How did Your Legislators Vote? (Updated)

To answer this question most of us would have gone out the South Dakota Legislative Research Council (LRC) web site and done a quick search.

Let’s have a look at HB 1198, it could be any bill, however, this bill was heavily lobbied, and debated.

House Bill 1198

provide for the state and local enforcement of certain federal immigration laws, to criminalize the knowing transportation, concealment, or solicitation of illegal aliens, and to provide penalties therefor.

01/27/2011 First read in House and referred to House State Affairs H.J. 197
02/14/2011 Scheduled for hearing
02/14/2011 State Affairs Deferred to the 41st legislative day, Passed, YEAS 11, NAYS 2. H.J. 368

That would be great, if that is all of what really happened.

On February 16th a motion  was made to bring the bill to the full house for debate (rule 7?7, smoke-out) with a roll call vote.  There was enough support for the roll call vote; names were called,  votes were cast and recorded.  There was not enough support to bring the bill to the full house for consideration, thus the bill died.

The Smoke-out attempt and the voting record was supposed to posted to the on-line status, but there was an error and the voting results didn’t get posted.

This caught the attention of Representative Stace Nelson (Dist.-25)  Who promptly, according to his Facebook post, contacted James Fry, Director of the SDLRC and the correction was made.

On Feb 16th I notified Mr. Jim Fry, the Director of LRC of this omission.  On Feb 17th I received his response that it was a programming error and that they were reviewing the policy.  I was subsequently notified in person by Mr. Fry that the results were properly posted on the site as appropriate, he reiterated that it was a programming error, and that the details of this major action to the bill were officially posted.  I confirmed that the motion and results were properly annotated on the status page, at which time I forwarded the link to several constituents and concerned voter groups.

Okay, so where are the results of the full house smoke out vote?  Repersentive Nelson asked this same question and got this:

When LRC developed the policies surrounding the Bill Status Page and what it would display, the SOP was that nothing after final disposition would be added to the Status.  In the case of HB 1198, final disposition was its deferral to a nonexistent legislative day.  Apparently, a smoke-out was attempted but it failed.  Therefore, nothing changed in regard to the Bill?s final disposition.

In this, as in all other cases, nothing is being hidden because the Bill Status reflects the actual status of the Bill which is that it died in committee.

I would be alright with that for now,  if that is the current policy, then it is what it is, until the policy gets changed.

Except for these nagging little details:

Again from Representative Nelson Facebook post:

He(Mr. Fry) followed up his response on Feb 28th (see above) with verbal statements that the House record reflects the action to the bill and therefore they do not need to be reflected online.  He also immediately claimed that he did not change the record at the request of legislators who did not want their voting records known, even though no comments were made that would have elicited such a comment and his original assessment of posting the results on Feb 17th included staff consultation.

(my emphasis added)

Then Representative Nelson spoke to the Executive Board,  about the issue and somehow get the results of that vote posted on-line and that effort was picked up by the Rapid City Journel after that story went to press,  James Fry, the LRC Director  prohibited the LRC staff website programmer to provide Representative Nelson and another legislator requested information needed to advocate the change.

Now I smell a rat!

If this was case of simple confusion over the policy or SOP I would fine with that, there was a lot of new lawmakers on the floor this year, and there is bound to be some confusion.  However, it would appear some legislators did not want their vote known to the general public, or at least a bit more difficult to get at.

Every vote my legislative representatives makes, be it to smoke-out a bill, or where to go for lunch/dinner is my(our) business.  I should be able to find this vote, on-line without traveling to Pierre and interrogating LRC staff.

Updated July 8,2011 9:40 AM

From Bob Mercer’s comment:

In followup, I looked through the House journal for Feb. 16. The motion and vote aren?t there. Neither is a rat. The House journal for Feb. 15 shows the motion and the vote. The motion by Rep. Manny Steele failed, with 19 yes in support of his motion and 48 no against. Every name is there.

Here is the vote:

About a third of he way down the page.

Yeas 19, Nays 48, Excused 3, Absent 0

Bolin; Brunner; Gosch; Greenfield; Haggar; Hubbel; Hunt; Kopp; Liss; Magstadt; Munsterman; Nelson (Stace); Olson (Betty); Rozum; Russell; Sigdestad; Steele; Venner; Verchio

Abdallah; Blake; Boomgarden; Carson; Conzet; Cronin; Deelstra; Dennert; Dryden; Fargen; Feickert; Feinstein; Gibson; Hansen (Jon); Hawley; Hickey; Hoffman; Hunhoff (Bernie); Iron Cloud III; Jones; Juhnke; Killer; Kirschman; Kloucek; Lucas; Lust; Miller; Moser; Novstrup (David); Perry; Romkema; Schaefer; Schrempp; Sly; Solum; Street; Stricherz; Tornow; Tulson; Turbiville; Van Gerpen; Vanneman; White; Wick; Willadsen; Wink; Wismer; Speaker Rausch

Elliott; Jensen; Kirkeby

I’m good with all of that.

Where I run into problems is why did Mr. Fry make the statement to Representative Nelson about why the info was removed from the bill status page? Why deny Representative Nelson access to the web programmer? There well may be perfectly reasonable explanations for all of this. Mr. Fry may have been trying to head off any speculation or confrontation as to reasons for the change. The web programmer(s) may have been swamped with work (at the time) that they could not take time to answer questions from Legislators and Mr. Fry was trying to keep his employees focus on their work. If that is the case, then there is nothing here.

132 Replies to “How did Your Legislators Vote? (Updated)”

  1. Troy Jones

    I am all for disclosure but I understand where Fry is coming from. There is no rat. Why are we always so quick to accuse people of nefarious motives?

    1. Stace Nelson

      First off, thank you MC for shining some light on this. The Legislative Research Council is shared by all legislators and is supposed to be impartial, nonpartisan, confidential (purportedly), and treat each legislator equally. The full House of Representatives decided the fate of this bill in a recorded vote on the floor of the House, not the committee as reflected in the status page of the bill as you have . It could be chocked up to an error, an oversight, a wrongful interpretation of the Legislative Rules, if I had not brought the matter up, and if they had not reviewed the issue before then reflecting the vote properly on the status page. If removing the vote results from the status page was appropriate, logic has it that Dir. Fry would have notified me of the LRC’s CHANGE in their view on the matter and that they were removing the results from the status page. The excuse that I was given, that it was okay as the official record of the bill, the House log, shows the results, is inconsistent with South Dakota’s legislative rules :

      6I-1. Bill Status. The bill status, created by the computerized information system, is the official record of action to the bill. ”

      Under our legislative process, the committee is subservient to the will of the Legislature and provides a recommendation on a bill, not final disposition. It only becomes final disposition when the Legislature accepts that recommendation through action/inaction. In the case of HB-1198, the full House decided the fate of the bill and voters should have ready access to that information as a significant action on that bill.

      Myself, and another legislator, continue to be denied proprietary LRC information in our efforts to research the feasibility of changing the LRC website so that voters & news media could be provided a search tool in which they could obtain the total voting record of a legislator individually or alongside other legislators, vice only bill by bill as it is limited to now.

      Dir. Fry recently admitted that he withheld some of the requested information, for over a month, at the behest of another legislator who is opposed to the idea. The partial information he did provide is a claim that it would cost approximately $2,400.00 to have an LRC staff programmer input the website changes if approved. He has not explained, as requested by another legislator, how it would cost any money to have a staff programmer make changes if approved.

      In considering these issues, they come on the heels of unrelated additional costs being added to an LRC fiscal note that helped defeat reforms to SD’s statute on providing veterans tuition:

      The fiscal note was not entered into the bill, as required by Legislative Rules, it was placed on legislators’ desks though. My requests for information on who asked for the additional unrelated statute expenses to be considered & noted in the fiscal note, remain unanswered.

    2. Voter

      Because in this case for sure–information is being requested by the public about legislative votes–which is NOT being provided by a taxpayer paid employee. That Troy–makes it smell like a rat!

  2. Bob Mercer

    Was the motion and vote recorded in the House journal? That is the official record of legislative proceedings. The LRC web site has the journals.

    1. Stace Nelson

      Legislative Joint Rules

      6I-1. Bill Status. The bill status, created by the computerized information system, is the official record of action to the bill. ?

      Should not a full House vote, on major action to a bill, be something reflected on the status of the bill?

    2. ValleyGirl

      Bob, I agree with you. The information is there. The LRC’s obligation is done. This is likely that case, not so much a rat, but more a misunderstanding of how the average person searches for information on the LRC site. Yes, the seasoned information gatherer checks the House journals, but the average Joe the Plumber likely only checks bill history.

  3. Bob Mercer

    In followup, I looked through the House journal for Feb. 16. The motion and vote aren’t there. Neither is a rat. The House journal for Feb. 15 shows the motion and the vote. The motion by Rep. Manny Steele failed, with 19 yes in support of his motion and 48 no against. Every name is there.

  4. Anonymous

    Bob: Thank you for your efforts, but why is it not simply linked on the web-site for the bill? Unfortunately, there is an effort to keep the information from the public. I always thought Congress was the only institution to play these games!

    1. caheidelberger

      Whoops! I hit submit before refreshing to see Mr. Mercer’s information above (see the Feb. 15 House Journal online here). The votes are listed. The rat is dead. My apologies for my haste, and my compliments to Mr. Mercer’s studiousness. I nonetheless agree with anon and with Rep. Nelson that we need a much better vote database that would allow us to see and search all of our reps’ votes much more conveniently.

