2016 legislative session: Day 14 “Hunt vs. SDHSAA”

Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, lost in one committee Wednesday but won in another committee an hour later in his efforts to bring more control by the Legislature over the South Dakota High School Activities Association. The House Education Committee on a vote of 8-5 killed his measure, HB 1111, that sought to make the association subject to state government’s rule-making process and the Legislature’s rule-review process. But in the room next door, the House State Affairs Committee voted 10-3 for an amended version of his bill, HB 1112, that now would require the association to get approval from the Legislature for its transgender participation policy. The full House of Representatives could take up HB 1112 as early as Friday afternoon.

Among those watching the State Affairs hearing was Sen. Jenna Haggar, R-Sioux Falls. Among those who testified for HB 1112 was Linda Schauer, representing the Concerned Women For America (at right in photo). Among those who spoke against it were Rob Munson, executive director for the School Administrators of South Dakota, (shown speaking to Mitch Richter in audience) and Terri Bruce of Rapid City (shown on one of the room’s video screens), who said: “I was born female but my gender identity is male.”

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Another fight over patient choice of doctors

The Legislature traditionally has been a friendly place for South Dakota’s major health care systems. Specialty hospitals and independent doctors couldn’t get their “any willing provider” provision through the Legislature two years ago; it sought to guarantee patients could choose their medical providers in spite of what their insurance providers and the major hospital systems preferred. However, the voting public approved the patient-choice provision in the 2014 general election.

Now comes legislation that attempts to either adjust or poke a hole — the sides disagree, of course — in the 2014 initiative. The sides lay out their basic arguments today in the House Commerce and Energy Committee. Only initial testimony will be taken on HB 1067, whose prime sponsor is Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre. He is the committee’s chairman. The committee will hold a special meeting Feb. 10 in the later afternoon to continue its deliberations, starting at 3:45 p.m. CT or, if the House hasn’t completed its debate calendar by then, the meeting would start 15 minutes after the House adjourns for the day.

The bill seeks two changes.

It would create a definition: “Panel of providers,” a list of all health care providers under contract with a health insurer for inclusion in one or more of the health insurer’s health benefit plans.”

And it would add a requirement: “All health insurers shall offer for sale at least one health benefit plan approved by the division that contains all of the health care providers which are in its panel of providers. However, nothing in this chapter limits a consumer’s ability to purchase, or a health insurer’s ability to offer for sale, health benefit plans that contain less than all of the health care providers which are in a health insurer’s panel of providers.”

Our nation, and the next president

The Iowa presidential caucuses last night tell us this morning we live in a fascinating time in our nation. The tight finish between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tells us the Democratic nominee will be either 68 or 74; think about what it means to be age 70 to 80 and running our nation, three to six years into the future. On the Republican side, three-quarters of caucus participants last night wanted someone new rather than tested in government and politics. Donald Trump, who finished second, is 69. Ted Cruz, who placed first, is 45. Marco Rubio, in third less than five percentage points behind Cruz, is 44. Add Cruz and Rubio together and the majority of Iowa Republican participants wanted someone new, in his 40s. That doesn’t seem promising for Trump.

New Hampshire’s primaries next week could bring us someone else to consider, such as John Kasich, who is 63 and who is betting it all on a strong finish among Republicans there. The virtual tie between Clinton and Sanders in Iowa isn’t a surprise; months ago Democratic voters knew whether they liked her or preferred a “someone else” candidate, and Sanders filled that role. The same could very well happen come November if she is the Democratic nominee, with a belligerent Republican such as Trump or Cruz becoming the “someone else” opponent. Rubio, from Florida, or Kasich, from Ohio, would seem to give Republicans an edge toward winning one of those two key states in the Electoral College math.

Should Sanders become the Democratic nominee, the question for November becomes whether voters want a revolution that Republicans in Congress would never allow — and a veto pen by Sanders that Republicans in Congress couldn’t overcome. Republicans have to be quietly asking themselves whether Cruz, Trump or Rubio is the man who can deliver their party the total control of the legislative process that winning the White House would bring.

The last thing Republicans want is four or eight more years of the stalemate they now face with Democratic President Barack Obama; the last thing Democrats want is four to eight years of Republican dominance in Congress and the White House, and the unraveling of the changes made under Obama. The insults and the attacks we’ve seen so far will worsen in the next nine months until we know on a late Tuesday night in November which side, and which nominee, was tougher.

G-Mark crushes it

State Rep. George Mark Mickelson posted an ending balance of $558,641.79 for his political action committee through the end of 2015.

Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, filed his report Monday afternoon. He reported the PAC, which he formed Aug. 27, 2015, received $583,244.05 in income and spent $24,602.26.

Mickelson is preparing to be a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018. His father, George S. Mickelson, and his grandfather George T. Mickelson were governors of South Dakota.

Mickelson reported income that included small non-itemized contributions of $4,023, itemized contributions from individuals totaling $515,269.99, donations from other political organizations totaling $63,150 and a donation from another candidate’s committee of $801.06.

