During the 2016 legislative session, Harold Frazier, Chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, delivered the first State of the Tribes address. The address was delivered before a joint session of the South Dakota Legislature and provided a review of key issues impacting the nine tribal nations that share South Dakota’s geography.
In his address, Chairman Frazier spoke of many timely topics, including Medicaid expansion and infrastructure in Indian Country, including county roadways which weave through tribal lands. Frazier also spoke of the number of suicides on reservations in South Dakota, as well as efforts the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe was taking to address the methamphetamine epidemic within its borders—namely banishing members who are convicted of dealing, making or trafficking the drug.
The State of the Tribes Address is a tradition that has continued throughout the remainder of Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Administration. In 2017, Chairman Robert Flying Hawk, of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, delivered the address. Just last week, Chairman Boyd Gorneau of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe provided remarks before the South Dakota Legislature.
A loss in court may lead to a win for a South Dakota law at the United States Supreme Court. Senate Bill 106 was passed in 2016, instructing online businesses to collect sales tax for South Dakota purchases. Although Amazon has recently begun collecting taxes, South Dakota sued four other companies. The Rapid City Journal reported this week that Judge Mark Barnett ruled in favor of the defendants, citing Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, a decision requires a business to have a physical address in a state if the state is to collect taxes from it. There is hope among state leaders that this court case will reach the Supreme Court, who may overturn the Quill Corp ruling.
To read more news about taxes impacting the Black Hills region, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
Following a judge's ruling, Initiated Measure 22 will be blocked in full until the pending court case is resolved. Also known as the South Dakota Government Accountability and Anti-Corruption Act, the ballot measure was approved by the voters, but several Republican lawmakers oppose it, saying parts such as restrictions on gifts from lobbyists are unconstitutional. South Dakota's attorney general, Marty Jackley, argued that some parts could still be implemented, but KOTA news reports that Judge Mark Barnett ruled the measure was a comprehensive package so portions could not be used if the entire measure was not.
Past stories about the ballot measures from this year's election are linked from the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
A month after the 2016 election, supporters and opponents of anti-corruption Initiated Measure 22 are visible. Although Governor Daugaard has said the measure is poorly written and that he would not ask for funding for the Democracy Credits program (publicly funded political contributions), the Rapid City Journal reports assistant attorney general Steven Blair as saying the law is constitutional and the state has a compelling interest in reducing apparent government corruption.
A major component of IM 22 is limiting gifts to legislators and their families from lobbyists to $100 per group. More than a dozen legislators have filed a lawsuit against the law. South Dakotans for Integrity, led by Darrell Solberg of Sioux Falls and Don Frankenfeld of Rapid City, sponsored IM 22 and have hired attorneys to help defend it.
On November 8th, South Dakota voters approved Initiated Measure 22. This measure is also known as the "Anti-Corruption Act" and several lawmakers will file a lawsuit to alter the measure, reports the Rapid City Journal. A $100 limit on gifts to legislators is one of the provisions at the heart of the lawsuit. The gift limitations apply to employers and familiy members of legislators. Other concerns in the lawsuit are the creation of an ethics comission as well as a publicly financed campaign program for legislative and statewide candidates.
Americans for Prosperity, which is based in Arlington Virginia, has financed most of the opposition against Initiated Measure 22.
For more information about the 2016 Elections, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network online news archives.
Women currently make up less than one fifth of the South Dakota State Legislature. The Rapid City Journal reports that just 20 of the 105 seats are held by women, dropping from 22 last session and the high of 24 in 2013-2014. From Rapid City, Lynne DiSanto and Kristin Conzet were re-elected as representatives, while Terri Haverly was unopposed in her senate race. Jacqueline Sly could not run again as a representative due to term limits, and she was defeated in the primaries for senate.
Amendment U, which would limit payday loans at 18% unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, was voted down on November 8, 2016, while Measure 21, which caps payday lending loans at 36% interest, was passed. According to a Rapid City Journal article, the owner of a Rapid City payday lending store has spoken out, saying the new laws may drive payday lending stores out of business. Rob Tschetter, owner of Cash With Us, has already shut down his business, claiming a 36% annual percentage interest rate as unsustainable and that people were duped by viewing payday loans in the long term instead of the short term.
Other payday lending stores will stay open to service existing customers and loans, but will not be giving out new loans.
For more news on the 2016 election, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archives.
Less than two weeks after the election, one initiated measure is causing concern for lawmakers. Initiated Measure 22 sets rules for campaign finance and places a limit on gifts that lawmakers may receive. According to a Rapid City Journal article, each year a legislator can only accept $100 in gifts from a business or individual. As gifts include meals, various organizations are canceling group meals with legislators out of concern for violating the rules. The measure will be added to South Dakota's legal code. The possibility is open for lawmakers to amend or repeal the measure in the 2017 legislative session.
Several ballot measures were decided on Election Day. Stories and information on them are linked in the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archive.
In the Rapid City area, Republicans saw wins at all levels. Besides electing Donald Trump as president and returning John Thune and Kristi Noem to the US Senate and House, the Rapid City Journal reports wins for all Republican State Senators and Representatives. Winners include the late incumbent Dan Dryden; David Lust was appointed to fill the seat after Dryden passed away, and the governor has said he would appoint Lust to fill the term if Dryden won.
Constitutional Amendment U was voted down on Tuesday, November 8, Rapid City Journal reports. The Amendment would have capped payday loans at an 18% interest rate unless agreed upon in writing. Many argued that the Amendment was deceptive and would ultimately create higher interest rates for payday loans.
Measure 21, which caps interest rates for payday loans at 36%, did pass.
For more news on the 2016 elections, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network's online news archives.
