Rep. Charlie Hoffman, R-Eureka, has been telling friends he isn’t running for re-election this year. That hasn’t slowed his push to change the South Dakota Constitution regarding term limits for legislators. The Senate State Affairs Committee endorsed his term-limits proposal 6-2 Monday. That leaves approval by the full Senate as the last step before the November general-election ballot. The Senate vote could come as early as this afternoon (Tuesday). The constitution currently limits lawmakers to no more than four consecutive elected terms in the same chamber. There aren’t restrictions beyond that; lawmakers have been coming and going between chambers for the past two decades. Hoffman’s proposal would change the limit to six consecutive elected terms in the same chamber. The House of Representatives voted 54-16 on Feb. 5 to endorse the proposal for the November ballot. Voters would be the ultimate decision makers on this — or any other — change to the state constitution.
As for Hoffman, what we hear is he’s stepping aside for what he hopes is one term. He has a personal project in mind and has told friends he would seek election to the House again in 2016. That is a magic-number year in his district. His district’s other House member, Rep. Justin Cronin of Gettysburg, is the House Republican assistant leader and, assuming he won re-election this year, Cronin would be in his final term of eligibility in the House in 2015-16. Meanwhile the district’s senator, Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg, is in his third term and would face the limit of four consecutive terms if he wins re-election this year. Brown is the Senate’s top member as president pro tem. Unknown as this point is who would run this year for the seat now held by Hoffman. Looking ahead, if that winner wants to seek re-election in 2016, there would be two term-limited incumbents in 2016 who could set up to swap seats if they chose — Brown to the House and Cronin to the Senate — but that would leave Hoffman and the Hoffman replacement competing for one seat. We don’t know yet what Cronin and Brown plan to do this year regarding re-election or what they might want to do in 2016. But for Hoffman to run again in 2016 for the House, it would seem to assume Brown won’t be running for the House.
And if Hoffman’s term-limit extension passed this November, the intrigue for 2016 would really be stewing in this district.
UPDATE: The Senate deferred debate Tuesday on the resolution and rescheduled it for consideration today (Wednesday). A second resolution, seeking a statewide vote on expanding Deadwood casino games to include roulette, craps and keno, also is on the Wednesday debate calendar in the Senate.
The Legislature’s joint committee on government operations and audit will hold a special meeting Friday morning (March 7) on the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the EB-5 immigrant investor program. The full Legislature isn’t meeting Friday.
Here is the schedule:
8:00 a.m. Call meeting to Order
Item 1 – Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) opening remarks
Item 2 – Eide Bailly LLP to present their internal controls examination report followed by
responses from GOED, Bureau of Human Resources and the State Auditor. Committee
questions on the Eide Bailly LLP report.
Item 3 – Stulken, Petersen, Lingle, Walti & Jones, LLP to present their agreed-upon procedures
report followed by a response from GOED. Committee questions on the Stulken, Petersen,
Lingle, Walti & Jones LLP report.
Item 4 – Department of Legislative Audit (DLA) to present their audit report of the GOED
Governmental Funds followed by a response from GOED. Committee questions on the DLA
Item 5 – GOED overview of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s EB-5 program.
Committee questions on the EB-5 program.
Item 6 – Closing comments from Commissioner Costello
10:00 a.m. Item 7 – Public testimony
Item 8 – Committee discussion regarding next steps
11:30 a.m. Adjourn
The state Board of Economic Development meets March 11 in Pierre. The agenda shows an interesting series of decisions to be made on policy changes and on funding applications. Pierre, Parkston, Hartford and Thunder Valley Development Corp. seek money for local infrastructure improvements, while Wagner, Cloud Horse Art Institute and Heart of the Hills Development Corp. seek aid under the economic development partnership program. Policy changes for those two programs, created through 2013 legislation, happen to be set on the agenda for earlier in the meeting. Another funding decision for the board is a reinvestment grant application from B&H Wind, based at Chokio, Minnesota; the reinvestment program was created in the 2013 legislation and replaced the state tax-refund program that expired Dec. 31, 2012. B&H Wind was organized in South Dakota in 2009 by Raymond Faricy III of Minneapolis, Minnesota. B&H Wind vice president Keith Thorstad filed merger papers in South Dakota, folding in B&H Acquisition, which was organized by Faricy in South Dakota just three weeks ago on Feb. 14. The merger was recorded Feb. 19. Also on the agenda is Arlington Community Development Corp., which had applied to the state board for an economic development partnership grant; the Arlington application was considered by the board’s grant-screening committee at its Feb. 19 meeting but is listed separately on the board’s March 11 agenda rather than with the other applicants for those grants.
Evidently the state House of Representatives will lose Republican Gary Cammack of Union Center and Democrat Scott Parsley of Madison. They’ve filed their candidacy petitions for state Senate seats.
Cammack is running for the District 29 seat now held by Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, who’s seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. There will be a Republican primary there, with Susan Cheshier of rural Newell the first to be filed for that seat.
Parsley meanwhile wants the District 8 Senate seat currently held by Republican Chuck Jones of Flandreau. Jones, who hasn’t filed yet, was appointed by the governor last year to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Senate Republican leader Russ Olson of Wentworth.