  5. Rep. Steve Hickey

    A few months ago Rep. Nelson and I went round and round on his Facebook page about making smoke out votes public. We never came to agreement. My view remains… it is 1) misleading to the public to record something procedural such as the smoke out and it is a 2) disservice to the legislator. Here’s why, on this immigration bill for example, I did not stand for the smoke out because I was unconvinced by those who said it did not get a fair hearing in the committee. We are expressly NOT allowed to speak on the floor to the merits of a bill prior to standing for a smoke out. Therefore, to record a smoke out vote as a legislator being for or against a bill is very misleading to the public. And, it is a disservice to the legislator because it appears to be a vote against the merits of a bill, of which again, by rules, it is not. When a legislator does not participate in a smoke out it may or may not have anything to do with her/his views on the bill itself. Until there is a way to clarify such in the record, to label a legislator as for or against a bill because of their smoke out vote is entirely misleading. Perhaps there is a way to clearly note the smoke out is a procedural vote NOT a vote on the bill’s merits– if so, make them public. There should be a way to do this, after all we do clearly note at the top of the bills we amend that the amended form may no longer represent the intent or support of the original sponsors. I co-sponsored bills I later voted against, because in the process they changed. A bill has a variety of stages to pass through and it’s their committee vote and their final vote on the bill that represents the legislators view on the bill, not any procedural moves in-between. People have different philosophies on this but we all agree committees exist for a purpose and hopefully have respect for the committee process. There are legitimate reasons for a smoke out when a bill doesn’t get a fair hearing in committee or if there is additional info, or if a committee member was gone and that would have affected the vote. In my view, not liking the committee vote isn’t reason enough to bypass the committee and bring it directly to the floor. Two of my bills died quickly in committee this year. It motivated me to deal with the issues raised and present a better case next year. We have to work together in the legislature to move the ball down the field. Putting our colleagues on the spot on issues they can’t speak to the merits of, but putting them on record, many times only 5-10 minutes before a smoke out is something one ought to do as infrequently as possible and only for really good reason.

    1. Stace Nelson

      Rep. Hickey, correct me if I am wrong; however, if my memory serves me correctly, you wrote that you were against HB-1198 because you did not feel that it contained enough “Christian charity?” How then is your Smoke out vote not reflective of that position?

      As I previously noted, actions/motions in the legislature are designed to advance or deter a bill. Rule 7-7 is no different. It DOES NOT have the special requirements of “unfair hearing” you mention to be moved:
      “7-7. Demand for delivery of bill or resolution to house –“Smoke-out.” Each house may by

      motion order its committee to deliver a bill or resolution under its consideration to that house. If the

      motion is supported by the vote of one-third or more of the members-elect, the committee shall, not

      later than the next legislative day, deliver the bill or resolution to the house with or without

      recommendation. The bill or resolution shall be delivered to the house in the same form as it was

      when it was tabled or deferred to a nonexistent day by the committee.”

      I noticed that those that recited the “respecting the committee process” in trying to deter smoke outs on certain bills, were often against the bill to begin with.

      As indicated above, this is one of numerous motions/actions that legislators have at their disposal to advance or deter legislation. The public has the right to know how we vote on every issue on their behalf, this vote is no different.

      Pray you and yours are well. God bless.

      1. Rep. Steve Hickey

        My point remains, the smoke out vote does not even remotely reflect my views on illegals in SD; among which are that I oppose amnesty, I’m for enforcing all laws, all borders, cracking down on the hiring of the undocumented and yet I’m not for putting nuns in jail and the splitting up families is far easier said than done (I travel to multiple parts of the world every year and my job here puts me in direct contact with internationals and their families– it’ll the wisdom of Solomon to divide this baby in two). I’m FOR the FairTax which results in 40 million illegals paying taxes – I have much more to say – my point is it’s a very complex issue that is addressed strategically on a half a dozen fronts and me not standing when someone moves for a smokeout has nothing to do with my toughness or lack thereof on this issue. Insinuations otherwise are not fair or true. There were fundamental flaws in that bill and thus the no vote in Committee– I can’t imagine the governor signing it. Absolutely there were amendments I could have offered had it come to the floor but when it’s not my bill I have an issue with hijacking it in a fundamental way from the sponsor who is a friend. Since the bill got a hearing in the Committee and the vote wasn’t close, my view is it’s better to do it next year with the input of the people on your side who were vocal about reasons they were not planning to go green. Me not standing on a smoke out was a rejection of the strategy of how that legislation was proceeding, not an indication of anything else. It is true that a person probably won’t stand on a bill they are opposed to but it is also true that I did not stand on smoke outs of bills I was for. And, if a bill didn’t get a fair hearing in committee I just may stand on a smoke out for it even if I knew I’d vote no. Every bill should get a fair hearing.

        1. Stace Nelson

          Rep. Hickey, The issue is about the Dir. LRC covertly removing the results of a floor vote of the entire House (major action to a bill), from the public’s view on the bill’s status page, after it was determined & declaredf appropriate to be posted by the LRC, and apparently required to be listed by Legislative Rule 6 I-1.

          I sympathize with the unusual position that you find yourself in this issue as a result of your comments and vote on the issue. It is a hot bed issue in the state & nation.

          Numerous people testified that illegal immigration is a growing problem in SD. This bill took steps to address that problem. It getting killed in committee is not an endorsement of our committee process as that is the core responsibilities of the hearing process to A) Determine if there is a problem; and, B) does the preferred bill offer a base for a workable solution

          As previously pointed out between us, and you admit here, EVERY legislator has the opportunity to offer amendments all the way to the point of totally rewriting a bill, that allows them to make it “perfect.” Amendments happen all the time and the sponsor has the ability to express their acceptance or protestation that the amendment is viewed as hostile. If you supported action to deal with this growing problem, maybe you should have supported the motion and then offered an amendment to change the bill to something you could support in dealing with the growing problem in SD.

          Pushing problems off to the next year to be dealt with, is not why I went to Pierre.

          The good news is, I am bringing a bill to deal with the illegal immigration problem in SD, that is based off a law the Supreme Court has already upheld. It is not perfect; however, it is Constitutional and it starts to deal with the problem that we put off for another year.

    2. Voter

      Steve Hickey is more concerned about what people will think of him–than the public’s right to information–be it misleading or not.

  6. Troy Jones

    Thanks Rep. Hickey. Your comments are right on. I was going to say the same thing but didn’t take the time.

  7. Anonymous

    Let’s just be honest: a vote against a bill is a vote against a bill. This isn’t confusing. It isn’t complicated. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen! If you want the illegals here, be proud of that vote and defend it! Don’t stand behind the committee of liberals that did the wrong thing.

    1. ValleyGirl

      First off, liberals???? This is South Dakota. I can count MAYBE three liberals in the legislature and even they would not be Pelosi-brand. Regarding smoke-out proceedings. By voting against a smoke out you are NOT voting against a bill, you are deciding whether a bill that was KILLED in committee should be heard on the floor. I would safely take a bet that a lot of people who voted “no” on the smoke out may very well voted in favor of the bill had it passed with majority vote out of committee. Now, would the bill have passed regardless, probably not.

  8. MC Post author

    We may have stumbled across a whole new issue here. From Rep Nelson’s previous post

    Dir. Fry recently admitted that he withheld some of the requested information, for over a month, at the behest of another legislator who is opposed to the idea.

    This raises some serious concerns about the ability of our legislature being able to do their job.

    1. Rep. Steve Hickey

      LRC does a great job and I’ve thought a number of times how difficult it must be to serve the diverse group of legislators who are half the time strategically working against each other. Staying neutral would be hard as they seek to give us each what we want – sounds here like Jim was walking a tightrope between two legislators. LRC staff is sworn to confidentiality when talking to and helping the one, and yet they have to be equally helpful to the other, often on opposing issues. Hardly a win/win scenario for them. These people need to be thanked not berated, especially in these budget cut years. And, they are people, which means it takes a certain grace to get what you want out of them. As with anything, if we treat the people we need to work with well, they’ll produce more than the bare minimum for us. And no, I’ve had no conversations with LRC about any of the things Rep. Nelson is addressing. I love it though, here we have “voter” taking cheap shots from a place of anonymity about the need for transparency.

  9. Lee Schoenbeck

    Jim Fry is a straight up honest person doing a very difficult job. He has to – first and foremost – keep the process moving smoothly while a thousand people are throwing logs, stones, and boulders in the path. Secondarily, he tries to have his staff serve the individual requests and needs of 105 legislators — and some are very needy. For two years, on the senate side, I was Jim’s direct report (technically – in reality, we all went to Jim for advice). He does a solid job. I always thought it was the fact that he’s an Augie alum, but it is probably also attributable to his calm demeanor in 35-45 day storm. Rep Nelson – this is the kind of person you want next to you in battle. Maybe not perfect, but pretty darn good.

    1. MC Post author

      Lee, I don’t really believe Mr. Fry is the real problem here. He is just being used. I have to believe the problem lies with this unnamed ‘other legislator.’

      We need a former NCIS investigator to track down this culprit.

      Mr. Fry does on heck of a good job. For 60 days out of the year, he has to make sure the legislative session goes smoothly, and he does that, and more.

