What will SD school leaders discuss now?

After winning the struggle in the Legislature for a sales-tax tax increase to pay for higher salaries for teachers and for property tax relief, the Associated School Boards of South Dakota and the School Administrators of South Dakota gather together again next week for their annual joint convention. The teacher-pay issue dominated the discussion in 2015. Among the topics on the agenda for Thursday, Aug. 4, are:

1) The future for school funding with South Dakota’s new formula;

2) Closing the achievement gap in rural school districts; and

3) Rolling out standards-based learning and reporting.

There are many topics set for the Aug. 4-5 convention.

A new member named to Arts Council

Linda Anderson of Rapid City succeeds Don Montileaux of Rapid City on the South Dakota Arts Council via appointment by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Montileaux served 12 years on the council. He was appointed by then-Gov. Mike Rounds in 2004 to succeed Bernice Premack of Aberdeen. Rounds reappointed Montileaux in 2007 and 2010. Daugaard gave Montileaux a fourth term in 2013. Anderson previously served on the council. Her new term starts immediately and runs until June 30, 2019.

GFP wants to hear from you about land purchases

For a time Gov. Dennis Daugaard placed a freeze on additional purchases of private lands by the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. After the moratorium came off, and after Kelly Hepler received appointment as GFP secretary in the Daugaard cabinet, the department is taking a broader internal approach to its recommendations for purchases. Another step in that direction is the new proposal of a formal land-acquisition priorities and guidelines document that the full Game, Fish and Parks Commission will consider and possibly adopt at its August meeting. The proposed document is here. Comments can be sent by email to paul.coughlin@state.sd.us or mailed on paper to the Game, Fish and Parks Department, 523 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD, 57501. The commission hasn’t posted its agenda yet for the Aug. 4-5 meeting that will be held at the RedRossa convention area in Pierre. If the commission follows its standard practice, there will be a public hearing on Thursday, Aug. 4, at 2 p.m. The acquisition document doesn’t appear to be proposed as a formal rule, however, and that would mean a rules hearing wouldn’t be necessary. We’ll update you when the agenda appears either Friday or Monday. The department wants written comments to be in its staff’s hands no later than Wednesday, Aug. 3.

James River district holds line on taxes again

The James River water development district’s board announced Monday that it won’t be seeking a tax increase for landowners within its borders.The budget is proposed at $958,893 in property taxes payable in 2017. The budget meeting is scheduled for Sept. 8 in Aberdeen. The announcement noted this would be the sixth year in a row without a tax increase. The significance of that statement dates back to a maneuver in 2009 as boards for districts that went through boundary changes decided they could evade the state property-tax limit by describing the district as new for taxes payable in 2010. This led to the 2010 legislation sponsored by Republican Al Novstrup of Aberdeen closing that loophole and ordering the districts to roll back their taxes if they had used the new-district maneuver. Only about one-third of the legislators who voted on SB 184 are still lawmakers. Of the 14 who voted against Novstrup’s bill, almost all were Democrats — and, perhaps in only a coincidence, 12 no longer are in the Legislature. Two of the nays, again perhaps in a coincidence, went on to be the 2010 and 2014 Democratic nominees for governor, Scott Heidepriem of Sioux Falls and Susan Wismer of Britton. Sometimes history takes odd turns.

Governor taps Wordeman for gaming seat

The appointments expired this summer for two members of the South Dakota Commission on Gaming, Dennis Duncan of Parker and Ralph “Chip” Kemnitz of Philip. We reported here previously that Karen Wagner of Belle Fourche is the choice of Gov. Dennis Daugaard to succeed Duncan. Today we learn that Michael Wordeman of Rapid City is the governor’s pick to succeed Kemnitz. Wordeman was the long-time chief executive officer and board chairman for Rapid City-based Sodak Gaming. He and sons Ryan and Ron later ran the casino side of The Lodge, one of Deadwood’s newest major developments.

Big Mo’s power production is down this year

The hydro-power dams on the Missouri River in South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana collectively aren’t generating as much juice this year, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The six mainstem power plants generated 694 million kilowatt hours of electricity in June. Typical energy generation for June is 834 million kWh. The power plants are projected to generate 8.1 billion kWh of electricity this year, compared to the normal of 10 billion kWh.

The whole report is here. In a nutshell, there aren’t any signs of major changes in water levels ahead and down-river commercial shipping looks to have a full season.

