Monthly Archives: June 2014

Crossbows might be banned in some state areas (revised w/update)

Next week the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission holds a public hearing on a proposal to ban the use of crossbows in some public areas of South Dakota. Generally the rule would affect state parks, state recreation areas, state nature areas and state lakeside use areas during the periods outside hunting seasons. The hearing is at 2 p.m. CDT on July 8 in Fort Pierre at the Holiday Inn Express. The proposed changes result from a new state law passed in the 2014 legislative session that authorizes hunters to use a crossbow for hunting big-game animals during firearms seasons. The main exemption, allowing firearms including crossbows, would remain in place Oct. 1 to April 30, for licensed hunters during specific hunting seasons. Go here and scroll down to page 97 for the full proposal. It’s complicated but no more so than the current regulations regarding firearms.

The measure, HB 1130, was sponsored by then-Rep. Christine Erickson, R-Sioux Falls. She has since resigned from the Legislature after winning a seat on the Sioux Falls city council. The state Wildlife Division didn’t take a public position during the House and Senate committee hearings on the bill. The House of Representatives voted 68-0 for it and the Senate approved it 33-0. The bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate was Republican Jeff Monroe of Pierre.

UPDATE: GFP’s Scott Simpson says the rule proposal would make “as many, if not more, allowances for the use of crossbows as it does any prohibitions. The nuts and bolts of this proposal is to allow the use of crossbows where there already is an allowance for firearms, and prohibit crossbow use where firearms are prohibited. If we didn’t do this, crossbows, technically, would not be allowed in these areas.”

The ‘first gentlemen’ around us w/update

With state Rep. Susan Wismer of Britton winning the Democratic nomination for governor, the question arises. Would her husband, Mark, be called South Dakota’s “First Gentleman” — as in “First Lady” for the wife of a male governor — if she upsets Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard in November?

Only two of our neighboring states have elected women as governors. Republican Judy Martz served one term as Montana’s chief executive from 2001 through 2004. She didn’t seek re-election. Her husband is Harry Martz. Nebraska voters elected Republican Kay Orr as governor, in a history-making contest against Democrat Helen Boosalis, in 1986. Orr fell in her re-election bid to Democrat Ben Nelson in 1990. She was the first Republican woman to be elected governor in the nation. Upon the death of her husband, Bill, in 2013, the Lincoln Journal Star newspaper said he “embraced the role of Nebraska’s groundbreaking first gentleman with gusto and great humor…”

UPDATE: A former student regent who probably prefers to remain anonymous tells us that Bob Miller, husband of former South Dakota State University president Peggy Gordon Miller, was known as SDSU’s “first gentleman” and was given a personalized license plate that read “1STGENT”.

Millions transferred to beat fiscal deadline

At www.open.sd.gov (state government’s financial-reporting website) there’s now a category titled Budget Transfers and it’s an eye-opener. Truly millions of dollars are shown shifted within departments and agencies of state government. Most of the activity took place in the past 30 days. State government’s fiscal year ends June 30, but for practical purposes the closing comes in mid-June. Each of the transfers comes with an explanatory note. Some notes are easier to understand than others. Here is one example from the Department of Human Services about several moves that produced a gross transfer of $350,000:

Transferred $200,000 in general funds from Rehabilitation Services and $150,000 in general funds from South Dakota Development Center- Redfield to Developmental Disabilities. This is a one-time transfer from operating expenses to operating expenses. The funds transferred will cover shortfalls in the Developmental Disabilities area due to serving more people longer than originally anticipated. Funds are available in Rehabilitation Services due to lower than anticipated utilization in the Assistive Daily Living Services waiver program and available in South Dakota Development Center due to lower than anticipated prescription drug and contractual services costs. 

And here’s an example from the Secretary of State that shifted $10,000:

Transferred $10,000 in federal fund expenditure authority within the Secretary of State. This is a one-time transfer from operating expenses to personal services. The funds transferred will be used to cover shortfalls in personal services due to additional staff time utilized during 2014 on the election process. The funding is available due to lower operating expenses than budgeted during the fiscal year. 

There’s a $4,210,000 transfer within the Department of Corrections:

Transferred general funds from Juvenile Community Corrections (JCC) ($2,700,000), State Treatment and Rehabilitation Academy (STAR) ($70,000), and QUEST/ExCEL ($200,000) to the following areas: State Penitentiary (SDSP) ($1,075,000), Women’s Prison ($100,000), Parole Services ($200,000), Inmate Services ($1,455,000), Administration ($35,000), Mike Durfee State Prison ($35,000), Parole Services ($25,000), Youth Challenge Center ($20,000), Patrick Henry Brady Academy ($12,500), and QUEST/ExCEL ($12,500). Transferred $1,210,000 in federal fund expenditure authority from JCC to federal fund expenditure authority in Inmate Services ($200,000) and SDSP ($100,000), and to other fund expenditure authority in Administration ($870,000) and JCC ($40,000). Transferred $30,000 of federal fund expenditure authority within STAR. This is a one-time transfer from operating expenses to operating expenses, operating expenses to personal services, and personal services to personal services. Funds are available due to fewer juvenile expenses than previously anticipated and turnover in the Juvenile Corrections programs. Funds will be used to cover shortfalls in multiple programs due to overtime, repairs of facilities, and physical plant costs, along with remodeling costs associated with the training center, inmate healthcare, and Title I Transitional Services provided by staff.  

