Ring in the New Year! What should we expect in politics? Peace and Quiet.

As we all try to remember that it’s actually 2015 as we write a check, the year to come is brand new, and full of possibilities. At dakotawarcollege, it leaves us thinking about what to expect in the realm of politics over the course of the coming months, as we count down the new election cycle to 2016.

And actually, I think it’s going to be fairly quiet. There will be moments here and there, hints of races to come, and we can always expect the unexpected. But nothing like 2014, where a US Senate race dominated the tapestry.

So, gazing into the void, what do I think is coming?

During the legislative session: Highway improvements and the funding thereof are going to receive a large part of the discussion during session. I think we’ll see a minor divide between those who want to raise taxes, and those who have foresworn against any notion of it.  But with gas tax revenues taking a hit due to a greater supply lowering prices, it’s going to be difficult to argue that the status quo will get us through another fiscal year.

As I noted in my top 10 list, I think we’ll see a freedom-of-religion act return for debate given the same-sex marriage lawsuit pending.

With even further reduced numbers in the House of Representatives, Democrats will have even less of an impact in what happens in Pierre. Speaking of which…

HouseSeatingChartSenateSeatingChart58-12 and 27-8? Representing fewer than 20% of the legislature, Dems are not going to see much of anything in terms of their legislation moving forward.

On the US Senate Front:  John Thune is arguably the most popular politician in the state. He has $9 or $10 million in the bank. Democrats have no bench, period. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.  I don’t anticipate that we will see a Democrat challenger emerge to the Senator in 2015, if we see one at all.

While there is an independent talking about running in the form of Kurt Evans, who we featured here recently for what some would consider bigoted statements about Catholics, I don’t anticipate we’ll hear anything unless he withdraws from the race in 2015 as opposed to withdrawing in 2016.  Basically, that dog isn’t going to hunt.

February will bring us some leftovers from the 2014 US Senate race as Annette Bosworth goes to court, but I don’t anticipate that’s going to be much more than getting through it, and getting the final results. The only surprise would be if she would be able to successfully avoid conviction.

I’m more curious to see if her husband will face similar charges once Annette’s are resolved one way or another.

Congressionally: I predict that Congresswoman Kristi Noem is going to run again in 2016, and Dems will largely leave her alone in the year leading up to it. They may attempt a challenger in 2016, but considering the shellacking she delivered to them in November, they’re in no hurry to deliver a lamb to the slaughter.

I know there’s more out there, and I don’t want to let this post get too long. What do you anticipate in the world of politics for 2015?  Give us your predictions under the comment section.

51 thoughts on “Ring in the New Year! What should we expect in politics? Peace and Quiet.”

  1. ” But with gas tax revenues taking a hit due to a greater supply lowering prices, it’s going to be difficult to argue that the status quo will get us through another fiscal year.” Gas taxes are .22/gallon in SD. The cost of gasoline is lower. I do not see how the revenues from this will take a hit. In fact, I would think there would be an increase in revenues because more people will be willing to travel. If gasoline prices stay low through the summer, wouldn’t more people be willing to travel and therefore be paying more gas taxes?

    1. Yes, you’re absolutely right. I’ve got a new car to pay my taxes on, so my head wasn’t on straight when I was writing. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Dugger,

    I had the same reaction but didn’t have time to respond when I read it. Lower gas prices increases gallons used which increases revenue.

    That said, I don’t think this is a long-term situation so assuming higher revenues long-term isn’t prudent.

    1. According to what I recall hearing, Saudi believes they have about two years worth of cash on hand that they can use to keep oil prices down. I have no doubts their goal is to put the US fracking business out of business. It is not a matter of “counting” on the revenues. But there are people a lot smarter than I who are paid to make their best guess as to what the revenues will be from the different taxes collected. I recall a couple of years ago someone thought we should have a gas tax based upon a percentage of the price, much like our sales tax.

