AG: Federal Court Rules SD Constitution and Statutory Provisions on Same-Sex Marriage to be in Violation of the US Constitution but Stays Order

Federal Court Rules SD Constitution and Statutory Provisions on Same-Sex Marriage to be in Violation of the US Constitution but Stays Order

Marty JackleyPIERRE, S.D – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that South Dakota District Court has granted the plaintiffs and denied the State’s motion for summary judgment in the South Dakota case of Rosenbrahn v. Daugaard.

“It remains the State’s position that the institution of marriage should be defined by the voters of South Dakota and not the federal courts. Because this case presents substantial legal questions and substantial public interest the Federal Court has stayed its judgment allowing South Dakota law to remain in effect pending the appeal,” said Attorney General Jackley.

The Federal Court ruled that a same sex couple has a fundamental right to marry. Therefore, South Dakota law deprives the plaintiffs of that right without sufficient justification in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Federal Court ruled that because the case presents substantial legal questions, and because of the substantial public interest in uniformity and stability of the law, the Court stays its judgment pending appeal. In addition, the effects of this judgment are stayed until the judgment is final.

The Dakota Territory law that marriage was authorized only between a male and a female was reaffirmed in November 2006 when a Constitutional Amendment was approved by South Dakota voters.


Free! Free! Free from the Federal Government. Of course we all like free stuff. But when do we say no?

From Rasmussen Reports:

Voters tend to like President Obama’s idea of free community college for millions of students – as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% of Likely U.S. Voters favor a new government program that would make community college tuition-free. Thirty-nine percent (39%) are opposed. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Read it here.

From Constant Commoner:

When people in that “gap” group need healthcare, it’s usually received at local ERs and paid for by a combination of taxpayer dollars and insurance premiums adjusted to fit the cost of that care.  What Medicaid expansion will do is shift most of the cost of that care to the federal government.


Let’s expand Medicaid 

Read it here.

Free College. Free Health coverage. Free, Free, Free from the federal government!  It kind of sounds like Matthew Lesko on television telling people to buy his book because of all the free stuff we can get.  But of course, it isn’t free. We either pay from one pocket, or it gets squeezed out of another. The more government does for us, the more it’s going to cost us.

And the more the federal government does, the fewer decisions South Dakota Legislators can make.

Earlier this year, Northern Plains News service noted in a story how South Dakota is one of the most dependent states on federal funds. And that makes sense, given the national need for highways, our expansive geography, as well as hosting several federal Indian Reservations.  But with those funds come those strings.  And as we’ve experienced with Obamacare, it requires states to do a lot, and it dictates those things with great detail.

Back in 2008, The Heritage Foundation wrote a report about Federal Funds and State Fiscal Independence. In other words, what we have to give up for what we get:

Federal aid to states is not a new phenomenon. In 1929, federal aid to states accounted for 2 per­cent of state consumption expenditures. It spiked in the early 1930s, increasing to 12 percent, where it remained until the early 1960s.[4]

As Chart 1 shows, the state dependency rate has risen significantly over the past half-century, espe­cially since the introduction of Medicaid in 1965. The only period with a distinct decline is the Reagan years, when it fell from a peak of 33 percent during the Carter Administration to 25 percent by the end of the 1980s.

Chart 2 shows Medicaid spending as a percent­age of total state expenditures since 1970, further underscoring Medicaid’s role in driving the rise in state spending over the past decades.


Moreover, as states become more dependent on federal funding, they begin to lose their ability to set priorities and make policy decisions that are best-suited to their specific needs. Federal aid to states streamlines how states spend money and, consequently, how they collect their revenues. Fed­eral aid also makes it increasingly difficult for the states to pursue different fiscal policies based on the demographic, political, and other preferences of their residents.

On top of this, the spending on state–federal joint ventures blurs the lines of accountability between federal and state lawmakers. Voters find it increasingly difficult to determine whom to hold responsible.


Federal funds weaken incentives to restrain health care consumption. The public sees these services as “free,” which leads to an open-ended demand through programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP.

