Sponsors reconsidering support of HB 1067 at crackerbarrell

Out west this week, the heat was turned up on House Bill 1067 with a local doctor tackling the first controversial issue this session in the media:

Dr. Stephen Eckrich says that Sanford Health, one of the state’s largest healthcare providers, is behind this year’s bill, and the additions would completely undermine the voter’s will.


“They have, I believe, hoodwinked some of our local legislators to thinking this is some minor tweek that needs to be made to a bill, when in fact it’s going to completely gut what 62% of the voters in South Dakota voted for.”

Several West River lawmakers sponsored the bill including Representatives Kristen Conzet, Dan Dryden, Jeffery Partridge, and Senators Terri Haverly and Alan Solano.

Read it here at KOTA-TV.

As a result of how this measure is being perceived in the public, some of the Rapid City area sponsors were publicly reconsidering their support at this weekend’s crackerbarrell.

A doctor asked about HB 1067 regarding Initiated Measure 17 passed last year. He asked whether it was right for legislators to vote to overturn a measure approved by a majority of the people. Senator Haverly said it was not sold to her as “gutting IM 17”, and she is taking another look at HB 1067. Rep. Conzet said she voted for IM 17, and that HB 1067 was not sold to her the way it is being perceived. She said she is reconsidering the bill, and though she is one of the sponsors, she will be voting against it.

Read that here.

This bill doesn’t appear likely to go down without a fight, but with at least two sponsors reconsidering before it hits committee, it looks like it might be a bumpy ride for this legislation.

Dems not impressed with Tornberg’s leadership, or lack thereof.

It is a weekly ritual at this point where the site authors for Sioux Falls Drinking Liberally make their weekly post on what’s going on behind closed doors at the Democrat party, and then I’m doing a post based off of what they’ve written. 

It’s great stuff, and should be on your reading list.

This week’s post is regarding the Governor’s Education plan, and how the Democrats made a cocked up mess of their response:

 The Democrats proposed using the additional money to increase teacher salaries a bit more than the Governor proposed and to remove the sales tax on food, making the state sales tax a little less regressive. This is a noble proposal.

One would think that the Democrats would have lined up their primary constituent and the primary beneficiary of the sales tax increase, the South Dakota Teachers Association (SDEA), behind their proposal if it was to have a ghost of chance of passing and if they meant it as a serious proposal. It turns out the SDEA announced its preference for the Governor’s plan, not the Democratic plan, even before the Democrats revealed their proposal. 

One would think the Democrats would have checked with the SDEA before they announced their proposal. After all, Ann Tornberg, before assuming her election as Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party and mother hen of the few remaining Democratic Legislator’s in Pierre, was President of SDEA’s organization in Sioux Falls, the largest school district in the State. Apparently such message coordination didn’t occur. 

Is it any wonder that no one is taking the Democrat’s plan seriously.

Read it here.

Ouch. I felt that burn all the way up here in Brookings.

Former Union Boss Ann Tornberg didn’t even bother to check with ‘her peeps’ on where they stood with the Governor’s plan before her party offered an alternative? Wow.  

At this point, we’re left wondering if Ann Tornberg could screw up her political party any more if she tried?

South Dakota Dems are dependent on their national party to keep them financially afloat. They’ve abandoned all hopes of running a good candidate for US Senate, and at last look were shopping for another sacrificial lamb, such as they have running for Congress against Kristi Noem. So far, their roster of announced state legislative candidates for seats they don’t already hold can be counted on your fingers. 

And now we’re hearing they didn’t bother seeking the support of SDEA, a long time partner with close ties to the Dem party, as well as personally for the chairman, before they rolled out their education plan?

We haven’t seen leadership like this since the skipper and Gilligan set out on a three hour tour. 

Nanny state pee-testing Bill introduced. Did anyone mention it’s unconstitutional?

If you recall the measure I derided earlier as being contrary to principles of compassionate conservatism, as well as a unprecedented expansion of government oversight into our lives, it has now been assigned a bill number, and has been introduced as House Bill 1076.