  3. With regards to seating arrangement isn’t there a big enough broom closet to put the Dems in?

  4. The goal of a political party should not be to fill out the seating chart with their members. The goal should not be winning elections and who’s best postured for the next go around.

    Certainly the gas tax is an upcoming policy matter to banter around. Glad it was mentioned here. How about after elections we all take off our party hat and do the people’s work on big issues. I’m pretty sure the voters want us to do more than win elections. They expect us to work together and solve big problems.

    Here are a few I care about:

    1) A long economic winter is coming and SD ain’t ready for it, at all. We aren’t even talking about it. We decided to study wine distribution this year instead. Look for a crash in 2015 that dwarfs 2008. What’s our contingency plan when we see a 20% reduction of Federal funds come into our state? We have reserves for 3 months.

    2) We blew through our 125th anniversary year with no acknowledgement that 10% of our population resents we are even here. It’s not okay native families are struggling in third world conditions within a couple hundred miles of our hundred million dollar sportsplexes and entertainment centers. It’s not okay native kids are killing themselves. If a similar suicide rate was for white kids it’d be front page news. A 15 year old native girl in our state hung her self in her own home and no one even noticed for two weeks. Spare me the decades old excuses why these are their problems not ours. Time for a South African style truth and reconciliation to commission lead the way out of the past into the future. We brag about our low unemployment rate but ignore it nearly triples when natives are factored in. It’s not okay we have states attorneys who brag openly how many natives they’ve put on the hill. We create criminals and then wonder why there are more of them.

    Anyone else thinking 2015 is a year to tackle some big issues instead of scheming how to further dominate the House seating chart with warm bodies?

    1. “The goal of a political party should not be to fill out the seating chart with their members. The goal should not be winning elections and who’s best postured for the next go around.”

      Steve, you’re completely wrong. Electing members of the Republican party to office is utterly and absolutely the core mission of the party. The rest of it is how to accomplish that goal whether it’s tactically, ideologically, operationally, etcetera.

      That’s why Democrats in South Dakota are in dismal, dire straits. They think getting favorable ballot issues are going to help them win…. It hasn’t worked in three elections, but I’m glad to allow them to continue.

      Now, I’m not saying legislators can’t or shouldn’t try to solve the problems of society. That’s on you guys. But the party’s job is to put you there so you can do it.

      1. Understood. However, wouldn’t you agree the public has a more comprehensive view of political parties? Within a political party there is an office with the function of electoral politics handling the task of recruiting and supporting and winning elections. The republican caucus once elected needs to quit thinking about elections.

      2. …”They think getting favorable ballot issues are going to help them win…. It hasn’t worked in three elections, but I’m glad to allow them to continue”.

        This needs to be changed. Because of the inept party building of the Progressive coalition, this has become their strategy. It HAS had some effectiveness, there has been some eroding/undercutting. Thresholds and hurdles need to be seriously discussed.

    2. Which sector do yo believe will cause that crash, Rep. Hickey? What evidence do you have that supports it 1) Happening in 2015; and 2) Being worse than the housing market crash? Those are some enormous assertions to just toss out and then leave sitting on the floor like a turd.

      1. ” Look for a crash in 2015 that dwarfs 2008″

        Should I go buy gold before this crash maybe at a pawn shop? Should I build a bunker? Anarchy?

      2. Anything sets it off and it’s anybody’s guess. There’s a headline right now on drudge that lists ten warning signs of a 2015 market crash. It’s been seven years and it’s time again. Neither party has done or will do the structural changes it takes to avert a massive crisis. We’d have civil unrest of an unprecidented nature if Congress implemented the cuts it would take to make a sufficient course correction in time. I chuckle anymore at talk about how SD balances it’s budget every year and how we need to do the same in DC. We only balance ours because they don’t theirs. If DC’s budget was balanced, SD would have a ten digit deficit.