State government likely will report a surplus for fiscal 2014 after June 30. Revenues were running slightly ahead of the revised projections adopted by the Legislature a few months ago. The state Bureau of Finance and Management began a new “dashboard” feature this month that will provide quick-read snapshots of various financial conditions (http://bfm.sd.gov/dashboards/) and the May report shows general-fund revenue was $1.8 million ahead. Meanwhile, the budget-transfer reports provide a deeper look into what’s happening within state government and reflect the difficulties of forecasting. Altogether there are 21 transfers so far in June, two in May, two in April, one in January, one last September, four last August and two last July. If the financial moves and demands for services within state government interest you, this will be interesting reading. The June 2013 transfer reports are posted there too. Get to work!

As turnout falls, SDRS members elect trustees

Jilena Faith, a human resources generalist at South Dakota State University, won a full term on the South Dakota Retirement System board of trustees during the spring election. She received 641 votes while Kevin Merrill of Pierre received 392 for a seat representing government classified employees. Faith was appointed to a vacancy in 2012 when she was the only applicant. At that time she worked at Black Hills State University.

Two incumbent trustees, Rapid City Police Lt. James Johns and Bonnie Mehlbrech of Sioux Falls, won without facing opposition. Mehlbrech teaches at Roosevelt High School. She has been a trustee since July 2010 and holds one of the two teacher seats. Johns holds the Class B public safety seat and has been a trustee since July 2006.

The trustees board is established by state law. The trustees oversee the retirement system for state government, state courts, state universities and many school systems, cities, counties and special units of government. The 16-member board has two trustees appointed by the governor, one trustees elected by retiree members and 12 elected by various specific employee groups.

The election between Faith and Merrill was noteworthy for the relatively lower participation. Of 10,898 ballots mailed only 1,035 were received by the SDRS central office. Two ballots weren’t counted. The 10 percent the lowest turnout since at least 1986.

Just four years ago turnout for the classified-employee seat was 18 percent with 1,801 ballots received. The high marks during the past 30 years were 27 percent turnout in 1990 (1,445 ballots received of 5,403 sent) and 24 percent turnout in 1986 (1,061 ballots received of 4,312 sent).

In fact turnout has been declining for all three of the seats that were up for election this year.  Turnout last year for the other teacher seat was 9 percent (1,271 ballots received of 13,520 sent). It was 36 percent in 1986 (4,051 ballots received of 11,145 sent). The same trend is true for the public safety employee seat. Turnout was 55 percent in 1986 (466 ballots received of 852 sent) and  declined every election since then, falling to 18 percent in 2006 (460 ballots received of 2,544 sent). The public safety seat didn’t have a contest in 2010 or this year.

 

The oil trains come

This story from Wyoming public radio is worth reading. While we wait in South Dakota to see whether TransCanada’s second pipeline ever would be allowed by President Obama’s administration (and it hasn’t yet, and probably won’t be), Wyoming has embraced railroads to move more oil from its fields.

A side point about the impeachment resolution

Is anyone surprised that a bunch of Obama-hating Republicans at their South Dakota convention would vote for a resolution to impeach the president? Don’t be surprised if a Republican legislator, probably a House member, brings a similar resolution to the 2015 legislative session in January. What caught my eye about the impeachment vote at the SDGOP convention was the large bloc of counties that didn’t participate: 20 of 66 counties didn’t vote.. Maybe I’ve missed one, but here’s the list I put together of counties that didn’t cast a vote either way, meaning they either didn’t send delegates or their delegates took a walk on the impeachment resolution. They were Bon Homme, Buffalo, Corson, Dewey, Douglas, Faulk, Grant, Gregory, Hand, Hanson, Hutchinson, Hyde, Kingsbury, Marshall, Sanborn, Sully, Todd, Tripp, Walworth and Ziebach.

Winning and the terms-limit snag

Ryan Brunner, the current deputy, is the Republican nominee for state commissioner of school and public lands. State Sen. Shantel Krebs is the Republican nominee for secretary of state. If they win election in November, the calendar would begin turning for them on the state constitution’s limits of two consecutive terms.

Meanwhile state Treasurer Rich Sattgast and state Auditor Steve Barnett already are in the term-limit trap. They won Republican nominations uncontested Saturday for election to second terms in their current offices. If history holds true and no scandals develop, they’ll likely win in November. Sattgast served two terms as auditor from 2003 through 2010, then was elected treasurer and began serving in that post in 2011. Barnett won the nomination for auditor in 2010 and was elected. It’s unknown whether they might switch spots in 2018 when they are term-limited, but that would be the time to do it.

Jarrod Johnson was state lands commissioner but he resigned before his second term ran its course. Had he stayed in office Johnson, a Republican, would have needed to run against an incumbent this year if he wanted to pursue election to another state constitutional office. That would have meant challenging Sattgast, Barnett or Secretary of State Jason Gant for one of their current offices. Johnson was out of sync, caught in a term-limit snag. So in April 2013 he announced he was stepping down. The governor named a former state auditor and treasurer, Vern Larson, to fill the remainder of the term. That opened the way for Brunner.

