Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Idaho toddler guns down mom at Walmart

The parade of horribles marches on: a two-year-old takes out a well-regulated militia member.
“Unfortunately she left a concealed weapon that was readily accessible to the child. It’s a tragedy. Accidental," says Lt. Stu Miller. "[It] Probably could have been prevented through some safety and security measures.” Walmart will remain closed until Wednesday morning at 6. [Boise Public Radio]
Guns kill 32,000 Americans every year: sometimes guns even kill Republicans.

An unvaccinated South Dakota child has presented with measles: the state's first case in seventeen years but did Senator John Thune call for a quarantine like he wanted to do to non-white Africa because of the Ebola hysteria? Puleeze.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Dakotas, Prairie pothole region at risk to GOP

The woman in Harvey Dunn’s masterpiece holds a piece of climate change in her hand – and maybe even a key to understanding a proposed new name for an epoch in Earth’s history. But the woman is a product of the industrial revolution, and that scissors she holds for cutting flowers is made of steel from a plant in the East that’s fired by coal; so with the stove pipe jutting from the house. The dress she wears, the clothing her children wear, that’s made of cotton in a mill that may be powered by coal. South Dakota State Climatologist Dennis Todey Looking backward to see ahead added that it is more than just climate change that is wrapped up in that discussion of whether to call a new age the Anthropocene. “I think this even includes human issues with climate change, but land use changes and conversion of wild lands to agricultural and a much more ‘managed’ state,” Todey said. [Lance Nixon, Pierre Capital Journal]
SDSU scientists Bruce Millett and W. Carter Johnson, working with Glenn Guntenspergen of the U.S. Geological Survey, tracked 95 years of weather data from 18 weather stations throughout the region. They published that far-reaching study, “Climate trends in the North American prairie pothole region 1906-2000” in 2009 in the journal Climatic Change and have continued to research the topic since then. They chose the 18 weather stations for the completeness of the weather records available at those locations and because the 18 sites are well distributed across smaller ecoregions within the Prairie Pothole Region, or PPR. “Drainage of wetlands in the wetter, eastern PPR has lowered the potential of the PPR to produce waterfowl in a warmer greenhouse climate,” the scientists wrote in their study. [Nixon, SDSU scientists: Climate change may limit size of nation’s “duck factory”]
South Dakota's legislature is dominated by Republicans who ignore the effects of the Anthropocene and lobbyists are lining up to stuff their pockets with cash.

South Dakota Democrats are concerned about climate change and debated language at the state convention in Yankton.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Shannon County name as offensive as negro or squaw

South Dakota's GOP governor has little choice but to accept a county name change after voters sanctioned it even if some state Republicans are resisting because of SDGOP's long history of racism.
In the November general election, voters in Shannon County overwhelmingly approved changing the name to Oglala Lakota County, but the new name cannot go into effect without legislative action. But in the past few years, a state panel has been replacing names considered insensitive, such as Negro and Squaw from creeks and formations, and this year a proposal surfaced to replace Harney Peak in the Black Hills with Black Elk Peak. [Rapid City Journal], links mine.
Harney Peak is not South Dakota's highest natural point, Odakota Mountain is. It is not the highest US point east of the Rocky Mountains, either: Guadalupe Peak in Texas is.

The tower erected on top of a mal-named feature in The Hills That Are Black making it the state's tallest geomorph was just more scorn heaped on the Lakota People.
A Native American man says the name of South Dakota’s tallest mountain is offensive and should be changed. Basil Brave Heart, who is from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and describes himself as an Oglala Lakota elder, wants the name Harney Peak changed to Black Elk Peak. Brave Heart’s motivation is Harney’s role in the 1855 Battle of Ash Hollow, also known as the Battle of Blue Water Creek, which occurred in present-day Nebraska during a period called the First Sioux War. 
A force of 600 soldiers under Harney’s command attacked 250 Sioux and killed 86 of them, including some women and children. The same Lt. Warren who later named South Dakota’s highest point for Gen. Harney wrote about the battle in a journal. “The sight on the top of the hill was heart rending — wounded women and children crying and moaning, horribly mangled by the bullets,” Warren wrote, in part. “Wars carry a shadow,” Brave Heart said, “and the U.S. is carrying a shadow for all the atrocities it committed.” Jay Vogt, a member of the board and the director of the South Dakota State Historical Society, said any interested party could formally apply to change the name of Harney Peak. [excerpt, from Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]
This blogger has hammered on the absence of Lakota in South Dakota high schools and on language equivalents for geographical features on SDDoT highway maps.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Climate change deniers dominate South Dakota Legislature

