Press Release: Thune Reacts to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Thune Reacts to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) tonight issued the following statement on President Obama’s sixth State of the Union address:

“America’s new Congress is focused on a reform agenda to fight for the middle class with policies to help create jobs, increase wages, and lower health care and energy costs. The president tonight laid out an agenda of top-down policies of the past to tax, to spend, and to regulate.

“South Dakotans know that bigger government doesn’t mean better government, but that’s exactly what the president proposed tonight, new ways to expand Washington’s already-overextended bureaucracy. After six years of the same stale policies, it’s time for new ideas.

“Republicans will turn Congress’ focus back to Americans’ top priorities: stimulating economic growth and improving the lives of middle-class Americans. This includes policies important to South Dakotans like approving the Keystone XL pipeline, reining in burdensome regulations, enacting trade agreements to put American goods on an equal playing field in the global market, and acting on other bipartisan jobs bills that have passed the House but were stuck in the United States Senate.

“Republicans believe in tapping into the potential of the American people, not the government, and we hope the president will finally join us.”

Click here for the YouTube video of Thune’s remarks and here for the high resolution file. Audio of his remarks is available here.

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Thune Offers Remarks Ahead of Tonight’s State of the Union Address

Thune Offers Remarks Ahead of Tonight’s State of the Union Address

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today offered remarks on what he hopes to hear from President Obama ahead of the State of the Union address tonight:

“President Obama’s State of the Union address will play an important role in setting the tone for the next Congress and I hope he will outline a new path forward working with Republicans to rebuild our economy from the ground up, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class. Americans want to know if the president will promote a positive, bipartisan agenda and join Republicans on working to find solutions to increase economic opportunity for all. Or, based on his rhetoric from the past few weeks, will he deliver yet another unserious political speech that overpromises and under delivers the same failed policies that grow government at the expense of the hard-working American taxpayer?

“The economy is a top priority for the majority of Americans. Although the recession officially ended more than five years ago, too many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet. Wages have remained stagnant, and median household income has dropped almost $3,000 since the president took office. And the president’s response to this is: more burdensome taxes that will hurt small businesses, farmers, and ranchers; more spending to pile debt on the back of the next generation; and more top-down regulations to stifle innovation and economic freedom.

“While the president’s message remains the same, South Dakotans have a reason to be hopeful.

“The new Republican majority is focused on a future that embraces and fights for the potential of Americans, not the government.

“We are fighting to reform the tax code so it’s simpler, more efficient and fairer.

“We are pushing to approve common-sense, bipartisan jobs bills, starting with passing the Keystone XL pipeline legislation.

“Republicans will also take up other bipartisan jobs measures that were stuck in the Democrat-led Senate for far too long, including repealing the job-killing medical device tax and reinstating the 40-hour workweek that was shortened by ObamaCare.

“In addition to passing job-creating legislation, Republicans will also make oversight a priority in the new Congress.

“The Obama Environmental Protection Agency has proposed regulations that would drive Americans’ energy prices through the roof and result in the loss of tens of thousands of American jobs.

“Americans’ priorities are Republicans’ priorities. We have a reform agenda to strengthen the middle-class, create jobs, increase wages, and lower health care and energy costs. Not the failed, top-down approach the president repeats year after year. We are eager to get to work on behalf of the American people and we hope the president will join us in this effort.”

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Press Release: Governor Unveils Juvenile Justice Legislation

Governor Unveils Juvenile Justice Legislation

PIERRE, S.D. – Building on the success of earlier reforms to the adult corrections system, Gov. Dennis Daugaard, legislative leaders and Chief Justice David Gilbertson today unveiled legislation designed to improve outcomes for youth in South Dakota’s juvenile justice system and cut costs.

Joined in the Senate chamber by Chief Justice David Gilbertson and legislative leaders, Gov. Daugaard said the Juvenile Justice Public Safety Improvement Act focuses expensive juvenile facilities on youth who pose a safety risk and expands the use of effective, community-based interventions for youth who commit less serious offenses.

