News Releases

3-6-14

From the Capitol
By Dave Anderson
District 16 Representative
The 2014 Legislative Session is rapidly drawing to a close. By the time this article is published there will be just a little over a week left. There were 38 days scheduled for the 2014 session and by the end we will have dealt with 448 bills. It really is an amazing and efficient process. Every bill gets at least one hearing in committee. Many are tabled or deferred, (which effectively kills the bill) but everyone gets a chance to present their issue and ask for support of their idea. It makes me wonder why other states need 4, 6 or even 12 months to conduct their business. Perhaps we should tell Congress they can only meet for 3 months. Then they would have to go back home and live with the rest of us!
A couple of the more interesting debates in the past couple weeks dealt with taxation of food and greater regulation of pay-day loan operations. House Taxation Committee held a hearing on HB 1149 which would have eliminated the state sales tax on certain food items and raised the state sales tax on all other goods and services to make up the loss in revenues. It would not have eliminated the local or city sales tax on food. The bill was deferred to the 41st day (killed) by a 9-4 vote.
The House Commerce Committee held a hearing on HB 1255 which was a bill to create a registry of small dollar consumer loans in an effort to prohibit an excessive number of loans being made. These types of loans are often considered “pay-day” or “title” loans. With the vastly increased regulation of the banking industry, it is often not possible or profitable for a standard banking operation to make these small dollar short term loans. After considerable discussion, this bill was also sent to the 41st day on an 11-2 vote.
The only two surviving bills that deal with the Common Core issues are SB 63 and SB 64. Both the House and the Senate have approved SB 64 by a strong majority. This bill will require a waiting period before any new content standards can be effective. It allows for greater public input in the process. SB 63 has passed the Senate as well as the House Education Committee without a single opposition vote. Action on the House floor is pending as of this date. This bill will protect the privacy of records of individual students.
As has been widely broadcast, the Bill to repel the death penalty (HB 1183) was defeated in the House State Affairs Committee. I do not serve on that Committee, but sat in on most of the testimony. There was lengthy and passionate debate offered by both sides on this very difficult issue. The Bill was sent to the 41st Day on a 7-6 vote. There was an attempt to force the Bill to the House floor, but that effort also failed.
The primary focus of the final week will be dealing with the general appropriations bill and any other spending bills that may be possible. As always, please contact me with any thoughts or concerns you may have.


WHY DOGS BITE
By Isaac Latterell
District 6 Representative
This week the House had on its agenda SB 75, which would require that city ordinances regarding dog ownership apply to all dogs, and not single out a specific breed. 
We all want safe neighborhoods, and most everyone agrees habitually bad owners should be banned from having any dogs, but the evidence presented to me in committee showed that breed-neutral ordinances will encourage public safety and prevent good dog owners from being unfairly targeted because someone misidentified their dog’s breed, or a bad owner across town had a similar breed of dog.
While pit bulls have gained a reputation for being tenacious and powerful, there are some compelling reasons why we should pause before we strip away the property rights of our upstanding neighbors you’ve never heard about, precisely because they are responsible and loving dog owners.
First, it turns out most people cannot correctly identify a pit bull from a lineup of dogs, so many vicious dogs get labeled pit bills when in fact they are not. Second, while pit bulls are generally strong dogs, some are bred to be more aggressive while others are not, and they have wide variations in personality. Third, there are many vicious dogs, dog breeds, and terrible dog owners who are untouched by breed-specific regulations, while model citizens with zero incidents get slapped with very onerous rules that are sometimes impossible to comply with.
With breed neutral regulations, good owners won’t have to worry about being unable to stop in a certain city for the night while traveling (this happened to a friend of mine), paying to DNA test their dog because someone misidentified it, or having to move away because a neighbor across town had a similar looking dog that attacked someone.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not a dog owner, lover, or hater--I’m dog-neutral. I’ve been barked at, jumped on, and tongue-bathed by more dogs than I can count while going door to door, and rarely could I identify the actual breed.
Maybe next year we will pass a bill requiring dogs to be in the garage during election season, or perhaps more compatible with re-election, a law requiring politicians to carry dog treats when knocking on doors? Now I know you’re concerned about the extra expense I will incur, and I appreciate it--but don’t worry, it’ll be taxpayer funded!
But the bigger question is: WHY do dogs bite people? Why do snakes attack with deadly venom? Why does slapping a lion in the face so predictably result in your imminent death? Instead of peace, there is enmity and strife between animals and humans, as well as among them. We humans have killed each other by the millions because of greed, selfishness, and pride. 
The problem is sin. It is the root cause of war, disease, and death. And it’s not learned, we’re born with it. No parent teaches their toddler to bite and claw their sister to get their way. Looking around we see the world is broken, and in the mirror we see that we are broken. Something inside tells us it shouldn’t be this way. But there is hope. 
Jesus came and bore our sin on the cross, defeated death by rising from the dead, and is coming again to answer the question echoed by Sam in Lord of the Rings: “Is everything sad going to come untrue?” Yes--the good news is that freedom from the clutches of sin and death is a free gift received by faith in Jesus, offered to all mankind! In the words of Jesus himself: “Behold, I make all things new.”