Federal aid to states also distorts incentives for state legislators. They are given a reason to expand their spending—usually unwisely—to meet Wash­ington’s priorities and to maximize federal aid. Together with blurred accountability and the dis­torted consumer incentives, this perpetuates and aggravates state and individual dependence on fed­eral funds.

Read that here.

From 2% to Federal Funding infusing nearly 45% into South Dakota’s budget in less than a century. People are calling for more and more. But at what cost?

There was a tremendous debate over South Dakota’s implementation of Obamacare, which we rejected as much as we could. The latest debate is over whether we should expand Medicaid, which we’ve resisted to date. The next one coming will likely be implementation for Obama’s college entitlement plan.

Where should the point be where we say “no?”

Tens of millions for poverty alleviation missing from tribe. How should that affect what the state spends?

From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, it sounds as if a lot of money is inexplicably missing from the Lower Brule Tribe, which is generally viewed as one of the more stable reservations in SD, some of which is for poverty alleviation:

Between 2007 and 2013, an estimated $25 million that was intended for essential services, economic development and the alleviation of poverty was unaccounted. Millions of dollars meant for specific programs were instead diverted to the tribe’s general fund and spent on “unexplained expenditures.” At the same time, the education quality in the tribe’s schools collapsed.

Taxpayers, meanwhile, are on the hook for an additional $22.5 million in the form of a loan guarantee that the Bureau of Indian Affairs extended to a tribal company. Money from the loan guarantee, which was sold to an insurance company, was used for a tribal-owned Wall Street brokerage firm that went bankrupt amid mismanagement and fraud, according to the report.

Read it here.

How does it, or how should it, affect efforts by state government to bolster economic development, and alleviate the symptoms of poverty in the area?  Should any federal expenditures be considered in determining what the state could or should be doing?

Are you ready for the campaigns to begin this year? And no, they shouldn’t get rid of registered mail remittance.

Senate Bill 69 has been introduced by the Senate Committee on State Affairs “to revise certain provisions regarding elections and election provisions.”

One of the biggest effects this bill will have if passed is that it will move the campaign season for everyone back to Late November/Early December of 2015. That’s 2015 as this year, as it pushes the petitioning start date into the year preceding the election year.  The proposed language states in part:

Section 5. That § 12-6-8 be amended to read as follows:
12-6-8. No person may sign the nominating petition of a candidate before January first in the year in which the election is to be held December first of the year preceding the election, nor for whom the person is not entitled to vote, nor for a political candidate of a party of which the person is not a member, nor of more than the number of candidates required to be nominated for the same office.

And the petitions have to be returned to the Secretary of State the last Tuesday in February (which would be 2/23/2016).

In actuality, it’s only a shift backwards of about thirty days. But psychologically, it’s a bit more striking.

It means that candidates are going to have to decide to run this year, before they prepare themselves to head back to Pierre for the legislative session.  It means that political parties are going to be recruiting candidates for office in the run up to, and through the 2015 Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season.

It means that statewide candidates are going to miss out on collecting many signatures during the traditional late winter/early spring political dinner season, when many of them got it done. Because the first Lincoln Day Dinner will now come late in the process.

In other words, candidates are going to have to be on the ball in getting things done.

This has been a move long in coming, given the tremendously tight deadlines largely driven by federal requirements of when to have ballots completed in time for military voting. According to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) act, the MOVE Act requires States to send absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters at least 45 days before Federal elections.

So, those ballots have to be set in stone 45 days out under federal law.

Current law didn’t really allow for any significant time for challenges or fighting over ballot qualification. Those ballots were literally required to go to the printer within a couple of weeks of being filed. The proposed changes in law would give significantly more time to allow for challenges, but the cost is pushing the active campaign 2016 season back into 2015.

Other portions of Senate Bill 69 are more debatable, such as removing the registered mail remittance and requiring that petitions be submitted in person. I’d noted earlier that removing that section in law discriminates against people in the state based on geography, and how efficient (or random) the mail is coming in from rural areas. Registered mail has a clear, and documented chain of custody. First class mail? Not so much.