Introduced by: Representatives DiSanto, Brunner, Campbell, Craig, Greenfield (Lana), Latterell, Marty, May,Qualm, Rasmussen, Schrempp, Verchio, Werner, and Wiik and Senators Olson, Ewing, Greenfield (Brock), Jensen (Phil), Omdahl, Rampelberg, and Shorma

FOR AN ACT ENTITLED, An Act to provide for drug testing for certain assistance applicants.  BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:

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

Upon application for temporary assistance for needy families or for the supplemental nutrition assistance program, the Department of Social Services shall test each adult applicant under sixty-five years of age for the illegal use of controlled substances if the applicant is otherwise eligible for benefits. If the applicant tests positive for the use of a controlled substance that was not prescribed for the applicant by a licensed health care provider, the applicant is ineligible to receive benefits for a period of one year. The applicant shall pay the cost of the drug test.

Section 2. That the code be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

An applicant aggrieved by this Act is entitled to an administrative hearing to determine the validity of the test and to contest the decision to deny benefits.

Has my opinion of this measure changed since I penned my objection to it a couple of days ago?

Not one iota.

If as a state, we’re going to have a program of this nature to provide temporary help, you don’t need to kick them in the face before you lift them up.  Having to go to the state for assistance is bad enough.

I was surprised to read on the Internet that the prime sponsor of this measure, Rep. DiSanto, was trying to justify it by saying she’d been on public assistance at one time herself.  According to the Daily Signal:

DiSanto, who herself received welfare assistance when she was a young single mother, argues that welfare recipients should not use taxpayer dollars to finance drug habits. She posted to her Facebook page Jan. 15:

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

Read that here.

Wait, what?

Someone explain to me how we make the leap in logic from “I have all the respect for people who are utilizing these government safeguards” to “if you can afford drugs you can afford food.?”  Because if DiSanto actually had any respect for them as she claims, why would she assume they ALL need to be tested for drug use?

By saying that we need to test them all, as I noted before, the measure embodies the ultimate expression of the intrusive nanny state in its most malevolent form as it creates more government, and a dangerous overreach of the authority of the state to intrude into our lives.  We will literally be adding more bureaucracy for the purposes of government drug testing citizens of the state.

And it introduces a very, very dangerous concept that interactions with government should be prequalified based upon successfully passing a very fallible drug test.  If there was any compassion or conservatism – as opposed to meanness and big government – in the interest of barring drug users we might consider principles that seem to be cast by the wayside in this instance.

You know, those principles handed down by our country’s forefathers, contained in the US Constitution and amendments known as The Bill of Rights. And I’m not the only one who thinks this way (From December of 2014).

A federal appeals court on Wednesday said a Florida law requiring applicants for welfare benefits to undergo mandatory drug testing is unconstitutional, a decision that could affect efforts to enforce similar laws in other states.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Florida did not show a “substantial special need” to test all applicants to its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program without any suspicion of drug use. The federally subsidized program was intended to help people pay for food, shelter and other necessities.

“By virtue of poverty, TANF applicants are not stripped of their legitimate expectations of privacy,” Circuit Judge Stanley Marcus wrote for a three-judge panel. “If we are to give meaning to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on blanket government searches, we must – and we do – hold that (the law) crosses the constitutional line.”

Read that here.  And if we look to the Congressional Research Service from March of this past year….

Based on the case law analyzed above, state or federal laws that require drug tests as a condition of receiving governmental benefits without regard to an individualized suspicion of illicit drug use may be subject to constitutional challenge. Drug tests historically have been considered searches for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment. For searches to be reasonable, they generally must be based on individualized suspicion unless the government can show a special need warranting a deviation from the norm. However, governmental benefit programs like TANF, SNAP, unemployment compensation, and housing assistance do not naturally evoke the special needs that the Supreme Court has recognized in the past.

Read the Congressional Service Report here.

If we’re to keep with true conservative principles, including those principles in the US Constitution, it’s easy to see that the bill as proposed should not just be killed, but withdrawn entirely out of embarrassment.

If we’re to hold true to the ideal that people are innocent until proven guilty, the only way to properly trigger the limiting of benefits upon drug use is to consider legislation that affects recipients if they’re convicted of a drug crime. It’s a far better path than expanding the nanny state into unheard of authority.

I had mentioned before that utilizing an adjudication of a drug crime is how Montana limits TANF benefits for drug users, so there is strong precedent for it that isn’t going to run afoul of the constitution.  Believe me, I hate drug users as much as, if not more than a lot of people. But executing everyone because you can’t find the guilty party is how they do it in dictatorships. You’re not guilty until proven innocent here. Not in South Dakota, and not in America.

