With session over, now it’s time to fight over new school standards for science. Here comes climate change and evolution!

Bob Mercer is reporting today that now that the fight over common core standards for Math and English are over for the year with the departure of the legislators from Pierre, we get to start fighting over standards for science curriculum:

Osmundson described climate change and evolution as “fringe ideas” but suggested there could be ways to hold classroom discussions about them without the school system advocating for or against the

Another opponent, Catherine Billion, of Sioux Falls, tied the standards movement to UNESCO — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — and its Agenda 21 plan for sustainable development that was adopted at an international conference in 1992.

Billion said many South Dakota families have values that don’t match the school standards as proposed. “And that pits school against parents,” she said.

The state board could adopt the science standards at the May 18 meeting or direct the department to further revise them for possible final approval at the board’s July 27 meeting in Rapid City.

Read it all here.

Ugh. Why are they lumping ‘climate change,’ which isn’t settled by any means, with evolution, which has been accepted science for oh, over a century? Regardless, welcome to the next legislative session’s big fight, which could make the battle over algebra and diagramming sentences look tame.

What do you think?

Governor Daugaard on hand to welcome Black Hills Corp corporate HQ expansion in Rapid City.

BOOM! And Governor Daugaard drops the microphone. Why? Because there’s not much to say after the Black Hills corporation announced their plan to invest over $70 Million into Rapid City via setting up their new corporate headquarters.

And once again, it’s proven that South Dakota IS one of the top places for business in these United States:

Among those present was Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who said the expansion is proof of what some national media and analysts have reported of late: that South Dakota is a top state for doing business. “What a great day for Rapid City and a great day for South Dakota,” Daugaard said. The company, he said, is “demonstrating their intent to be here for the long haul.”

Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker said the $70 million project equates to about 10 percent of the city’s overall development investment over the past three years. “This is a huge investment in our community,” Kooiker said.

Emery said later that no rate hike is expected to pay for the construction. Black Hills Power recently obtained state approval for a roughly 4.35 percent rate hike for about 65,000 South Dakota customers, the second price jump in less than two years. But, Emery said, “We don’t believe the (headquarters) facility is going to directly drive a rate increase.”

Read it here.

Opponent to Kooiker announces for Mayor. Mistakes already being made. 

The man who is arguably the primary opponent to Mayor Sam Kooiker in this year’s’ Rapid City mayoral contest has made his announcement for mayor. And it seems that mistakes are already being made.

On his campaign page, former police chief Steve Allender notes the following:

“I intend to run a positive campaign because I believe the voters should be allowed to choose the best candidate, not the lesser of evils.”

But what’s the intro of the Rapid City Journal article announcing his candidacy?

 Now wholly committed to a bid for Rapid City mayor, former police chief Steve Allender said Monday that he will roll out his criticisms of incumbent Mayor Sam Kooiker slowly until the June 2 election.

Allender, who on Friday said he remained just 99 percent sure he would run, only alluded to his indifference with Kooiker during his formal campaign announcement Monday at the Adoba Hotel in downtown Rapid City.

“I am pacing myself a little bit,” he said. “I don’t intend to bring up the deepest and darkest issues here this morning, especially with such a friendly and good-looking crowd.”

Read it here.

“Criticisms,” and “I don’t intend to bring up the deepest and darkest issues here this morning.” Good grief. Cue Darth Vader’s theme.  So much for positive. It sounds like the only thing the campaign will be about are evils.

And then there’s the logo.

Is that swirly thing after “Allen” and before “er” supposed to constitute a letter in his name? Well, it really doesn’t. It just renders his name illegible at any speed.

Seriously? That’s something I’ve spoken about since year one of this web site, and was taught over 25 years ago. Never, ever substitute a graphic element for a letter of your name. Especially once like this, which is actually difficult to discern as a letter.

Supposedly, he’s going to be deploying that logo on yard signs, billboards and 4×8’s. If you can’t read the darn name quickly and clearly, that’s a waste of money. There’s a graphic designer out there who needs to return their fee, because this is not an asset to the campaign.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Mr. Allender (or Mr Allen-swirly-er) is a nice person. But for someone in a political campaign against Sam Kooiker, a tough, experienced campaigner – he’s not kicking things off on the right foot.

Tone deaf Obama administration canceling White House FOIA on National Freedom of Information Day.

From USA Today:

The White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office.


But the timing of the move raised eyebrows among transparency advocates, coming on National Freedom of Information Day and during a national debate over the preservation of Obama administration records. It’s also Sunshine Week, an effort by news organizations and watchdog groups to highlight issues of government transparency.

Read it here.

Former Senate Appropriations Chair Jerry Apa attacking GOP Leadership.

Former Republican Legislator and Senate Appropriations Chair Jerry Apa has some harsh words for Republican Legislators, calling them greedy, lacking leadership, etc., and so on in a letter to the Editor in the Argus Leader:

The leadership, or lack thereof, of the House and Senate chambers of the state legislature has to be one of the most arrogant, tone deaf, greedy not needy groups to populate Pierre in a long time. Beginning with the majority leader in the Senate trying to subvert the initiative process to disregarding the voter’s directive on the minimum wage, the Republicans have said damn the voters full speed ahead.

