State of South Dakota

Scope of Requested Study:

Requested By: Senator Phil Jensen on behalf of the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee

Study C
Title of Requested Study: Wind Energy Permitting, State and County requirements, PUC requirements. Federal and State subsidies applied if applicable.

Scope of Requested Study:
Study the cost of a kilowatt hour. What factors have contributed to the increase in the cost to the consumers? Consumers were told in 2013 that “Wind Energy Savings” would be passed on to the consumers in the future. This has not happened.

Requested By: Senate Commerce and Energy Committee

Study D
Title of Requested Study: Zoning Study for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Wind Farm Development in Certain Counties in South Dakota

Scope of Requested Study:
Develop guidelines for counties to use regarding the development of a zoning plan for above mentioned developments. Issues to be addressed related to each type of land use and how to streamline the procedure to accommodate economical developmnet within each county.

Requested By: Senator Kolbeck, Chair of Commerce and Energy Committee

Study E
Title of Requested Study: Mental Health and Safety in K-12

Scope of Requested Study:
As the nation is faced with increasing violence in our schools, exploring the multifaceted nature of mental health and safety in our K-12 school system is warranted. However, while violence is now in the headlines, this is a much deeper issue. The mental health issues in our classrooms overall interfere with successful learning, diminish the learning environment for all students and influence the overall health of the school. This is also an issue for the overall community, as school culture and health directly affects everyone. At this time no entity is clear on how to meaningfully change the trajectory as multiple factors are in play. This study would be a deep dive understanding of the following in our K-12 schools: Status of mental health to include, but not limited to, issues of adverse childhood experiences (ACES), bullying and suicide ideation; Status of adverse behavior issues that lead to discipline; Management of discipline behavior issues; Access to counselors and mental health professionals, along with meaningful interventions; Safety policies that restrict open access to schools; Response policies to violence in our schools. This study should assess the baseline of these topics in South Dakota K-12 schools, explore benchmark practices for same, and develop possible statute(s) to address.

Requested By: Senate Health and Human Services

Study F
Title of Requested Study: Review of the Brand Board

Scope of Requested Study:
A review of the authority, structure, and operations of the Brand Board. Review the related laws and administrative rules. Review the brand registration process. Review the costs associated with the brand book publication and investigations of livestock theft and fraud.

Requested By: House Ag and Natural Resources

Study G
Title of Requested Study: Effect of Trust Land on County Revenue and Expenditures

Scope of Requested Study:
Explore alternative funding sources for counties. Review of relevant federal and state laws and court cases. Review of state, county, and tribal jurisdictions. A review of county revenue and expenditures. Review the purpose of trust acquisitions, the process by which land is converted into trust, and the implications for county governments.

Requested By: House Ag and Natural Resources

Study H
Title of Requested Study: SD 4-H

Scope of Requested Study:
There are problems in 4-H in South Dakota. We need new leadership in SD 4-H. We need to stay with the SD Dream. 4-H is made for our South Dakota children to develop their skills not to fight over. Our extension service must be in control.

Requested By: Rep. Jim Schaefer

Study I
Title of Requested Study: Drug Court and Substance Abuse Treatment for the Homeless

Scope of Requested Study:
To study the funding and infrastructure needs to create pilot programs in Rapid City and Sioux Falls to address drug addiction treatment for the homeless. These individuals currently cannot participate in the drug court treatment program. These individuals are ineligible because they lack a permanent address and/or stable employment. If these individuals could qualify for the drug court program, the state could realize savings in the Department of Corrections and Correctional Health.

Requested By: Representative Dan Ahlers

Study J
Title of Requested Study: Extraordinary Cost Fund for Special Education

Scope of Requested Study:
The specific issue to be addressed is the increasing need for special education and related services in the schools in our state and how to adequately fund special education in light of that increased need. One of the main concerns is that the state aid dollars currently being set aside for the extraordinary cost fund for special education are not adequate to meet the demands on that fund.

Requested By: Representative Tim Johns

Study K
Title of Requested Study: Access to Mental Health Services

Scope of Requested Study:
The study shall include a review of mental health services available in the state: How persons with mental illness are treated and continuum care; The facilities, locations, resources, treatment options, and services available for treatment of persons with mental illness; The financial costs to the state and its political subdivisions.