        Factor in unbridled consumerism and entitlement and we are all at the mercy of mystery central bankers. It’s a house of cards. Debt and spending are unsustainable. Look back over my blog and you’ll see lots of postings on the collapse of the dollar and the end of the dollar as the world reserve currency. It’s all only a matter of time.

        It IS the stinky turd in the room we all ignore. When I speak on this topic I even preface my comments with… If you are like most in state government, what I’m about to say will go in your one ear and out the other.

        What I have to say about this when wearing my clergy hat gives people a cold chill. America is about to be humbled.

        It doesn’t sound like it on this topic but I am an optimist and I do bear good news too. Hard times are the best times to be Americans. We need to trumpet the values of SD neighborliness and community and caring for our own. Soon to be gone are the days we survive our ice storms, blizzards and floods only with federal help.

        For a third year now I’ve proposed a Long Economic Winter workgroup which looks at seven areas state forethought related to the inevitably of coming economic breakdown. Wine distribution was more important.

        1. Hmmm! This news could be bad for a welfare state like South Dakota if things really go sour and the federal government cuts way back. South Dakota’s budget would be in the red without the help from the Fed.

  5. Peace and quiet isn’t my plan for 2015. Let’s do what a generation of state leaders before us should have done and deal with our can of worms.

  6. Good government is good politics.

    1973: Dem Governor, 2 Dem US Senators, 1 Dem US Rep, 1 GOP Rep., Dem control of both houses of State Legislature. Probably a split in Constitutional Offices.

    Since 1979, the GOP has controlled both house of Legislature and Governor’s chair.

    And, today, the GOP has the Governor’s chair, both US Senators, the US Rep., 100% of the Constitutional Offices, and 80% of the Legislature.

    Since the GOP has only gained in every measure possible over the last decades, it is evident the people have decided the past GOP generation has done a dang good job dealing with every can of worms thrown our way.

    Are things perfect and there aren’t things we should be tackling? Absolutely not. But, the inference the past generations have been asleep at the wheel or didn’t do their job is balderdash.

      1. Steve, in respect to “Indian” issue, just what do you propose? I have often wondered about the reservation system and whether it is obsolete. What industries are out there on the res? What jobs do you see as being moved to the res? Typically when an economy does not sustain people, the people move to a place where the economy will sustain them. I live in Sioux Falls. Sioux Falls is growing at a rapid rate. As far as I can tell, there is a need for good workers in this area. How about people who live on the reservation become trained in the jobs that are offered in the areas that have them?

        1. I am aware of both of your points. My point of possibly being obsolete is still valid. What is the draw to the reservation? Take away the draw.

  7. The squalor and despair on the reservations is what socialism looks like. All means of production are owned by the state. Anything a person produces there is considered communal property, anything more that what a person needs is to be redistributed. No matter how much education you get, no matter how hard you work, you will never improve the quality of your life. You will never have a nicer place to live, own a nicer car, clothes, furniture or take nice vacations.

    Since government is the problem on the reservations it is hard to imagine how more government is the solution. Nobody is required to live there, but government largesse has made it easier, so people don’t leave. Not everybody behind the Berlin Wall was scrambling to get out, either.

    1. ‘The squalor and despair on the reservations is what socialism looks like. ‘

      Really? I thought your home and yard are what squalor and despair look like.

      1. There’s just no room in the 4-car garage for the ’94 Ford pick-up, so it has to stay outside 😉

  8. Digger,

    I always look at both sides of the equation. Winner and loser.

    Overt winner: Saudis and OPEC. New oil extraction technologies are always a threat to the established. I think they never reacted to ethanol because they didn’t see it a fundamental threat. The more we use food for fuel, the higher ethanol requires higher oil prices. But tracking, different story.

    Loser: more than frackers, who remain marginally competitive, the big loser is Russia whose cost of production is higher than OPEC and frackers.

    Covert winner: Ukraine and US foreign interests. Weak Russia suddenly re-inserts the U.S. as the most powerful and undisputed international interest.