“South Dakota has a choice to make,” Gov. Daugaard said. “We can continue to place juveniles in expensive state-funded facilities that, for many, are less effective at reducing delinquency, or we can invest in proven interventions and treatment programs that keep our youth close to home and connected to their communities. We are seeing success with our adult reforms of 2013. Now is the time to improve our juvenile system as well.”

Highlights of the landmark legislation include:

§  Focusing expensive facility placements on youth who pose a public safety risk

§  Preventing youth who commit lower-level offenses from deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system

§  Improving outcomes by expanding access to evidence-based interventions in the community

§  Ensuring the quality and sustainability of reforms by establishing an oversight council

According to the most recent national statistics, South Dakota has the second highest juvenile commitment rate in the country, a surprising ranking given the state’s very low juvenile violent crime arrest rate. Costs are significant; the state spends up to $144,000 per year for residential placement for each youth committed to the South Dakota Department of Corrections, mostly for misdemeanors and other low-level violations.

“Juvenile corrections facilities were built for youth who present a real threat to public safety. But the kids who are removed from their families and placed in the custody of the state are far too often low-level rule breakers, misdemeanants and non-violent,” said Sen. Alan Solano. “We can do better by our kids, families and communities by shifting policy and resources toward strategies that work better and cost less.”

Motivated by the high commitment rate and early success of the 2013 Public Safety Improvement Act (SB 70) that transformed South Dakota’s management of adult offenders, the Governor and Chief Justice established the 17-member Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative Work Group in June of 2014. After six months of meetings with more than 200 stakeholders and an exhaustive review of juvenile justice data, the bipartisan, inter-branch work group developed policy recommendations to increase public safety by improving outcomes for youth, families and communities; enhance accountability for juvenile offenders; and contain taxpayer costs by focusing system resources on serious offenders who pose a public safety risk.

Unanimously endorsed by the work group, these recommendations are reflected in the Act filed by Daugaard today. If approved, the package of policy changes will protect public safety while ensuring South Dakota’s taxpayer dollars are used as efficiently as possible.

“The proposals in this bill have the potential to significantly improve our juvenile justice system, by reallocating dollars to places where they are most effective,” said Chief Justice David Gilbertson. “With the implementation of these policies, we will be able to not only treat the juvenile, but also address the juvenile’s family. Too often we remove the juvenile and fail to look at what is going on at home that might be contributing to the child’s behavior. The family needs to become part of the solution.”

Taken together, the policies are projected to reduce the Department of Corrections juvenile population in residential placement by more than 50 percent, decrease the number of youth on probation by more than 25 percent by 2020, and greatly expand the array of services available for juvenile offenders and their families around the state.

The work group’s full report is available on the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative website, located at jjri.sd.gov.

The Act to Improve Public Safety In Juvenile Justice earned the endorsement of Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Chief Justice David Gilbertson, Attorney General Marty Jackley, State’s Attorneys Association, Sheriffs’ Association, Association of County Commissioners, Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, Association of Youth Care Providers, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Voices for Children, and the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative Work Group and the co-sponsorship of 92 legislators.

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Press Release: Thune Welcomes South Dakota Business Executive to Testify on Impact of Proposed Internet Regulations

Thune Welcomes South Dakota Business Executive to Testify on Impact of Proposed Internet Regulations

-Midco SVP Tom Simmons to testify before Commerce Committee, Thune’s inaugural hearing as chairman-

John_Thune_official_photoWASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, welcomes South Dakotan and Senior Vice President of Public Policy at Midcontinent Communications (Midco), Tom Simmons, who will testify before the Commerce Committee tomorrow, Wednesday, January 21, at Thune’s inaugural hearing as chairman entitled, “Protecting the Internet and Consumers through Congressional Action.”

“It’s fitting that as the committee holds its first hearing of the new Congress, we draw from the first-hand knowledge and success of a growing South Dakota business,” said Thune. “Mr. Simmons offers tremendous insight on the importance of protecting an open Internet and the current light touch regulatory approach that has spurred innovation. Midco is a prime example of how these policies promote infrastructure investment that benefit South Dakotans. The role of the Internet in our daily lives is going to continue to grow. It will keep revolutionizing things like transportation, health care, agriculture, and education. But heavy-handed government regulation, like that being pursued by the Federal Communication Commission, could delay or even jeopardize the next big leap in innovation. I look forward to hearing from Mr. Simmons as the committee evaluates the best path forward to protect the entrepreneurial character of the Internet and hope to draw valuable knowledge from his testimony.”

