Argus Article on Minnehaha County States Atty being out of pocket for weeks quickly turns into puff piece.

From the Argus Leader comes an article on the Minnehaha Co States Atty being out of pocket. And while it starts out being fairly straightforward, it quickly morphs into something that should be on the opinion page as opposed to the news:

Minnehaha County’s top prosecutor has been absent from the office for several weeks with what is being described as an undisclosed medical issue, the Argus Leader has confirmed.

Aaron McGowan has been gone from the office since at least mid-July, but the exact date has not been released, and the chief of the office’s civil division, Donna Kelly, has not returned messages.


He joined the office in 1999 as an assistant prosecutor after graduating from the University of South Dakota School of Law. In 2004 Nelson promoted him as the office’s youngest felony drug prosecutor.

He left the office in 2006 and opened a private office specializing in criminal defense work before running in 2008. A Democrat, McGowan was so respected that Republicans did not field a challenger.

Read that here.

Wait, what?

So the article starts out in what could be a critical examination why an elected official has been out of the office for several weeks.. but then it quickly shifts to a retelling of his resume, and a statement that will probably be placed on a campaign piece as it ends with an unsourced gushing claim that “McGowan was so respected that Republicans did not field a challenger?

I assume they had to cut it off there, as they needed the space where the XXX OOO would have went at the end for an ad.

Press Release: Senate Majority Leader Rave To Resign; Governor Invites Public Input

(And it’s official…. -PP)

Senate Majority Leader Rave To Resign; Governor Invites Public Input

PIERRE, S.D. – State Sen. Tim Rave has announced his resignation from the South Dakota State Senate. Rave, a Baltic Republican who serves as senate majority leader, is resigning to accept a position with Sanford Health as enterprise vice president for public policy.

“I am very sorry to see Sen. Rave go,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Tim is widely respected by his peers, who chose him to serve as speaker of the House and as senate majority leader. As Dell Rapids natives, Linda and I were always proud to have Tim as our legislator. I wish him and his family the very best.”

Rave has served in the state Senate since 2011, after serving four terms in the state House. He served as speaker of the House from 2009-11 and as senate majority leader since 2013, making him the only South Dakota legislator to have held both positions.

Rave represents District 25, which includes north and east Minnehaha County, including the cities of Dell Rapids, Baltic, Garretson, Colton, Lyons, Valley Springs and Rowena. It also includes the area in eastern Sioux Falls near South Sycamore Avenue and East 26th Street.

The resignation was effective March 31 and will create a vacancy that will be filled by gubernatorial appointment.  The Governor is asking the public to nominate candidates to fill the position.

Those wishing to be considered for the appointment, or to offer nominations, should contact Grace Kessler in the Office of the Governor at 605-773-3661. Nominations should include the candidate’s name, current address, telephone number and relevant background information.

Gov. Daugaard expects to name an appointee by late spring or early summer.


With Rave and Lederman gone from the Senate, where do they seek their rudder?

With the twin resignations of Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dan Lederman, and Majority Leader Tim Rave coming like a 1-2 punch, there’s a new void in Senate Legislative Leadership that even the Democrats couldn’t have envisioned were they competent or effective in winning elections.

President Pro Tempore Corey Brown is still there as leader of the Senate, but there’s no one to help steer the Republican Caucus. It’s as if the steering mechanism has now come off of the ship, leaving Senate Republicans in a position where they now need to seek amongs themselves the people who will be their rudder.

Will they look to their current whips, Senators Holien, Ernie Otten, or Deb Soholt?  Or will they look to the ranks of the Senators – many of whom have significant experience, but aren’t in one of the six official leadership positions?

Who else does that leave for them to choose from?  The list….

Jenna Haggar, Blake Curd, Bob Ewing, Brock Greenfield, Terri Haverly, Phyllis Heineman, Phil Jensen, Jeff Monroe, David Novstrup, Craig Tieszen, Larry Tidemann, Alan Solano, Bruce Rampelberg, Betty Olson, David Omdahl, Ernie Otten, Deb Peters, Art Rusch, Bill Van Gerpen, Jim White, Gary Cammack and Mike Vehle.

If you peruse the list, the thing that strikes me is that there’s a lot of new people there. As well as some busy ones.

Blake Curd might be a choice, but given how busy he is with his own new position, I’m somewhat doubtful he has an interest in dividing his time further. Tieszen, Vehle and Tidemann had ran or expressed interest in leadership positions previously.  And you have people like Deb Peters, who while not leadership at the moment has been a point person on caucus election efforts – some of these Senators are Senators because she made it happen.

There’s a particular political functionality and increased level of partisanship that goes with the leadership positions. They have to be able to build a coalition within the caucus between those that lean to the middle, as well as those that are hard right. They are peacemaker, as well as messenger for the gods… or at least the one that resides on the second floor.