Requested By: Senate State Affairs

Study L
Title of Requested Study: A study to allow political subdivisions of the state to be participating members of the state health plan as outlined in SB143

Scope of Requested Study:
The study shall include a review of the ability and costs to expand the coverage of the state health plan to the employees of the political subdivisions of the state, including: A review of the laws, regulations, and policies regarding the state health plan; The additional administrative costs that will be incurred; and, The amount that the political subdivisions must contribute to participate in the state health plan.

Requested By: Senate State Affairs

Study M
Title of Requested Study: Budget Realignment Study

Scope of Requested Study:
In 2011, Governor Daugaard proposed a 10% across the board budget cut. The initiative forced all government to re-assess priorities. While the final % cut varied, all agencies did accept a decrease with the total cut equal to $41.3 million. Instead of waiting until we have to do this, why not force the question? The goal would be to re-align the $ to current priorities. The study could start with a look back to 2011 (while the Daugaard administration is still here to explain). Then study what has happened since. Then pose a “what if” question to each department saying “If your department/agency had to cut __% (insert number) what would you do?” With all of this information, the summer study group could recommend whatever re-alignment of resources they felt appropriate — cuts to some and enhancements to others, re-aligning to current needs and priorities. This would help establish legislative priorities that could be useful with coordinating or directing the priorities of a new administration.

Requested By: Representative John Mills

Study N
Title of Requested Study: School District Capital Outlay

Scope of Requested Study:
Analysis of school district capital funding needs as compared to the funding systems provided under state law.

Requested By: Representative Wiese

Study O
Title of Requested Study: REAL ID Act

Scope of Requested Study:
The study will examine how the federal REAL ID Act impacts South Dakota. It will examine the security of personal data and vital documents and the risks of identity theft.

Requested By: Representative Frye-Mueller


Michael Clark: My time in the Office –Week #4 Coffee anyone?

A mainstay of the legislative session is the Cracker Barrels and Legislative Coffees. This is where the legislators go back to their districts an discuss the issues.

So far I have many semi-private sessions, kind of hi-Jacked Theresa Stehly’s Coffee with the Council,  and Yesterday I had my first public event.

Normally, when I meet some one for coffee to discuss the issues, I have some idea about topic. I can do a little research, and be prepared with facts. With the public forum, other than IM 22 issues, I didn’t have a clue what topics would be discussed. Given the amount of mail I have received on SB 61 (updating regulations dealing with nurse practitioners) I guess this would come up.

Last Friday was the last day for bills to be submitted, and there were a number that dropped; Many, we didn’t get a chance to read. To my (I can’t speak to the rest of the panel) delight, the moderator referred to the bills by number. That made it easy to look up, to be honest some of those bill I was wonder what the problem was, others it was glaringly obvious.

I should give a tip of the hat to the Sioux Falls Police and the South Dakota Highway Patrol. They did a great job in keeping the peace, and making sure everyone behaved themselves. The was one IM22 protester holding a sign, and he was asked to put the sign away, and he left. Near the end, there were a few shouts from the crowd, and the moderator quickly restored order. There was also a group who had unhappy face signs and would show them when ever something was said that displeased them.

The real action happen afterwards. This is when we can have one on one conversations with the people. For the most part they were productive, except, the coffee ran out.

This is the only coffee for this session I have been scheduled for. I am sure there will be more opportunities for me to meet the the people of district.  I prefer the more informal format, where we can have a discussion, instead of just one question one answer.

Michael Clark: My time in office-Week #3 From Outside In to Inside Out

As a citizen journalist, during session I can go to the capitol, sit in on committee hearings and observe the testimony  offered on various bills.  I can sit in the darken galleries and observe the floor debate.  aside from a passing ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ You’re pretty much left alone.  The Sergeant-at-Arms will come by to check on you and make sure that you are not up to any shenanigans. You can watch the coming and going of various people.  If you ask someone a question, they are courteous enough to help you find your way.   If you are really lucky, someone will spot you and offer a real comment.  Watching a floor debate on a topic like HB 1069 is really interesting, there is a lot going on.  Once you’re done you can leave and no one will really notice, except now, there will be an empty parking spot in the parking lot.

Looking in from the outside

My day as a legislature starts with a cup of coffee.  I check my e-mail and news feeds to see if anything happened overnight I might need to be aware of.  Unless I have breakfast somewhere, I will grab a sandwich at McDonald’s or Burger King.  If I have some extra time, I might stop by the Highlander. Some time in the morning, I will video chat with my wife, and make sure all is well at home.