Mr. Simmons is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he serves as Senior Vice President of Public Policy for Midco and manages the public affairs, public relations, government and industry relations, and is the general spokesperson for the company. He joined Midcontinent Media, Inc., parent company of Midcontinent Communications, in 1987 as the general manager of Midcontinent’s South Dakota radio group. In 1995, Mr. Simmons joined Midco Communications, Midcontinent’s telecommunications company, as Vice President and General Manager and was given the primary task of leading the development of full service local and long distance telephone and non-traditional services on Midcontinent’s cable television/broadband infrastructure.

Last fall, PC Magazine named Midco the nation’s fastest Internet service provider. In November, Midco announced it will make gigabit speeds available by 2017 to approximately 600,000 homes and 55,000 businesses throughout South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota along a high-capacity fiber network that covers more than 7,600 miles.

Watch Thune chair his inaugural Commerce Committee hearing live tomorrow, Wednesday, January 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET, 1:30 p.m. CT, 12:30 p.m. MT online here.

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2-time SOS Candidate Lori Stacey demands revote. And claims HIV is a complete hoax.

Before we start, I’d better present you with the bona fide, ironclad, tinfoil, official Lori Stacey disclaimer that any occurrences of voter fraud are done by people out of state, and are usually done without the participation, knowledge or consent of any of the candidates or local/state election officials. And if you say anything to the contrary, it will be met with official Lori Stacey legal action:

DISCLAIMER: Any findings of probable computer-programmed election fraud presented in this story are not to be assumed, represented or characterized as an accusation against any candidate or local/state public official by this author. In most cases, electronic manipulation of voting results is accomplished by parties outside of the state in which the election took place and are usually done without the participation, knowledge or consent of any of the candidates or local/state election officials. Any attempt to smear, harass, accuse or defame author with claims to the contrary will be met with legal action.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, earlier this month, South Dakota Constitution Party Secretary of State Candidate Lori Stacey wrote a story and put it on-line, partially on the basis that according to the results in her race, the US Senate ticket, as well as the Mike Myers/Lora Hubbel gubernatorial ticket, (if you jumble enough numbers together) it’s proof that they shouldn’t have lost by THAT much.

Of the alternative candidates, the ones that were most actively campaigning throughout the state were the Gubernatorial Independent ticket of Myers/Hubbel, US Senate Independent candidates Larry Pressler and Gordon Howie, Libertarian Attorney General candidate Chad Haber and myself, Lori Stacey, as a CP candidate for Secretary of State. Although Gordon Howie is a registered Republican that ran as an Independent, he was clearly the most conservative US Senate candidate in the race in a historically conservative state. Yet, he was obviously black-listed from so much of the media attention that numerous articles in the press reported the contest to only be a 3-way, rather than a 4-way race. Gordon Howie got a feel for what it is shamefully like for a 3rd Party candidate in America today, without even being one. In numerous speeches, Howie exposed that the Rounds campaign had on more than one occasion tried to pressure him into dropping out of the race. Mind you, all that effort directed toward a candidate that was supposedly only polling at 3%. His final vote count was……….you guessed it, only 3.03%. Not uncommon to have predicted this shocking result and the topic of one of Richard Charnin’s books about forcing vote counts to match fraudulent polls. In fact, the campaigns of Howie, Myers and Stacey all received calls from voters that had participated in a well-publicized poll and had stated that we were not even included in said poll for which we supposedly all got suspiciously low polling numbers.

Read that here.

Huh? What? So, help me understand this – In the most conspiratorial manner possible, Lori Stacey asserts that because Gordon Howie polled at 3%, and his vote count was 3.03%, it’s evidence that the vote count was forced to match a “fraudulent poll?”

Might it be possible – and arguably a more plausible explanation – that Howie polled at 3% and received that same portion of the vote because that’s all that would vote for him?  And this kind of nuttiness gets even better.