A Capital Journal survey of South Dakota state lawmakers done before the 2014 general election showed that of those lawmakers who responded, only one-third believed human-induced climate change is occurring. In contrast, half of those who responded do not believe that humans are causing climate change. Though some South Dakota lawmakers from both parties believe that human-induced climate change is occurring, there’s no bipartisan support for the idea that human-induced climate change is not occurring. That side of the issue is driven entirely by one party – Republicans – giving the discussion of climate change a distinctly partisan flavor. 
When asked whether human-induced climate change is currently occurring:
• 3 percent said yes (6 Republicans, 13 Democrats)
• 48 percent said no (27 Republicans, 0 Democrats) [Joel Ebert, Pierre Capital Journal]
In stark contrast:
We, the South Dakota Democratic Party:
• Recognize that the effects of Climate Change are and will continue to negatively impact South Dakota, and urge Federal, State, and local governments to adopt policies that manage those effects.
• Support Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) new carbon standards for coal fire power plants
• Enforcement of our state and federal environmental laws must be strictly enforced. Those responsible for polluting and/or degrading the quality of South Dakota land, air, or water must be held responsible for their actions. Prompt clean-up must be conducted at the expense of the responsible parties.
A reader of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader knows why the GOP-dominated legislature chooses cluelessness:
Furthermore, all 34 GOP-solid states will soon be pressured by ALEC, the well-known S.D. legislative crony/lobbyist, who will want state-level obstruction to EPA and nullification of the Fed Clean Power Plan. Proof abounds that we are already in the Earth’s sixth extinction period. Climate disruption is more than a potential threat. Global warming is an absolute certainty. Therefore, climate disruption will continue to plague the planet. Climate disruption has already played its hand in recent years and in various ways. Therefore, the heating of our planet will continue for many decades regardless of what we do. We simply want to slow the process down. [David L. Wegner, Congress’ budget jeopardizes life on Earth]

SDDP delegates debate the platform during the state convention in Yankton.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Klein: GOP governors using ObamaCare denial to rip states off

South Dakota is bribing attorneys to practice in the state.
Most states won't want to rip themselves off that badly, at least not for long. And all a state would need to do to receive full benefits under the law is say yes to some form of the Medicaid expansion and build their own exchange. But Obamacare is powerfully politicized, and some Republican governors or legislatures might hate the law enough to hold their state back. That leaves 15 states who haven't accepted the Medicaid expansion and haven't built their own exchange: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. Those states, according to 2013 Census numbers, had about 103 million residents — or roughly a third of the country's population. Ripping yourself off out of political spite is not an obvious electoral winner, of course. [Ezra Klein, Red states are using Obamacare to rip themselves off]
The state's GOP senators are pledging to stop coverage for the uninsurable.

Monday, December 22, 2014

South Dakota Progress going forward with candidate training

Leaders in South Dakota Progress, plus long-time members of the South Dakota Democratic Party, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community and representatives of tribal nations, are investing in the future of SDDP.
Following a meeting of State Democratic Party officials with South Dakota Progress founders earlier this month, newly elected state Democratic Party Chairwoman Ann Tornberg said her understanding is that South Dakota Progress will recruit candidates for local-level positions like school boards and township boards. Joe Lowe, the state party’s newly elected vice chairman, expressed a similar view that South Dakota Progress will focus on city council and other local races. Mike Wilson, chairman of the Pennington County Democratic Party, has met with the group and thinks it will be complementary. “They didn’t split off from the party,” Wilson said. “They kind of emerged from frustration with the existing process. They weren’t part of the existing process, but they’re trying to join and they want their own voice.” [Seth Tupper, Rapid City Journal]

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bonner: Thune, Noem, Rounds the 3 Stooges

Even this writer is disappointed in the actions of one of our Congressional delegation, whom she has labelled the three stooges. They are "Tune", "No," and "Robot." Two call themselves senators, one of whom is the senator-elect. "Tune" has said outrageous things as part of the regressive leadership team. Leading us where? Destruction, perhaps? Could it be that the feds care more about our planet, our wildlife, and our health than do the three stooges, Kristi "No" Noem, John "Tune" Thune, and Mike "Mikey Robot" Rounds? This writer believes that to be the case. [Hazel Bonner, Thune's actions against EPA aren't 'sportsmanlike']

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Johnson casts last Senate vote