When I get to the capitol, I will typically park as far back as I can.  I can use the exercise, I generally don’t have to compete for a parking space and the parking lot is clean off a bit better, there isn’t as much ice to navigate.  I will normally use the grand staircase to get to the third floor. I use the public lobby on the north side of the chamber, I noted there are a number of lobbyist either on the phone or working their computers.  I get to my locker, to hang up my hat and coat.  I get my coffee cup and get a fresh cup, then walk to my desk to find a pile of papers, nic-nacs and other ‘stuff’  I read, review, and deal with each piece.  I set up the I-Pad, and answer some e-mail and review the day’s bills.

The lobbyist have moved from the lobby and balcony to the back of the chamber. They will come to my desk ask for my attention.  They might pitch a position or ask me to sponsor a bill.  fellow legislators will ask questions, the pages and interns are busy dropping more stuff, I try to listen to each one.  After each visit I try to get going on the e-mails, again.  Sometimes I may have to start the same e-mail six or seven times before I can send it.  If I have a committee meeting, I will take the tablet so I have everything in front of me.  Each day is a little different, some days I need to stop by the LRC, or some other office.  Sometimes I need to reach out a contact for some research for a bill.  There is never a shortage of people who want to talk to me about just about any topic.

From the chief clerk position. From the Inside looking out

If someone is serving lunch, at the capitol I will grap a bite. otherwise, I will head to the basement and grab something from Tom’s Cafe.  Unless I can’t avoid it, I will not bring food to my desk. Coffee, water, maybe even some juice; However for food, my desk is a no-go zone.

SDBP Camera sees all.

During the session I try to stay focus on the task at hand.  It is easy to get distracted.  E-mails are coming in there are chat requests.  on occasion some jerk will flash something in the gallery.  I am ever mindful that everything I say, everything I do is duly recorded and transmitted on South Dakota Public Broadcasting network via the internet.

After the session I try to get some more e-mail answered, I know there a number of social events in going on. and I try to attend as many I can, even if it is just to pop in make an appearance, then off to the next event.

I try to end each day with another video chat with my wife and daughter, A glass of wine (I do not drink and drive.)  and try to decompress the day.

As a legislator, everyone trys to remember my name, and where I’m from, and they will write, call, and e-mail me.  Some of them remember me from this blog, some know me as Raymond’s dad, and some know me because I wear a hat.

Some of you know that each session is different for different reasons.  I just didn’t expect to get this intense this fast.

This weekend we had a four day weekend! and we’ll be back at it Tuesday morning for Week #4.

Michael Clark: My time in office- Week #2

Wow! What a week it has been!

Last week I mentioned it was like the first days of high school.  That was a pretty close description,  like in High School, the first few days was filled with laying the ground work for the real work, that started this past week. Most of the agency bills are being worked. Legislators are working to get their bills into the hopper, so far 124 bills have introduced. That is down from last year where 134 bills were introduced.

We had picture day!  That mean everyone has new pictures on the LRC web site now.  I know, I don’t have my hat on.  We were inside, and I try to follow proper hat etiquette, especially at the capitol.

It has been suggested that at least once a week I walk around the building, and walk up the front steps, and use the front entrance, and again leave the same way.  At first, I thought this was foolish, silly idea.  Then I did it; I found the experience quite humbling.  A reminder why I am there. I plan to continue the practice.

This past week I must have angered the technology gods in some way.  With every incoming call to my cell phone, my battery drained, and the phone rebooted, several times.  I ordered a replacement phone and it would be delivered by week’s end. Meanwhile, I have had to rely on messenger and Google Voice.  I avoided giving my cell number out, until I can get a new phone on-line which for some reason is much harder than it should be.  In addition to that one of my tablets decided to reset to factory defaults.  I don’t keep any files on my tablets, however, it is bit of a pain to restore everything.  Hopefully I can have everything back to ‘normal’ this weekend.  Thank goodness I make back-ups of everything.

Along those same lines, every technologist knows that static electricity is an enemy to almost all of today’s technology.  For some reason there is a lot of it on the house floor.  It seems every time I walk on to a the floor I am getting shocked or shocking someone.