House Bill 1076 needs to be withdrawn, or barring a sense of dignity or conscience, killed immediately. Because that’s not how we’re supposed to do it in this country.  Period.

HB 1067 continues to garner controversy. Both sides sounding off on the measure.

The Argus Leader has an article this afternoon coming after the introduction of HB1067 where it appears that the prediction of it being controversial is not an overblown statement. To say the least.

If approved, the bill would essentially legalize the way Sanford Health Plans interpreted Initiated Measure 17. Sanford began offering a plan that includes all providers who want in, but it has also continued to offer narrow-network plans to consumers and employers who want them.

Rapid City-based orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Eckrich, said the measure is an attempt by lobbyists to reverse South Dakota voters’ 2014 decision.

“This is an insult to the people of South Dakota,” Eckrich said in a statement Wednesday. “When the vast majority of the public say they are in favor of choosing their own doctor, they have spoken. However, Sanford thinks they are above the law and are putting their selfish interests ahead of the will of their patients.”

Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, defended the measure, which he is co-sponsoring in the House. He said the debate would provide a good opportunity for resolving some of the conflict between doctor-owned hospitals and non-profit hospital systems.

Read it all here.

HB 1067 is currently scheduled to be heard in House Commerce and Energy, which will likely come up in the next week, as it is not currently calendared.  At least three of the measure’s sponsors are on the committee, including the prime sponsor of the bill, Tim Rounds, who also serves as the chairman of the committee.

Given how controversial this measure is, I question whether it will actually be heard in the committee, or if there’s a chance it could be recalled, and assigned to State Affairs. It’s already sounding like this could be a cat fight.

And we haven’t started the bills on increasing taxes for teacher pay or medicaid expansion yet!

Senate Democrats Vote to Expand Government Into Americans’ Backyards

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressSenate Democrats Vote to Expand Government Into Americans’ Backyards
“At the president’s urging, Washington bureaucrats have issued a rule governing Americans’ backyards without regard for the negative effect it has on communities that depend on the land.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement after the Senate attempted to override the president’s veto of the Obama Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, which places burdensome regulations on farmers, ranchers, and businesses across the country.

“At the president’s urging, Washington bureaucrats have issued a rule governing Americans’ backyards without regard for the negative effect it has on communities that depend on the land. Unfortunately, rather than listening to the American people’s objections, the president and Senate Democrats have persisted in their efforts to expand the reach of the federal government. We will continue to fight this thinly veiled land grab this year and beyond.”

WOTUS is under fire from Americans across the country, who are pushing back against a rule that allows the federal government to regulate ponds, ditches, agriculture water, storm water, and other bodies of water not historically regulated under the federal Clean Water Act. In November 2015, the Senate passed a resolution of disapproval to overturn WOTUS, and 31 states have filed lawsuits against the rule. An October decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals extended to all 50 states an earlier injunction from a federal district court that blocked implementation in 13 states, including South Dakota.


Don’t forget the College Republicans! Let’s see if we can get these kids to CPAC.

As I’m in the middle of rearranging a few things on the website in preparation of the election season, I wanted to take just a moment and remind you of the two groups of College Republicans who are raising money to help their membership attend CPAC in March.

The Augustana University College Republicans are at 52% of their $5000 goal as we come to the end of January. They have a huge group they’re trying to send, so click here, and add to the total to help get this very active group of CR’s there.

The University of South Dakota College Republicans are a beacon of conservatism in that liberal institution that wishes it could be as great as South Dakota State. They’ve raised $220 of the $1000 they’re trying to raise to send members of their organization to CPAC.  C’mon readers – we can do better than that! $1000 collectively isn’t that much – Click here and see if we can put them over the top.

Many of these students will be running Republican campaigns, if not running as candidates in the very near future. Help them with what they’re not getting in college – exposure to conservative values, and the opportunity to network with conservative leaders from around the country.

Rounds Supports New North Korean Sanctions

Rounds Logo 2016Rounds Supports New North Korean Sanctions

WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) cosponsored legislation to impose new sanctions against North Korean officials involved in nuclear program and proliferation activities, as well as human rights abuses.