Photo: Senator Johnson listens to US Senate candidate Rick Weiland during the South Dakota Democratic Convention in Yankton.
The marathon voting session that kept Sen. Tim Johnson and other lawmakers working through the weekend finally came to an end late Tuesday night. Johnson's late night ended with the retiring South Dakota Democrat casting his final vote – a "yes" to confirm Stephen Bough as a U.S. district judge for western Missouri. Last week, Johnson said goodbye to the Senate in a 13-minute speech that at times criticized how Washington has changed during his time in office. Johnson went to great lengths to underscore the need to compromise and bemoaned a growing lack of bipartisanship in Congress, at times referencing final speeches from lawmakers such as former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle. "Each party, rather than work cooperatively for the American people, is more and more focused on winning the next election. Mr. President, we have lost our way," Johnson said during his farewell remarks. [Christopher Doering, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Read Vermillion Plain Talk coverage linked here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Richards: GOP using South Dakota as waste dump

Reed Richards is an attorney practicing in Deadwood and Spearfish: he is also Treasurer for the Lawrence County Democrats.
The Rapid City Journal recently applauded the EPA for its actions on the Gilt Edge Mine disaster. Why don’t South Dakota newspapers do some reporting on why the EPA has had to declare the area a Super Fund Site?
The record is clear. In the 1980’s, Gov. Bill Janklow and his Republican toadies forced through the approval of the Brohm Mining permit (it’s good for business, you know) even though knowledgeable opponents clearly pointed out that the bond was inadequate (so far, by about $90 million tax dollars and still counting).
So, what’s the moral of this story? Have you heard of the Trans Canadian Pipeline? Good for business, the Republican politicians say. They don’t need a big bond because their pipeline will never leak (really?). Besides, if it does leak, they will clean it up (sure they will). They won’t go bankrupt like Brohm, (we have their word on that) and leave the taxpayers holding the bag.
This bullroar is South Dakota’s very own Groundhog Day. When will the citizens stand up and tell the South Dakota Republican politicians to stop using South Dakota as a waste dump so their business supporters can make millions at the expense of South Dakota’s clean air and water. [Reed Richards, Sioux Falls Argus Leader, links mine.]
Photo: Rapid City Journal.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Tornberg, Lowe will lead South Dakota Dems

Ann Tornberg, of Beresford, has been selected by the party's state central committee as the new chairwoman. Joe Lowe, of Piedmont, will serve as the party's vice chairman. [KSFY]
Opinions are mixed. Here are some comments lifted from Madville Times:
Epidemic civic illiteracy in both parties fuels this largely pointless political combat that has raged for decades. Whether the head of a state political party supports or resists Roe and its progeny means nothing in jurisprudential reality, but almost everything in political reality. -- Patrick Duffy.
Now that Tornberg has won she has the pressure on her now to do what she has promised to do. Which is to get down to the county level, find candidates for local and legislative offices, and build up from there. We'll find good people that can move up to challenge for the national offices. I wish there could have been more time given for question and answers of the Tornberg and Barth but Nick Nemic did a good job of running the election. -- Owen.
As a Democrat, I feel betrayed by the SDDP. How do we expect the party to raise funds when we elect someone who does not believe in the rights of women to choose what happens to their own bodies. Yes, abortion is not a legal issue at this time, but it is a WOMAN's issue. If the woman at the head of our party is against a woman's right to choose, how do we expect women to financially or morally support the party. -- Robin Page.
So glad to see these supportive comments about our new chair. i agree completely. I voted for Ann and Joe. Both will lead our party into the next years and help us get ready for 2016. We are in good hands and I am excited about the new energy in the party. -- Mary Perpich
I leveraged quite a bit of what I felt to be constructive criticism at the party and Zach Crago and Deb Knecht were nothing but gracious and as far as I know SD Progress was listened to with full attention. I have found many of those in the party to be adults who may not like much what some of us muckrakers say, but they are listening and are not holding hard feelings. While I'm not longer with SD Progress, I still believe that to be true. -- Tasiyagnunpa Livermont.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Yankton Taco Johns sold after gay slur incident

The story broke during the South Dakota Democratic Party convention as Yankton went under the national civil rights microscope for an incident that should have shamed the entire state and not just one town.

Chris is a delegate from Yankton County: he represented the LGBTQ community at a convention largely devoid of West River participation (ip photo).
The Yankton franchise came under fire in June when Tyler Brandt, a former employee, alleged the store’s manager forced him to wear a nametag that read “GAYTARD.” Management at the restaurant claimed Brandt wore the nametag on his own accord. In September, the South Dakota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and co-counsel Stephanie E. Pochop filed a lawsuit in Sioux Falls with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Taco John’s of Yankton, Inc., and Taco John’s International, Inc. The Yankton store has seen an Internet backlash since the June incident was made public. On Google, the restaurant currently pulls a 1.4 star rating with a number of negative reviews referencing the incident. [Rob Nielsen, Yankton Press and Dakotan]
Read Tyler Brandt's story here.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hunhoff, Hawks disappointed in budget address

ip photo of Hunhoff at the South Dakota Democratic Party Convention in Yankton.