The social calendar is full!  Sometimes we have four or five events in a night.  Some of those parking lots can get to bit tricky to get around in, with all the SUV’s, snow piles and ice.  I have opted to drive our older GMC pick in Pierre.  It is not going to win any beauty contest, however   It is smaller to get around, and If someone dings it, I’m not going to lose any sleep.

Some of the bills I’m working on right now:

Apparently there is a number of uninsured drivers on the road.  I have been asked to develop a bill to address this issue. I have heard form several law enforcement agencies and tow truck companies about this issue. I know bills like this have failed in the past, maybe it is time to have a second look.

I have also heard from E-cigarette users they would like a list of the ingredients of what is in the E-juice, which seems reasonable. However the FDA is involved in a federal lawsuit over this issue.   I may have to put this bill on the back burner until that is resolved, maybe

This weekend has gone by like a blur. Week three is coming up, things are really going to heat up.

Michael Clark: My time in office- Week one.

I went to Pierre a few days before the session started.  I wanted to make sure I had a place to sleep.  Hotel living is okay, for a week or two, beyond that, not so much.  I refuse to live out of a suitcase for two months.  I have a room with some family friends a couple of blocks from the capitol.  I needed to get a few things to make my stay a little more bearable, like a coffee pot.  I figured it would take a day or two get everything settled.

If I could summarize the first week in the legislature I would say it is very similar to the first days of High School.  There is finding your locker, your desk, where you need to be at.  There is paperwork that needs to be filled out.  There is even picture day.  They only thing missing is Delta Dental stuff to take home. There is meeting old friends and making new ones. The legislature has routine, that works, I just need to fit in.

Mail is delivered to my desk twice a day. There is no shortage of ‘stuff.’ Someone somewhere thought it was important enough to bring to my attention; I read everything at least once.  I notice my desk is rather smallish compared to what I am used to.  I also noticed my desk is at a slant to the front of the room.  From what I gathered it was so everyone can see and hear the speaker, who ever that may be.

The days routine are pretty simple, Committee hearing in the morning, followed by party caucus meetings, then the session in the main House Chamber. In the evening we have a ‘full’ social calendar.  The first few days we were on ‘Auto-Pilot’   There wasn’t much debate on anything, mostly informational hearings.

One of the first Items of business was taking the Oath of Office.  I truly felt honored and humbled that the people of Humboldt, Hartford, Crooks, Wall Lake and Sioux Falls have chosen me to represent them.  This not a duty I take lightly.  Swearing an oath to that duty is an honor.

On to the elephant in the room, Initiated Measure 22.

On the opening day, there was a group of a dozen or so people demonstrating on the capitol steps,in the cold, asking to have their voices heard.  That is their right, and I do not want to take that away from them.  However If you really want your voice heard, come in out of the cold, I will buy you a cup of coffee, or hot coco, and we can have a discussion.  Waving signs on the capitol steps is media stunt.

If you really want to have a discussion, call me, E-mail me, write me, meet with me, I will even set up a time for a video chat, and we can have a discussion.  So far I have received only two E-mails and one video chat.

IM 22 is a monster, loaded with (un)intended consequences. Yet, even after being warned twice that the measure would be challenged as unconstitutional, the sponsors still pushed the campaign, and the voters approved it.  We, as a legislature, have heard the voters, we know you are tired of hearing about the scandals, tired of hearing about the corruption. We are working on a series of bills to address those issues.  It is not going be fast, however it be done right.  ‘nuff   said on IM 22

This weekend I am back home!  I need to take care of a things, like laundry.  I also have a company Holiday Party to attend.

Then back to Pierre for week two.

Michael Clark: I Won! Now what?

I know it has been awhile since my last update. The last months of the campaign, the pace really picked up.  Between the door knocking, attending events, and standing on street corners sign waving it has really been busy.  All the hard worked paid off because after hours of waiting at the Minnehaha GOP victory party, I got the results and I had won!

Time for the happy dance.


The election is over!  All the signs have been picked up, cleaned, and shrink-wrapped and stored away.  Time to pay the finial bills, then moth-ball the campaign until 2018 season starts up.  This could be sooner rather than later.

Now It time to start being a legislator!  I didn’t have to wait long.  On Saturday, my mailbox was filled, my E-mail inboxes sprang to life. I received congratulation cards, letters and resumes from legislators looking for leadership positions, and stack of invitations to almost every social event in Sioux Falls.   I also received a packet of paperwork from the LRC.