Admitted criminal gets new sentencing and new lawyer

The South Dakota Supreme Court doesn’t easily agree with claims from convicted criminals that they were victims of bad lawyers. But the five justices agreed unanimously last week that was the case for Ramon Martinez, who pleaded guilty to a major felony, first degree burglary, in order to have other felony charges dropped. They included second degree rape, two counts of second degree kidnapping and aggravated assault / domestic violence for, as the Supreme Court’s decision put it, forcing himself on his estranged girlfriend in Butte County. Martinez spent more than a year in jail from arrest to sentencing. He complained to Circuit Judge Michael Day that on a variety of occasions his court-appointed counsel wasn’t doing her job and he told the judge in writing he wanted new representation. This became most problematic at sentencing. His lawyer didn’t attend the second sentencing hearing. At the third sentencing hearing, the lawyer said she couldn’t proceed. The judge proceeded, however, sentencing Martinez to 20 years, with four years suspended and credit for time served.

Justice Lori Wilbur wrote for the Supreme Court:

The circuit court erred when it did not address Martinez’s motion for a
change of counsel. We need not remand for the court to hold a hearing on
Martinez’s motion because the facts are undisputed and establish good cause to
appoint new counsel. We reverse Martinez’s sentence and remand for the circuit
court to appoint new counsel and conduct a new sentencing hearing. 

You can read the entire decision here.

Gambling panels get different members

The South Dakota Lottery Commission and the South Dakota Commission on Gaming have some new faces. Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed Bob Faehn of Watertown and Joe Kafka of Valley Springs to replace Roger Novotny of Fort Pierre and Doyle Estes of Hill City on the lottery panel. Faehn is a former legislator and Kafka was one of the press secretaries for then-Gov. Mike Rounds. Daugaard also tapped Karen Wagner of Belle Fourche to replace Dennis Duncan of Parker on the gaming commission. Estes in particular tried, often with marginal success at best, to prod the lottery’s administration into moving faster to find new market niches.

When Mary and Debbie joined the White House

The 1987 and 1988 sessions of the Legislature marked a historic time for South Dakota. We had our only woman to serve as speaker in the House of Representatives: Debra Anderson, R-Sioux Falls. And we had Mary McClure, R-Redfield, as Senate president pro tem. It was the only time that women served simultaneously as the two presiding members of the two legislative chambers.

1988 also marked South Dakota’s first venture into a special presidential primary. One of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination was Vice President George H.W. Bush. Then-former Gov. Bill Janklow was a front-line supporter of the Bush candidacy in South Dakota. Bush lost in South Dakota but won the national nomination and then won election as president that November.

Mary McClure and Deb Anderson likewise won re-election to their legislative seats that November. As Bush took office, his administration asked his top supporters across the nation whom they might hire from the various states. Janklow weighed in, and the Bush administration invited McClure and Anderson to work for his White House.

Debbie, who had served 13 sessions in the state House, was just shy of 40 when she resigned her legislative seat on March 6, 1989, to accept President Bush’s appointment as White House director of intergovernmental affairs.

Mary, a 15-year veteran of the state Senate, was just turning 50 when she resigned her legislative seat on April 10, 1989, to accept President Bush’s appointment as a special assistant for intergovernmental affairs.

Deb’s father, Dean Anderson, R-Bryant, also stepped aside that spring of 1989 from his seat in the state House. He received a presidential appointment to serve as director of the U.S. Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service for South Dakota. He had been in the House since 1981. After Janklow won election as governor again in 1994, Dean Anderson was Janklow’s choice for his Cabinet’s secretary of agriculture and served from 1995 through 1997.

The election of Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992 ended the White House stay of President Bush. Janklow would return to the presidential campaign scene on behalf of Texas Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. The son of the former president won election as president and served two terms through 2008. In 2009, Dean Anderson passed away. In 2012, Janklow died from a brain tumor.

All of this comes to mind with recent death, on July 2, of Mary Burges McClure Bibby in rural Minnesota at age 77. Her first husband, D.J. “Mike” McClure, died in 1990.They had one daughter, Kelly Joanne. In 1993, after returning to South Dakota, Mary married another former legislator, John Bibby of Brookings. He died at age 82 in 2003. The service for Mary McClure Bibby is set for Aug. 6 in Willmar, Minnesota.

Mary’s parents were Charles and Mary Lucille Burges, long-time publishers of one of Milbank’s newspapers, the Herald Advance.  Her older sister, Joanne, spent much of her life at Milbank, succeeding her father at the newspaper in 1958 after his death and continuing at the paper until its sale in 1985. Joanne Anderson died in 2006. The sisters came by their Republican involvements through family heritage. Their father was Grant County Republican chairman for a period and his father had been a Republican county chairman in Minnesota.

Deb Anderson meanwhile married and made a home in Washington, D.C., keeping her many contacts in Republican circles there. And to complete the long circle, South Dakota’s current member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Republican Kristi Noem, is a former state legislator who is from Hamlin County, too.

Sometimes small places play big roles by South Dakota standards. What Deb and Mary shared were intelligence, charm, political sense, ability to read people and natural appeal. They paid no attention to the stained glass ceilings in our state’s Capitol.