According to District 18 legislator Bernie Hunhoff, school officials should not expect much to change regarding school funding in the upcoming legislative session. He warned that more than likely any change in school funding will have to be done by the people of the state through grass-root initiated measures. He noted that he was very disappointed that governor Daugaard didn’t address school funding and teacher salaries in the budget address delivered last week. Hunhoff also commented the way to address the shortfall in the general fund budgets may begin with one-time use monies to get the state through this period of budget issues. He predicted that there would be more than one school funding related initiated measure on the ballot in 2016.
Read story at Yankton Press and Dakotan.
It’s not what Governor Dennis Daugaard said in his annual budget address last week but what he didn’t say that concerns state Representative Paula Hawks, a Democrat from Hartford. “Some things I was hoping to hear about and didn’t hear a lot about were education funding and what we’re going to do about the teacher shortage that’s on everyone’s mind right now, and particularly on the minds of school boards and superintendents across the state,” Hawks said. “So I was looking to hear a little bit more from him on that, a little bit more than 'I’m not going to lead the charge on that.'” [Northern Plains News], link mine.

Monday, December 8, 2014

South Dakota balloteers begin cannabis push

South Dakota-based MetaBank shut down hundreds of ATMs in Colorado cannabis store after warning that the machines violated federal law.
Progressives, frustrated at gridlock in Washington and at the state level, are planning a major ballot-initiative push across the country as they bank on a likely favorable electorate in 2016. Pro-pot legalization advocates have acknowledged a ballot strategy that will place a greater emphasis on 2016, given the significant demographic differences between midterm and presidential years. Younger and minority voters made up a much larger percentage of the voter pool in 2012 than last month’s midterms, when the GOP took back the Senate and made major gains in the House during the lowest-turnout election since 1942. “Especially with gridlock in Washington and fewer states likely to address the minimum wage legislatively, we’re likely to see more ballot initiatives on the minimum wage and other progressive economic issues,” said Paul Sonn, general counsel at the National Employment Law Project, an organization that has supported minimum wage pushes across the U.S. Following minimum-wage-hike victories in four red states on Nov. 4 — South Dakota, Nebraska, Alaska and Arkansas — Sonn said he is confident there will be many more progressive economic ballot propositions two years from now than there were this past cycle. While he said it is too early to know which would be in play, Sonn identified states like Missouri, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico and Washington state as places where gridlock makes ballot initiatives an appealing option.
Read it here.
In 2012, there were 2,297 arrests for marijuana possession in South Dakota, and 127 arrests for marijuana sales. Possession of just a small amount of marijuana in the state carries a potential penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine! Even more alarmingly, a recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union found that South Dakota was among the top 10 states with the largest racial disparities in marijuana possession arrest rates. Despite people of all races using marijuana at nearly identical rates, blacks in South Dakota are nearly 4.8 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. [Marijuana Policy Project]

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Midterm elections bring lessons for Democrats

When only two native South Dakotans know what wins elections in that state, life might be easier if the author of The Dakota Progressive just jams a fork up his nose.
When voters pass minimum wage hikes in four of the reddest states--Alaska, South Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas--but still reject Democrats nationally and, perhaps more troublesome, even locally, that should tell you something. It also provides more clarity in terms of the lessons of this election. Here are two keys to fixing this mess:
1) Stop ALEC's corrupt agenda of buying corporate and socially regressive policies in state legislatures with their largesse.
2) Fund more Initiatives in the 24 states that allow them, so we can go around the bought off Tea-Baggers.
To pick out the last two examples, pot is now legal in Oregon and Alaska, and a Florida medicare marijuana amendment got 58 percent of the vote, and only failed to pass because 60 percent was required to change the state constitution. The other example, I-594 instituting background checks in Washington State, is another success (it passed with just under 60 percent) that can and will be replicated (the requisite number of signatures to put it on Nevada's ballot in 2016 has already been collected--Arizona, Maine and Oregon are other potential states where it might make the ballot).
This is where the action will be the next two years. Democratic left needs to get up off the mat, brush itself off and go do the hard work of taking back the states--via legislation, education and ballot initiative--while standing up strong for principles and not pursuing some elusive "third way." [Bob Cesca]
Jeff Barth: since West River Democrats want to go it alone it looks like just East River, you and me from here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Wismer, Democrats vow education, EB-5 fight

South Dakota teachers didn't get the break they were looking for in Gov. Dennis Daugaard's spending plan for the state's next budget cycle. Democrats had hoped Daugaard would tackle the state's teacher shortage. Advocates say inadequate pay is a serious barrier to attracting teachers to the state, which ranks last in the nation for teacher compensation, according to the National Education Association. "I continue to be disappointed that this governor refuses to recognize the crisis he continues to create for our local communities," Rep. Susan Wismer said. Teacher pay was a splitting point in the governor's race, which the Democrat lost in November. "He's just conducting a war of attrition particularly on our smallest schools in the state." [Associated Press], links mine.
Photo: Representative Susan Wismer and running mate Susy Blake enjoy a close moment at the Democratic Convention in Yankton.