We already knew Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, would be leaving the House because she’s term-limited there. Her candidacy paperwork is in for the District 28 Senate seat held by Republican Ryan Maher of Isabel, who’s term-limited too. Maher lives in the same House sub-district as Democratic incumbent Dean Schrempp of Lantry and doesn’t plan to challenge him. (More on that in an upcoming newspaper story profiling Maher…)
Olson doesn’t have a free path, however. Oren Lesmeister, a Democrat from Parade, has filed for the District 28 seat too. Maher went unchallenged in 2012.
These numbers are three weeks late (the fault is mine, not anyone else’s) but they’re worth getting on the record. The latest monthly compilation of voter registration for South Dakota shows, as of Feb. 7, that Republicans gained one voter since Jan. 15, 2014. Democrats lost — gulp — 475. Independents gained 209. Increases also were posted by: Constitutionalists 26 and Libertarians nine.
Republicans, Democrats and independents all took thumpings in previous months as county auditors whittled their registration rolls for voter inactivity. Since January 2013 the Republicans are down about 10,000 and the Democrats are down about 14,000. Independents are down about 850. Here’s the full report.
We should have new March numbers next week.
That’s a Magic 8 Ball, with its 20 possible answers, on the desk of state Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg. Not sure if Mattel still makes the toy.
The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee killed legislation Thursday that sought to change the definition for agricultural land for property tax purposes in South Dakota. The House of Representatives needed two tries to pass Rep. Mike Verchio’s measure, HB 1097, and finally got it done Feb. 19 on a 37-33 vote. The criticism during those two debates was that the plan hadn’t been vetted through the Legislature’s special tax force on agriculture land valuations. On Thursday the legislation that came from Pennington County via Verchio, R-Hill City, ran into stiff opposition at the Senate committee hearing. Lined up against were the state Revenue Department, Ag Unity, the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota — as well as the task force’s chairman, Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center. The vote was 9-0 to kill the bill. The motion came from Sen. Bruce Rampelberg, R-Rapid City, who was the legislation’s lead sponsor in the Senate. We’ll work to get more information about what happened in the committee and what will happen next regarding the task force taking up the issue. Even if Verchio and Rampelberg could have pushed the bill through the Senate, a veto seemed highly likely from Gov. Dennis Daugaard. And it seemed very UN-likely that a big bunch of House members would switch sides and vote to override a veto. In the bottom line sense, the bill was dead when it didn’t get two-thirds in the House in the first place. The Senate committee just finished the deed today.
The annual Kids Voting charity basketball game between the state Senate and the state House of Representatives on Wednesday night ended in a 135-110 victory by the Senate (second year in a row for the Senate, by the way…) and raised approximately $14,000 for the South Dakota program. On Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Brian Gosch called forth Rep. Jim Bolin. Turns out Bolin made 52 — yes, FIFTY TWO — of 60 free throws.
Bolin, who is 63, received a small trophy and a nickname to cement his spot in legislative history. Gosch dubbed him “The Rifleman.” Bolin, R-Canton, normally is one of the most articulate speakers in a House debate. He struggled for words in the emotion of the moment Thursday afternoon. He did manage to share that shooting a basketball was a big part of his life from about age 5 until early in college.
Here’s a wow fact: His personal best is 59 made in a row. Greatness comes in many forms.
Hog-house describes gutting a piece of legislation and inserting new language that is somehow related to the original version. This act of legislative transplant recently was performed on HB 1185 (here is the amendment) in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Originally the legislation from Rep. Dick Werner, R-Huron, sought to create a new special class of waterfowl licenses for non-residents who previously were South Dakota residents. Werner had backing from businesses for this promotional effort, but he was opposed by the South Dakota Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League and the state Game, Fish and Parks Department. This is a battle largely about duck hunting. The House passed Werner’s bill 36-32. In the Senate, where Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg, is the lead sponsor, the decision was made to take a different direction. The hog-housed bill now simply says the Game, Fish and Parks Commission can increase the number of non-resident licenses for waterfowl hunting by up to 5 percent per year. This approach now has support from GFP and the two sportsmen’s groups as well as the governor and South Dakota’s major associations for business, retail and tourism. The revised bill flew out of the Senate committee 8-1 Tuesday and, after the required waiting period of an intervening day for a newly amended bill, it is at the top of the Senate debate calendar today. This being a Thursday, which this week is the equivalent of Friday under the Legislature’s four-day approach to its work weeks, it’s uncertain whether the bill will be debated today or next week. But there’s definitely a duck in the hog-house. We’ll find out soon whether it’s a mallard or a coot.
Dakota Rural Action lost its attempt for more groundwater restrictions regarding in-situ mining in South Dakota. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee killed Rep. Troy Heinert’s bill, HB 1193, two weeks ago. It was aimed at the Powertech uranium project. Powertech’s local manager, Mark Hollenbeck, showed the committee there wouldn’t be any further protection for groundwater at the mining locations but the company would face another five years to get clearance. Now DRA and Heinert, D-Mission, have introduced a House concurrent resolution that says “the Legislature recognizes the need for ongoing evaluation of our groundwater management based on rapidly changing technology and the impacts of technological advances on our groundwater resources.” The House of Representatives is scheduled to consider HCR 1025 this afternoon.