    1. Not disagreeing, Troy, but my comments were about the revenues coming into the state due to more gallons being purchased. As for fracking, my understanding is when this first started, they needed oil to be at $70/barrel. Due to improved techniques, I have been told it is closer to around $60/barrel. Currently, oil is going for around $55/barrel. The question is whether the upstarts can weather the storm of lower oil prices. In any case, the state should see somewhat of a rise in revenues.

  9. Hickey Economic Prediction: “Look for a crash in 2015 that dwarfs 2008.”

    Jones Economic Prediction:

    1) Moderate drop in unemployment. .2-.5% (drop mitigated by #3 below)
    2) Moderate economic growth. 3% give or take 50 basis points
    3) Better than moderate increase in business spending. 5-7% Less on true technology but application technologies that actually spur productivity of low wage employees which will long-term eliminate “first jobs” in reaction to minimum wage and Obamacare mandates. By year-end, we will start ordering fast food on our phone and pay on our phone so we don’t stand in line during busyu times and eliminating one job at the cash register.
    4) Uptick in interest rates, inflation and oil prices ($70 by yearend) due to the above items.

    I will bookmark this prediction and we will see who is right next year. Maybe then people might have a better idea who better understands economic matters that impact the working poor and whose panaceas should be ignored.

      1. Time will tell. There are a lot smarter people than Troy Jones or I talking about the economic vulnerably of American and a imminent crash. The 2015 prediction aside, to me, arguing against a crash is like arguing against gravity. It must come down. You and William can have your yucks but I notice you both have vast knowledge and expertise and wisdom and experience but don’t run for office yourselves.

        1. Not often that I will agree with Steve Hickey. I will say, you can’t decrease a commodity like oil by 50% in 6 months and not expect MAJOR reverberations. Two canaries, Canadian housing and oil related derivatives. The former Congress gifted banks with the removal of a liability that now rests firmly with the public. If derivatives fail to hold, the cascade will be worse than ’08. My caveat is that it may not happen within ’15. We need Troy to be correct on his $70 oil handle, before year end. IMHO

    1. But Troy, “there’s a headline right now on DRUDGE that lists ten warning signs of a 2015 market crash.” It’s on the INTERNET!

      AND, Roseland Capitol runs ads on TV telling us to buy gold, ALL THE TIME!

      Must be true 😉

    2. I copied and pasted this to my notes. Hope you are right TJ. Agree 100% the slow and steady debt reduction while allowing the economy to grow unfettered with onerous regulations and lower income taxes will get us on the right path.

  10. Anonymous, I might be wrong but at least I put my name out there as does Hickey. Its easy to be a coward when your name is hidden. I might have strong differences with Hickey on some issues but I respect his character a lot more than your ilk. You are a coward and afraid of accountability. Sound like a typical liberal (spout out views but don’t have to live with the consequences).

    If the crash occurs, I’ll send money to Hickey’s ballot initiative. What will you do if you are proven stupid? Oh, yeah. You avoid accountability just like my 4 year-old granddaughter.

  11. America has an economy doing 100 MPH today on 200 MPH debt load. Someone some day is going to be paying that speed ticket.

  12. William Beal, you may be too young to remember, but the USA “won” the Cold War when the USSR imploded from too much debt. There are other examples in history that should compel concern for our country.

    1. Anonymous 12:05 pm

      I’m likely older than you, and know all too well that “Prophets of Doom” are generally profiting from their promotions of doom.

      We certainly have serious issues to address BUT constructive debate must be driven by facts, not fears.

  13. Anonymous,

    I think I’m speaking for Wm. Beal as well. Don’t take the fact we don’t think a collapse worse than 2008 is imminent seriously as an indication of support of the current fiscal policy.

    A couple of points:

    1) I think hyperbole is never productive the exaggeration doesn’t build credibility.