South Dakota's teacher shortage could get far worse.
A new report from the Associated School Boards of South Dakota show that the teacher shortage in the state could accelerate rapidly in the next few years. Information from the South Dakota Retirement System and eight South Dakota colleges and universities shows the number of potential teacher retirees surpasses the number of potential new teachers by 278 in 2015, with approximately 427 fewer teaching candidates coming in 2016. Yankton School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Kindle says it is going to make a bad situation worse. [WNAX]
Kindle says that the Yankton district is trying to stay ahead of the curve, that higher pay is only part of the solution and they are getting fewer applicants with even less experience than in the past.
In the recent elections, Ray Ring won a second term in the South Dakota House of Representative representing District 17. He was first elected in 2012. Ring said he looks forward to changing things for the better as much as he is able. Also on his agenda is more funds for education, fitting since Ring recently served on the Education committee in the legislature. “We’re still pushing hard for increases in education spending,” Ring said. “We have to do something about teacher salaries.” Expanding Medicaid is an action that Ring believes makes sense in a moral and practical way. [Sarah Wetzel, Vermillion Plain Talk]
A report from a GOP-heavy legislative committee has blamed the dead former Governors Office of Economic Development employee, Richard Benda, for the EB-5 scandal:
Democrats on the committee disagreed with the conclusion that Benda was the sole person at fault. "I don't believe that Richard Benda was the only one involved in this," said state Sen. Larry Lucas, D-Mission. The committee deliberately decided not to investigate the private company Bollen founded to help run the EB-5 program, SDRC Inc. Lucas stood by his call for more investigations into Bollen's private company. In particular, he highlighted the question of who owned SDRC Inc. Bollen founded the company in January 2008 but told the committee in written remarks that he didn't consider himself the company's owner for another year and a half. "I believe... that there are state laws that have been broken, particularly by Joop Bollen," Lucas said. Democrats, Lucas said, are considering filing a "minority report" about EB-5 -- though it's unclear whether the committee's rules allow a formal minority report. [David Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Aberdeen American: Thune flip flops on global warming

South Dakota's junior senator is waffling on climate change:
Notice something different about Sen. John Thune? “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring,” Thune said. “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” Thune now clearly comes down on the side of the vast majority of scientists when he acknowledges climate change. He even notes that man does contribute, in some measure, to climate change, and that it is something that lawmakers can affect. [editorial, Aberdeen American News]
Read the Washington Post article linked here.

Thune hasn't ruled out a shutdown of the federal government over President Obama's executive action on immigration even as white GOP attorneys general sue to block the President.

Nobel Prize winner, Professor Paul Krugman is concerned that Thune and the Republicans want to destroy America.
Our inability to invest doesn’t reflect something wrong with “Washington”; it reflects the destructive ideology that has taken over the Republican Party. The federal government could easily have provided aid to the states to help them spend — in fact, the stimulus bill included such aid, which was one main reason public investment briefly increased. But once the G.O.P. took control of the House, any chance of more money for infrastructure vanished. [Ideology and Investment]
South Dakota's GOP-dominated legislature is scrambling to find the money to fix the state's crumbling infrastructure before its credibility completely collapses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Daugaard's denial of disbursement disappoints Dems

South Dakota's autocrat Republican governor has unveiled his party's budget request. The proposal omits additional resources for teacher pay and the expansion of the state's Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act, not priorities for the GOP-dominated legislature but important to Democrats.
South Dakota has the lowest average teacher salaries in the nation, and lags significantly behind all neighboring states. The closest is North Dakota, where public school teachers earned about $8,700 more a year, on average. With teacher openings going unfilled and candidate pools in the single digits, education groups are pushing lawmakers to close the teacher pay gap. Organizations such as the Associated School Boards of South Dakota and the School Administrators of South Dakota have proposed a one-cent summer sales tax hike to pay for higher salaries, in anticipation of the upcoming legislative session. "We're hoping to have a lot of discussion throughout this session on teacher pay," SASD Executive Director Rob Monson said. Polls show voters would support such a plan. However, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Tuesday he probably wouldn't, after presenting his budget plans. [Patrick Anderson, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton said that he's disappointed the governor didn't specifically highlight the issues. Sutton is concerned that Republicans are leaving too much federal money on the table.