“While much of our attention has been on conflicts in the Middle East, we must not forget the military aggression from North Korea, as well as their human rights violations,” said Rounds. “The North Korean regime continues to threaten the U.S. and our allies with violence, weapons of mass destruction and cyberattacks. Such actions must not be tolerated. Increasing sanctions will apply pressure on the North Korean regime.”

The North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act would:

  • Explicitly state that it is the policy of the United States to pursue sanctions against the North Korean government in order to peacefully disarm the North Korean regime;
  • Require the administration to submit a strategy to counter North Korean cyber-related attacks and impose sanctions on cyber criminals;
  • Codify two executive orders released in 2015 authorizing sanctions against entities undermining U.S. and national economic security in cyberspace; and
  • Require a report by the State Department identifying human rights abusers in North Korea and a report on their political prison camps.


Do you think that might have been good advice for his wife as well? Haber takes a plea.



Mwaaa ha ha
Curses! Foiled again!

The husband of former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Annette Bosworth has taken a deal and avoided jail time for charges related to his wife’s 2014 campaign.

Chad Haber appeared Wednesday at the Hughes County Courthouse. He pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors related to not reporting criminal activity to authorities.

He was originally indicted on felony charges of perjury and offering false or forged instrument for filing.

Read it here.

So, all he had to do was to admit in some manner what he did was wrong, and he was allowed to plead it down to a misdemeanor?

Hmm….  Do you think that might have been good advice for his wife as well?

Latest Draft of Initiated Measure 17 altering legislation is officially filed, and now called House Bill 1067

One of the legislative measures that have already proven to be controversial before it was finished has now been put in the hopper and given a number. House Bill 1067, as primed by State Representative Tim Rounds, represents the latest draft of the legislation as supported by Sanford Health Plans, who believes in a different interpretation than the one in State Law as passed by 2014’s Initiated Measure 17, otherwise known as the “Any willing Provider” act.

What are the differences between the draft measure we pointed out yesterday, and the one that was filed today?

The draft dated 1/7/2016 is titled An Act to allow health care providers to offer plans that contain less than all of the health care providers on a panel of providers.

House Bill 1067’s title is “An Act to promote quality, competition, and freedom of choice in the health insurance market place.

Well… it’s a shinier title. But, with the exception of the new title, it would appear to be the same bill as circulated around previously.

The bill’s complete sponsor list is as noted:

Representatives Rounds, Beal, Conzet, Cronin, Dryden, Hawks, Hawley, Jensen (Alex), Otten (Herman), Partridge, Peterson (Kent), and Willadsen and Senators Peters, Buhl O’Donnell, Haverly, Rusch, Shorma, Solano, Sutton, and Tidemann.

Residency for the sponsors is heavily weighted in South Dakota’s urban areas, and politically, most, if not all, aren’t going to face tough competition at election time. No one is going to beat Tim Rounds or Deb Peters, or Arch Beal, or Larry Tidemann, etc.   Or, like Alex Jensen, and Angie Buhl, they’re sitting out the next election.

Although it was very interesting to see that State Representative Paula Hawks who is running for Congress has signed on as a sponsor to what may be one of the legislative session’s most controversial bills.  Her sponsorship is a wild card in all of this, given her high profile race for office in 2016.

Stay tuned. The wild ride of the 2016 legislative session is just starting.

A few new pins for my collection. And the march of the Mundt elephants.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve picked up a few new pins here and there, and today, I made a good raid on the local antique mall while on the way to pick up my daughter.   Today, I spread the sum total of my gatherings, as well as what I cleaned out of my truck, out on my desk:


There’s an Alick Kundert Skinny Cat Club Pin from her run for Governor. A great big Clint Roberts pin I hadn’t seen before, and a Nils Boe pin I hadn’t seen, as well as a few others I didn’t have. I’ve been trying to pick up some South Dakota presidential related pins, as they’re typically among the more rare ones

The thing I’m probably the happiest with was finding another three Mundt Morton Elephants for my collection.


There were at least two, maybe three produced for as many South Dakota candidates, and the Mundt elephants are by far the most plentiful.

I’ve got two varieties here (Mundt and Mundt, and GOP and Mundt). They were produced by the Morton Pottery company in the 1950’s, and they made them for primarily GOP candidates, although there were a few Morton Donkeys out there.

Handing out ceramic figurines to campaign supporters apparently went by the wayside in the 1950’s, but they’re still a nifty tchotchke for the campaign memorabilia collector.