House Bill 1107: Freedom of religion bill filed in legislature.

The long anticipated, and at least the first, freedom of religion measure has now been filed in the State Legislature, in this, the first legislative session coming after the Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage:

HOUSE BILL NO. 1107

Introduced by: Representatives Craig, Bolin, Brunner, Deutsch, DiSanto, Gosch, Greenfield (Lana), Heinemann (Leslie), Hunt, Klumb, Latterell, Marty, Mickelson, Novstrup (Al), Otten (Herman), Partridge, Peterson (Kent), Qualm, Rasmussen, Stalzer, Verchio, Wiik, Willadsen, and Wollmann and Senators Greenfield (Brock), Curd, Ewing, Fiegen, Haggar (Jenna), Heineman (Phyllis), Holien, Jensen (Phil), Monroe, Novstrup (David), Olson, Omdahl, Otten (Ernie), Rampelberg, Shorma, and Van Gerpen

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to ensure government nondiscrimination in matters of religious beliefs and moral convictions.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

Terms used in this Act mean:
(1) “Person,” any individual, corporation, company sole proprietorship, partnership, society, club, organization, or association, except the term does not include medical providers, hospitals, clinics, hospices, nursing homes, or residential custodial facilities with respect to visitation, recognition of a designated representative for health care decision making, or refusal to provide life-saving and emergency medical treatment necessary to cure an illness or injury;
(2) “State,” any department, commission, board, agency, or agent of the state; any
political subdivision of the state or any department, commission, board, agency, or agent of a political subdivision of the state; or any individual or entity acting under color of state law;
(3) “State benefit program,” any program administered or funded by the state, or by an agent on behalf of the state that provides cash, vouchers, payments, grants, contracts, loans, or similar assistance to a person.

Section 2. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the state may not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially, on the basis that the person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that:
(1) Marriage is or should only be recognized as the union of one man and one woman;
(2) Sexual relations are properly reserved to marriage; or
(3) The terms male or man and female or woman refer to distinct and immutable biological sexes that are determined by anatomy and genetics by the time of birth.

Section 3. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
For purposes of this Act, a discriminatory action is any action the state takes that:
(1) Alters the tax treatment; assesses any tax, penalty, or payment against; or denies, delays, revokes, or otherwise makes unavailable an exemption from taxation to a person;
(2) Applies a fine, penalty, or payment against a person;
(3) Disallows, denies, or otherwise makes unavailable a state tax deduction for any charitable contribution made by or to a person;
(4) Withholds, reduces, excludes, terminates, denies, materially alters the terms or conditions of, or otherwise makes unavailable any state grant, contract, subcontract,
cooperative agreement, guarantee, loan, scholarship, diploma, grade, recognition, license, certification, accreditation, employment, or other similar benefit, position, or status from or to a person;
(5) Withholds, reduces, excludes, terminates, denies, or otherwise makes unavailable any entitlement or benefit of a state benefit program, including admission to, equal treatment in, or eligibility for a degree from an educational program from or to a person;
(6) Withholds, reduces, excludes, terminates, denies, or otherwise makes unavailable access or an entitlement to state property, a facility, an educational institution, a speech forum, or a charitable fund-raising campaign from or to a person; or
(7) Investigates or initiates an investigation, claim, or administrative proceeding against a person if that person would not otherwise be subject to the investigation.

Section 4. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
The state shall recognize the accreditation, license, or certification of any person that would be accredited, licensed, or certified under state law but for a determination against the person wholly or partially on the basis that the person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction described in section 2 of this Act.

Section 5. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
A person may assert a violation of this Act as an action or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding and may obtain compensatory damages, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, or any other appropriate relief. Standing to assert an action or defense pursuant to this section is governed by the general rules of standing in this state.

Section 6. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a person may commence an action and the court may grant relief, pursuant to section 5 of this Act, without regard as to whether the person commencing the action has sought or exhausted available administrative remedies.

Section 7. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
In any action or proceeding to enforce the provisions of this Act, a prevailing party who establishes a violation of this Act may recover reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

Section 8. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
Nothing in this Act may be construed to prevent the state from providing either directly or through a person not seeking protection under this Act, any benefit or service authorized under state law.