Depending on what happens, with the departure of the Majority & Assistant Leaders, this caucus could also become more prickly, depending who is in charge. There are definitely a few possibilities who march to the beat of their own drummer, and interpret the Republican Party Platform in a more strict fashion.

What do you think? With the voids to be filled, who will emerge to lead the State Senate Republican Caucus?  Where do they seek their rudder?

BREAKING: SD Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave resigning, effective immediately for promotion at Sanford.

An announcement is coming this morning that District 25 State Senator and Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave has resigned from the South Dakota State Legislature, effective immediately.  This comes on the heels of Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dan Lederman on Monday after session, leaving a large void in Senate Republican Leadership.

In a note that went out last night from Rave to his colleagues, Rave noted:

raveRecently, the position of Enterprise Vice President of Public Policy at Sanford Health became available and I was honored to be offered that promotion.  As I weighed this opportunity, I gave careful consideration to the fact that this new role would mean I could not continue my public service as an elected official.

After much thought, I decided to accept the promotion to Enterprise Vice President of Public Policy effective April 1st, 2015.  Accordingly, I am hereby resigning as a member of the South Dakota State Senate effective March 31st, 2015 at 11:59 PM.

It has been an honor and privilege to work with all of you, and to represent and serve the citizens of District 25 and the State of South Dakota for thirteen legislative sessions.  The relationships I have built and experience I have gained during my years of service have been exceptional.  I am a better person for it.

I spoke with Rave this morning, who is already moving at a more frenetic pace. Regarding his resignation, Tim noted to me:

The job is right in my wheel house doing public policy for Sanford health both at the state and federal level  The timing of the opportunity could’ve been better had it waited a couple years, but I couldn’t pass it up. I’ve done my public service for 13 years and decided it was time to move on and do what was best for my career and for my family.

The Governor’s office is set to issue a press release at 10 AM to note the resignation officially, and to speak to the processes they will follow in making a replacement appointment.  Current house members in the district are Representatives Kris Langer and Roger Hunt.

With both Lederman and now Rave leaving a massive void in Senate Leadership, sources inside the Senate indicate to the SDWC that the caucus will be be meeting sometime in the next few months to select a new Majority Leader and Assistant Majority Leader as they move to the 2016 elections; an election cycle which will start far earlier for 2016 as a result of the passage of petition reform legislation this past session.

At the SDWC, we wish Senator Rave the best, both thanking him for his years of service for the time he’s given to the people of South Dakota, and congratulating him on the opportunity.

That’s got to be the funniest thing I’ve read today. Liberal Dems mewling that Ann should get the Lederman seat.

God bless goofy liberal Cory Heidelberger for the laugh-out-loud comment of the day.

Today’s silly statement is in reference to Dan Lederman’s resignation this afternoon from the South Dakota State Legislature. Apparently, Cory has his panties in a twist because as he pronounces today, with Dan Lederman’s resignation, the Governor should just give Ann Tornberg the State Senate seat:

How about we leave the composition of the Legislature as much in the form the voters asked for ..and finally give the job the the highest-turnover district in the state to the woman who has sought the job and won solid votes two elections in a row, Ann Tornberg?

Read that here.

So, the Governor should just give the seat to a candidate who “won solid votes two elections in a row, Ann Tornberg.”   Damn. That’s funny.

The fact of the matter is that Tornberg lost three elections in a row, by five percentage points in 2010, 1 point in 2012, and in the latest election, by a margin of 12%, in a 56% to 44% rout. Somehow, I wouldn’t consider those “Solid” votes.  In fact, her latest contest underlined the fact that a majority of voters in her district don’t want to see her in office, and have rejected her again, and again. And a third time.

That’s advice from taxpayers that the Governor is well justified in heeding – that they don’t want to be represented by one of the state’s biggest supporters of President Obama.

Unfortunately, this simply follows a common thread among Democrats. They can’t find good candidates, so they want to use loopholes to try to get people into the office. Take the opposition by their party’s liberal wing to Senate Bill 69 for instance.

Liberal Democrats are organizing to contest the election reform bill that was passed by the legislature to fix petition deadlines to facilitate military voting, to put all political parties on a level playing field in terms of the number of signatures gathered, and – here’s the part they really hate – it tightly restricts filing “placeholder” candidates – who have no intention of running or serving – that are only ran by political parties to allow more time to find a better candidate.

During the time when the bill was being amended, Democrats, via Bernie Hunhoff, tried a nakedly partisan attempt to give Democratic Party bosses an avenue to hand-pick candidates for the ballot, bypassing the petition process entirely.

Hunhoff complained that it’s hard to find good candidates… so his answer was to have them picked out of party headquarters?

Nice try.