Don’t forget the attempt to raise the legislative salary by 40 percent, while ignoring the plight of the average South Dakota teacher. This misbegotten bill was sponsored by the same senator who can’t eat lunch in an hour and expects the taxpayer to pay for a $23 catered lunch.


The Republican super majority has shown that a majority corrupts and an absolute majority absolutely corrupts. The Republicans need to rebrand their party as the Taxandspendican Party.

Read it here.

“Taxandspendican Party?”  Well, that’s kind of harsh.  Especially since if memory serves, Jerry wasn’t immune to the temptations of proposing tax measures himself. From time to time. To time.

Jackley critical of Dept of Justice for lingering on EB-5

This just popped up – The Argus is reporting that South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley is unhappy with the US Department of Justice lingering on their investigation of the EB-5 matter, which remains open with no apparent activity, and possibly may be open simply for political reasons:

Jackley’s investigation was completed in about six months. The federal probe, however, is now at least two years old.

“That was a long time ago,” Jackley said. “So I guess it begs the question of what are they looking at.”

Although the department indicated that it remains open, there doesn’t appear to be activity.


“I’ll tell you, I’m less than happy with them,” Jackley said.

Jackley says he hopes to talk more about the Department of Justice’s role in the investigation, but he’s waiting first on a ruling from the state Supreme Court. The attorney general’s office is defending itself from a lawsuit brought by journalist Bob Mercer, who is trying to force the office to release more information about the Benda investigation. The hearing is later this month.

Jackley said that local federal officials did a good job, but he has different feelings for federal officials in Washington.

“I had expressed during the process concerns of how the Department of Justice was handling matters,” he said.

Read it all here.

Thune, others concerned NASA spending time on earth studies instead of space exploration

From the Hill, it sounds as if the environmentalists have taken over everything, including making NASA about earth science instead of space exploration:

About $4.5 billion is requested for exploration, meanwhile, including development of rockets to be launched into deep space. Another $4 billion is slated for space operations, including support of the International Space Station.

According to Cruz, that represents a 41 percent increase in earth science funding since 2009, compared to a 7 percent decrease in funding for exploration and operations.

“Are we focusing on the heavens in NASA or are we focusing on dirt in Texas?” asked Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the head of the Commerce Committee and the Senate’s No. 3 Republican, is similarly concerned that some research may be “redundant with activities being undertaken at other federal agencies and may actually reduce the availability of funds for research related to the traditional sciences, aeronautics and space exploration,” his spokesman said.

Read it all here.

Does South Dakota need low taxes, or do we bring financial woes upon ourselves?

I was reading an editorial from my local paper, the Brookings Register, where the publisher brought up an interesting point from a recent Crackerbarrel, when someone from the audience asked whether South Dakota’s status as the least taxed state in the nation was A. An Accomplishment, B. An Embarassment, or C. Other.   The publisher also brought up that legislators also bemoaned that state revenue projections were “likely to leave the state 10-15 million short” in the next two fiscal years.

If I were asked, I’d argue that it’s a good thing that our state is the least taxed in the nation. Why? In case someone missed it, we’re also 46th in population. There aren’t a lot of companies or employers who when determining where to locate are actively seeking “sparsely populated areas with sweltering summers, punishing arctic winters a plus.”  So, we need to capitalize on what we do have. And the ability to tax ourselves less is one of them.

The tradeoff is that yes, we run ourselves a little closer to the redline than some might like. We tend to be less spendthrift in word and deed. Some might call South Dakotans downright tight, or conjure up a cultural reference such as German frugality.

Whatever the cause, we tend to be tight with a buck, and are not terribly interested in handing it off to government to do as they please – which causes this give and take, or tug of war between taxpayers and taxspenders. Or you might say it’s a battle between our wants and not our needs but rather our “means.”

So, I pose the question to you, the SDWC reader: Does South Dakota need low taxes, or do we bring financial woes upon ourselves by them being low?

Thune continuing efforts to keep EPA from regulating ditches

According to today’s Argus Leader, US Senator John Thune is continuing his pursuit of legislation to prevent the EPA from regulating water in rural ditches as being a navigable body of water subject to the strictures of the Clean Water Act:

Despite assurances from the EPA, agricultural groups contend the Waters of the U.S. rule would expand the scope of “navigable waters” protected by the Clean Water Act to include not only rivers and lakes but ditches, stream beds and self-made ponds that carry water only when it rains.

Farmers say they would face higher costs for environmental assessments and need to apply for permits to allow them to till soil, apply fertilizer or engage in some conservation practices.

A bill last year to ban the EPA from enacting the rule garnered support from almost three dozen Senate Republicans, a number that bodes well for similar legislation in the GOP-led Congress this year.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said there remains strong, bipartisan opposition to the proposal.

“Any federal regulation that could make farmers and ranchers legally liable for fines and penalties for conducting normal farming practices would be an overstep of authority and an infringement on their rights,” Thune said.

Read it all here.