Senator-elect Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton says education still has not recovered from the cut of 2011; he is also concerned about the use of one time dollars.
Rep. Scott Parsley, D-Madison, said the committee should find out what the governor’s proposed repeal of interest pro-ration will accomplish and whether the results are worth the governor’s estimated cost of $3.8 million for the change. The Legislative Research Council fiscal staff will spend the next month preparing for a special meeting of the committee on Jan. 5-6. There will be technical briefings that afternoon and morning in advance of the session that opens Jan. 13. [Bob Mercer, Aberdeen American News]
Read Madville Times assessment here and listen to more interviews at WNAX.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Biden to join Tribal Nations Conference

The White House is hosting representatives of all federally recognized tribes: the event is being live-streamed.
Vice President Joe Biden is joining the White House Tribal Nations Conference for the first time this year. Biden will deliver remarks at the conference on Wednesday. He plans to focus on landmark provisions in the Violence Against Women Act that recognize tribal authority over non-Indian offenders. Biden will deliver his remarks during the morning session of the conference. President Barack Obama is expected to join tribal leaders in the afternoon. [indianz] links mine.
South Dakota's GOP junior senator and At-large representative voted against extension of VAWA.

Biden is widely expected to be a candidate for the Democratic Party's nomination for President in 2016.

The tentative schedule follows:
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM - Opening Session with Attorney General Eric Holder, the Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet
Prior to Lunch - Breakout sessions with Cabinet members and federal officials
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM - Closing Session with President Obama, the Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, White House Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz, White House Council on Environmental Quality Acting Director Michael Boots
Indian Country Today Media has a story linked here.

Some financially strapped tribal nations are struggling with youth in detention.

Monday, December 1, 2014

SD Farmers Union wants to end property tax opt out

South Dakota Farmers Union members want the state to repeal the Property Tax freeze or opt out. President Doug Sombke says at last week’s convention they approved an amendment to their policy calling for elimination of that because it hinders the ability of local governments to gather funds. Sombke says opt outs are also keeping local governments from being able to meet road and infrastructure needs. He says they’re also costly and don’t provide any certainty. He says it’s also basically an issue of local control. Sombke says he’s talked to some legislators who see it as an interesting idea. He says they’ll take a look at getting some legislation passed next session to address this problem. [WNAX]
The Des Moines Register contrasts the views of the GOP rival to the Farmers Union:
The Farm Bureau's positions demonstrate a strong belief in the privatization of profit and the socialization of risk. In its view, agriculture and other industries should be incentivized or otherwise compensated by taxpayers when providing benefits to the public but should not be penalized when imposing costs on the public through pollution. [Mike Delaney, Farm Bureau 'no' on sensible actions]
Ann Tornberg, a family farmer, is chair of South Dakota's Union County Democrats: she is running for the top spot in the Democratic Party and is a supporter of the SD Farmers Union. Jeff Barth, chair of the Minnehaha County Dems, is also vying for the seat.

Clay County Commissioners hope to pass a wheel tax to pay for infrastructure improvements long-neglected by the state's Republican administrations.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hunhoff, Dems prep for 2015 session

Senator-elect Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton says he thinks health care for low income people has to be a priority in the 2015 South Dakota Legislative session. He says a major road funding proposal will take a lot of time and that there will be debate over a task force recommendation on new water drainage guidelines.

An interview with Hunhoff can be heard here.
Keep alive the stories of all the people who paid for our freedom. That was the challenge that the guest speaker, District 18 State Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, gave to students, faculty and other community members at Mount Marty College’s Veterans Day prayer service Monday. The newly elected District 18 state senator, local journalist and MMC alum spoke of the huge price South Dakota has had to pay for freedom throughout its history. Hunhoff told the Press and Dakotan in an interview that sometimes people take this freedom we have for granted. [Jordynne Hart,] links mine.
South Dakota's GOP governor will deliver his party's budget address on Tuesday of next week. His Wyoming counterpart wants to expand Medicaid under President Obama's signature health care reform law but that state's Republican-dominated legislature is balking on passage of medical access to the working class and the poor.

Photo: Kelly Hertz

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pierre scholar named to Native American Political Leadership Program

Black Hills State University student Michaela Stroup is fueling her passion for politics and knack for leadership into a prestigious political program in the nation’s capital. Stroup, a political science major from Pierre, was accepted to attend The George Washington University’s Semester in Washington Politics (SIWP), as a participant in the Native American Political Leadership Program (NAPLP) for the spring semester. Stroup, who is a member of the Lower Brule Sioux tribe, was chosen for her academic abilities, leadership potential and passion for politics. She has been part of the Gay Straight Alliance, Student Senate, and debate team. This past summer Stroup interned with the South Dakota Democratic Party and went door to door advocating for the raise in minimum wage. [BHSU Communications]
Stroup was named by BHSU's Office of Academic Affairs to the spring 2014 dean's list.