Section 9. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:
The protection of free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions afforded by this Act are in addition to the protections provided under federal law, state law, and the state and federal constitutions. Nothing in this Act may be construed to preempt or repeal any state or local law that is equally or more protective of free exercise of religious beliefs or moral convictions. Nothing in this Act may be construed to narrow the meaning or application of any state or local law protecting free exercise of religious beliefs or moral convictions.

I have a note out to the prime Sponsor, State Representative Scott Craig, regarding his reasoning/talking points for the introduction of the bill, and I’ll post those as soon as they’re available. In the meantime, what do you think?

SB 94 An Act to repeal the death penalty.

Senate Bill 94

Sponsors: Senators Rusch, Bradford, Buhl O’Donnell, Frerichs, Heinert, Hunhoff (Bernie), Parsley, Peterson (Jim), and Sutton and Representatives Johns, Bartling, Bordeaux, Conzet, Deutsch, Feickert, Heinemann (Leslie), Holmes, Killer, Kirschman, Ring, Schoenbeck, Schoenfish, Soli, and Steinhauer

Purpose: repeal the death penalty.

Well, there’s what could be one of the controversial bills this session.

I see friends and people I support on the sponsor list, and I’m sure there’s a ton of those on the other side who are going to fight it.  Where am I on the measure? I don’t know that those who propose repealing it have made a convincing case why it’s application in South Dakota is unjust. At least, not sufficiently to convince others that it is time to repeal it.

Art Rusch, having presided over a Death Penalty case as judge certainly can speak with authority to it. But, in South Dakota, our application of it is used so sparingly, and so rarely, I’m not sure how the proponents of the measure can say that we do it in any way wrong in South Dakota.  We’re not like Florida or Texas.  We’ve had 3 executions since 1976, and I believe there’s 3 on death row at the moment. I don’t think we underthink these very weighty sentences.

I believe that the death penalty should be applied sparingly, and only for the most heinous crimes. And I think we currently meet that test.

This isn’t one of those issues where I think the sponsors are a pack of wild eyed liberals. (At least most of them). There are some very moral people who object to it. But as I said, I’m not sure the time has arrived when they can win this one.

Where are you on the bill to repeal the Dealth penalty in the state?  Yea or nay?

Is HB 1076 sponsor backing away from giving govt agency expansive authority for blanket drug testing?

I can’t imagine it’s much fun to be Representative Lynne Hix-DiSanto lately. Because if you take a look at this morning’s Rapid City Journal, and her public facebook page, to say she’s taking a beating on the controversial House Bill 1076 is an understatement.

Aside from my own guest column in opposition to the big-government measure, another columnist took aim directly at the Representative, noting…

“..Lynne DiSanto is a liberal. She supports giving a hand to those in need, like ranchers and agriculture interests and single mothers who can’t make ends meet. She also wants big government to step up in the most intrusive ways imaginable and do virtual cavity searches of anyone who needs something to eat in her bill to require drug testing of welfare recipients.

She told them drugs and alcohol are not healthy. Now she wants us to have big government test their pee before they get a hamburger. It’s liberalism gone wild. Some places call these kind of people Democrats. It’s classical social liberalism at its finest, whatever else it might be.”

Read that here.

And as much opposition to the bill as there was in the newspaper this morning, that pales into comparison to the reaction she’s getting on her public facebook page, where she’s proclaiming:

I have a group which is waging an online campaign against me, due to my drug testing welfare recipient’s bill. They are mostly women, and advocate for women’s issues and for the plight of minority groups.

Read that here.  And, there, you can read a litany of on-line responses.

However, one thing caught my attention in particular in the exchanges she’s having. If you recall her comments on the measure originally, referring to why she introduced the bill, she noted it as a very personal thing..

I was a 20-year-old, single mom when my first son was born. I received welfare including food stamps, WIC and child care assistance. I worked full time and attended night classes during this time. I have all the respect for people who are utilizing these government safeguards to better themselves and become independent and self-supporting. However, if you can afford drugs you can afford food. The taxpayers do not need to subsidize your drug habit.

Read that here.  Just a few days ago, she was declaring that she was in that position herself, and that “taxpayers do not need to subsidize your drug habit.”  That seemed to be a pretty strong affirmation of ownership on this bill.