Oh! Wow! There is no chance of my head getting any bigger

Most important was the flowers from my biggest supporter and loudest critic, My lovely bride, Mrs. MCimg_20161110_131803I was getting ready to accept some of the invites when my Facebook messenger popped up with a message from Senator Peters, not to accept any of the invites until the details of Imitated Measure 22 can be sorted out.  What!?!  I checked with a few other current legislators, and the blogs, to get a better feel for what I should be doing.  The general consensus was to not do anything, just to sit tight.  The Executive board, the Governor, The Attorney General and a few others were already working on a solution.  Meanwhile I sit here with a fist full of invites I can’t do anything with.  The worst part is, these groups have information I need to be able to do my job as a legislator.  It is like having a library card, but not able to read any of the books.

I also got notice of the Caucus elections, along with a gently worded warning to keep everything hush, hush.   I really don’t know how much I can release, and when I can release it.  I have to work with these ladies and gentlemen, and I will need their support in the coming months.  So, I’m sorry, Pat, I kept my keyboard on silent.  I wish I could say the same for my cell phone.  The Republican House Caucus Social dinner was held on November 18th, with the elections held on the 19th.  There was a bit of snow on the evening of the 17th that made a real mess of the roads east of Mitchell.  Long story short, it was white knuckle driving from Sioux Falls to Mitchell, and even after Mitchell it was best to keep your wits about you.   During this drive time I received about five phone calls from various legislators, each one looking to sway my vote one way or another.  Thank goodness for the Bluetooth headset so I can keep my hands on the wheel and my eyes on, well, where I think the road should be.  I also received a number of text messages from various people checking on my progress, including If I gone in the ditch yet.

The social dinner was a quick hand shake and this is who I am, then move on.  Not really enough time to really get to know someone.  I have been advised that what happens in the Caucus, stays in the Caucus, Therefore, I’m not going to tell, so please don’t ask.

I did get a chance to wonder a bit around the capitol and get a feel for where everything is at.   There were a few groups decorating trees for Christmas at the Capitol.img_20161119_115019995_hdr img_20161119_115013449 img_20161119_115322622 img_20161119_115216678

My next taste will the Governor’s Budget address on December 6th with some additional training on the 7th.


I have been told that for this budget address I will be seated somewhere on the floor of this chamber.

More updates to come …

Michael Clark: My Run for the South Dakota House #5: The Fair!

sefI have some very fond memories of county fairs. 4-H exhibits, the midway, deep fried anything and everything on a stick, the commercial exhibits, and politics. This year is busy year for politics as this is a presidential election year, and there are a number of ballot issues.

The Minnehaha County GOP had booth in the middle of EXPO center.  It was open to all republican candidates to use as a touch down site.  I understood that candidates were expected to work at least one shift.  I opted to work a Sunday afternoon shift.

This is my first county fair as a candidate.  One of the things I needed was some high quality palm cards.  I had some printed from a budget (cheap) printer, and they were awful.  A few quick e-mails exchanges with Pat at the Dakota Campaign Store and a new batch was on way.  Pat has my thanks for getting these done so quickly and on the fly.

The Democrats had a tent/shelter set up so just as you walk in to the fair you are faced with cardboard cut outs of President Obama and Candidate Clinton.  I wondered about the wisdom in having a separate outside facility, over a booth in the expo center.  I also noticed they didn’t seem too happy to be there.  nametagThey didn’t seem to bright.  On my way past the booth, one of the workers engaged me to vote for my opponent, as I was wearing my name tag.  When I asked who he was running against, they couldn’t name him.

fb_img_1470680530203I found out that my partner this year was Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson.  Wow!  As Secretary of State, Chris was a rock star. He is still a political rock star, just a slightly different tune. He knows the in’s and out of the election process, better than any other candidate.  To be honest, I was also a bit nervous.   The company I work for is not one of the commission’s favorites.

Mr. Nelson was scheduled to be manning the booth for three prior to me coming on, I thought it was a bit unfair to have him there by himself.  I stepped in to help out.  We did have a few problems, like the cardboard cutout of Donald Trump didn’t want to stay standing.  none the less we made it work.

A couple of things I learned:

  • Trinkets are for fairs and parades
  • Palm cards are for door to door and walking around
  • People are paying attention and are engaged.
  • Kids love stickers and balloons

It was interesting engaging people. Some people believe the government is rigged and politics is a distraction from what they are really doing.  Other believe politics is the price to be paid for government, whether or not it is good government is debatable; Some people who question everything.