In other news from college Democrats, South Dakota State University's club is working hard:
During the 2014 Midterm elections, the College Democrats volunteered with the Brookings Democrats in helping to promote several local, state and federal candidates. They organized a group to walk at the Hobo Day parade and made several phone calls to promote candidates. The College Democrats have started a new strategy on campus to promote participation in politics, said Carter Christensen. “My personal goal is to get people talking and to get people educated about politics,” Christensen said. [SDSU Collegian]
And from Yankton's Drinking Liberally:
First, this year's Drinking Liberally Holiday Party has been scheduled for Tuesday, December 9, at 7pm (our regular time). We'll have it downstairs at Ben's where we regularly meet, so there won't be any stairs for anyone to climb. It will be low-key — no speechifying or door prizes or anything like that — just good conversation and good fun. Bring friends, and bring potluck or treats if you want to share. We'll have a great time! [Chris Sonne]
Club contacts linked here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Parsley defeats GOP legislator in District 8

Republican Chuck Jones lost his bid for the State Senate by a very small margin throughout the district but have the majority of Moody County voters on his side. Jones took 1,290 local votes compared to Scott Parsley’s 1,055. [Moody County Enterprise]
Winning Lake County put Parsley over the top by 355 votes.

Democrats Jim Peterson of Revillo, Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton, Ray Ring of Vermillion, Julie Bartling of Burke, and Peggy Gibson of Huron also won in Republican fields.

Reporter Bob Mercer told readers of the Pierre Cap Journal that Democratic legislators returned contributions from a GOP PAC built for nefarious purposes:
Ben Nesselhuf called on Republicans to likewise divest their campaigns of what he called “scam money” from the PAC. Nesselhuf said the Democrats – Senate leader Jason Frerichs of Wilmot $350, Sen. Bill Sutton of Burke $250 and Rep. Scott Parsley of Madison $200 – returned their amounts Monday. Nesselhuf said Free Conferencing abuses rural-telephone subsidies and called the matter a “pay to play scandal.”
Parsley and the author of The Dakota Progressive have cousins in common: his mom and my uncle by marriage were siblings. His brother Steve has been a life-long friend of this blogger.

Scott Parsley, Bernie Hunhoff, Pat Garrity

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hawks wins in a squeaker

Representative Paula Hawks is an advocate for clean sustainable energy in South Dakota's legislature.
Hawks came away from the election with an eight-vote advantage in District Nine over former Rep. Bob Deelstra, a Republican who was making a bid to recapture the seat he lost in 2012. Monday's recount confirmed Hawks' victory over Deelstra, 2,662 to 2,654. Hawks said she looks forward to the next legislative session, and she plans to introduce bills dealing with public safety and education. She will be one of only a dozen Democrats in the next legislative session, down from 18 in the current Legislature. "We're small but we're mighty, and we'll make our voices heard as best as we can," she said. [Jonathan Ellis, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Hawks' legislature entry linked here, Ballotpedia entry linked here.

South Dakota Progress gaining momentum

Tasiyagnunpa Livermont is editor of the Eagle Butte-based West River Eagle: she is acting as steering director for South Dakota Progress, a group seeking to energize the SD Democratic Party.

An interview with Livermont can be heard on WNAX Radio. She says, "the 2020 plan will focus solely on electing Democratic candidates to local offices in SD."

The organization is using the hashtag #sdprogress on twitter.

Bajun Mavalwalla, an Army veteran who moved to South Dakota to guide Corinna Robinson's US House campaign, says actions are gaining strength:
Part of the inspiration for the outside group is the “Colorado Plan,” a successful effort by Colorado Democrats to rebuild the party there. That plan also focused on recruiting and training candidates for local races — though it had the advantage of millions of dollars in funding from four of the state’s wealthiest people. Mavalwalla said his plan doesn’t necessarily need any buy-in from the formal party. But he’d like to have it. “The best way to do this is to work alongside and cooperate with the state party,” he said. [David Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Madville Times has a story on the effort linked here.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kevin Killer face of tribal representation in SD Legislature