Not only is an increasing share of the total a problem but in the raw precinct data for the US Senate, Governor and SOS races, in a majority of cases in which the Republican candidates won the county, we can easily see that most of the other candidates had tremendously higher percentages of the votes in the smaller precincts and then absolutely plummeted in the largest precincts where very frequently only the Republican candidates skyrocketed. To get your head around this problem, imagine a precinct with only 30 votes cast. An alternative candidate that supposedly had a true vote of only 3% statewide somehow often found 6-29% in the smallest precincts but only 1-3% in the largest precincts. In a precinct with only 30 votes cast, a candidate receives a little over 12% or 4 votes. Yet a precinct of 1,000 voters, the same candidate only receives 1.5% or 15 votes leaving a whopping 985 votes up for grabs. This type of pattern seen repeatedly around the state defies logic and is statistically improbable. It is another key red flag in suspected election fraud as votes are usually flipped where there will be the most bang for the buck.

Lori attempts more conspiracy by claiming it’s evidence of election fraud that 3rd party candidates received higher percentages in small precincts, but smaller percentages in larger precinct. Maybe it’s a simple fact that a massive majority didn’t want to vote for candidates who didn’t advertise, or staged suicide reenactments. But there’s always a chance of one voter not paying attention.

And in conclusion…

In conclusion, taking into account all of the information that has been presented regarding various types of voter suppression, under votes, possible dropped/uncounted votes by a computerized, secretive vote count for which there is NO AUDIT of any percentage of votes via hand-counting, the outrageous re-creation of ballots, voters that did not receive their absentee ballots, ballots kept in someone’s home, press reporting results before polls had closed, voters that were not notified of changes in polling locations, statewide would-be candidates wrongfully denied ballot access, the mathematical analysis, etc,etc,etc. CONSIDERING ALL OF THE ABOVE, not even a hand recount could capture the true voice of South Dakota voters!

The only rightful remedy is to hold a new statewide election and hand-count the ballots in public view at the local precincts before the ballots ever leave the buildings which is exactly the only fully transparent and accurate way fair elections were to be conducted. Make sure everyone is properly notified of their correct polling location and that everyone requesting an absentee ballot receives one in a reasonable amount of time.

The only rightful remedy is to hold a new statewide election and hand-count the ballots in public view at the local precincts before the ballots ever leave the buildings.  Three etceteras in a row. She must mean business.

Is there anyone holding their breath until this demanded re-vote happens? Me neither.

But don’t intimate that any of this widespread fraud was done with “the participation, knowledge or consent of any of the candidates or local/state election officials.” Because you may face a Lori Stacey “legal action.”

Bonus Lori Stacey Moment – I saw this today which prompted me to go look at her examiner page. And just as you’ll note above, there’s some stuff you can’t unsee. Here, former Secretary of State Candidate Lori brings us new health care news that “HIV has been proven to be a complete hoax…”

LoriStaceyHoax…and, that while the HIV Virus is a hoax, the AIDS drugs that doctors put patients on is a “way for big Medicine and big Pharma to make a lot of money” and “then eventually reduce the population.”

It kind of makes you want to find the 10,258 people who voted for her in the 2014 Secretary of State elections, and ask them “What in the hell were you thinking?”

Governor holding firm against expanding Medicaid to able-bodied adults.

In the Argus Leader this morning, Governor Dennis Daugaard’s opposition to the expansion of Medicaid is discussed.

Governor Daugaard says things are stuck at the moment, with taxpayers aren’t ready to expand Medicaid to all 48,000 uncovered at this time with many of them being able-bodied adults, and the federal government unwilling to compromise to allow South Dakota to cover a portion of them:

Expanding Medicaid as prescribed under the Affordable Care Act would eventually cost the state an extra $36 million a year. In contrast, he said, the state this year is only seeing an increase in revenues of $49 million, which is money the state needs to increase funding to education and other programs.

Still, Daugaard said he understands there is need among the poorest adults for expanded medical coverage under Medicaid.

“I’m open to considering their lot,” he said. “But the president has said it’s all or nothing. And 48,000 people is too big of a bite, in my estimation.”

Read it all here in the Argus Leader.