    2. Stace Nelson

      Mr. Schoenbeck, Therein lies the problem. Others have Mr. Fry by their side and that is not where he is supposed to be. Because he is supposed to work equally for every legislator, he is supposed to be firmly cemented in the middle and above the fray. I have huge respect for our legislative process. Accordingly, I do not want him by my side nor anyone else’s as he is supposed to be the neutral barometer that provides impartial, nonpartisan information equally to every legislator. If you read all of the information herein, and review the RCJ article, you will see that he has inappropriately withheld research information from legislators at the behest of another, he has overseen the submission of inappropriate information included on a fiscal note, removed controversial votes from the public’s view on a major issue from the status page of a major bill, and publicly spoken against research efforts trying to change the Legislature’s website to reflect comprehensive voting records of legislators.

  10. grudznick

    I probably don’t understand all of this but I would have thunk that this Mr. Fry works for the good Representatives Nelson and Hickey, both. I would also have thunk that Rep. Nelson could pound on a table or two and make these web programmers who removed information show up in one of their Board of Executive Meetings and explain it all.

    1. Stace Nelson

      You have it right, the LRC is supposed to work impartially for ALL the legislators, not be preferential to one legislator over another, and not be involved/used for such political activities.

      I got different stories directly from the Director of LRC on why the information was excluded, then put on the site, and then subsequently removed.

      As the great Yogi Berra said it “ain’t over till it’s over.”

  11. Les

    Rep Nelson, whether you are right, wrong or in the middle on issues, I am extremely thankful to have you right where you are.

    No more laying awake wondering who is keeping an eye on government in our wonderful state!

  12. Troy Jones

    When I read all this, it is about Manny Steele’s bill on immigration and not smokeout. At the risk of being called names (I’ve been called some bad one’s) I am quite proud less than a third of the GOP caucus voted for smoking out this piece of cr _ _, I mean legislation.

  13. Charlie B. Hoffman

    This is the most complex and perplexing posting I have ever read on the War College. That said I know everyone who uses their proper name and consider them not only a good friend but a warrior for democracy. We in South Dakota are spoiled rotten when the worst governmental abuse of power seems to be a poorly choosen word spoken to a liason of the inner circle taken quite possibly incorrectly and then
    applied to a problem.

    1. MC Post author

      Let me see if I can clear this up for you some.

      Legislator ‘A’ went to the LRC and asked that Information that would normally be available be made not available to legislator ‘B’ and not to tell legislator ‘B’ why.

      1. grudznick

        But Director F works equally for both Legislator A and Legislator B. Herein lies a word my old fingers can’t spell, but it’s sort of like “cunnunndrumm”

  14. Lee Schoenbeck

    Jonesie – besides being right on about that bill – you realize that from your two sessions as an intern – you have twice as much legislatice experience as some of the experts attacking the system here. Remember back in the day when it was only Kloucek and the kooks hacking at the hard working staff that are out there serving the citizens of the state – lazy bums, working only 80 hour 7 day weeks during the session. Kind makes you wish some newbies used the towel a little more to dry the water behind their ears, before they start throwing stones

  15. Stace Nelson

    Our country has about 12 million illegal immigrants that have invaded our country. They cause a drain on our economy, add to crime rates, and help depress wages across our nation. You are right. If this problem was perfectly addressed by the old salt professional legislators years ago, bumbling rookies like me would not be messing things up now trying to do soemthing because we are so concerned about illegal aliens viciously murdering little girls within 11 miles from my home .

    Seeing a growing problem in SD, having legislation that tries to address the problem, and putting it off for another year without trying to “perfect” & pass the legislation to address the problem is simply derelict.

    Yes, I suppose it is ?kooky? to expect our system to work as it is supposed to without bending to such corruption, or as a senior GOP legislator complained of it ?the tail wagging the dog.?

    By the state of our country, America could do with a little more kookiness of this vein.

  16. Lee Schoenbeck

    Stace – start wit this. If a leader has an issue with their staff, nobody else would know about it. It would be dealt with and solved in private, becuase the leader understands the inportance of fixing the problem – not being in the news – and the leader understands the need to save the relationship so he can be effective working with is staff on the next challenge. Now that’s how an effective leader handles it.

    As for this disaster that you are solving, I am still waiting to hear who you and Manny think are going to power our substantial dairy industry in South Daktoa. My kids and your kids, my neighbors and your neighbors, are not the ones who want to work in the dairies – long hours and a permanent stench you can’t scrub off — to keep the industry working. There are thousands of jobs in this state dependant on people that aren’t supposed to be here. SO you need to think past the two cent slogans. You need to think about solutions. The state’s economy needs real thought on this issue.
    I do think there are solutions – solutions conservatives can get behind – but they aren’t the knee jerk, 2 cent reactions that come from people using slogans to raise money at the national level. Call me any time and I would be happy to talk about that. I know that Manny has declined to seriously think about solutions — be different – be a leader. Call any time for a few thoughts from somebody who’s been where you are and now has the privledge to work with the people you want to demonize (and I don’t get paid for doing it).

    1. Anonymous

      Lee: Stace tried to solve this problem internally. He has been called names for it–I heard it personally. Unfortunately, there are some who want their votes hidden as much as possible. There is no reason not to place ALL votes on the people’s web-site–other than to keep it hidden. It is too bad GOP leadership acts this way.

    2. Stace Nelson

      Mr. Schoenbeck,
      I would be happy to share 5 months worth of emails, telephone conversations, and frustration after frustration, in which every effort was made to correct these problems outside of the public eye. I have attempted to enlist the wisdom of senior legislators, ?leadership,? I have requested explanations from Mr. Fry, and I have attempted to choke the matter down. No answers were forthcoming, I received further confirmation that this problem is a shared domain, and it is evident that the problem is actually worse than first perceived. If Mr. Fry truly was staff I supervised, this would have never gotten to the point that veteran legislators grumble bitterly of the ?tail wagging the dog,? and this would not be an issue or public other than the job announcement proclaiming the problem was being fixed. In my limited meager experience and training as a leader of Marines, I found that a good spotlight on a stubborn secretive problem always helped. Clearly, this is not a leadership problem with the messenger under fire as others not having these personal relations apparently also see these contested actions as problems. I will agree with you that there is a leadership problem here, a perpetuating collective lack of leadership in addressing the problem.

      As you have already perceived, I am a ?Kooky? unconventional legislator that is not a politician interested in a political career. I took several oaths in my lifetime to support this country, our Constitution, and the American people. Call me ?Kooky;? however, I still believe in the rule of law, of protecting Americans first and foremost. As a result of sticking our collective head in the sand these many years, and ignoring the problem, we are seeing massive problems throughout our country as a result of the illegal immigrations mess. That was NOT leadership. If those wiser, more accomplished SD legislators took action years ago to address the problem, arguably this should not be a problem we have to deal with now. It is NOT my job to help illegally subsidize businesses in SD with cheap labor that our communities end up paying for. You see I have seen the lines at our embassies throughout the world, of people trying to come here legally, many of which would be happy for those jobs. Additionally, I did those jobs as a kid simply for a kind word from my dad, grandpa, uncles, and aunts. I have no doubt that if the free market is allowed to live, those wages will go up, and South Dakotans would take those jobs OR we will see an influx of the 9.2% unemployed in our nation that would come to SD. Clearly, the past ?leadership? of doing nothing and allowing the illegal immigration problem to ?benefit? our national economy is not the answer.

      1. Spencer

        Unfortunately, growing up in Veblen, I witnessed firsthand what increased dependence on an imported workforce ultimately leads to. When the Veblen dairy started, a sizeable majority of the workers were locals. The pay was not great, but it was good enough to attract people to Veblen to work there. Over the years the dairy increased its employment of immigrants. Immigrants were packed into homes throughout town. Rundown trailer homes were brought in to make room for more families. The dairy eventually became solely fixated on ways of getting the cheapest work force possible regardless of the consequences. Presently, over 90 percent of the employees of the dairy are immigrants. Veblen produces close to 15 percent of the milk in South Dakota. The workforce associated with the dairy has become an exclusive class of workers separated in almost every imaginable way from the local population only further alienating the dairy from the very people who founded it. Currently, immigrant workers are being moved into apartments adjacent to the dairies making the positions almost exclusively tolerable to only foreign-born migrant workers desperate enough to work there.

        A dairy in South Dakota CAN hire local workers and be a large scale producer, the Veblen dairy used that model for years, and it worked. They only drifted in the direction of hiring immigrants because state and federal law allow such abuse to occur.

        I don’t think most people in South Dakota really understand the scope of this problem. I think a person needs to see their rural town where they grew up turn into a bizarre foreign-born ghetto in the span of a decade to understand where this state and county maybe going and to fully appreciate those legislators like Manny Steele and Stace Nelson who are willing to go out on a limb to save the rest of our state from such a fate.

    3. duggersd

      Lee, I do not normally disagree with you, but this statement is one I hear a lot in different forms: “I am still waiting to hear who you and Manny think are going to power our substantial dairy industry in South Daktoa. My kids and your kids, my neighbors and your neighbors, are not the ones who want to work in the dairies ? long hours and a permanent stench you can?t scrub off ? to keep the industry working. There are thousands of jobs in this state dependant on people that aren?t supposed to be here.” I cannot disagree more.
      I have long said people who complain about immigrant labor whether it be legal or illegal, have to understand the consequences of eliminating the problem. As consumers we will have to be willing to pay more for a head of lettuce. Yes, those jobs on the dairy are the most desirable. If you want to get your kids or my kids or the neighbors’ kids to do the job, perhaps it needs to pay a little more.
      If it is impossible to find workers to do those jobs, and in this economy, I believe you can find workers if you are willing to pay enough, then what is wrong with hiring LEGAL immigrants? It is not that hard to check today.

