Having a bad computer day week, but posting straight from Pierre ahead.

There could be spotty posting ahead, especially in the evenings. I think my “bitter computer” might have bit the dust.

My main computer with all of my software, records, e-mail, etcetera and everything decided to inconveniently die. Just because it really hasn’t been turned off in 2-3 years, and is used day and night is no reason to bite the dust. I usually have power supplies give up the ghost and wear out, which is an easy fix, but I think my motherboard went, and that’s major surgery.

I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the SDWC mothership is up on blocks at the moment, and I’m posting from iPad & iPhone, and a computer that doesn’t have 1/4 of the resources that my main one does.

Actually, it so happens that I would have been on remote anyway, as I’m going to be on the road to Pierre this next week. I’m coming over for some REALTOR things (Thumbs up for the Chili/Oyster feed), and my wife is getting a nice award for being recognized as the Special Ed Administrator of the year.
Hopefully late next week, the SDWC signal will be back at full capacity. But in the interim I’ll be bringing your daily fix of political coverage straight from out state’s Capital!

‘Friend-of-the-felon’ voting bill to be heard tomorrow. Let’s “just say no.”

A promised turkey of a measure has landed upon the legislature.

A bill to restore voting rights to convicted felons before the completion of their sentence from State Senator Craig Tieszen has been introduced in the State Senate, despite earlier promised opposition from the Secretary of State.   The measure, Senate Bill 112 primed by Tieszen in the Senate and Rep. Steve Hickey in the House, would walk back a reform measure passed in 2012 which cleared up a confusing multi-tiered system which left many felons unsure if they could vote or not.

The measure is scheduled to be heard in Senate State Affairs at 10 AM tomorrow morning in Room 414.

SB 112 changes the law, basing it on whether the felon is imprisoned or not, as opposed to it being based on a convicted felon’s completion of sentence. As noted in the Argus article, Tieszen believes it’s the right thing to do:

Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, says he plans push for the bill this legislative session. Tieszen says giving felons the chance to be good citizen by allowing them to vote is the right thing to do.

As noted earlier this month in an article by the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, the person in charge of South Dakota elections, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs ,earlier voiced opposition to the measure, as well as the person who introduced the 2012 measure, Gene Abdallah:

“I feel they should complete their entire sentence, and at this time I don’t see supporting his legislation,” said Shantel Krebs, South Dakota secretary of state. “I think there’s are a lot of questions out there such as, ‘What if a person violates their parole?’

Gene Abdallah, a former U.S. marshal and state lawmaker who was the prime sponsor of the revision to felony voting rights that passed in 2012, also opposed Tieszen’s proposed bill.

“I think they should wait until after their parole and after their sentence is finished,” Abdallah said.

Read it here.

Krebs brings up an excellent point about parole violators confusing the system, which would require even more of a data exchange between courts and the Secretary of State data systems than exist now.

And I can’t help but give strong deference to the original point made by the sponsor – “they should wait until after their parole and after their sentence is finished.”   When someone commits a crime, in many instances there are crime victims. Part of the process is the state obtaining justice on their behalf, and that’s done through the sentence being imposed. Justice is far from perfect, in fact, it’s quite imperfect, and rarely in proportion to the harm.

When you see these types of bills, as they talk about restoring things to those poor, poor convicted felons, I can’t help but consider that the people introducing such measures are giving far more deference to the criminals who commit the crimes, than the victims.

I do think there’s a place to give felons the chance to be good citizens. It’s by example. The example should be to complete the sentence handed down by the courts. They earned it, so they should own it. And by successfully completing it while remaining a good citizen, they’ll have earned their right to vote back.

And only then.

On the flip side of SB69 – The defeated Hunhoff “party boss” amendment.

Talking about Senate Bill 69 some more, one thing that came up in the discussion yesterday was an amendment by State Senator Bernie Hunhoff.

On the heels of the Brown amendment passing, tightening the placeholder practice of replacing candidates on the ballot, Senator Hunhoff made a partisan attempt to give Democratic Party bosses an avenue to hand-pick candidates for the ballot, bypassing the petition process entirely.