Butte County GOP chairman demanding “Public Official Loyalty Pledge.” Is that supposed to somehow help?

This newspaper ad appeared in the Faith Independent newspaper as an advertisement on January 7th from James Pietila, Chairman of the Butte County Republican Central Committee.

In this ad, the county party notes Senator Betty Olson and Representative Sam Marty signed the pledge. It holds out Speaker of the House Dean Wink for declining to sign, and notes no response from Representative Tom Brunner, nor Senator Gary Cammack for the groups’ “Public Officials Loyalty Pledge.”

party_loyalty_OathAm I the only one who remembers those days of yore when Republican party organizations worked to get Republicans elected? Instead of beating them up, and trying to throw them to the wolves?

And, who benefits from the action taken by this county chair?  Possible primary campaign opponents? Possibly?  Democrat challengers who might try to take an opportunity to further the dis-unity? More likely.

The fact is that at the extremes, there are those in the party who demand blind subservience to how they individually interpret the GOP Platform. And there are elected officials who believe their loyalty is solely to the broad base of voters (on any side of the aisle) who cast a ballot for them, and not a political organization.

Except for his last campaign against Tim Johnson, Larry Pressler was an example of the latter, and often spent his time fighting with the party leaders. The dwindling number of Gordon Howie-ites would be an example of those who interpret and dispense their pronouncements on who is and is not following the platform.  As they run as independents against Republicans, and try to re-register as Republicans when the election is over.

In either extreme, I’m not sure how any of them build the Republican party and pay it forward – to further the goal of electing all Republicans to office. Because what Mr. Pietila did failed to manage anything close to that. And isn’t what he was supposedly elected to be chairman for?

In this case, I don’t think I can point out any instance of the people Mr. Pietila called out for not signing his “Public Official Loyalty Pledge” for any non-Republican behavior. None at all.  So, I’m not sure why this ad needed to be placed? In case Obamacare suddenly breaks out all over?

If you look at this, “the loyalty pledge” was adopted back in July! So what purpose did it serve to run in January, other than to take a backhanded slap at people?

Leading up to the general election, according to pre-general and year end reports, the Butte County GOP raised $300 and didn’t report spending any of it to elect the candidates to office that they’re now demanding a loyalty oath of. Yet, I’m sure this advertisement cost the county party money (despite the fact it illegally lacks a disclaimer).

So, at least to this outsider across the state, on the surface, it looks like the Butte County Chairman spent more of the County GOP’s bank account to call out and attempt to embarrass Republican office holders after the election than they did to elect them in the election.

Maybe it’s just me, I’m not sure how this promotes a stronger Republican party in South Dakota.

State Representative Steve Westra Announces South Dakotan’s for Jeb Bush Group

From a release:
IMG_1254.PNGState Representative Steve Westra Announces South Dakotan’s for Jeb Bush Group

PIERRE, South Dakota – (January 20, 2015) – Today State Representative Steve Westra (R-SD), announced the formation of the South Dakotans for Jeb Bush group. “South Dakota has the opportunity to create one of the first grassroots efforts to encourage Jeb Bush to seek and win the Presidency of the United States,” said Westra. “Jeb Bush is as conservative as South Dakota. His views align with the majority of South Dakota voters who want limited government, balanced budgets, and a strong America.”

Rep. Westra today unveiled a Facebook site that will collect the names and contact information of South Dakota voters who want to be counted as early Jeb Bush backers. The group is encouraging those who want to send a signal of support to Jeb Bush to visit www.Facebook.com/SDforJEB . Supporters who visit the Facebook page like the page and enter their name on the petition will be submitted to Jeb Bush at the end of February.

Bush announced in December of 2014 that he was creating a Presidential exploratory committee. “We want to send a clear message to Jeb Bush, that just as South Dakotans stood with his Dad and his brother, we will stand with him,” said Westra. “Jeb Bush shares South Dakota values on guns, protection of the unborn, a strong defense, and conservative fiscal policy. Now is the time for South Dakota voters to play an early role in the upcoming 2016 Presidential election, by registering your support for Jeb Bush.”