  17. Charlie B. Hoffman

    We are dealing with two problems here. One involving the seemingly unequal treatment freshman legislators receive compared to old stalwarts and two the process of putting smoke out votes online for all to see. Without naming anyone in the LRC it is normal for relationships and trust to build with time between anyone working with them. Perception is reality. We all would like more time and energy applied to our own ideals when we present them and I have a strong suspicion this problem is just starting to be addressed. Add to all of this the time and energy and money legislators spend out of their own pocket attending meetings all year long making the public investment in SD Legislators great bang for the buck.

    On the matter of illegal aliens we must do something but do it in a way which continues opening doors for legal immigrants to come to our state and work and live and become citizens. The Federal Government is totally out of touch and avoiding the issue while they play Russian Roullete in enforcing their own laws.

    It is a wonderful thing to have people dying to get into a country instead of the other way around which occurs nearly everywhere else in the world today. 🙂

  18. Kristin Conzet

    I need to make a correction. “Then Representative Nelson spoke to the Executive Board”. I am an elected member of the Executive Board and was never contacted nor have has any person ever tesified before the E Board on this issue.

    The E Board oversees the running of LRC when the Legislature is out of session. The proper procedure to address any changes to policy within LRC is to request to be on the next meeting?s agenda, come in front of the E Board to testify about your concerns and then the E Board acts.

    Upon further investigation with other E Board members it was confirmed that none of them was ever directly contacted on this issue. To my knowledge there still has not been a request to come a testify before the E Board about this issue.

    1. Stace Nelson

      Rep. Conzet,
      While I do not doubt your stellar investigative prowess, my email inquiries were sent to several E-board members and are a matter of record within my state email account. I had an interesting exchange with Rep. Lucas, and if you take the time to read the links above, you would note that Rep. Turbiville even commented about some of the matter to the RCJ. So your claims that I not address any E-Board members is as ridicules as a rumor someone tried to start about me during session of a coup d’état of GOP leadership.

      Incidently, Mr. Fry admittedly withheld research material on some of this matter at the purported behest of Rep. Turbiville, which makes it difficult to present any issue. According to the email Mr Fry sent me, Rep. Turbivlle then purportedly declared after the lengthy delay that the E-Board did not have oversight over the matter and purportedly opined that it should be addressed by another committee.

      I am heartily encouraged though that you are more concerned with attempting to sully my good name than you are with the obvious problems at hand. Please, keep up the good work.

  19. Craig Tieszen

    Ah, I smell the smoke from burning bridges! I am also a member of the E-board and have not been contacted but that seems to be moot at this point.
    I think this all boils down to two options.
    (1) The issue is how votes are taken and recorded in the legislature. If that is the case, it should be taken to and resolved by the Legislative Procedures Committee. Or,
    (2) The issue is policy regarding the legislature’s website which is maintained by LRC WHO WORK FOR THE LEGISLATURE. If the policy is in question it should be addressed by the Executive Board which represents the legislature in matters such as this. Individual legislators don’t get to direct LRC staff on policy matters but the legislature DOES. We can reflect our work on our website any way we want to.
    So, let’s resolve this through the proper channels and quit beating up on each other.
    By the way, the precipatating issue for all this was illegal immigration which IS a problem that still needs to be solved.

    1. Stace Nelson

      Sen. Tiezen,
      It was more of a gang plank that ran one way in any event. 😀

      Below are but two emails regarding portions of this matter. I stand vindicated and am not holding my breath for the appropriate apologies. 😀

      From: []
      Sent: Monday, June 13, 2011 10:32 AM
      Subject: RE: Additions to Legislature Website

      Representative Nelson:

      This proposal affects the operations of the entire legislature and was referred to the Executive Board for review and consideration. The Chair of the Board advised both Mr. Hiatt and myself that the Chair would be handling this matter and that we were not to address it with you until more discussions had been held between yourself and legislative leadership. Late last week, the Chair advised me that information we have developed on any difficulties/costs related to this revision of the legislative web site should be sent to you at this time.

      Below you will find an analysis of the cost of revising the legislative information system to depict the information you wish to include on the web site. The cost per hour of computer development time is $ 50.00 per hour times 44 hours yielding an estimated cost of $2,200.00. The changes contemplated will allow viewers to see those votes by legislators that are already collected. Adding additional votes that are not now collected (such as votes on smoke-outs/amendments) will increase the cost but we cannot estimate that number since it requires more data collection by clerical staff and more recorded votes.

      The Chair also indicated that the proper forum for presentation of your ideas was the Legislative Procedures Committee of which Speaker Rausch is the Chair. Legislative Procedures does not have an Interim schedule for meetings so you will have to contact Chair Rausch to determine a time for your presentation.
      (portion cut)
      From: Representative Nelson, Stace
      Sent: Mon 4/18/2011 10:58 AM
      To: Fry, Jim; Senator Cutler, Joni; Representative Lucas, Larry; Representative Turbiville, Charles; Representative Abdallah, Gene; Representative Venner, Mark
      Subject: RE: Request regarding changes in policy.

      E-Board Members & Dir Fry,

      Currently, the legislative website does NOT reflect all actions on a bill in the bill status pages. During session I addressed this issue with Dir Fry and received conflicting explanations and actions on the matter. I believe that it should as a matter of principle of open government that we make sure that all actions & results be listed.

      Currently, voters need to do detailed research in order to track individual overall voting records to have an immediate snapshot of how a legislator voted during session. I believe that our legislative website should offer voters this service. As an accomplished and professionally trained webmaster, I am aware that our current website structure should be able to offer such a service with little difficulty.

      Please advise what I need to do to have these matters officially corrected and permanently changed.

      Please include any other e-board members in my correspondence that I may have missed. The e-board composition is not readily or apparently available on the LRC website and my memory fails me as to who else is on the board. This may be an additional change needed to our LRC website.

      God bless & Semper Fidelis.

      Respectfully, your public servant,

      Stace Nelson
      Representative, District 25 (Hanson, McCook, Northern & Western Minnehaha Counties)
      South Dakota House of Representatives

      South Dakota State Motto: “Under God The People Rule”

  20. Troy Jones

    I am smiling thinking about how Senator Gramms, Lyndell Peterson, George Shanard et. al. would handle this discussion.

    I am reminded how this young punk once “invested” in an issue as state College Republican Chairman. I am still convinced I was right (and the levislation passed but that was thanks to Janklow and his COS Ron Williamson). After Senator Gramms took me to the task and suggested this intern get expelled from the caucus, I was given some advice whereby I ended up sitting in Gramms shop for entire afternoon (his form of the woodshed? LOL).

    What I learned from that discussion can be summed up in these words from Gramms: ” Before I go out on a limb for a guy, I have to know he is worth it. And, you hadn’t shown me nothing.”

    But, after that afternoon, two years later on another matter (actually two separate) I went before Gramms Appropriation committee and told I would be killed (on one I was being opposed by Janklow). Both passed without dissent from the committee.

    Trust me there is a lesson here.

    1. caheidelberger

      Troy, just to make sure I take the lesson correctly, you were an intern, right? Rep. Nelson is an elected Representative of the People of District 25. Is it just freshman Rep. Nelson who must demonstrate he is worth going out on a limb for, or must his constituents also somehow demonstrate their worthiness?

      1. Troy Jones

        Cory, I totally understand an intern is an ant next to an elephant when compared to a legislator. While not a perfect analogy, it does speak to earning respect, credibility, and willing to go out on a limb takes time.

        Also, I learned Gramms had a legitimate position on the other side which I hadn’t taken the time or given him the respect to understand.

        1. caheidelberger

          Understood. But I’m still curious: where do we draw the line between disrespect for a legislator who may be treading on toes and disrespect for the voters who have sent him or her to Pierre to be their voice? [I know, very far from the main thread.]

  21. Stace Nelson

    So, if I asked for the whole E-Board to be apprised of my request for assistance, I was told officially that it “was referred to the Executive Board for review and consideration,” and sitting members report they were kept in the dark contrary to the statement above, is that not a problem?

    Good to see this old mushroom has some company…

  22. Troy Jones

    p.s. Along the lines of Rep. Hickey, I remember this “standard” for voting for smoke-out:

    1) Support the intent of the bill (duh).
    2) The bill is well drafted and is “floor-ready.”
    3) The committee make-up is fundamentally opposed to the intent such it could never get out of committee.

    The reason for #3 is the system depends on committees and if every bill that gets killed in committee was going to get debated on the floor, the committees wont take their committee work as serious.

  23. Lora Hubbel

    Interesting comments….and a-round-about way of proving what I was told directly from a member of the State Agenda Committee regarding procedural smoke outs….”you don’t want people to be hung by the voters on the way they vote here…”

  24. MC Post author

    Since I was the one who lit the match that started this little firestorm, I am going to make a few comments.

    I am going to set the Immigration issue aside, for now. Immigration is an issue that we will need to deal with, however, we need to get our house in order.

    The LRC is the legislative staff, not just for one legislator, or one committee, then entire legislature, each legislator equally. For them to take sides, or allow to be used would fundamentally flaw the legislative process. It the sworn duty of the director to ensure the neutrally of the LRC in all aspects of the legislature, weather they are in session or not.