Here’s the Hunhoff amendment:

MOTION: AMEND SB 69  (69oc)

On page 10, after line 19 of the printed bill, insert:
” Section 18. That chapter 12-6 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:

If no candidate submits petitions as a candidate for a legislative office from a recognized political party, the central committee members of the political party of the county or counties of that legislative district may elect a candidate, and that candidate may be appointed by the state party chair by the second Tuesday of June.”

Moved by:    Hunhoff (Bernie)
Second by:    Sutton
Action:    Failed by roll call vote. (7-2-0-0).

Read it here. (I think the vote portion of the minutes as noted on-line are in error, btw,)

And here’s the discussion that took place:

What do you think? I tend to agree that having party bosses appoint candidates is a definite negative to the process. Or do you agree with Senator Hunhoff, that it’s tough to find good candidates, so parties need to be able to fill empty slots out of party offices in Sioux Falls en masse?

Senate Bill 69 amended to underline the fact that oaths matter.

Remember Annette Bosworth? (How can you forget!)    Her indictment and prosecution are based on the fact she is accused of violating her sworn statement that she circulated and witnessed several petition signatures.

boz31“I, under oath, state that I circulated the above petition, that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence, and that either the signer or I added the printed line, the residence address of the signer, the date of signing, and the county of voter registration.”

That sworn statement has Bosworth facing criminal charges.  Yet, there’s another portion of the petition that candidates also swear an oath to… and regularly violate with no consequence.

nomoreplaceholders“I, under oath, declare that I am eligible to seek the office for which I am a candidate, that I am registered to vote as a member of the _________ party, and that if I am a legislative or county candidate I reside in the district from which I am a candidate. If nominated and elected, I will qualify and serve in that office.

(Aside from the penalties in law ascribed to violating the oath at the bottom of the petition) Why should the oath at the bottom of the petition matter… but the one at the top is thrown out with regular abandon by South Dakota Democrats? Because as a regular and common practice, they have candidates present petitions for legislative office who have no intention of running and serving in the office for which their party nominates them.

The State Legislature took a huge step yesterday in fixing that.

State Senator Corey Brown introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 69 that strengthens the integrity of South Dakota elections by tightly constricting ability of candidates to withdraw, limiting withdrawals and eliminating the placeholder loophole. The Brown amendment sets forth:

Section 19. That chapter 12-6 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:

If a party candidate for public office withdraws after filing petitions with the secretary of state, the appropriate party central committee may make a replacement nominee only if:

(1) The party candidate:

(a) Withdraws because of personal illness or illness of an immediate family member that was diagnosed after the petition filing and the illness prevents the candidate from performing the duties of the office sought; and

(b) Files with the withdrawal request a certificate describing the illness and signed by at least two licensed physicians;

(2) There is no other nominee for the office sought by the withdrawing candidate as of the time of the withdrawal;

(3) The party candidate has been elected or appointed to fill a vacancy in another elective office which duties conflict by law with the duties of the office sought, has become the nominee for another elective office, or is deceased; or

(4) The party candidate permanently moves from his or her physical address stated in the nominating petition filed with the secretary of state, and swears and certifies under oath before the secretary of state that the candidate has not resided in the district for a period of thirty consecutive calendar days and has no intention of resuming residency in the district.”

The Brown amendment tightly constricts the reasons for candidate withdrawal to circumstances which arise after the submission of the petition to the Secretary of State, eliminating ‘ghost candidates’ or ‘placeholders’ who are placed into the race for the sole purpose of being replaced later.

There’s more that went into the bill, and I may bring those up shortly, but this was a loophole worth closing.   Senate Bill 69 amended to underline the fact that oaths matter? This should be one measure we all move “Do pass.”

NRA-Backed measures to streamline background checks, and allow permitless carry introduced in in South Dakota Legislature

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is getting fully behind two measures introduced by State Representative Jim Stalzer to both streamline the concealed weapon permitting process, as well as to create a permitless carrying option for South Dakota residents. The permitless option would keep the current system of concealed weapon permits in place for those who seek reciprocity to carry a concealed weapon across state lines.