Krebs meanwhile decided to take the risk and run against Gant, who had been investigated in 2012 by the state attorney general. She filed her paperwork in September 2013. That put her, and Gant, on notice. He decided he couldn’t win and folded. He has already moved back to Sioux Falls.

Two other Republicans went without challenges in seeking their party’s nominations for re-election.

Attorney General Marty Jackley was appointed in 2009 to a vacancy and won election in 2010; this year’s election would be his second and he would be up against the constitution’s two-term limit in 2018. Many speculate he will run for governor in 2018.

Public Utilities Commission chairman Gary Hanson received the nomination for another six-year term; the PUC is the odd office in that its three elected members aren’t subject to the constitution’s two-terms limit. Hanson is seeking his third consecutive term, after winning elections in 2002 and 2008.

Hanson, 64, is the oldest and most experienced member of the Republican slate for the constitutional and PUC offices. The former mayor of Sioux Falls has been in state and municipal offices continuously since 1983, when he began serving in the state House of Representatives.

Democrats will nominate their candidates for the offices on Saturday.

Republicans choose Krebs as nominee to succeed Gant

Four years ago, state Sen. Jason Gant won a three-way fight at the South Dakota Republicans state convention to capture the nomination for secretary of state. Two years ago, he was under investigation by state Attorney General Marty Jackley, who found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in his office. Last September, state Sen. Shantel Krebs filed her statement of organization to run for the office. That was her declaration to Gant that she would challenge him for the nomination in 2014. Gant announced just a short time later that he wouldn’t run. Krebs eventually had a challenger of her own, in former First Lady Pat Miller, whom Gant had hired as his deputy two years ago to replace Pat Powers after the investigation. Miller announced some big-name endorsements, such as Pat Adam of Pierre and former SoS Joyce Hazeltine of Custer, and Krebs announced the endorsement of previous SoS (and now Public Utilities Commissioner) Chris Nelson. Today, after many  hours of platform fighting, Republican delegates selected Krebs as their nominee. Krebs won approximately 120,000 to approximately 55,000 in the weighted voting, including victories in both Minnehaha and Pennington counties. Republican convention-goers sent a clear message they want change in the secretary of state office. The Democrats, who convene next week, haven’t announced a candidate yet. Shantel Krebs had the courage to run against what many perceive as corruption. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Democrats don’t run a candidate now that Krebs is nominated. Krebs, 41, is serving her 10th year in the Legislature (2005-2010 in the House, 2011-present in the Senate). She owned several small businesses in Sioux Falls and has worked as a business and marketing consultant of late. The Rounds for Senate campaign, for whom her husband, Mitch, is communications director, sent some political money her way for political services in recent months. She was vice chair for the Legislature’s Executive Board in 2009-2010. Among the key endorsements she received in her current campaign, beyond that from Chris Nelson, was a letter sent by state Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark. Krebs and Greenfield passed legislation, over a veto by then-Gov. Mike Rounds, in 2006 to provide businesses with a collection allowance for remitting state sales taxes. After Rounds his candidacy for U.S. Senate in 2011, Krebs became his campaign treasurer. She relinquished that post when she decided to run for secretary of state. She was a regular at her legislative desk after-hours during session, preparing for the next day’s activities, and most recently has been chair of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Krebs earned a reputation as a worker as a legislator, and that proved true again in her campaign for the secretary of state nomination.

Hewett no longer is SDAHO’s top exec w/update

Can the removal of a person’s photograph from an organization’s website be confirmation the person no longer works for the organization? Dave Hewett’s photo is gone, with only a blank spot in its previous place, from the website for the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations. Nine others remain, including senior vice president Ken Senger; v.p. Rebekah Cradduck; v.p. for communications and education Wendy Mead; and v.p. for health information systems Gilbert Johnson. Hewett had been with SDAHO since approximately 1997. No word yet on reason for his departure or selection of an interim leader or permanent leader. Hewett, who learned the ropes of state government fiscal policy in Wisconsin, published his last “President’s Perspective” column June 16 on the SDAHO website. That was four days ago. You have to wonder what suddenly happened since then. (And if you want to see who he is, click here for that last column.)

UPDATE: Angelia Svihovec, SDAHO board chair and chief executive officer at the Mobridge Regional Hospital, said in a prepared statement, “The SDAHO Board will begin its search for a new President immediately. We appreciate the work Mr. Hewett has provided to our membership and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.” She said Hewett served as president since August 1997.

Dull reading: My Life In Middlemarch

This new book from Rebecca Mead came with high praise from some of those in the know nationally. I wouldn’t have purchased it but I snapped it up when i saw it at the Pierre public library. You can’t pick a winning horse all the time. I don’t understand what national critics saw in this book. I tried every technique I know — starting at the front, starting at the end, skipping around to random pages, scanning page by page in hope of finding something interesting — to find some value and came up empty. I admire anyone who can write a book published by a major house. But this one, I just don’t get.