In fact, it was such a nice try, it encouraged legislators to go the opposite way, removing many of the loopholes Dems regularly had to employ instead of building their party apparatus. And Democrats are scratching their heads trying to figure out how they’re going run people for office this next election, hoping people may care about their plight enough to endorse a referral.

So, with both the end of session, and Lederman’s resignation, let opposition complain and yowl. If Democrats want to capture legislative seats, maybe they should try to be an actual political party.

Because as they’re finding out, it does little good to demand that losers be appointed, as well as try to have Democrat Party bosses in Sioux Falls pick the candidates.

Local Business says that Youth Minimum wage measure allows her to give kids their first job.

Despite the howling from Democrats who are claiming the sky is falling, KSFY has a story on their web site noting how one employer believes that the Youth Minimum Wage Act is going to allow her to give 14 Year old kids their first job:

One local business owner says South Dakota’s new teen minimum wage allows her to give more inexperienced teens their first paycheck.


Dropping the minimum wage for teens under 18 a dollar, from $8.50 to $7.50 an hour, may help some small business owners like Burwell.

“It gave a big sigh, it eased the pressure off me somewhat,” Burwell said.

It could also help DiAnn give more teens a chance to earn their first paycheck.

“Fourteen-year-olds definitely benefit from this, because it gives them more of an opportunity to get into the work field, and learn work ethics,” Burwell said.


Governor Daugaard signed the teen minimum wage bill into law on Friday.

Burwell said the lower teen wage allows her to take a chance on hiring younger and more inexperienced teens.

Read it here.

So, the measure is going to do exactly as it was advertised to do? Imagine that.

So, what’s left on the Governor’s Desk? 8 bills to go.

I was looking at the list of bills the Governor signed yesterday (BTW, Thank you for SB 190 Governor), and I decided to wander in the opposite direction and take a look at the bills that are still remaining on his desk for consideration:

Bill Title
SB 2 provide for the establishment of river basin natural resource districts.
SB 3 provide for mediation of certain drainage disputes.
SB 67 revise certain provisions regarding challenges to certain election petition signatures.
SB 69 revise certain provisions regarding elections and election petitions.
SB 100 create a leased residential property classification.
SB 136 exclude certain municipal taxes from the gross receipts used to determine the tax liability for customers served by electric cooperatives and electric utilities.
SB 159 exempt certain amateur sports coaches from sales and use tax.
SB 177 establish a youth minimum wage.

Senate Bills 2 and 3 rework what has been long-standing law with regards to drainage, not to mention SB  setting up new levels of bureaucracy for many areas in the state that weren’t asking for it.  This one is a stumper. I’m not sure where they’re going to fall out.

SB 67 and 69 are the election reform measures as introduced by the Secretary of State and Board of elections, and amended during their passage between the 2 houses of the legislature.  Some of these reforms are badly needed to comply with military voting requirements. Some are needed to fix ‘Bosworth-ian’ petitioning practices. And most of the rest are just common sense fixes.

Are these measures perfect? No. But I suspect the Governor is leaning towards a thumbs up on these, as there are far more reasons to sign them than there are to kill them.

Generally, bills that mess with taxation tend to be subject to the Governor’s red veto pen. Sometimes the veto is overturned, sometimes not. That places SB 100, SB 136, and SB 159 at risk.

And then there’s SB 177, establishing a youth minimum wage.  There are very good arguments for it, but I think given that the change is so close to the vote taken last November, and lacking hard data in terms of how it has been implemented in South Dakota, he may kill this one too.

At the very least, these have the attention of the Governor’s office, enough that they’re doing further research before they make a decision.

Does South Dakota need low taxes, or do we bring financial woes upon ourselves?

I was reading an editorial from my local paper, the Brookings Register, where the publisher brought up an interesting point from a recent Crackerbarrel, when someone from the audience asked whether South Dakota’s status as the least taxed state in the nation was A. An Accomplishment, B. An Embarassment, or C. Other.   The publisher also brought up that legislators also bemoaned that state revenue projections were “likely to leave the state 10-15 million short” in the next two fiscal years.

If I were asked, I’d argue that it’s a good thing that our state is the least taxed in the nation. Why? In case someone missed it, we’re also 46th in population. There aren’t a lot of companies or employers who when determining where to locate are actively seeking “sparsely populated areas with sweltering summers, punishing arctic winters a plus.”  So, we need to capitalize on what we do have. And the ability to tax ourselves less is one of them.

The tradeoff is that yes, we run ourselves a little closer to the redline than some might like. We tend to be less spendthrift in word and deed. Some might call South Dakotans downright tight, or conjure up a cultural reference such as German frugality.

Whatever the cause, we tend to be tight with a buck, and are not terribly interested in handing it off to government to do as they please – which causes this give and take, or tug of war between taxpayers and taxspenders. Or you might say it’s a battle between our wants and not our needs but rather our “means.”