    Representative Nelson requested the LRC to post the results of a procedural vote be posted to bill’s status page. He did not do this of his own accord, He did this at the request of his constituents. The LRC initially complied with the request, then reversed itself, citing policy and SOP. There also seem to be a cryptic message about some lawmakers not wanting their vote displayed to general public on this matter. It should be noted the vote in question was a procedure vote, and not a vote on the merits of the bill itself. The results of the vote were indeed found and posted to this blog.

    Representative Nelson then went on to try to change the policy. He could not do it alone, he contacted the LRC for research information. (who else would he contact?) The director of the LRC took the proposal to the chair of the Executive Board. Then sent this back to Representative Nelson,

    This proposal affects the operations of the entire legislature and was referred to the Executive Board for review and consideration. The Chair of the Board advised both Mr. Hiatt and myself that the Chair would be handling this matter and that we were not to address it with you until more discussions had been held between yourself and legislative leadership.


    The Chair also indicated that the proper forum for presentation of your ideas was the Legislative Procedures Committee of which Speaker Rausch is the Chair.

    Now, we are finding out that the from the committee members themselves, they were kept I the dark about this entire issue.
    From Kristin Conzet:

    I need to make a correction. ?Then Representative Nelson spoke to the Executive Board?. I am an elected member of the Executive Board and was never contacted nor have has any person ever tesified before the E Board on this issue.

    In fact….

    Upon further investigation with other E Board members it was confirmed that none of them was ever directly contacted on this issue. To my knowledge there still has not been a request to come a testify before the E Board about this issue.

    It would appear to a layman’s eye, that the chair of the Executive board and the director of the LRC are in cahoots with each other. They don’t like the idea, so they are going to work together to shut down the project, by denying requested research, and deny access to the people who can provide the material needed to make a proposal.

    While working in Pierre legislators are bound to form working relationship with various members of the LRC Staff, which is fine, in fact a good thing. However when this relationship is taken too far, or taken fore-granted, then it can be a dangerous.

    My guess during the course of today and maybe tomorrow, there are some kindly worded e-mails exchanged, and some very nice phone calls made. Much like the ones I received earlier today. (I think I might be going deaf from all the yelling in my ear.)

    1. Anonymous

      MC: I want to thank you for this discussion. I know you’ll take some heat for it, but this issue needs to be aired. Stace needs to bring a Bill and we should all help him in his effort to smoke it out of the House State Affairs (Agenda) Committee! I’m proud of you Stace.

      1. MC Post author

        This whole thing is like an onion (or a DQ parfait) You peel back one layer, to find an entirely new issue.

        Stace is making some very serious allegations, and it appears he has some proof to back it up. At this point I would like to hear from the Director of the LRC and the Chairman of the Executive board and hear what they have to say. I also have some pretty tough questions for them.

        I am just a simple blogger. I don’t have the power to drag everyone in front of committee and ask them questions, the most we can do provide forum to discuss the issue.

        If the Director of the LRC or Chairman wish to e-mail ( a statement about this issue I would be happy to post it under a new topic so it could be seen by all.

  25. Bill Fleming

    Clearly, Mr. Nelson is eager to have the people in his district be able to see each and every move he makes while in the legislature. (laudable)

    It also sounds like he’s a whiz at working spreadsheets and making websites.

    So, my question to Mr. Nelson is, why don’t you just update your website and post every single thing you do up there every time you do something?

    That way your constituents can see exactly what you’re up to each and every day if they want to.

    Is there some reason you can’t do this? I’m just sayin’.

  26. Les

    While I openly have not agreed with Rep Nelson on everything along the way Flem, reading your last comment causes me to question if you are bought and paid for.

    I hope I am wrong.

    1. Bill Fleming

      Les, don’t you think my suggestion to Mr. Nelson was helpful? Or, short of that, maybe a little ironic? Perhaps even funny? No?

      Sorry to disappoint, bud, but I’ve never been able to find anybody willing to pay me to write bad jokes. So alas, I slave on, pro bono, for the cause.

      1. Bill Fleming

        I wonder who it is Les thinks I might be working for. I wonder if he has their phone number. LOL.

      2. Les

        Your reply is exactly how we organize our freshman congress people, except, our average congress members are no Stace Nelson.

        Right wrong or otherwise I hold folks like Nelson and Flemming at a higher state of respect for caring enough to be involved. That being said I hold all legislators who have the guts and energy to work for less than a couple weeks wages at a much higher level of respect, that is until they start manipulating the system for their own control.

        BTW Bill I have a book full of numbers as I’m sure you do. We need to choose our battles. You are a known workers rights advocate. I see little evidence of how belittling Stace for the other components of this issue raises your credibility.

  27. Bill Fleming

    Les, every once in a while I think it’s good for people to get a little taste of their own medicine. My prior exchanges with Mr. Nelson on this blog have led me to think he can be… (how to say it gently…) a little strident sometimes.

    My intent was not to belittle him (which would be a feat in and of itself… he’s a very large man) but rather, to hold up a small mirror and give him a behavioral alternative: Transparency, like good manners, begins at home.

    1. Stace Nelson

      You got me Bill, guilty of being a busy father, grandfather, husband, and broken down shy overweight old cuss trying to do my best to pour more money into the 107 year old farmstead I bought on emotion. I do a pretty good job though of posting things on my Facebook pages; however, I am hard pressed to believe that anyone is interested in my fat fingered recaps of my efforts in the House when SDPBS does such a swell job covering our state legislature 😀 The debates are archived online per bill, Bill. In any event, I am not as good as I once was..

  28. Bill Fleming

    …if Stace’s constituents are demanding to know how every legislator votes on everything and want the information summarized by name first then by bill, that strikes me as being something Stace has insufficient authority to deliver.

    But he can certainly package his OWN voting history that way, make it searchable, and cross reference for the people in his district till the cows come home.

    And yet, when I go to his website, and click on the “latest news” tab, here’s what I get:

    Why do you suppose that is, Les?

  29. J Rae

    I think I know what Stace’s point is now. He’s looking to use this vote as a cudgel to “smoke out” supposed “Rinos” that don’t follow his rigid ideology.

    This isn’t about doing the right thing, this is about Stace and earning a Tea Party extreme merit badge.

    Hey Stace, so this isn’t about Fry or the LRC, this is about you…isn’t it?
    You are an ideologue that is more interested in staying in the little clique than what is best for the state.

    Congratulations on the ideologue merit badge…wear it proudly.

    From my perspective, you are looking at using this issue as a cudgel against Republicans that aren’t as bat**** crazy as you and your mission to take down Republicans that don’t sign on to you brand of crazy.

    To follow on Troy’s comment, what about his saying that Manny’s proposed legislation was a piece of crap wasn’t true?

    Stace tell us how this was good, tell us how you did everything in your power to make sure that this piece of unconstitutional legislation made it to the floor to possibly be approved.

    Bottom line is that you quit…you didn’t believe in the legislation enough to fight for it and now you just want to wrap your patriotism in the cross and the flag to show how much you are a Tea Party favorite. To prove my point…show us the posts here on a sympathetic website, show us the emails to the media…you seem to like to keep your emails to embarrass others.

    You like honesty? Tell us how you were going to use this information. Which Republican were you looking to throw under the bus? Don’t lie!

    Tell us how you pick and choose what parts of the constitution and the bill of rights you think should just go away so you can be a shill for the Tea Party…..

    Stace, I appreciate your service, but I do not like your willingness to wear it on your sleeve to make people think the way you do. Most of the Heroes that faced actual fire won’t do that. They’ll stand on their own thoughts, rationale and wisdom and won’t use their service for personal gain.

    Are you using your tax payer paid service for personal gain?

    By the way, didn’t you say you joined the service because there weren’t any jobs out there when you were beginning adulthood? So was it economics or patriotism that “inspired” you to join the military.

    Bottom line is Stace, if you want to use Manny’s bill and the smoke out votes as a way to tear other Republicans down, then be man enough to take that same line of thinking when it comes to your own actions.

    So tell us Stace, since you didn’t feel confident of debating the merits of Manny’s piece of cr*p bill with Troy, how and why do you think that everyone else should have just rallied behind it to keep you happy.

    Your brand of ideology and now tearing into other Republicans only shows you naivete and willingness to hijack the party to serve your own personal interests.

    Form your own party if you don’t like or agree with your fellow Republicans, but don’t use them to fit your own narrow objectives, South Dakota voters aren’t stupid.

    1. Stace Nelson

      In that the disrespectful, dishonest, and anonymous comments made by ?RJae? do not deserve a respectful response, honest South Dakotans do. My comments correspond to each rant above:

      This is my ?rigid ideology:? I have neither the clout, the care to do so, nor the wherewithal to ?cudgel? anyone. If 2010 was any indication, the voters may be inclined to do so themselves in 2012.

      This is as simple as doing the right thing. Clearly that it not a concept that ?RJae? comprehends. It is my understanding that the fictitious Tea Party Merit Badge is garish and might clash with actual medals I was awarded for PROVEN honest diligent service to country:!/photo.php?fbid=252459861435190&set=a.117021141645730.20352.116884104992767&type=1&theater

      I am sorry to disappoint ?RJae,? sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. It is about the issues addressed here. My little clique is my family, friends, & constituents, so yes in that aspect; however, I ran for office to do what is best for this state, as I have done my whole life in the service of our country:

      A little late; however, thank you ?Rjae!? I received my Eagle, Globe, & Anchor a long time ago and wear it on my heart, my arm, and on near every shirt I am found in.