South Dakota’s Native vote generated a lot of media attention in the run-up to Election 2014. State legislator Kevin Killer, of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, ticked off the successes: On November 4, Jim Bradford, of Pine Ridge, was re-elected to the state Senate, where he will be joined by Troy Heinert, from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, who had been in the House. Shawn Bordeaux, of Rosebud, will take over Heinert’s House seat. Meanwhile Rex Conroy, of Pine Ridge, earned the sheriff’s badge for newly renamed Oglala Lakota County, and Oglalas were re-elected county commissioners. “All politics is local,” said Killer, who held onto his House seat. “These results show voters what’s possible when they assert their rights as citizens.” [Stephanie Woodard, Indian Country Today Media]
Now that Kevin Killer has won another term in the South Dakota Legislature, the Pine Ridge representative hopes expand Medicaid and to repeal a statute passed in 2011 that limits the amount of time victims of horrific crimes committed at the hands of clergy can sue their attackers. Brandon Ecoffey of Native Sun News reported from indianz:
To many South Dakota constituents, the bill seemed to directly target Native Americans, who were victims of abuse during their time in church- and state-run boarding schools. Killer — who voted against the bill — told Native Sun News: “I am definitely in favor of repealing the bill. Here is a bill that doesn’t really explore the history of the abuse that was going on. If you are going to think about any type of bill that pertains to any type of tragedy you would think that there would be a conversation with the aggrieved party — and that conversation never happened at all with this.”

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Barth announces for SD Democratic chair

Jeff Barth visits with media in Rapid City

During the South Dakota Democratic Convention in Yankton Jeff Barth and the Minnehaha County people took a straggler into their ranks while pressing the caucus on strict adherence to the rules with vigorous confidence.
Minnehaha County Democratic Party chair Jeff Barth is running for chair of the state Democratic Party, he said Thursday. Barth said he didn't have a particular agenda to take the party in a different direction, but wants to "energize young people, Native Americans, teachers (and) the other entities that are normally part of our party. Our theme is that we can't win as individuals or factions, we can only win as a team," Barth said. Barth is notably outspoken. In just recent months, he filed a lawsuit against Mike Rounds and others about EB-5 and has excoriated the county auditor for vote-counting delays. [David Montgomery, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
In Rapid City during his run for US House Barth stuck his hand out after greeting the couple before me and after introducing myself he said, "you're a little bigger than I am." My 6'2" 173 pound frame and his 6'1" likely-more-than-that laughed simultaneously. "Last month I supported your opponent in the primary: good to know I can still evolve," I blurted. He responded with a kind thank you. I didn't hesitate: "where you at on the so-called War on Drugs?" It fell right out of my mouth. "It's crazy," he replied. He described a future where, as long as law enforcement can easily test drivers stopped for some other infraction, cannabis law should look just like alcohol law.

Barth greeted the warm, enthusiastic gaggle, gave a thumbnail sketch of his campaign, and described the proposed Ryan budget that enjoys the support of incumbent Kristi Noem as "the final solution." That banks are too big to fail suggests that banks are too big, he said. Corporations look like people to some; yet, British Petroleum killed 13 people in the Gulf of Mexico and nobody has gone to jail.

In response to a question from a self-described federal employee Barth said that public service should be celebrated rather than denigrated; and, "I have no problem that public employees have collective bargaining rights." The biggest applause from the gathering came after he repeated his support for marriage equality: he revisited the topic several times in follow-up questions. Barth cited Minnehaha County's responsibility to prosecute a capital offense in the death of a prison guard at the State Penitentiary as a necessary function of government.

Johnson calls for end to Fannie, Freddie conservatorship

Senator Tim Johnson addresses the South Dakota Democratic Convention
Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin Watt said during a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday that overhauling the housing-finance system should be left to Congress. Mr. Watt’s comments came after Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.) in his opening remarks called on him to “engage with the Treasury Department in talks to end the conservatorship” of Fannie and Freddie if Congress doesn’t proceed. Mr. Johnson, who chairs the banking committee, sponsored legislation that would overhaul the housing-finance system. That bipartisan bill passed the committee in May but garnered only limited support and didn’t proceed to the Senate floor. Sen. Johnson’s comments come as the likelihood of Congress tackling housing-finance reform dwindles, despite calls from the Obama administration and others for Congress to act. [Wall Street Journal]
Denise Ross has a look at Senator Johnson's legacy posted at the Mitchell Daily Republic: subscription required.

Donate to Senator Johnson's South Dakota First PAC.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sutton future of SDDP

The Planning Committee of the South Dakota Legislature meets Monday in Pierre: member Senator Billie Sutton of Burke is looking ahead to the January session. Sutton says the committee will work through different proposals and ideas to compromise on education funding.

 Read full story here.

Cowboy Caucus: Jason Frerichs and Billie Sutton rehearse for their skit at the state Democratic convention in Yankton earlier this year.