PIERRE  PERSPECTIVE 
By Jim Bolin
District 16 Representative
This past week of the legislative session is now completed and a number of highlights took place in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Leading off the week was a major vote in the House regarding the expansion of video lottery bet limits in the state.   Rep. Dick Werner’s bill would have taken away the power of the legislature to set the limits on video lottery and would have given that to the unelected lottery commission. I opposed that idea. After some intense debate, my amendment to maintain this power with the elected legislature was approved, 52 – 17.    Then the House debated on whether or not we believe the limits should be expanded to five dollars.  Again, intense debate occurred and in the end the House voted to keep the $2 dollar limit as originally approved by the people in 1988.  The margin was 40 -28 with two declared opponents of the bill absent.  I want to make it clear that this vote changes nothing about the current practices of video lottery.  Everything remains the same. However, the $2 bet limit was maintained.  Also, my position on this activity has not changed since being elected.  I oppose the expansion of this activity but because the people have voted a number of times to keep it in place in its current form, I will not oppose its existence.  That is democracy in action.   I would also like to point out that the current administration backed the bill.  The action of the house demonstrates that on some issues the legislature will act independently and not just follow the lead of the governor.  
 Another key issue decided was the vote to keep the death penalty.  The death penalty repeal bill was assigned to the State Affairs committee.  A very moving two hour debate occurred and when the vote was cast and the bill failed 7 – 6, with members of both parties voting on both sides of the issue.  This bill has been highly publicized and I applaud the thirteen members of the committee who cast votes on this delicate subject.  I am sure this topic will come back to us in future years.  
Other issues of note that were decided were a potential pay raise that was defeated and a bill that was advanced to combat human sex trafficking.  I applaud Rep. Jenna Haggar of Sioux Falls for her efforts to combat the evil practice of sex trafficking in our state.  This bill should be considered on the house floor this next week.  With just two more weeks to go the legislature will continue to evaluate state funding for schools and colleges.   A new swine research unit at SDSU looks very promising with private money, public funding and resources from other states coming in to fund this vital AG related enterprise in Brookings.  Decisions on this and other vital state projects will be made in the last few weeks of the session as we await revenue estimates and finalize the budget that will begin July 1, 2014 and run until June 30, 2015.  My best to all of you.  Your comments are appreciated.  Iit continues to be my pleasure to serve you along with Rep. Anderson and Sen. Lederman.  My best contact address is rep.bolin@state.sd.us  
                            