      Exactly, ?RJae?s? perspective. Not mine.

      Well, clearly Mr. Jones expressed it as his opinion so I have no right to doubt the veracity that it was his given opinion.

      My efforts are documented online and are recorded in the hearing:

      I have a bill in draft now that will be brought this next session similar to HB 1198 & SB 156. When it is ?perfected? I will happy to post it here, there, or anywhere.

      Me? I have no plans to use the information. If voter groups & the news media are interested in seeing how their elected representatives voted, that should be their right.

      My career, linked above, and my legislative record show that I go to great lengths to ensure the SD & US Constitution are upheld

      To be honest, I am just not feeling that love. I don?t think anyone that reads the dishonest diatribe above will either. I am who I am, my career is part of who I am, take it or leave it. Pretty sure my record, my lack of falling ?inline? to perpetuate political games as usual, make it clear I am my district?s representative and that I follow my own morale compass. $4,700+ of family finances expended for a $6K a year part time job with full time responsibilities, that I took on as a matter of principle & duty. Not seeing the personal gain.

      ?RJae?s? made up comments are not based on fact, and no such thing was ever uttered by me. I enlisted on May 7, 1985, 5 days after turning 18, while I was still in HS, I had to wait until I was 18 because my parents did NOT want me to join the Marines and would not sign while I was 17. Mom & Dad wanted me to go to Augustana. I was working at Happy Chef (West) in Mitchell at the time I enlisted, and I was approached with a management position with that chain if I wanted. As alien as it may be to “RJae”, I joined the Marines as they were in my opinion the best way to serve this country. The 9 months inactive time on my DD214 reflect the time I had to wait before going to boot camp:

      Bottom line? The attempted anonymous contrived character assassination by ?RJae,? is not based off of fact. ?RJae? has no clue about me and gives me motivations, powers, & authority that do not exist. My record, and my life, show that I am an honest diligent public servant who is ?man enough? to post with my real name, to answer the coward “Rjae,” and for anything else required to serve the best interests of South Dakotans.

      This is about votes being hidden from the public and apparent corruptions in our LRC. Contrary to ?RJae,? I don?t believe everything revolves around me and did not feel I HAD to respond to Mr. Jones especially since my position is a matter of record:
      Click on the eagles to the right:

      This is my brand of ideology: I have no personal interests, other than doing my duty, which includes addressing the problems identified herein.

      I love South Dakotans and I agree 100% with the SD Republican Party Platform, as my recorded votes indicate. I am a life long Conservative Republican and I have never pretended to be anything different. South Dakotans are intelligent and will see the post above for what it is.

      1. dissident

        J Rae: you’re a patriot! Exposing the takeover of the Republican Party by the Rove-backed radicals that have infiltrated state legislatures is underway.

        You rock!

        South Dakota: you are being duped; these people will usurp your ability to resist the eminent domain cudgel being wielded in the West by power companies and others who want the aquifers.

  30. Les

    I choose not to run the rabbit trails Flem.

    I do take offense on what appears to be some possible insolvency on Mr Fry’s part in his or his departments performance. That can affect performance not only in Rep Nelson’s district but my own sparsely populated area as well.

    Doesn’t that possibility concern you Bill?

  31. Bill Fleming

    The problem with recording every single thing that goes on in complete detail is that it can lead to chaos and absurdity. Lewis Carroll once proposed a map that was on a scale of one mile to one mile. He said that the problem with it was that no one wanted to unfold it, especially the farmers, because it would cover up their crops and keep the rain and sunlight out.

  32. Bill Fleming

    ?from Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, by Lewis Carroll, 1893?

    ?That?s another thing we?ve learned from your Nation,? said Mein Herr, ?map-making. But we?ve carried it much further than you. What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful??

    ?About six inches to the mile.?

    ?Only six inches!? exclaimed Mein Herr. ?We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country, on the scale of a mile to the mile!?

    ?Have you used it much?? I enquired.

    ?It has never been spread out, yet,? said Mein Herr: ?the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country, and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.?

    1. Troy Jones

      Bill, this is hilarious in this context. Carroll, Milne, Twain, and Chesterton are the wittiest wise men in history. They can make you feel like an idiot and laugh so hard your belly hurts.

      1. Bill Fleming

        Glad you like, Troy. Yes, I find it always helps when people make me laugh while revealing my idiocy to me. And as you may have noticed, I find myself laughing more often than not these days.

  33. J Rae

    So Stace you are the one to want to throw the “unpure” of the party under the bus…so why don’t you name them. Mercer gave you the list, which you knew all the long.

    You also made this an issue on the SDWC website, so here’s your chance. throw the people that don’t share your extreme ideology under the bus. Tell Lee and Troy that they just don’t share the true Republican values that you do.

    More importantly, tell us what you’re personal agenda for this whole thing is, and try and be honest!

    1. Anonymous

      J Rae — Wow! You equate throwing someone under the bus, when Stace is trying to get the votes on-line? You must think these folks did something wrong, or you would not think that Stace is trying to throw them under the bus, right? If you are a liberal, just stand up and man up and advocate for illegal immigration. Don’t try and hide behind poor bureaucrats who have to take these shots. By the way, the US Supreme Court sided with Stace and Manny.

      1. J Rae

        Thanks anon for the wow. I guess what I doubt is whether Stace is more concerned about the documentation of the votes and the reasons behind them and guessing that Stace is using them as a cudgel to show his purity to the Tea Party and tear down others that didn’t believe Manny’s bill was a good bill.

        I do not doubt Stace’s patriotism or commitment, what I have concerns about is his willingness to tear others down to make himself look good in the eyes of his ideologue base.

        Hell, the guy was posting on twitter about the floods in Pierre and the Dunes with the tag that asked everybody to vote for him…come on is that coming from someone that is thinking about anybody but himself?

        1. Anonymous

          I think the only ones thinking only of themselves are the folks trying to hide their votes. Stace is making a courageous stand for open government. He understands that the people deserve better. He obviously knew he would become the target for taking this strong stand. Lighten up!

        2. Spencer

          Stace Nelson is concerned about getting as much done in his time in Pierre as possible and being accountable to the voters that sent him to Pierre. Apparently, that is being perceived by some in Pierre as rocking the boat a little too hard for some people’s comfort.

          If you really need something to be concerned about, it should probably be focused squarely on the amount of time that you evidently spend being a divisive liberal troll on conservative leaning sites.

          1. J Rae

            A derisive liberal troll…nice. My voting record is pretty much republican, but if you think questioning the motives of a representative is being a troll, well then I guess I’m a troll. My liberal friends will find great humor and endless kidding with your comment.

    2. Stace Nelson

      My comments, to your cowardly dishonest personal attacks above, are unfortunately awaiting “moderation.”

      To steal from one more adept than I, CLEARLY “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

      Your anonymous dishonest comments will not be dignified with any further responses.

  34. Les

    As a cradle Democrat who left the party after it left me years ago, I still have some color of those original ideals J Rae.

    When I look at you from the perspective of my centrist beliefs, you are so far to the left I can only assume you to be the Trojan horse, here to tear anyone down who dares to stand up to the government or to splinter the party at least.

    We all have closets, yours is wide open, “dem bones”.

    1. J Rae

      Les a former Dem??? Wow!

      No trojan horse here, just a moderate (by today’s standards) who is getting a little sick and tired of the radical fringe of the party. Of course you and some of the others make Lee and Troy look like moderate liberals.

      So questioning Stace’s intentions is wrong, but hammering Lee, Pastor Hickey and Troy is a good thing?

  35. Les

    The issue Stace is facing reminds me of Dick Butler becoming state treasure and finding counter checks the former state treasure was purportedly using to dispense unclaimed funds.

    Dick found professional help he personally paid to work through the unclaimed fund issues and was told, “If you expose these people, you will then become the target and don’t be surprised at anything thrown in your direction”. The transparency then went away on our unclaimed funds by direct order from the top.

    Whether Stace is using this avenue to promote his bill or not, the larger issue remains. When the good ol boy club is a remnant, we will have people such as Stace Nelson to thank.

    1. Troy Jones

      Les, with all do respect, this isn’t about the “good ole’ boys” or anything like it. As you know, I’m not in that group so I’m not one to defend them.

  36. Troy Jones

    Reading all these posts, I’m still trying to figure out what is the real issue?

    1) Is it about the merits of whether smoke-out is a procedural vote, a vote on the substance of the bill or a question of attitude to the committee process? Only if it is a vote on the substance is Rep. Nelson’s position relevant as well as the innuendo against Fry and the Executive Board.

    2) Is it about some collusive intent of Fry/Leadership to hide votes from the public? When one reads the comments of Mercer, et. al., it is hard to think the votes are hidden or not easily exposed if someone wants to make the vote an issue. Again, personally, Fry/Leadership if they had that intent, they could probably figure out a way for it to happen much more effectively.

    3) Is it about the merits of HB1198? If so, why are we dancing around it within the context of smoke-out.

    4) Can one be a good Republican and support HB1198 or is the bill contrary to basic Republican principles?

    5) Is HB 1198 a position that defines Republicanism at the same level as smaller government, free enterprise, etc.?