The Rapid City Journal reports that if South Dakota voters approve some measures, legislators will have a hard time implementing the changes before January 1, 2018. Amendment T would require new districts to be drawn in South Dakota. Amendment V would convert South Dakota to nonpartisan elections. Both measures are Constitutional Amendments and could require a special session in 2017 for the legislation to be drafted in time.
South Dakota's current weak laws on carnival and amusement park safety do little more than keep operators safer from lawsuits. The Rapid City Journal reports that after a string of accidents this past summer at carnivals around the country this past summer, more attention is likely to be focused on the laws regulating the industry, laws drawn up in 2014 by a legislator who owns amusement parks in the state. There are many exemptions in the law, which many officials say need to be changed or made tougher to get around.
To read past news articles related to the State Legislature, be sure to click on this archives link.
For more information on the Legislature, check out its homepage.
June 7 marks the day of South Dakota's primary election, bringing to an end the conflict between Republican candidates. In many races with competing candidates, the Rapid City Journal notes one candidate is usually seen as a moderate or "establishment" candidate and the other is seen as extreme or "ultraconservative". One key difference is their stance on taxes; moderate legislators have passed increased taxes to pay for road improvements and increased teacher pay. This has been used as a line of attack by their opponents, but both sides have found issues to target on the other side.
A recent campaign flyer has created a stir in the South Dakota State Senate primary for District 33. According to the Rapid City Journal, the flyer asked voters if they would support a candidate who had refused military service and showed Phil Jensen's draft card with a conscientious objector status. Jensen is the incumbent for seat. His opponent in the Republican primary is Jacqueline Sly, currently a State Representative but unable to run for that position due to term limits. The flyer came from All South Dakota PAC, a political action committee run by Stan Adelstein, a supporter of Sly.
The article gives Adelstein's motivation as believing there is a contradiction between Jensen being a conscientious objector and then supporting a failed 2011 bill that could have allowed murderers of abortion doctors to plead justifiable homicide. However, Sly was also a sponsor on HB 1171 that Adelstein refers to.
The primary election is set for June 7th. More election information can be round on the Black Hills Knowledge Network's resource page, while past profiles of the candidates can be found on the legislative page.
As governor, Dennis Daugaard makes decisions that affect the state as a whole. A Rapid City Journal article explores three major decisions from the 2016 legislative session. Gov. Daugaard asked the legislature to raise the state sales tax from 4% to 4.5%, with the additional revenue going to pay teachers. The measure was opposed by many of Daugaard's fellow Republicans, but eventually passed. Another bill sought to prohibit transgender students in public schools from using the restrooms of the gender they identify as. Although initially supportive of the bill, Daugaard ultimately vetoed it. Finally, Daugaard supported the creation of the Board of Internal Control to help with auditing of state finances.
More information on these and other legislative issues can be found in our online news archive.
The general manager of the South Dakota Newspaper Association has called for more openness and accountability of local and state government. According to the Rapid City Journal article, though the Legislature passed new measures this year to make state government meetings and records more available to the public, some current South Dakota open record laws have a broad exception to the legislation. This leads to less transparency on how taxpayer money is being spent.
Click on this archives link for past news articles related to the 2016 South Dakota Legislative session.
For more information on the 2016 Legislative session, check out Legislature homepage.
After Governor Daugaard's veto of HB 1008, South Dakota's House of Representatives tried to overcome the veto. A two-thirds majority was needed; the initial vote of 58-10 would easily have met that requirement, although it might have failed in the Senate where the bill only passed 20-15. According to the KOTA article, the bill's chief sponsor did not want to fight the veto, preferring to bring the bill back next year. Other supporters wanted to make the attempt, but a 36-29 vote ended the bill.
A Rapid City Journal article groups the veto along with other recent actions by the governor that have gone against much of his party. Governor Daugaard's support of an increased sales tax to support teacher pay and an expansion of Medicaid have also put him in opposition to the majority of Republican legislators.
Any bill that proposes raising taxes needs a 2/3 majority to pass, and just as in the House, the Senate vote ended with a 2/3 majority plus one. The bill goes to the Governor for approval now, and if he signs it, the new tax will take effect June 1st.
The bill is the result of recommendations made by the Blue Ribbon Task Force assembled by the Governor to address being last in the nation for teacher pay, and upcoming teacher shortages. Several teachers in the state echoed the Task Force's recommendations, explaining that fewer and fewer people are going into teaching, and that it is difficult for South Dakota to compete with nearby states for the best teachers when our pay is so low. Dave Davis, a Rapid City School Board member as well as a member of the task force, says this bill is not a "cure-all" but is "certainly a step in the right direction."
For more information on teacher pay and the 2016 Legislative session, please visit our news archives.
HB 1008, a bill that would have restricted access to restrooms and locker rooms for transgender students in schools, was vetoed by Governor Daugaard on Tuesday. The Rapid City Journal article reports that this would have been the first law of its kind. It also would have come into opposition with federal interpretation of Title IX anti-discrimination law.
In his veto message, Governor Daugaard explains that he did not feel a state law was necessary and that local school boards could handle situations as they arise.
New stories from the legislative session will show up on our resource page.
Republicans dominate South Dakota's legislature, so tax measures are only passing with their support. Republicans in the State House have joined with Democrats to pass HB 1182, increasing sales tax to pay for higher teacher salaries, and HB 1116, allowing cities to increase sales tax for special purposes. Both measures will still need to gain senate approval. The Rapid City Journal provides more information, including which Black Hills representatives voted for and against the bills.
A recent KOTA story, based on research from the Tax Foundation, finds that South Dakota has one of the lowest tax burdens in the nation. Based on the 2012 fiscal year, South Dakota was ranked 49th, with 7.1% of taxpayer income going to the state and local governments.
More stories on taxes can be found in our news archive.