Overall, I have to say ‘working the fair’ was defiantly an experience.  I met a lot of people. Some I know will cast their vote for me.  I am getting more feed back after the fair.

Now that ‘Fair’ Season is over, back to knocking on doors.

Michael Clark: My Run for The South Dakota House Update #4 “You are Invited…”

One of the benefits of being a candidate is the number of ‘VIP’ invitations received. Sometimes these invitations include some kind of meal.

Pulled pork sandwiches, baked beans in a tomato sauce, dinner roll and coleslaw
Baked beans, pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad and a biscuit
Corn bread, smoked pulled pork, Boston Baked Beans and macaroni salad
Barbecued pulled pork sandwiches, Baked Beans, fruit salad and ice cream.

And of course a choice of beverages of water, coffee, or some kind of juice.

While I enjoy the meal they would have guests listen to their pitch about issues that concerns them. On rare occasions (two) they will even ask me to speak.

I’m also finding the term ‘V.I.P.’ to be quite nebulous. As I understand the term, it is supposed to provide some kind of separation from the common people, and they are accorded some kind of special access. In some cases I’m finding the term means, a special ‘VIP’ name badge, not much else. Other times it means the ‘spotlight’ will be put on the person at some point to be recognized. A little disconcerting if you are unaware it is coming, and you have a mouth full of pulled pork.

There is also the question of what invitations do I accept? Do I attend a Sioux Falls Free Thinkers meeting? Or a VIP tour of the LifeScape facility?  Each of these are opportunities to meet people.

Back on the trail and line up for another helping of pulled pork and beans.

Michael Clark: My Run for The South Dakota House Update #3 The Plan, The Team, and The Money.

Now that primaries are over, I would like to a few minutes to say ‘Thank you!’ to everyone that ran. It take a huge amount of courage to get the signatures and to offer yourself as a servant to the people. I don’t believe there are any real losers, just some who didn’t get the votes to go on. Everyone whose name was on the ballot deserves a congratulations and thank you.

The primaries are over, the state conventions held, and the nominees have been named; now we move on to the general election. Since I didn’t have a primary, I sat back and watched the process. A couple of things I’m learning; almost everyone has some advice for me, sometimes they even want me to pay for that advice. Each election cycle, each district, each town is different. Any campaign needs to flexible and customized.

TheplanThe Plan:
Like all good successes, winning elections just don’t happen, there needs to be a plan. This being my first time I looked for help from former winners (now elected) folks. I also scrubbed the internet for some ideas. So far I have:
– This is a marathon, not a sprint, pace yourself, and the money.
– Plan backwards from November 8th 7:00 PM. This is the goal line.
– Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There are going to be a lot of things that takes you out of your comfort zone.
– Have Fun!
We all know from about labor day going on to November it will be hard core campaigning , any campaign will have to compete with school activities, weather, national campaigns, news and lots of other noise. The best tactic is the simplest, face to face, door to door. Beyond that, there is social media, and traditional media. During the summer months I am doing some door to door as well as some of local events like fairs and such, simply, getting my name ‘out there’. My friends at Parkridge Shoe Repair may be seeing me a bit more often.

The Team:
Besides a plan there needs to be a good team in place.
– The campaign manager – This should not be the candidate, ever. They handle all the day to day functions. They keep the campaign focused and on track.
– The volunteer Coordinator – This can be a tough as you don’t want to burn out the volunteers before you reach the goal line, yet keep them motivated.
– Fundraiser Coordinator – sends out all the letters asking for money, plans those big fundraiser events.
– Finance chair – The one who controls the purse strings. They also line up the big money donors.
There are other positions that will be filled as needed.

Bag-of-money-clipartThe Money:
Signs, brochures, buttons, they all cost money. After talking to several other candidates they all say the same thing, it is a bit uncomfortable asking people for money. The ugly truth is money is needed. There is a couple of ways to raise money for a campaign:
– Sent out letters asking for money
– Dialing for dollars
– Fundraising events
– Political Action Committees (PAC and Super PAC)
– Social media
Every little bit helps. Here is a link to help.

Of course there is much more to learn, and like Senator Peters told me, every year there is something new. Meanwhile I am attending as many local social events, fairs, parades, forums, etc. as I can to put my name in the public.