“This is an all-volunteer effort by South Dakotans to show Jeb Bush that we will strongly support him and his message of positive conservativism to help restore opportunity to South Dakota and America,” said Westra. “At the end of this push we will send to Jeb Bush the names of his early South Dakota supporters, and hope that this send the early message that we need Jeb Bush to run and win the Presidency of the United States.”

Representative Steve Westra was recently elected to the position of the Assistant House Majority Leader by his fellow South Dakota Republican legislators. Representative Westra serves District 13 in South Dakota which includes parts of Minnehaha and Lincoln County. He is the Chief Operating Officer at Hegg Companies, Inc.

Contact:
Steve Westra,
South Dakota State Representative for District 13
[email protected]
605-310-4778

Adam Timmerman,
Coordinator for South Dakotan’s for Jeb Bush
[email protected]
605-360-6635

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What are your thoughts on the proposed citizenship test requirement for high school students? My view? Meh.

If I dug hard enough in my boxes of “stuff” in my garage, somewhere I have an early 50’s Iowa grade school report card for my mother (who passed away 14 years ago), where it had a specific printed line item for the grade she had earned in ‘citizenship.’

The understanding of it back then was an abstract judgement of how you conduct yourself in normal society. And in some schools, it’s used yet today with phrases such as “_______ is a very dependable student. She frequently helps her classmates without being asked to do so. Thank-you for your help” scribbled in the margin as an explanatory/praising phrase on the report card.  Basically, a nice way to classify a child’s behavior amongst their peers.

Articles have been appearing in the media recently about how a group in South Dakota (as well as in 6 other states) want to take the definition beyond getting along with your peers, and require actual state level testing on actual citizenship:

“It’s kind of a no-brainer,” state coordinator Georgia Hanson said. “The kids should know this stuff.”

and…

South Dakota schools already must cover statehood and the United States Constitution, “not later than the opening of the eighth grade and shall continue in the high school,” according to state law.

But Hanson’s group would go a step further.

Starting with the 2016-17 school year, the North Dakota measure would require all public, private, and home school students to answer at least 60 percent of questions on the test correctly to be eligible for a diploma. Students can take the test once a year, any time between seventh grade and graduation.

and…

Organizers for the South Dakota initiative plan to introduce a bill for the 2015 legislative session, though Hanson said there was no rush.

“We’ve got time here to get this put together, and we want to make sure that everybody has a chance to either sponsor it or support it,” Hanson said.

Read it here.

The South Dakota law the article mentions (but fails to cite) is SDCL 13-33-4, which reads:

13-33-4.   Instruction on United States and state Constitutions required–Years when given. In all public and nonpublic schools located within the state there shall be given regular courses of instruction in the Constitutions of the United States and the State of South Dakota. Such instruction shall begin not later than the opening of the eighth grade and shall continue in the high school to an extent to be determined by the South Dakota Board of Education.

The law goes back to the state’s codification of laws back in 1939, and may pre-date it even further.  So it’s not as if South Dakota ignores a basic need for this type of instruction.  I don’t have a problem with this broad kind of guidance.

Maybe it’s my contrarian nature, but I can’t escape the notion in my head that the proposal being floated seems like yet another legislative measure for yet another standardized test for yet another graduation requirement. Yes, it’s about things that kids should know, but it’s also coming in the form of a mandate that a special interest wants to see thrust upon school children. And I’m quite sure that it will be administered without funding, leaving it at the expense of school districts and the state.

Before we get too far down the road on a bill being introduced, I think I’d raise the question of how adding this graduation requirement and changing the state’s legal requirement on instruction for the US Constitution was received by the South Dakota Board of Education when it was presented to them.

If it was ever presented to them.

If the parents in the state feel the instruction that schools are currently offering in this area is somehow deficient, the State BOE standards for that type of curriculum should be the first place to look. Going down the legislative path just opens the door for the “Why SDSU is better than USD” standardized graduation requirement, or the “Blogs are Awesome” curriculum law.

And that’s the last thing schools need from the state legislature.

But, that’s just my 2 cents worth.  What do you think?

(If you’re interested in finding out what the current graduation requirements are, there’s a 24 page booklet from the DOE available to view on-line.)