But fast forward to this comment left late last night:

DiSanto_backing_away

After affirming her ownership of the bill, now she’s telling the world…

When I agree to carry a bill it is my responsibility to present it and carry it through the process. It’s like being a lawyer and taking on a client. You do your best for them. You have to understand that it’s part of my job…..  If you would’ve attended the cracker barrel event at the school of mines you would’ve heard me speak to the bill and address most of the concerns people have last Sat. I am aware of what they are, and all of them have been brought up and discussed by me to the legislature. It is a process, the bill may die over those issues.

Departing from previously declaring “if you can afford drugs you can afford food. The taxpayers do not need to subsidize your drug habit,”  she’s now couching her advocacy for it by saying “when I agree to carry a bill it is my responsibility to present it and carry it through the process. It’s like being a lawyer and taking on a client.”

What? Is it just me, or is by declaring she’s “like a lawyer” in this matter constitute her abandoning her ownership of HB 1076 faster than passengers on the Titanic decided a smaller boat would do just fine?

As I’ve noted, there are ways to make sure actual drug users don’t abuse the system without resorting to the nanny state. Pass a measure to cut off benefits upon conviction of a drug crime. Others do it, and manage not to run roughshod over our rights, and expanding the nanny state.

But as far as what the legislature has in front of it right now in the form of HB 1076? I’d want to get away from this big government measure too.

Best darned bill this session. SB 90

Today marked the most worthwhile piece of legislation introduced to date this session:

SENATE BILL NO. 90
Introduced by: Senators Holien, Brown, Greenfield (Brock), Rampelberg, Tieszen, and VanGerpen and Representatives Tulson, Bolin, Brunner, Hawley, Holmes, Johns, Kirschman, Marty, Mickelson, Russell, Solum, and Wiik

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to ensure that members of the public are able to access and record public meetings.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

Section 1. That chapter 1-25 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

No state, political subdivision, or public body may prevent a person from recording, through audio or video technology, a public meeting that is open to the public as long as the recording is reasonable and not disruptive.

Follow the bill here.

Sioux Falls Development Foundation wants city to impose Tax, because the airport isn’t doing it fast enough?

Is anyone else catching the story on how the Sioux Falls Development Foundation wants the city to impose a massive rental vehicle tax of $3 per vehicle for their own preferred projects?

Pitched by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation (SFDF), the tax would generate an estimated $1 million each year to aid economic development and pay for infrastructure improvements ahead of new businesses moving to town. Backers of the new tax say rental car taxes are commonplace throughout the country, and an analysis of 23 regional cities indicate all but three have a similar tax.

and…

Dan Letellier, executive director at the Sioux Falls Regional Airport, said the airport has deliberately put off imposing its own rental car charges until future needs like improving existing airport facilities such as parking and the rental car kiosk area becomes more immediate. If and when that happens, It will be a tougher pill to swallow if a $3 daily charge to all car rentals is already in place, he said.

and…

The majority of local car rentals occur out of the rental car kiosks at the airport, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport Authority. Because the Sioux Falls Regional Airport Authority operates as an independent governing body, Letellier also questioned whether the city and its voters could legally force those businesses to collect the $3 daily charge.

“We’re concerned about the legality of one municipality – the city of Sioux Falls – being able to impose a tax on revenue generated from another government agency, which is the airport authority,” he said.

Read it here.

Why is this group trying to accelerate the imposition of a fee that the Airport authority has the authority to collect? Well, as noted, it’s because they want the money for their own purposes, as opposed to the airport authority spending it on their own improvements.

I suspect if on the off chance, this new tax is passed by the Sioux Falls City Council – which it shouldn’t be – it will be crushed by the voters, and with good reason.

Citizens are not demanding the improvements. The airport isn’t demanding these improvements. I don’t even hear that the city is demanding it. It’s a private group who is pitching this, and wanting to do it largely on the back of the Sioux Falls Regional Airport Authority.

So, why has it even made it this far?

Maybe I’m wrong, but I really doubt the Sioux Falls voters are clamoring for a “Sioux Falls Development slush fund,” especially when as much as half of the fund will be collected locally from individual Sioux Falls residents and businesses.