The 2015 campaign-finance report for his legislative campaign committee wasn’t immediately available Monday afternoon. He is running for re-election to a seat from District 13 in the state House of Representatives.

Mickelson’s PAC filing showed multiple contributions of $10,000. Among the businesses that gave the maximum amount were Bell Inc., Gil Haugan Construction and ethanol company POET, all of Sioux Falls.

Individuals giving $10,000 included Emilia Buchanan of Mill Valley, CA; Tad Buchanan of Mill Valley, CA; Harry Christianson of Rapid City; Dana Dykehouse of Sioux Falls; George Lund of Scottsdale, AZ; the legislator’s mother, Linda Mickelson Graham of Sioux Falls; Larry Ness of Yankton; Elaine Pacquin of Sioux Falls; Thomas Reaves of Sioux Falls; Brooke Schieffer of Sioux Falls; and Kevin Schieffer of Sioux Falls.

The PAC reported dozens of contributions ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and many smaller donations as well.

Mickelson raised more in the final five months of 2015 than another leading contender for the Republican nomination in 2018, state Attorney General Marty Jackley, reported in his PAC and his attorney general campaign account as of the end of 2015. (See post from earlier today on Jackley below.)

Billie Sutton puts money into Cowboy Caucus

When state Sen. Billie Sutton and his wife, Kelsea, filed the organizational paperwork last year for the new Cowboy Caucus political action committee, the stated purpose was “To elect candidates with a rural and agriculture based focus to public office.” They raised $6,850 in 2015 from current and recent Democratic legislators. Sutton, from Burke, contributed $3,000 from his legislative candidate committee and $500 from his personal checkbook. In turn the PAC spent $4,000 on consulting — the report filed Monday doesn’t identify who received the money and technically that level of information isn’t required under state law — and $139.80 for travel — the report doesn’t identify who traveled, again, not technically required — and $150 for reimbursement to someone  – not certain whether a name is required here, either — who over-contributed. The new PAC’s existence is a whisper of hope for a South Dakota Democratic Party that’s been in a struggle ever since 2008 when Barack Obama was elected president and 2010 when then-U.S. Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin lost re-election to Republican challenger Kristi Noem. This also could be the first public signal of a Sutton-for-governor candidacy.

Winners of past Iowa presidential caucuses

I had to look this up today. Winning the Iowa caucuses is pretty much a death bell for a presidential candidate — except when it’s not.

It’s worked pretty well on the Democratic side the past three times, with Al Gore winning in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama winning in 2008. All three went forward to their party’s nomination, and Gore came within a recount of winning the presidency and Obama won two terms in the White House.

Republicans in Iowa chose Rick Santorum in 2012 and Mike Huckabee in 2008. That was the sound of air leaking from a tire. Neither came close to the nomination. Iowa did better in 2000 when George W. Bush won the Republican caucuses, then the nomination and the presidency.

So can New Hampshire do better? Democratic voters haven’t chosen a presidential winner in a contested race since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Republicans in New Hampshire got it right three times in a row with Richard Nixon in 1968, Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1988.

March, here we come!

Hillary Clinton in Iowa

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton engaged in an interesting interview Monday morning during National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” news program. Oddly another Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, declined an invitation for today, according to NPR. The intrigue in the Clinton interview came at the start. She acknowledged that in 2008 she didn’t understand the Iowa caucuses very well. She paid a steep penalty for that insufficient knowledge; they became the springboard to the presidency for Barack Obama. One reason her knowledge about Iowa’s process was limited in 2008, she said, was that she didn’t work Iowa in 1992 when her husband, Bill Clinton, ran there for the Democratic nomination. She said she’s better prepared this time.

Jackley’s reports filed well before deadline

The window closes at 5 p.m. today, the first Monday of February, for filing 2015 campaign-finance reports required under state law for various candidates and committees. There were no 2015 reports filed as of early Monday morning for state Rep. G. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, who plans to run for governor in 2018 and began operating a political action committee in 2015. Another official who plans to run for governor in 2018 is state Attorney General Marty Jackley of Pierre. His reports are on file and indicate he had a successful year raising money.

Jackley finished 2015 with $416,405.63 in his attorney general account, which he continues to operate despite being term-limited, and $56,261.17 in his political action account that he started in 2015.

Jackley’s committee for attorney general reported receiving $114,361.88 and spending $23,135.42 in 2015. The income included $1,094 in non-itemized small contributions from individuals, $91,970 in itemized contributions from individuals, $2,000 from in-state political action committees, $19,250 from federal-level or out-state political action committees, $500 from his political action committee and $47.87 in interest. He also reported $3,100 of in-kind contributions.

Jackley’s political action committee reported receiving $56,300 and spending $38.25. The income included $30,350 in itemized contributions from individuals, $23,700 from political organizations in South Dakota, $1,600 from federal-level political action committees and $500 from his campaign committee for attorney general.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, who is interested in running for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018, hasn’t started a South Dakota campaign committee yet for that possibility. Her immediate priority is seeking re-election to the U.S. House in 2016.