So, I pose the question to you, the SDWC reader: Does South Dakota need low taxes, or do we bring financial woes upon ourselves by them being low?

Back in the saddle at home base. Exhausted, but rewarded. The Kumbaya’s may now commence.

I’m back at the world’s messiest desk typing this out, as opposed to pecking things on my iPad as I hovered in the galleries at the legislature.  And I’m beat.

In a series of emotional highs and lows, this past week was spent over in Pierre as I worked and lobbied for changes to Senate Bill 190, the bill providing some mandated coverage for certain plans to provide therapy for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

After an original passage of a far from ideal measure in the Senate…  (Okay, parents hated it.) We were able to amend it in house committee & blew through in the House. We then found ourselves stymied as it returned to the Senate, it went to conference committee, and ultimately all parties were able to hammer out a compromise that I think everyone was able to live with.


(Here’s a picture I snapped of the SB 190 conference committee as we met for the third and final time.)

Not having been through the conference committee process before with anything, it was extremely interesting. Basically, it was meet & discuss. Break for amendments. Meet again quickly to note that amendments were still being worked on, and then a full meeting where testimony was taken which consisted of everyone noting their acceptance and agreement of the negotiated language.

It was actually more collaborative and congenial than the process had been early on. Early on could be almost confrontational as each side in the matter put on a show of power, and drew a line in the sand. Once that was over, we got down to business, and were able to work out the concerns of each side.

As was noted in a release that went out this morning, there were a lot of people who worked to make the passage of the measure happen.  Rep. Scott Munsterman was a strong champion of ensuring parents had a strong part in the process, and has stuck with us for two years on the issue. And I don’t think the two sides could have been put together for a negotiated measure without Senator Corey Brown pushing to get something done, and bringing everyone together to meet in the middle.

But, there were so many more who played significant roles. Our parent’ group’s lobbyist Lisa Stanley was tireless, and made this all happen. Kitty Kinsman, lobbying for LifeScape in Sioux Falls was an experienced mentor lobbying alongside us, and helped keep us on track. Scott Parsley stood and gave us the opportunity for a vote in the Senate.. which we lost, but it was still important as a show of force.  Kim Malsam-Rysdon with the administration was also excellent to work with, and one of the reasons we were able to resolve insurers’ concerns, as well as for parents to get our big ‘get ‘ – a tiered service model.

I have to give kudos to some of the insurers involved for their willingness to work out the issues. And most of all, I have to give it to the parents who called, wrote and otherwise harangued their legislators to give consideration to the important issue of serving children on the autism spectrum, and giving them a better chance to contribute to society, as opposed to being a burden on it.

In the end, the bipartisan nature of the bill showed, as we won near unanimous votes in both the House and Senate, and the Governor has already stated that he’s going to sign it.

That’s not bad for a week in Pierre.

House Bill 189 floor consideration blocked for now. But has nothing to do with SDEA spending. Nope. Nothing at all.

Senate Bill 189, An act “to provide a tax credit to insurance companies that contribute to an organization providing educational scholarships to certain students and instructional supply grants to certain teachers and parents.” has apparently run in to a roadblock in the House.

It failed in Committee 8-7…

SB 189, House Taxation, Do Pass

Bartling Nay Beal Yea Duvall Nay
Haggar (Don) Yea Killer Nay Kirschman Nay
Latterell Yea May Yea Novstrup (Al) Yea
Rasmussen Nay Russell Yea Wiik Yea
Willadsen Nay Rozum Nay Solum Nay

But was later sent to the floor without recommendation on an 8-7 vote:

SB 189, House Taxation, Report out of committee without recommendation

Bartling Nay Beal Yea Duvall Nay
Haggar (Don) Yea Killer Nay Kirschman Nay
Latterell Yea May Yea Novstrup (Al) Yea
Rasmussen Yea Russell Yea Wiik Yea
Willadsen Nay Rozum Nay Solum Nay

Today, a vote took place to calendar the measure (I’ll have the vote for you in a bit) which failed. Noting who voted for an against it left State Representative Lee Schoenbeck noting in an e-mail to colleagues:

From: Lee Schoenbeck
Date: March 6, 2015 at 2:23:09 PM CST
Subject: Re: SB 189

Wow. Every democrat voted NO. Block voted. Probably a coincidence, unrelated to 94% of SDEA’s cash going to Democrats in an effort to defeat us???? I bet SDEA won’t do that again

(I detect a little sarcasm in Lee’s comment about SDEA not supporting Democrats with 94% of their cash again.)   The House Dems block voted on a non-partisan bill which had Democrats sponsoring it?

So, does that make SDEA the Lobbying group of No?