    In case there is any doubt of how I feel:

    1) As one who has served 2 years as an intern and 6 years in the Mickelson administration, I believe in most cases it to be not be about the substance/intent of the bill. I know of many examples of co-sponsors who have opposed smoke-out as a matter of principle except in rare occassions.

    2) I know Jim Fry personally. He is as honest and professional as anybody in state government. Period.

    3) I think the heart of this discussion is really about one’s view on HB1198 and the context of “smoke-out” and “disclosure” is a “smokescreen.” 🙂

    4) If we want to have a discussion on it, I’m game but I see it as contrary to basic Republican principles about state’s rights and powers delegated to the federal government. I can’t stand for state’s rights without acknowledging certain items are the responsiblility of the federal government. While opposing the federal government’s performance here, my effort should be toward insisting better federal performance not usurption of their obligation. (For the record, just so I don’t get accused of being duplicitous as Representative Hickey was because I’m raising the state/federal question, I oppose the substance of HB1198 on several areas including religious liberty, civil liberty, matters of public policy with regard to flexibility of local law enforcement, how we treat aliens in our midst plus others).

    5) While I feel as I do in #4 above, I also appreciate good Republicans can disagree with me. For this reason, I don’t see the intent or substance of HB1198 to be an issue to define Republicanism. Sometimes, we have to understand we must agree to disagree. On a side note, I do see one’s view on HB1198 as relevant to defining conservatism between the “statist conservatives” and “civil liberty conservatives.” Even so, the GOP can and should have room for both brands within the party, especially if we want to be a majority party.

    1. Les

      I don’t know Jim Fry at all Troy. Is it possible an honest man in a paid position can be over leveraged by a senior official?

      You were part of one of the best admin’s in my life in SD Troy!

  37. Dying on the wrong hill

    Nelson should dust off a tactics manual and read up on not overloading firepower on incidental targets because you blow any chance of a bigger win later. There are statesmen in Pierre but his both barrels friendly fire style demonstrates he’s not one of them. This is hardly the hill he should be dying on and it’s too late. He should try making friends up there instead he makes enemies of allies and leaves dead bodies in his wake. Hubble also needs to get a clue. She is all agenda. Attacking and alienating leadership and the state affairs committee is asinine and guarantees every bill they sponsor in the future hits a brick wall. They owe their constituents an apology for so quickly turning their district seat into a dunces bench for the class clown who no one takes seriously. It takes clout and respect to get things done in the legislature and they’ve lost both with peers they need as allies.

    1. Les

      I don’t understand how Stace is leaving dead bodies without them having something on themselves to die from.

      BTW, Klaudt had clout and statesmen, Pierre doesn’t have the statesmen of the past. Term limits may be a most limiting factor.

      You are right on and I don’t mean to make light of your basic thrust. This is politics and until it changes, Stace may not be popular with his approach though I totally relate to Stace in methodology and call a spade a spade, any time any place once I feel other opportunity has been given and refused.

      If Stace and Lora do nothing more than keep the rest of you operating with dedication and honor, I’m happy with the sacrifice their constituents made to the dunces chair.

      1. Anonymous

        I believe the name-calling and threats demonstrate the thin-skin that has created this into an issue. There may be surprise about the success Stace’s bill on immigration. Killing Stace’s immigration bill for spite’s sake in the State Agenda Committee may very well be dying on the wrong hill. Go ahead an play Russian Roulette.

    2. Anonymous

      Name-calling and threats are the perfect demonstration of the thin-skined thinking that has brought us to this place where leadership attempts to conceal and silence. If the State Agenda Committee kills Stace’s Immigration Bill for spite’s sake, I think there may be surprise about who died on what hill.

    3. Stace Nelson

      One of the problems with “friendly fire” on an armed ugly old non-politician who has no politicial ambitions and is not groveling for a career in politics? Accurate return fire…

      There was a time in this country when the people were served by honest people who looked the citizens in the eye and spoke the truths as they saw them. People who put their lives on the line to do the right thing. Could you imagine if our Founding Fathers were instead these type of politicians that preach compromising your duty and ethics for possible future personal or political gains? Well, you don’t have to imagine hard. Our country is imploding in debt to the point it could collapse our nation, we have areas of ACTUAL unemployment in our nation of 30%+ and growing, while we are overrun with 12 million illegal aliens violating our laws and helping to depress wages and our economy.

      Your comments make my point and are what disgusts the average South Dakotan. Our government is not supposed to be the corrupt version that is being advocated in your comments and supported within some of these posts. It is also the reason why so many politicians are frantic about the idea of having their comprehensive voting record open to easy public scrutiny. An honest man has nothing to hide. If I am so wrong on my stance on the issues, then please support my efforts to make ALL recorded votes easily reportable to the public.

      Rep. Hubbel is in Pierre as an honest, dedicated, hard working legislator that has the courage to ask questions, seek answers, and refuses to be co-opted in her duty to serve her district. God bless her for that and God help you for that being such a foreign idea to you.

      It is about what is right for SD. That is how I agonize over each vote, and that is what I expect of the other legislators. Political subterfuge be damned.

      South Dakotans, realize that there is a reason for these angry anonymous personal attacks over my daring to have pulled aside the curtain. The ISSUE is, this is YOUR state, your government, and you have the right to know how every legislator voted on any issue or set of issues and your legislator along with their efforts should be treated equally by the shared LRC.

      1. Troy Jones

        Just so it is clear: Are you saying the following:

        You consider the response (or lack of response) to your request to change how smoke-out votes are recorded as warranting “Accurate return fire”?

        Are you asserting your leadership (or at minimum the LRC Executive Board):

        1) Are not “honest people who looked the citizens in the eye and spoke the truths as they saw them.”

        2) Are not willing to “do the right thing.”

        3) Are compromising “duty and ethics for possible future personal or political gains?”

        3) Our state government is “corrupt.”

        4) They are dishonst since “(a)n honest man has nothing to hide” and you think they are trying to hide something?

        5) Those who disagree with you are not “honest, dedicated, hard working” legislators that dont’ have the “courage to ask questions, seek answers, and refuses to be co-opted in her duty to serve her district.”

        Regarding the “angy personal attacks,” I’ve read through this entire thread. You appear to have made some very serious charges against the integrity of others. Besides confirming or denying what I think you are asserting above, would you answer one question:

        If this is about “disclosure” and not HB1198, have you considered the following?

        1) Legislators might oppose a smoke-out for a reason other than the merits of the bill (i.e. fidelity to the committee process) and thus believe tying directly smoke-out votes to a bill to open one up to accussation it is a position on the merits of the bill is improper or misleading?

        2) Changing a SOP or rule under the purview of the LRC Executive Board might be better accomplished initiating a formal agenda item for their consideration rather than engaging in guerrilla warfare?

        1. dissident

          A good commander always takes the heat for the actions of the people under his/her command. The opposite is true of a state legislature, especially one serving under a super-majority. Mr. Nelson is merely executing the orders from his commander; find out who that is.

          Follow the money.

        2. Stace Nelson

          Mr. Jones,
          Please read the emails attached above. It is clear that is what I was attempting to do in my April 14th email; however, if those inquiries and requests for assistance in dealing with these problems are highjacked by not forwarding the emails, by research material being withheld, by dishonest reports that the issues were in fact given to the E-Board for review & consideration, and that the E-Board determined it DID not have jurisdiction over the issues, makes it a little impossible…

          The messenger has left the firing zone.

  38. Anonymous

    It has long been rumored that the LRC assists certain legislators more than others, esp. in the majority party. Stace is just shedding light on an existing issue.

  39. Troy Jones


    1) It is an honor to say I worked for Governor Mickelson.

    2) Regarding Fry, all I can say is his integrity (personal and professional) is impeccable. He isn’t one to promote or oppose political agenda’s. I remember going to him as an intern to have legislation drafted for my boss. He told me the pros and cons and when I left I had no idea how he felt. The consummate professional. This (and the comments by Anonymous 12:22 p.m.) gives me evidence this is about HB1198 and he has been caught in the crossfire.

    3) I do think you are right there is an attempt to “shake things up” but it related to disappointment with the results of HB1198 and not disclosure issues. Unfortunately, in the context of smoke-out, taken to a logical conclusion, it throws the baby out with the bathwater. Part of the reason our legislature can do its business in such a short time is the committee process means something. If smoke-out becomes the vehicle of choice for every bill that dies in committee, nobody will like the result.

    4) Finally, you know by my past, I’m not a favorite of anyone in politics. I call a spade a spade as I see it without regard to consequences. I’ve had plenty of calls from legislators during a session to that effect. But, “dying on the wrong hill” is right. Inferring something sinister in the context of smoke-out when the real issue is disposition of a piece of legislation serves nobody. Whether it be HB1198 or a bill I care about passionately, my view here would be exactly the same.

    Anonymous 12:22: I doubt leadership will have to resort to spite to deal with the successor to HB1198. It will die from its own weight. But my question is, do you have no room for people of good will to disagree with you or do you automatically assume disagreement means they have no good will?

    1. Stace Nelson

      Mr. Jones,
      My life and posts make it crystal clear that I mean what I say and say what I mean. I have to say, I did not know that I would benefit from so much free lamen psychoanalysis of the hidden meanings of my plain spoken words. 😀 Please tell me that I don?t have to claim you or Rjae?s lovely sessions here as some kind of in-kind contribution. It is clear that my concerns are with perceived malfeasance at the top of our LRC. If not, let me make them so.