I’ve been kicking around South Dakota elections since 1988. And I will tell you that the removal of the registered mail portion of the proposal needs to be absolutely stricken, because if they don’t, there will be a lawsuit.

A registered and documented manner of remittance to the Secretary of State is an absolute necessity in a state as geographically diverse (and big) as ours. Inevitably, someone is going to mail petitions in, and they’re going to get caught up in the mail, and delayed to the point where they’re not on the ballot. Why would we get rid of a requirement of a clear and documented chain of custody?

Even some pieces of registered mail were a little pokey in the last few cycles. And given cutbacks and consolidations in the US Post Office, getting rid of it is kind of a slap to the rural communities that dot our countryside. Not to mention foolhardy.

What are your thoughts?

GOAC proposing addition to state conflict law adding 1 year ban to interest in state contracts.

The Government Operations and Audit Committee has introduced House Bill 1023 to address the EB-5 controversy in part that was brought up again and again during the last election cycle to prevent state employees from signing state contracts and then going to work for the people they’ve been signed with.

In part…:

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to prohibit a state officer or employee from having an interest in any contract that the state employee or officer approved, awarded, or administered for one calendar year following termination of state employment.

Section 1. That § 5-18A-17 be amended to read as follows:

5-18A-17. No state officer or employee who approves, awards, or administers a contract involving the expenditure of public funds or the sale or lease of property, may have an interest in a contract that is within the scope of the officer’s or employee’s official duties. This prohibition includes any state officer or employee who, in his or her official capacity, recommends the approval or award of the contract or who supervises a person who approves, awards, or administers the contract. This prohibition is in effect for one calendar year after the state officer or employee terminates his or her office or employment with the state.

Follow the bill here. The underlined part is the addition to the law.

The only problem with the measure?  None logistically, but it could face amending because it’s a measured, reasonable, and sane response. A sane response to a ridiculously overblown issue that dominated the political scene for the last year.

Anyone care to speculate on how much showboating and grandstanding we’ll see on the issue?

Press Release: Thune Welcomes Rounds to South Dakota Delegation

Thune Welcomes Rounds to South Dakota Delegation

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) welcomed U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to the South Dakota delegation following Rounds’s swearing in ceremony earlier today:

“Mike is a solid, proven leader who will bring South Dakota common sense to the Senate and is a welcome addition to the South Dakota delegation. As the new Senate Republican majority takes over, South Dakotans stand to benefit from Republican policies that create jobs and get Washington working again for them. From reining in burdensome EPA regulations and preventing backdoor energy taxes and fines on ranchers and farmers, to passing the Keystone XL pipeline and repealing the most onerous parts of ObamaCare, I’m committed to working with Senator Rounds and Representative Noem to advance South Dakota priorities. There is a lot to tackle in this new Congress, and I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with them on the major issues facing this country.”



Proposed election changes coming this legislative session

Bob Mercer notes this morning what the specific changes being proposed for the 2015 Legislative session are, and how that could impact the way candidates do business:

Their proposal calls for checking the validity of a random sample of 5 percent of the signatures on a petition.

A would-be candidate found to have insufficient valid signatures after the spot check could appeal that adverse finding to circuit court.

Currently the secretary of state doesn’t have authority to check whether the signatures come from actual registered voters from the counties they show on the petitions.

Read it here.

The current laundry list of changes being proposed include…

  1. SOS checks the validity of a random sample of 5 percent of the signatures on a statewide candidate’s petition, but not for State Legislators.
  2. Eliminating “last day” registered mail requirement for petitions, and requiring all petitions be in the office by the deadline.
  3. Nomination petitions start circulating one month earlier, starting on Dec. 1.
  4. A new deadline of the second Tuesday in March to challenge petitions.