First, House Bill 1096:

Yesterday, House Bill 1096, authored by state Representative Jim Stalzer (R-11), was introduced in the South Dakota House of Representatives.  HB 1096 revises the procedure for issuing a permit to carry a concealed pistol.  These changes, if enacted into law, will allow the state to apply for NICS exemption certification from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).  If certified by the BATFE, this exemption would allow the initial background check done for a South Dakota concealed pistol permit to serve as a background check for all future purchases, eliminating the duplicative process.

Read more on it here via the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.   Also, and more importantly, House Bill 1116 which would allow South Dakota residents to carry a concealed weapon without a permit, unless they sought reciprocity with other permitting states:

HB 1116 is a necessary update to concealed carry statutes in South Dakota, allowing law-abiding gun owners the ability to protect themselves and their loved ones.  In South Dakota, it is already legal to carry a firearm openly, as long as the individual is not prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.  However, under current law, if a firearm becomes covered by a coat or if a woman prefers to carry a firearm for self-protection in her purse, one would need to possess a concealed pistol permit.

This permitless carry legislation gives South Dakotans the freedom to choose the best method of carrying for them, based on their attire, gender and/or physical attributes.  However, this legislation would also keep in place the current permitting system so that people who obtain a permit could still enjoy the reciprocity agreements that South Dakota has with other states.

Read that here.

The first measure has 19 co sponsors, and the permitless carry option presented in 1116 has 28.

A prior measure to allow permitless, or constitutional carry, found itself at the wrong end of a Gubernatorial veto from Governor Daugaard in 2012.

What do you think? Is it time to consider permitless carry in South Dakota?

Two members of State House of Representatives get into public facebook spat

Two Republican members of the State House of Representatives today took a disagreement over the killing of one member’s bill public via facebook today, with accusations being leveled regarding “secret meetings” and the other being called “a petulant child” and “grandstanding.”

But, read for yourself:


Can’t we just all get along? Hug it out guys.

There seems to be a lot of Democrats who want the votes of dead people to count.

Senate Bill 111
Sponsors: Senators Parsley, Buhl O’Donnell, Haverly, Hunhoff (Bernie), Olson, Omdahl, and Sutton and Representatives Wollmann, Bartling, Bolin, Feickert, Gibson, Johns, McCleerey, Otten (Herman), Rasmussen, Ring, Romkema, Schoenfish, and Schrempp

Purpose: repeal the provision that invalidates absentee ballots cast by voters who died before the date of the election.

I notice there’s a disproportionate number of Democrats who who want the votes of dead people to count in elections.

There ought to be a law? Not in this case. The “I-don’t-want-to-put-my-coat-on” act.

Every year, there are bills introduced that leave you asking “really?”  This would be an example:


Introduced by: Senators Olson, Bradford, Brown, Buhl O’Donnell, Cammack, Curd, Ewing, Frerichs, Greenfield (Brock), Haggar (Jenna), Haverly, Heineman (Phyllis), Heinert, Holien, Hunhoff (Bernie), Jensen (Phil), Lederman, Monroe, Novstrup (David), Otten (Ernie), Parsley, Peters, Peterson (Jim), Rampelberg, Rave, Soholt, Solano, Sutton, Tidemann, Vehle, and White and Representatives Gosch, Anderson, Beal, Bolin, Bordeaux, Brunner, Campbell, Craig, Deutsch, Feickert, Gibson, Greenfield (Lana), Haggar (Don), Harrison, Haugaard, Heinemann (Leslie), Hickey, Hunhoff (Jean), Hunt, Johns, Kaiser, Klumb, Latterell, Marty, May, McCleerey, Mickelson, Otten (Herman), Partridge, Peterson (Kent), Rasmussen, Ring, Romkema, Rounds, Rozum, Russell, Schaefer, Schoenfish, Sly, Stalzer, Stevens, Tulson, Verchio, Westra, Wiik, Wink, and Wollmann