2-27-14


A Home For Austin: Chive On Sioux Falls Hosting Benefit Weekend

Sioux Falls, SD – February 25, 2014 – Chive On Sioux Falls, a local fundraising group, is hosting a weekend long benefit for A Home For Austin. The 2-day event begins on Friday March 7 with a Cut-A-Thon hosted by Artist Hair Studio and Spa in Tea, SD. On Saturday March 8, the 18th Amendment will be hosting an Unofficial Chive Meetup in Sioux Falls, SD.
“We are so excited to be working with A Home For Austin on our next event as their organization is getting closer to making the dream of building a handicap accessible home a reality. We hold causes that involve young children very close to our hearts,” says Jeff Meuzelaar from Chive On Sioux Falls. “We are very lucky to have the support of Goodroad Band as they are avid Chivers and always help attract hundreds of people to events they perform at.”
Austin is an amazing young boy from Tea, SD. More than two years ago this little boy lost his arms and legs to a rare form of bacterial meningitis. A Home For Austin was started in support of him.
"A Home For Austin is so appreciative of Chive On Sioux Falls, Artist Hair Studio and Spa, and the individuals who are putting together this great fundraiser in March. Thanks to your efforts and support we will move one step closer to the dream of a handicap accessible home for this inspirational little boy." - Kelli Bultena, A Home For Austin committee member.
The Friday Cut-A-Thon will run from 11am to 7pm. Haircuts for women will be $20 for women, $15 for men, and $10 for kids. The event will also feature a bake sale and silent auction. 100% of all proceeds will be donated to A Home For Austin.
The Saturday Chive meetup begins at 7pm and will take place at the 18th Amendment. The featured entertainment will be Goodroad Band and DJ Absolute of Soulcrate Music. The event will be emceed by DJ Chris Hintz and DJ Kor. Admission is free but there will be several fundraising opportunities at the event including beverage purchases, merchandise, a silent auction, and raffles.
Chive On Sioux Falls is an organization that is dedicated to raising funds for those in need by hosting entertainment-driven events. 100% of all proceeds are donated. In 2014 Chive On Sioux Falls has already raised $6,960 for charitable causes.
Austin is an amazing young boy from Tea, SD. More than two years ago this little boy lost his arms and legs to a rare form of bacterial meningitis. The goal is to raise enough money for the family to build a handicap accessible home for him!
The Community of Tea, SD has rallied around this young boy and have already raised $10,000 towards the goal of building a handicap accessible home. Even more amazing is the generous donation of a lot located on Main Street in Tea, SD by Herman and Melissa Otten of Otten Construction and Parkside Dental. 




2-20-14


PIERRE PERSPECTIVE 
By Jim Bolin
District 16 Representative
The fifth week of the legislative session saw the legislature reach the midway point of the session.  Many bills and proposals were voted up or down and emotions began to get heated on some.  One of the biggest and most important bills that I voted on was HB 1004.  This would have added eight tenths of a per cent to the funding that the governor is proposing for the schools.  It came before the house Appropriations committee and was considered I voted to keep the bill alive by voting “No” on a motion to kill the bill.  My “No “vote indicates my desire to help get school funding back to the level it experienced in 2010.  .  On a close vote the measure was rejected, 5 – 4. This bill died in committee.
Other concerns before the legislature include the heavy cost of mandatory health care for prisoners.   We have some prisoners with heath needs such as dialysis, some with cancer and some with other maladies.  The approved budget for prisoner health care is running a million dollars in the red.   Again, health care costs are hitting the state budget in a number of ways.  The Appropriations committee, along with the administration, is seeking ways to deal with these unexpected costs. 
Another area of concern for the committee was the desire of the administration to pay off a number of the bonds on state facilities.  One recently issued bond requires money in escrow for a number of years and would save the state little with ongoing expenses.  The committee may seek to revise this advance bond payment and free up some money for needs that we believe may be greater at the present time. 
 Another issue of interest in the near future will be an attempt to raise the bet limit on video lottery and to take the authority away from the legislature to control this issue.  I am very much opposed to both of these initiatives and therefore I will be aggressively opposing HB 1246.  I encourage you to pay attention to this issue in the future.  Video lottery revenue is now flat or in a slight decline.  People just are choosing not to play as much.  Video lottery was sold to the public as a way to fund education and less than 50% goes to the schools.  I have always said I will oppose an expansion of gambling in the state and my vote on this will reflect my previous commitments.  
Other issues on the docket will be consideration of the funding for the new Veteran’s Home in Hot Springs and various bills dealing with the issue of the Common Core.  Again, it is my pleasure to serve you.  My best to all of you, as we work our way toward springtime. 
Please do not hesitate to contact me: Mail—Rep. Jim Bolin, State Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501; email—rep.bolin@state.sd.us                         