If there are projects that need to be funded, it’s best to look within first. And only after that, determine if a project is worthy of taking more from people’s wallets to pay for. The thing is, if you’re looking at projects on an individual basis, and judge them on their need, their expense, taxpayer reaction, and what will happen if they pass, I suspect there are many projects which would likely not pass that test.

If you have a slush fund with millions in it to be thrown around with a reduced voter oversight? Well, then people tend to be far less frugal with other people’s money.

Economic Development isn’t a bad thing. Not at all. In the late 1980’s the State of South Dakota temporarily taxed itself for a loan fund, which it has leveraged for thousands of jobs. Loans are given out, and loans are repaid. But this? Taxing someone else for vague “project fund?” It doesn’t pass the smell test. The premise of a tax slush fund for vague concepts doesn’t show that there’s any care or respect for the taxpayer.

And that’s who any backers of it might be forced to answer to at the ballot box.

I have a guest column in the Rapid City Journal this AM on HB1076

Just on the Internet and in today’s paper this AM, I have a guest column in the a Rapid a City Journal this morning on why House Bill 1076 violates conservative principles, as well as American principles:

HB 1076 presumes applicants for such benefits are guilty, until bodily fluids are provided to prove innocence — and tested at the applicants’ own expense. That stands against one of the most basic principles of criminal justice, the presumption of innocence, which has been recognized for nearly 1,500 years.

As a proponent of limited government this measure troubles me greatly as a dangerous overreach of the authority of the state. Adding more bureaucracy for the purposes of government drug testing citizens of the state en masse and establishing the precedent that it is an acceptable thing to do so, is not a good thing for democracy.

With HB 1076, the state will be testing a significant portion of the nearly 7,000 TANF recipients and roughly 100,000 South Dakota residents who receive SNAP benefits. Ignoring the obvious concerns of expense, mass-testing tens of thousands of South Dakotans to prove them innocent also has a lot of other problems, particularly with the U.S. Constitution.

Read it all here.

Release: Marsy’s Law Campaign Announces Hiring of Two New Staff Positions and New Website

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Marsy’s Law is First Ballot Question to Officially Make Ballot
Campaign Announces Hiring of Two New Staff Positions and New Website

Marsy’s Law for South Dakota, an organization composed of citizens and victim rights advocates, announced today that it is the first ballot question to pass the challenge period with no challenges. As a result, it is the first initiated ballot question to officially make the ballot for the General Election on November 8, 2016. The Secretary of State has classified the ballot question as “Constitutional Amendment S.”

Last November, Marsy’s Law for South Dakota filed nearly 53,000 signatures with the Secretary of State, well in excess of the 27,741 required by South Dakota law for an initiated constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot.

“This is another great day for crime victims in South Dakota,” said Jason Glodt, former prosecutor and State Director for Marsy’s Law for South Dakota, “South Dakota has some of the weakest crime victim rights in the nation and we are now one step closer to giving victims equal rights that would actually be enforceable by a court of law.”

“We are also ramping up our grassroots campaign effort,” said Glodt. “We are excited to announce that Tami Haug-Davis and Jordan Callaghan have joined our team and will be helping to make our grassroots organization even stronger.”

“Tami and Jordan have decades of experience fighting for crime victims and they will be a strong asset to our team,” said Glodt.

Tami Haug-Davis will be the Outreach Director for Marsy’s Law for South Dakota. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor from Sioux Falls who has over 25 years of experience working in child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Tami has experience in child protection and 24 hour crisis intervention for domestic violence and sexual assault victims. Tami has taught workshops and seminars in family violence and she has done treatment work with batterers and offenders.

Jordan Callaghan from Vermillion will be a Field Director for Marsy’s Law for South Dakota. Jordan graduated from the University of South Dakota with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Psychology, and is currently obtaining her Masters of Social Work from the University of South Dakota. She has extensive experience advocating for marginalized and vulnerable populations in South Dakota.

Marsy’s Law for South Dakota also has a new website located at www.marsyslaw.us with a state-specific page link at http://marsyslaw.us/marsys-law-state-efforts/south-dakota/ . The website is a comprehensive source for information about Marsy’s Law and includes regular updates from states where Marsy’s Law campaigns are currently underway.

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