I don’t like the inconsistency in item #1, and I think #2 creates an unlevel playing field based on geography. It’s easy to get a petition in under the wire if you live in Pierre, but not so easy if you’re out in Harding county.   #3 and #4 – Yes. Full speed ahead.

Other items I’d like to see? In particular, I’d love to see a petitioning process instituted for people to run for the other constitutional offices (excepting Lt. Gov), such as SOS, AG, School & Lands, etc. I think that opens up the process to candidates who might not otherwise consider it. But that might be just me.

What do you think about the proposed changes to election law? And what would you like to see that we don’t currently have?

The Final Term. Who is in the Legislature’s 2016 graduating class?

In looking up where Craig Tieszen was in term limits for a prior post, it had me looking at the LRC roster for the Legislators who are term limited out, and are starting their final term in their chamber.  This two-year stretch is their last opportunity to make their mark among their colleagues, especially if their intent is to run for higher office at the legislative or higher level.

In a few cases, it also sets up showdowns we might already predict for the 2016 elections.

CLASS B, Elected in 2008, reelected in 2010 and 2012, eligible to run for the same seat in 2014, ineligible to run for the same seat in 2016.

Jim Bradford
Corey Brown
Craig Tieszen
Mike Vehle

Jim Bolin (to move up would have to challenge Dan Lederman)
Justin Cronin (With Brown termed out, he might move up)

Peggy Gibson (Could challenge Jim White in ’16)
Brian Gosch (to move up would have to challenge Alan Solano)

Kevin Killer (With Bradford termed out, could move up)
Patrick Kirschman (to move up would have to challenge Angie Buhl-O’Donnell)
Fred W. Romkema (to move up would have to challenge Bob Ewing)
Lance S. Russell (to move up would have to challenge Bruce Rampelberg)
Dean Schrempp (Could challenge Betty Olson in ’16)
Jacqueline Sly (to move up would have to challenge Phil Jensen)
Roger Solum (to move up would have to challenge Reid Holien)
Mike Verchio (to move up would have to challenge Bruce Rampelberg)
Dean Wink (to move up would have to challenge Gary Cammack)

So start watching them now – on a few, you could see fireworks!

West River Legislators detail legislative plans for 2015, including to help legislators make ends meet.

KOTA TV was interviewing legislators recently, and caught up with them on their legislative plans, which include fighting the pine beetle, education, and making sure legislators are paid enough to make ends meet.

Wait, what?:

Verchio plans to work $1.5 to $2 million dollars into the budget to continue fighting the mountain pine beetle fight.

He says it is important to focus on privately-owned land. “We’re the money would go to small private-property owner to help subsidize their fight,” said Verchio. “Beetles will just keep growing and growing if we don’t fight them on the private property, it doesn’t do any good to fight them in the surroundings properties because then they spread on out to private properties.”

Senator Craig Tieszen (R-District 34) says he will again be proposing an increase in salary pay for legislators.


Tieszen says people are asked to leave their normal jobs in January, February, and March and that makes it hard for some people to make ends meet financially. “I think it’s so low we exclude people from serving in the legislature and that has a detrimental effect,” said Tieszen.

Lastly, Representative Jacqueline Sly (R-District 33) says teacher pay and school funding are issues that will be talked about during this legislative session.

Read it here.

Seriously, I’m not trying to pick on Craig TIeszen, but this is twice in a week he’s in the news offering legislation that seems… well, seems destined to go down in flames. First it was going backwards on felon voting, and today it’s increasing legislative pay.

It’s not like the legislative pay issue hasn’t gone to the ballot before. It comes up about every 2-3 years, and someone who is term limited out makes the proposal. And then it goes down in flames, either in the legislature, or at the ballot box.  Noting that Tieszen is termed out after this session, we can put this attempt into that pattern.

I’ll be the first to agree that legislators are underpaid, and we need broad representation, and it’s one way to attract good people to run for office. But, it’s traditionally been a really, really tough sell to taxpayers. And in some cases, it’s been used against those voting for it in elections.

I’ll put it to you dear readers – What’s your opinion?