Why we need to stop the dismemberment of living children.
By Isaac Latterell
District 6 Representative
Last week, SB 46 passed unanimously through the South Dakota Senate. It is a bill that would make it a felony to “intentionally, willfully, and maliciously inflict gross physical abuse on an animal that causes prolonged pain, that causes serious physical injury, or that results in the death of the animal.” 
Imagine discovering that it was actually a veterinarian who regularly ripped the heads off of puppies and crushed their skulls. It would be hard to decide whether to call the police or to deal with the veterinarian yourself. 
Now suppose you discovered that doctors regularly ripped the heads off of babies and tore apart their limbs while they were still alive. What would you do? Now is the time to decide, because here is evidence of this happening.
In 2004, abortionist Dr. Stephen T. Chasen said in New York federal district court that “the fetal head is extracted by placing the forceps around it and crushing it.” Dr. Chasen went on to say that he did not have “any caring or concern for the fetus whose head [he was] crushing.” Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, another abortionist, said, “For the vast majority of D&Es [it is] necessary either [to] crush or collapse the fetal skull.” She told the judge she does not use the word “crush” when speaking to her patients.
Of the most common second-trimester abortion method, dilation and extraction (D&E), Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has written, “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.” [Stenberg v. Carhart, 350 U.S. 914, 958-59 (Kennedy, J., dissenting).]
I don’t blame you for being shocked, horrified, and offended to read people discussing something that amounts to an act of torture. The truth is, we shouldn’t have to talk about it, because even those who deny constitutional rights to unborn children can agree that this is not an acceptable way to end a child’s life. But tragically, it is happening here in our country every day.
What I have chosen to do about it is introduce HB 1241, An Act to prohibit the dismemberment or decapitation of certain living unborn children. It is a straightforward one page bill--must shorter than the 10 page bill to make animal cruelty a felony. The bill says “No licensed physician may knowingly dismember a living unborn child with the intent of endangering the life or health of the child.” It creates no penalty for the mother, no barrier to necessary medical treatments, and doesn’t even prevent the doctor from dismembering the child, as long as he kills the baby first. 
Constitutionally speaking, could decapitation and dismemberment be prevented? Much depends on the “swing” Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy. In his opinion for the majority of the Court in Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124, 159-60 (2007), which upheld a ban on partial-birth abortions before as well as after viability, Justice Kennedy wrote, “It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form.” 
It is unconscionable and that any “doctor” who claims to care for the health of others would remove the heads and limbs of children and toss them in the trash. Most media doesn’t want to report this, because they know people would think it is too awful to be true. What is perhaps most surprising is that abortion doctors are willing to testify to it without remorse. It says a lot about how far we have sunk morally that we would even need to pass a law banning the decapitation and dismemberment of babies waiting to be born. 
The barbarians of old were not even as savage as some abortion ‘doctors.’ Ironically, while we accuse Islamic governments of savagely decapitating people, they accuse Western governments of savagely decapitating their own children. This inhumane killing of others must stop now. None of it is justified.
Pro-abortion groups are ridiculously beholden to this legal ability to kill other people. I have received many hateful messages because of this bill. This support for slaughter in the name of compassion is insanity! It has gotten so bad that as Jill Stanek reported, there was a Texas bill which actually passed committee that would have almost entirely decriminalized killing a baby up to 1 year after birth. 
A recent article published by Oxford University’s Prof Julian Savulescu was entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, and was written by two of Prof Savulescu’s former associates, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva. The article, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, says newborn babies are not “actual persons” and do not have a “moral right to life.”
It saddens me to have to write about this. But I will not sit silently by as our children’s lives are devalued to a place lower than dogs. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”



Half-way point approaching
By Dave Anderson
District 16 Representative
 Well, we’re just over the half-way point of the 2014 Legislative Session. The pace of activity has picked up and will continue to do so for at least the next several weeks. On the 25th of February we will have what is called “crossover day”, which means that all bills must be out of their house of origin and sent over to the other house. There were a total of 448 bills filed this year. The members of the House of Representatives have introduced about 80 bills more than the Senate. There are 70 members of the House and only 35 in the Senate. There are also numerous Resolutions and Commemorations filed in each chamber.
Some of the more lively topics and debates occurred over the issues of allowing people with a concealed weapon permit to carry their pistol into the Capitol, a bill to provide prenatal care for unborn children of illegal immigrants and a statewide texting ban. Each of these topics have been widely covered by the media.
I serve on the Commerce Committee and the Tax Committee. Some of the issues we have dealt with include: 
In Commerce Committee we had HB 1246 which is a bill to allow the video lottery maximum bet to increase from $2 to $5 and to give the Video Lottery Commission greater control. The bill passed 9-4. I was one of the NO votes as I felt that the Legislature should retain the authority to control the video lottery. 
HB 1140 is a bill to allow townships to levy a tax for the repair and improvement of the gravel roads, bridges and culverts within the township. I supported this bill as it will require an annual 2/3 vote of the members at their annual meeting. It is basically a group of neighbors agreeing to tax themselves to improve the roads they drive on.
Tax Committee also dealt with HB 1205 which would have changed the way certain tax revenues are distributed among the schools. Currently certain taxes such as a bank franchise tax or a wind farm tax create a significant benefit for the local school district. The sponsor of the bill wanted these taxes shared equally among all schools around the state. There was good debate and valid points presented by both sides. In the end the bill was sent to the 41st Day, which effectively kills the bill.
As always, I encourage you to follow the legislative process on the LRC or SDPB web site. And please contact me with your thoughts or concerns on the bills and issues being debated in your Capitol.