      I do understand your consternation. You make a valid point. Mr. Fry has been in place a long time, and there are many people of influence that he is friends with. Understandable how freshman legislators? efforts could be easily subverted under those circumstances. It would pain me also if a friend of mine?s actions were called into question; however, what concerns me is not the list of influential people that are upset for me waiving the red flag, it is about the integrity of our legislative process.

      Since you are a friend of Mr. Fry, and an adept former accomplished member of the state government, please provide an explanation of how the following circumstances are in keeping with open government, and/or promoting the impartiality & professionalism of our LRC so legislators & the public have faith in that institution:

      #1. (A) Expenses unrelated to 13-55-2 were inappropriately included in an LRC generated fiscal note on HB 1083 (a bill reform to actually provide tuition benefits for veterans) that helped defeat it:
      (B) Dir. Fry has refused to provide any information on how that occurred or who asked for that to be included. This additional information on a statute unrelated to the bill, does not just show up in a fiscal note, as I am sure you are aware. (C) How is the first part not Corruption? (D) How is not responding to this official request for information not dereliction and/or insubordination?

      #2. After being asked why the RECORDED votes were not listed on the online status page, Dir. Fry confirmed that the smoke out RECORDED VOTES were SUPPOSED to be placed on the online status page of the bill as apparently REQUIRED by Legislative Rules 6I-1 AFTER he consulted with LRC staff confirming as such, he later covertly had the recorded vote removed and claimed when it was discovered and confronted about it, that in the height of their busiest time, the LRC spontaneously reviewed the online status page and determined it is against some phantom UNWRITTEN policy NOT to list this specific RECORDED vote of major action to the bill on the official record of action to the bill. (A) Do not the bizarre circumstances not indicate prima facie corruption in the removal of the RECORDED vote from the official record of action to the bill?
      (B) Or do you believe it is happenchance incompetence, or dereliction?

      #3 Myself and another legislator have asked for research information on the feasibility of upgrading the legislative website since before April 14th. Before he consulted with Rep. Turbiville, as he indicates above, he purportedly instructed the LRC staff programmer NOT to answer our questions. With that in mind, read his comments here:

      (A) Is his not having/providing the requested web site changes information at the time of this article, dereliction of duty?
      (B) Is his purported instructions to an LRC staff member NOT to provide research information to a legislator not insubordination? Or, inappropriate conduct/corruption if he is attempting to influence/obstruct a policy change he does not like?

      (C) Insubordination or dereliction of duty when he failed/refused to forward my email to the E-Board as he did not have the E-Board members on the website at of April 14?

      (D) What do you call him ADMITTEDLY withholding research material for months, at the purported behest of another legislator (see Mr Fry?s comment above)? Corruption? Insubordination?

      (E) He has yet to provided answers to specific questions on the website upgrades. Insubordination? Dereliction?

      **(F) He claims that my inquiries and requests ?was referred to the Executive Board for review and consideration. ? But as you can see from the other legislators? comments above, that NEVER happened. I think we all can see what that one is.

      I have more; however, I think you get the drift.

      I have been contacted and advised that there is action on my concerns, as well as apparent other similar complaints from other legislators. If this apparent corruption and malfeasances are true, than something clearly needs to be done

      In regards to the comments that this is about HB 1198, it is not. It was not my bill and with a career of criminal cases behind me, I moved on from that bill after the House decided its fate by the recorded vote. The concerns I have with the controversy around the apparent malfeasance with the display of that vote is not the same as the vote on the bill.

      I was prepared to bring a different bill that goes after the problem in a different fashion; however, I instead lent support to Rep. Steele & Sen. Tiezen?s efforts. The bill on illegal immigration I am bringing should pass this next year. SCOTUS has already upheld the basics of the bill I am bringing, and it will help start addressing this growing problem in SD.

      That being said, your personal comments appear to conflict on the matter of that bill. You extol the virtues of Dir. Fry managing the LRC; however, you decry a major piece of legislation as crap that he supervised the construct of?

  40. Lee Schoenbeck

    the problem with using a flame thrower in the legislative chamber (and as a young pup I learned this the hard way), is the fire you are throwing doesn’t know how to skip around and hit only the “bad guys” and the ” bad ideas”, and most of those guys are “good” and “bad” (today’s enemy is tomrorow’s friend), and most of those ideas are a little bit “good” and a little bit “bad” — and when you torch it all — you’re not part of making the things you see as “good” happen, you’re just a torch. Enough of this -let’s talk about real policy and real issues

    1. Stace Nelson

      Mr. Schoenbeck,
      If you ever have time. I would LOVE for you to impart your wisdom on correcting such problems as these, without stepping on a couple toes, when the process failed so miserably over the last 6 months as it did in the circumstances above. God bless..

  41. J Rae

    Stace, since you don’t really appreciate or understand the nuances of certain votes, maybe you can provide us with all of your own votes from committee on to the floor. Then we can let others twist your yes or no vote into anything they want. Oh sure, it might just be procedural, but it will be enough to create a little havoc.

    Oh yeah, and you say its not about 1198…then give us another example real quick.

    I do admire your Chutzpah in talking down to Lee, trashing his friend and then asking him for advice.

    1. Anonymous

      JRae — Hopefully, I can help. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE EFFORT TO KEEP THE PUBLIC IN THE DARK ON THE VOTING IN THE LEGISLATURE–NOTHING MORE! Please quit trying to twist this into something it isn’t (nuances).

  42. Lee Schoenbeck

    group hug time — what about those All-Stars? We need our baseball season to get going again so we can spend our time like real Americans — hating the Yankees. By the way, there are all kinds of people here in DC (I am visiting), but the one thing there are clearly too many of is Yankee fans — we need quotas, or bug spray or something. If this was West River, Sen Rhoden said he’d handle them like Democrats (apparently they have a spray program for that in Meade County)

    1. J Rae

      Your right Lee, that’s why you have earned the “elder” statesman status…although I don’t think you’re that old. Maybe you should come out of retirement in politics. We could use people like you in Pierre.

  43. springer

    Troy said something about not wanting to go against the “process” as a reason to vote for or against a bill smoke-out. I ran into that in the Rep state meeting this year. People wanted to include a certain item in the platform, but it was not even allowed to be discussed as it would go against the “process” to do so. Sorry for the language here, but damn the process. Do what is right. Period!

    And thank goodness for a person of Stace Nelson’s stature (and I don’t mean his height!) in the SD legislature.

  44. Troy Jones

    Zpringer, I agree they should do what is right, including supporting the committee process. Oncecommittees become perfunctory, the system will collapse. It is so easy for rookies and people who have never been there to babble.

    1. Babble

      Mr. Jones,
      Is it Ironic that an actual elected legislator, that has successfully passed bills into law, and appears to have been commended for their extensive govt service, should be lectured on accepting political committee proceeding results on face value without question by a “veteran” intern of two years?

      Is it a “rookie” mistake to invite these issues to be debated in the public view on the floor of the chamber designed for such debate, or to accept the routine dismissal of bills in select committees, without question?

  45. springer

    Sorry, I believe that people have a right to engage in the “process.” If the committee refuses to address an issue, and the delegates at the state meeting feel it is an important issue, it should at least be given a hearing. If it is then voted down, so be it, but the people DO have a right to a voice. Sometimes the “process” becomes more a consensus of the good ole boys and not a true representation of the people.

  46. grudznick

    Not only did apparently somebody remove the votes from the LRC website, somebody hacked in and deleted 118 comments made on this very topic!!! Do I smell News Corp taking over the DWC, or just another hypocritical death rattle from blogging in general? (My granddaughter’s friend said there’s something called macroblogging that’s all the rage. I’m looking for it now.)

    1. Bill Fleming

      Hmmm…. it’s not the first time stuff has vanished from this site. LOL.
      Actually, it’s all still there, grudz. Keep looking and clicking. You’ll see.

      1. grudznick

        I found it this morning, Mr. Fleming, while eating a late breakfast at Talley’s with this new fancy tiny computer I got for a significant birthday. The keys are tiny but it has zoom software to make the print easier to read and I might like this. But I could have sworn all the comments were gone for a while, and I appologize to Mr. Nelson for even thinking he made people remove them. He’s an upright guy in my book.

  47. Troy Jones

    For anyone who cares, upon reflection and after chastisement from Schoenbeck for being a bull in a china closet in reaction to me thinking Representative Nelson was being bull in a china closet 🙂 , I want to make a public apology for my direct and indirect charges that questioned his character and integrity.

    I’ve heard from others Stace considers his role to be that Bull which means sometimes mud gets thrown around. Legislatures are better by having a few bulls (not too many) and I respect that. I should have filtered my comments with that understanding. I’m sorry I didn’t.

    On a side note, this debate has filtered onto Madville Times which you can read what is being said there.

    1. Bill Fleming

      Love the “bull” metaphor, Troy. Works on so many levels. And of course begs the question. “Who’s steering whom?” (I will of course refrain from more coarse analogs… i.e. “nuts” etc. ;^)

  48. Svendolski

    This whole discussion rests on the false premise that how someone in Pierre votes might affect their election prospects. That is simply not the case. To get elected to the Legislature in all but a handful of districts in SD, you need only answer these two questions correctly:

    1. Are you the Republican nominee?
    2. Have you recently been arrested for molesting children?


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