    2) While a collapse isn’t imminent, it doesn’t make the current policy any less benign. IMO, it actually is more insidious as the consequences of the current policy is quite malignant including slowing growth which impacts the poor worse than the rich, it increases income inequality, decreases confidence in self-government in general and our form of government in particular, and destroys the because it engenders dependence vs. independence.

    Rather than advocating a complete dismantling in one full swoop of the “dependence ediface”, our cause is better served by a attacking it brick-by-brick as it is how it was built.

    If America (and by extension its people) is truly so weak and tottering, no solution is possible. But, if we believe in America and its people, it can be done but it takes hard work building coalitions via measured and reasoned conversation. Yelling and screaming that the sky is falling just gets tuned out.

  14. Steve,

    I’ve always been struck by the rebuttal “but don’t run for office yourselves” and the inference citizens opinions were to be discounted when confronting their elected representatives. Amazing what one learns. Stace used that argument a lot too.

    If you believe there will really be a crash, it should change everything you do as a legislator because you are right the civil unrest would be daunting. Makes me wonder why you are taking time on pay day loans. 🙂

    Finally, regarding there being a crash, I think there will be major dislocations coming if we don’t change things but I also think the resilience and wisdom of America and her people will ultimately stop a full-fledged meltdown (which 2008 was not). Maybe we are splitting hairs as I think the current fiscal policy is ludicrous, I just think hyperbole isn’t helpful. Solutions come from measured thoughtful commentary vs. incendiary comments.

    1. “If you believe there will really be a crash, it should change everything you do as a legislator because you are right the civil unrest would be daunting”

      Troy, play along for a moment with me on this,,, if you believed a massive economic upset was coming this year and you were in the legislature, what would you do?

  15. “Maybe then people might have a better idea who better understands economic matters that impact the working poor and whose panaceas should be ignored.”

    That comment and comparing me to Stace are as incendiary as anything you get from me and begs for the reply… Why don’t you run for office yourself if you have the economy figured out and I’m such a buffoon?

    The bets on though. Crash 2015. For now we South Dakotans can drink wine and pretend we won’t reap what we’ve sown economically.

    1. It seems like those predicting a calamity have a high likelihood of profiting from it. Is your church donations up as a result of your prediction of a crash in 2015? Do you own an interest in a business that caters to preppers?

  16. Steve,

    The reason I choose not to run is personal. But, that reality is irrelevant. This is a democracy where elected leaders it is legitimate for citizens to expect reasoned thought vs. vapid bromides and emotional gibberish to support governmental intrusion into the lives of free citizens.

    The question itself is another of your logical fallacies- appeal to authority. “Because I’m a state representative, I don’t have to be reasoned or justify my actions. And, because you aren’t a state representative, I can just discount what you have to say.”

    You make a sensational assertion (imminent crash worse than 2008) with no backup. And, your response to disagreeing with your assertions is to insult your colleagues by accusing them of being “Nero’s” with your reference to wine distribution and then ask why digger and I why we don’t run ourselves?

  17. 1) I would assemble all the facts that support my position and begin to convince my colleagues the crash is imminent. I wouldn’t spend a single minute or spend any political capital on anything but “crash matters.”

    2) i’d estimate revenues that would occur under the scenario and estimate the duration. If there were to be tax increases, I’d put them in here.

    3) I’d decide how much of the reserves should be spent per year (impacted by the estimated duration).

    4) Add #2 + #3 to determine available cash for expenses and then propose cuts sufficient to match the total of #2 & #3 and empower the Governor to make cuts along the guidelines passed by the legislature.

    1. My approach has been to try to get a group together to take a comprehensive look at the possibility and ramifications of a crash. Instead of piecemeal bills, to issue a report and the legislature and Governor can respond. The CEO of Avera Hospital System tells be their team now has a comprehensive contingency plan for the day when govt reimbursements dry up. They plan to continue taking care of people, not all people, but many. Good for them. Wonder if Sanford has a contingency plan in place for something other than a catastrophic event like a plane crash at our airport. If Avera has a contingency plan for an economic upset, so should our state. We don’t. Forgive the long paste, but for those who are interested, here are the guts of the proposal I’ve tried to get our legislature to consider. This will be my third year of push these points in this format.