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to provide Legislators access to the state capitol complex tunnel system.
Section 1. That chapter 2-4 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:

Each member of the Legislature has access to all public buildings through the capitol complex tunnel system during regular business hours throughout the regular legislative session. The Bureau of Administration shall provide to the Legislative Research Council a tunnel access card for each Legislator for distribution no later than the first day of each regular Legislative session. The Bureau of Administration may charge the Legislative Research Council the usual and customary charge for the tunnel access cards. The Legislative Research Council shall pay any charges for the tunnel access cards from funds appropriated to the Legislature.

31 Senators and 47 Representative sponsoring a measure that the state issue all legislators keycards to the tunnel system that runs from the State Capitol to two or three buildings immediately adjacent to the Capitol, with said tunnels originally constructed for heat pipes. (They have similar steam pipe tunnels at SDSU, which are far more extensive, and cool as they spider across campus.)

But I’m still forced to ask – Really?  Having worked in the State Capitol Complex for a good number of years, I can personally attest to the fact that between going down the stairs, and up the stairs, all you’re really saving is the effort to put on a coat to go across the street…. For a trip that probably takes you less time.

And the last I knew, South Dakota fresh air never hurt anyone.

Where does common core fit into the puzzle brought by House Bill 1101? And could evolution be shown the door?

House Bill 1101 was introduced this week explicitly noting that the State Board of Education has no ability to require the use of a specifically designated curriculum.  And from a reading of the language, I have to wonder where people’s concerns over the common core curriculum fits into the puzzle, based on this legislation:


Introduced by: Representatives Sly and Partridge and Senators Rampelberg and Tieszen

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to ensure local control over curriculum and methods of instruction.

Section 1. That § 13-1-12.1 be amended to read as follows:
13-1-12.1. The South Dakota Board of Education shall promulgate rules pursuant to chapter 1-26 to establish standards for the classification and accreditation of schools within this state, to establish standards for preparation of certified personnel, to set forth procedures for determining the eligibility of school districts to receive state foundation aid effective January 1, 1997, to adopt policies and rules necessary to establish standards and procedures for career and technical education and to establish curriculum requirements for a recommended high school program for all public and nonpublic schools within the state. The recommended high school program shall include a rigorous high school curriculum in both academic and career and technical courses. The requirements of the recommended program shall be aligned to the academic content standards developed pursuant to § 13-3-48 and shall, at a minimum, include the content standards tested pursuant to § 13-3-55.

    Nothing in this section authorizes the board to require the use of specifically designated curriculum or methods of instruction.

Follow the legislation here.

The addition to the law is the underlined section, noting “Nothing in this section authorizes the board to require the use of specifically designated curriculum or methods of instruction.”  But does it prevent it, if the school chooses to implement it?

And I have to speculate… if the State Board of Ed is unable to require the use of specifically designated curriculum, or methods of instruction, to what degree would school boards then have the ability to locally determine what is taught?

Could a local school board choose do adopt a science curriculum of creationism supplanting the teaching of evolution in the science classroom?

Congrats to Mrs. War College regarding Senate Commemoration 3

My long suffering wife, (greeted by some as Mrs War College) is the recipient of a nice honor from the South Dakota State Legislature for her work in Special Education as part of a group of State School Administrators recognized by their peer organization:

 A LEGISLATIVE COMMEMORATION, Commending and honoring the 2013-2014 Outstanding School Administrators of South Dakota, including Tim Mitchell, Rapid City, School Superintendent; Anita Stugelmeyer, Lemmon, School Business Official; John Decker, Watertown, Elementary School Principal; Brad Seamer, McCook Central, Secondary School Principal; Peggy Diekhoff, Todd County, Assistant Secondary School Principal; Kym Johnston, Lennox, Curriculum Director; Michelle Powers, Brookings, Director of Special Education; and Rhonda Gross, Arlington, Middle School Principal, for being named outstanding administrators by their respective administrator parent groups.

Read it all here.