The week in politics - December 5, 2005

Acting appropriately

The Appropriations committee is meeting today and tomorrow in preparation of session and the Governor’s budget address. Speaking from the senate side, Senator Brock Greenfield of Clark reported to me today that
"Appropriations heard an overview of the UJS's proposed budget increases, and Tad Perry was reporting on behalf of the Board of Regents on the Governor's 2010 initiative.

Today, we will also we hear from the Dept. of Ag about the State Fair.

The real value to these two days begins later today, when we begin preparing for the upcoming Session....establishing a list of questions we will ask of all the departments, as well as questions we will ask of the individual departments & bureaus."
And speaking of the budget address, all of the legislators will be in town tomorrow for the Governor’s Budget address. KGFX radio is reporting that the state’s structural deficit is the big topic among legislators in my home district (Dist 24). Senator Gray and Representative Olson also bring up the State Employee salary package.

Hopefully there should be some gossip on who is running and who isn’t that my friends, spies, and fellow bloggers can pick up on.

At this point, it’s very fluid. One who I heard was definitely not going to run is now back in the “running” column.

Next up, mandatory fat camp.

There was an interesting article in the Watertown Public Opinion that brought up an issue that until now hadn’t really entered into the lexicon of public policy debate in South Dakota. At least, until now.

The article involved State Chamber of Commerce President David Owen describing the issues that we can expect the next legislative session, and noting the about unemployment insurance, and the need to increase the wage base, health care and the adequacy of school funding. Things that come up every year.

But then it took a big turn into previuosly uncharted territory.
South Dakota Chamber of Commerce President David Owen gave his annual legislative preview to representatives of the Watertown Area Chamber of Commerce this (Friday) morning….

The legislature also will begin discussing the health care issue that Owen believes will be the “debate of the next century:” can employers discriminate based on obesity?
That’s an issue that should scare the sweat pants off you. The thing that the obesity topic is going to come up the wall against is “who decides what obesity is.” Smoking and similar vices have a clear cut line. Either you do or you don't. But obesity is so many shades of grey. Are you considered morbidly obese, or are you just festively plump for the holidays? What about body type? And genetic pre-disposition? (Take extra note of that, as some states have bans on genetic testing for predisposition of hereditary diseases). This is something I predict no one will want to touch.

If they do take it up, for consistency, some are going to demand that it's set through government regulation. And looking at the example of the federal government, they have done *such* a good job at that. Read here and here for balancing the topic on your palate.

Employer based health plans already send people to drug rehab. And there is a trend towards offering smoking cessation as well. Are we now going to prepare ourselves for mandatory jumping jacks?

Think you got a lot of junk mail before? It’s not going to get any better.

From the Aberdeen American News
U.S. District Judge Charles Kornmann issued the ruling in a lawsuit filed against state officials by the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, a group representing 300 of the nation's largest commercial property and casualty companies.

Complaining that state laws discriminate against out-of-state insurers, the council sued the state in February 2004. State laws that establish disparate treatment of nonresident insurers are unconstitutional because they give an unfair competitive advantage to local insurance agents and brokers, the council argued.

One voided law had required out-of-state agents to get South Dakota agents to co-sign on policies sold by the nonresident companies. Another law that was thrown out said out-of-state agents must pay those resident agents 5 percent of the total insurance premiums or 25 percent of commissions.

Ruling those laws invalid, Kornmann said the requirements violate the U.S. Constitution's Privileges and Immunities Clause, which generally says states must apply their laws equally to residents and nonresidents.
Read it all here.

What this ruling does is open the floodgates from out of state insurance agents who are licensed here to come in and write your property insurance. Are they going to travel here to do it? Not likely. Are they going to mass mail the bejeezus out of us? That’s my prediction.

WWE to institute Drug Testing program.

Nothing to do with politics, but professional wrestling is a guilty pleasure of mine. From FOX news:

"We believe that this new policy is appropriate and important to ensure the health and well-being of our talent," WWE spokesman Gary Davis said in explaining the change. Previously, WWE tested for drugs only when it saw a need.

Davis also cited the current focus on drug and steroid use in sports; Major League Baseball recently strengthened its steroids policy under pressure from Congress.

Yes, I watch this stuff for silly, mindless entertainment. Why? It's as trashy as Desperate Housewives, and they hit each other with folding chairs more often.

No more steroids for WWE wrestlers? I imagine they'll be introducing new characters, such as "Pasty Faced Pete" and "The Unathleticator"

Apparently there is a glimmer of hope for me yet.


Nicholas Nemec said…
I've always wanted to know what is the differance between a "structural deficit" and your regular, garden variety, run-of-the-mill deficit? Or, just maybe it's a term used by our state government in an attempt to shine the light someplace else.

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