      “Certainly I don’t have the answers, but I do hope to be asking the right questions. Initially I planned to put forth a bill this legislative session that would establish a Long Economic Winter (LEW) Work Group “to ascertain the effects of an extended and significant national economic crisis and/or correction on Main Street, South Dakota and to submit a LEW Findings Report to the 2014 Legislature including legislation recommendations and precautions or suggested considerations for our communities and general population.” However, it appears I’ve been successful in getting these questions and concerns on the agenda of our Legislative Long Range Planning Committee and so I won’t be bringing a bill.

      Here are the questions I’m asking:

      1) What would say, a 20% reduction in Federal funds mean to South Dakota? Some tell me it’d put South Dakota back into the Stone Age. Already we have no margin for additional education spending or Medicaid providers. The CEO of Avera Health Systems told me they have contingency plans in place for both physical and financial catastrophes. Maybe our state needs to have the same conversations.

      2) What would the collapse of the Dollar mean to Main Street, South Dakota? What would it mean to our states large financial sector, which at present is a significant source of state revenue and jobs?

      3) What are the possibilities for weaning South Dakota off Federal and other uncertain (or arguably unhealthy) revenue sources?  Are we insulated from the worst of a national economic crisis or correction, or would our present dependent state status mean South Dakota would be the first and/or most deeply affected?

      4) What if any measures in South Dakota could be adopted so our present statutes don’t exacerbate difficulties in buying and selling, or bartering? For example, since 2005, fourteen states have introduced bills to provide for the establishment of alternative currencies and Utah and Georgia have done so. Should these be considerations in South Dakota?

      5) What current state statutes might a) hamstring people simply trying to take care of themselves and their families and/or b) frustrate or prolong our recovery?

      6) What would a significant disruption in the food, fuel or power supplies mean to our population? No kidding, when they closed I-90 and I-29 for three days a few years ago because of snow, the local HyVee here got down to three gallons of milk. America has no food storage; it’s all on trucks. A Homeland Security employee told me last year a labor/union issue triggering a trucking strike in the southeast for example would create immediate food shortages and civil unrest in Atlanta, Memphis and Chicago. I was told South Dakota would not be first in line for food.

      7) Considering the unstable and unsustainable economic environment beyond our borders, just how much should we keep in our Reserve Funds?

      Obvious, I don’t believe it’s a time to build an events center on the backs of struggling taxpayers so we don’t have to drive to Minneapolis to see Huey Lewis and the News. Sorry, that was sarcastic. But you get my point. Frankly it’s nuts to be to talking about expanding anything right now with the complete uncertainty of Federal promises and programs.

      Sorry for being the pessimistic one, I’d argue it’s realism. The consensus is my Long Winter verbiage is too much for some and so we are going to be talking about contingency plans. I don’t care what we call it.”

      1. If the economy crashes or there is a major event such as EMP(Electro Magnetic Pulse) that takes out our electrical infrastructure, dirty nuclear bomb or something that causes a breakdown in a civil society what will happen to our prisons? Those guards have families and needs too. What will happen to the prisoners? Can they escape into the general population? What contingency plans does our government have?

  18. Great question, I’ll add it to my list. Those are the questions we need to ask. We are fools to settle into the false peace that what happens in other countries can’t happen here. Even if you disagree that 2015 will be a year of reckoning for America, hopefully you agree you government should have thought through the various scenarios that are with the realm of possibility.

    I’m not saying build bunkers, I’m saying have the conversation and be forthright to the citizens of this state and local governments. Encourage conversations at local levels and champion neighborliness.

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