Blind services board gets new members

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has named four new members and reappointed two current members to the state Board of Service to the Blind and Visually Impaired. Incoming are Tana Buresch of Sioux Falls, Roberta Ecoffey of Pine Ridge, Cheri Knispel of Rapid City and Cole Uecker of Pierre. They succeed respectively Teresa Nold of Sioux Falls, Lyle Cook of Eagle Butte, Kenneth Rollman of Rapid City and Tim Neyhart of Pierre. Reappointed were Patrick Czerny of Piedmont and Lynda O’Connor-Ohayon of Sioux Falls.


The attorney general sends a message

While others argue about the details and political spin, the importance of state Attorney General Marty Jackley’s decision to prosecute two non-Indian marijuana consultants was clear and obvious: These schemes won’t be tolerated, especially when they involve somewhat sophisticated methods to bring marijuana growing materials into South Dakota through non-reservation country, where it is unquestionably illegal, and using secretive methods intended to avoid and evade detection.

One man’s descent into Snapchat hell

The South Dakota Supreme Court’s released on Thursday its 3-2 decision to affirm the sentence of a Brookings clergyman for sexual contact with a minor. The court’s narrative of the incidents is a tale in some ways of technology; a footnote explains Snapchat, for example, and there were many references to Facebook and text messaging between the 14-year-old female and the 37-year-old male. It is a case worth reading, in part for its characters’ behaviors and in part for its legal decision regarding the definition of sexual contact. As the adult, he received a sentence of 12 years, with four years suspended, for responding to the teen’s temptations.

Justice Janine Kern wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice David Gilbertson and Justice Lori Wilbur. Wrote Kern:

Bariteau bases his claim of error upon his argument that SDCL 22-22-
7.1 is not concerned with “what the perpetrator is using to touch” and instead is
concerned only “with what is being touched on the victim.” As noted above we have
determined that the language of SDCL 22-22-7.1 does not differentiate between the
genitalia of the minor and that of the perpetrator, contrary to Bariteau’s assertion.
SDCL 22-22-7 prohibits an accused from using his genitalia to touch another for
sexual gratification.

Justices Steven Zinter and Glen Severson broke from the majority and said the prosecution didn’t prove the law was broken. Wrote Zinter:

Because the words used in the definitional statute do not prohibit Bariteau’s reprehensible acts, I have no choice but to respectfully  dissent. Only the Legislature may rewrite the statute. The Legislature should amend SDCL 22-22-7.1 to prohibit Bariteau’s misconduct.

A letter from Missouri state government

This blog tries to stay focused on South Dakota government and politics but sometimes it can’t ignore what’s happening beyond our state’s border. This letter from the director for the Missouri State Public Defender System, appointing Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon as a public defender because of the budget cuts made during Nixon’s administration, is worth a read.

Missouri letter

The Twins really aren’t that bad… really

From the Minnesota Twins’ website today, this nugget of analysis by blogger Rhett Bollinger:

The offense has helped the Twins since their tough start to the year, as the club has a winning record over the last 63 games, going 32-31. But it came after a 10-33 start that put them in an early hole.

They’ve won three in a row.

PUC lets SDTA intervene in Brookings docket

Clarity Telecom, which does business under the name of Vast Broadband, wants to expand into the Brookings market as a local exchange carrier for telephone service. Clarity needs permission from the state Public Utilities Commission. Naturally the local provider, Brookings Municipal Utilities, wanted to intervene in the docket. The state commission granted that intervention today. Another provider in the general Brookings market is MCC Telephony of the Midwest, which does business as Mediacom, also sought to intervene and received PUC approval today. Uncertain was whether the South Dakota Telecommunications Association would get to intervene, too. Meredith Moore, a lawyer representing SDTA, successfully argued today to the state commission that SDTA has a pecuniary interest on behalf of its member telephone companies because Clarity could affect federal regulations and financial disbursements under the federal universal service fund. Lawyer Brett Koenecke representing Clarity said SDTA didn’t have a pecuniary interest. “We don’t think there’s a right for SDTA to be a party to this docket. I can’t say it any more plainly than that,” Koenecke said. PUC staff attorney Kristen Edwards said the state commission could be looser in granting interventions but couldn’t be stricter than state law allows. PUC chairman Chris Nelson said the commission should allow SDTA to intervene based on a recent decision in a similar but unrelated docket. The commission members voted 3-0. Nelson said the evident disconnect between the state law regarding intervention requirements and the commission’s rule would need to be addressed at another time. Clarity, based in Missouri, entered business in South Dakota in 2014, when it bought the former WOW cable systems in Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

House Republican leadership thins out

The tradition in the South Dakota Legislature is that the party-caucus leaders sit in the back rows of the House and the Senate chambers. The House Republicans’ back row is thinning. House Republican leader Brian Gosch of Rapid City is term-limited. House Republican assistant leader Steve Westra of Sioux Falls has withdrawn from his re-election bid. Two Republican whips, Jim Bolin of Canton and Kris Langer of Dell Rapids, are candidates for Senate seats. House Speaker Dean Wink of Howes is term-limited. The speaker pro tem, G. Mark Mickelson of Sioux Falls, is in line to become the next speaker as is House tradition. (Wink and Mickelson are Republicans.) The remaining Republican whips are Don Haggar of Sioux Falls and Mike Stevens of Yankton. They haven’t disclosed publicly whether they might be seeking higher posts. Altogether there are five clear openings among the eight leadership seats.

Meanwhile, Republican Larry Rhoden of Union Center is making his way back to the Legislature after a two-year break. He didn’t seek Senate re-election in 2014 so he could run for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. He had spent 14 years in the Legislature. His first eight came in the House, where he served as Republican assistant leader in the 2003-2004 term and as Republican leader in the 2005-2008 terms. Then, because he was term-limited in the House, he went to the Senate and spent six years, serving as a Republican whip in 2009-2010 and 2013-2014. Rhoden and Rep. Thomas Brunner, R-Nisland, are unopposed for re-election on the November ballot for the District 29 House seats. Brunner is in his 10th year as a House member.

And in one final twist, the legislator who challenged Westra for the House Republican assistant leader post, Rep. Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown, declared months ago he wouldn’t be seeking re-election. Schoenbeck helped Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, pass the teacher-pay and property-tax relief package funded by the additional 0.5 percent sales tax. Westra fought against it, as did half of the House Republican leadership (Gosch, Westra, Haggar and Langer cast nays, while Wink, Mickelson, Bolin and Stevens were ayes).

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 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.