2-13-14

My take on common core
By Isaac Latterell, Representative District 6

There has been a lot of misinformation about common core education standards, and understandably parents are becoming more interested and concerned about the direction we are moving with education in South Dakota. I think the increased awareness and parental involvement is fantastic. Some believe that this is an effort by state educators to give up local control of education or to adopt curriculum that is contrary to the values of South Dakotans. 


But what I have learned as I have spoken to superintendents and the state department of education is that they have their own reasons for adopting the common core standards which have little to do with the decades-long march to nationalize education standards, textbooks, tests, and methods for all 50 states. The proponents of nationalized education system are very vocal about this agenda, but local educators do not believe adopting these standards equates to endorsing this goal or losing local control.


Local education officials have conveyed to me that they have spent a considerable amount of time combing through the individual standards for math and english, and have verified firsthand that on the whole, the standards were an improvement on what they were currently using. “No Child Left Behind,” another stab at national control of education, had actually caused some schools to narrow and reduce their standards, so another benefit of adopting common core was to receive a waiver from the mandates imposed by NCLB and improve the focus of the education we are delivering.


Another reality state education officials face is they do not believe they have the staffing levels necessary to develop an adequate standards set on their own, and that such a monumental effort would require millions of dollars and thousands of manhours from qualified experts. Therefore, when the well-funded national groups that designed the common core standards presented them, it was seen as a benefit by local education officials--they could have comprehensive baseline of standards and add to them locally as they saw necessary.


While parental involvement in our district far exceeds state norms, the majority of parents have historically taken and hands-off approach to decisions made by school boards and administrators, trusting them explicitly or by default to make standards and curriculum choices on their behalf. We must return to the conviction that parents are the primary educators, and should be intimately involved with what their child is learning, who is teaching it to them, and how they are learning it. We as parents can take a much bigger role when it comes to school board meetings, elections, and state education policy, and I believe this debate can be the beginning of a more parent-led effort to improve education.


One of the main arguments in favor of having common standards is the ability to compare results and grade levels when a student transfers between states. With this assertion I vehemently disagree. The laws of economics, like the laws of gravity, are inescapable. When you try to force everyone to be the same, regardless of good intentions, the standards always trend towards the lowest common denominator. Those developing textbooks and curriculum aligned to the standards are forced to focus on large population centers like Miami, Minneapolis, New York, and Los Angeles, while our strong values and unique opportunities for excellence will be marginalized or ignored. 


Instead, we should have competing standards in each state, allowing the ones that produce the best results to rise to the top. Likewise, each district could have different specialties based on the needs and strengths of their students. Common Core is a new set of standards that have not been tested, and while the proponents are hopeful, we don’t have any long-term data that proves these standards are the best focus for children in the long run. Also, they should have been released as open source. Since they are copyrighted, they can only be added to, but not changed by local districts.


Nationalization of education and the loss of local control is a real and immediate threat. We in South Dakota want to focus on working hard and raising our families. But we cannot be ignorant of the very vocal, powerful, and well-funded groups who want to create not only uniform standards, but uniform curriculum and control over how we educate our children. 


I trust the intentions of our local educators and officials, and I believe they are acting with the best interests of the students in mind. I hope the standards we have adopted thus far will help to create educational excellence, and the next year should start to show some results. But when the Federal government and national groups start using coercive funding tactics to drive us further down the road of nationalized education, I hope we can all agree to get off the bus.


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