Showing posts from January 14, 2007

So much for the dogs of war. Sutton leaves the Capitol, possibly never to return?

In newspapers across the state this AM, Bob Mercer is reporting that Senator Dan Sutton has left the building (the Capitol building, that is). Possibly never to return.
Senator Dan Sutton left the State Capitol with his wife, Mary Beth, and headed home to Flandreau Thursday evening.

He didn't plan to return today. The mystery is whether he ever will.

"We're just going to go back and look at all of our options," Mary Beth Sutton said.

Asked whether resignation was a possibility, she replied, "He hasn't ruled anything out right now."Read this breaking story it in the dead tree editions of the Pierre, Spearfish, Watertown, Mitchell or Aberdeen Newspaper.

This is major, and alludes to what I've been predicting all along. Excepting the bluster and bravado of his attorneys, it seems the handwriting is on the wall, and just remains to be signed or not.

If that's the case, it would be extremely unfortunate that he's put the legislature through this circu…

HB 1107 - protection measure for the unborn

Roger Hunt is the prime sponsor of HB 1107, a fairly innocuous measure which is called "An Act to clarify the application of certain statutes for the protection of abused or neglected children," and amends 26-8A-2. Pretty simple, wouldn't you think?

Except look at the sole change to the law in the measure:
26-8A-2. In this chapter and chapter 26-7A, the term, abused or neglected child, means a child:


(9) Who is, as an unborn child, or was subject to prenatal exposure to abusive use of alcohol or any controlled drug or substance not lawfully prescribed by a practitioner as authorized by chapters 22-42 and 34-20B; (bold part is the addition to the statute)
So, this measure provides protection to the unborn in the case of pre-natal abuse because of alcohol or any controlled drug. It remains to be seen if this ends up as a controversial measure this session, or if it's viewed as a reasonable measure to protect children.

Breaking Rumor: Howie to bring abortion bill this session?

This is very hot off of the rumor mill. I grabbed a computer as soon as I heard it. I'm told tonight that State Representative Gordon Howie is contemplating introducing an abortion measure this session.

This measure supposedly will contain exceptions for the rape, incest, health or life of the mother. As one legislator noted to me, aside from him not being excited at all for the possibility of facing the measure so soon after the defeat of referred law #6, the exceptions are big enough to drive a truck through.

It's entirely possible that this just isn't going to happen, but I hear the media is on it already, so it may appear in the MSM in the next day or so.

Game on. More silly statements to follow.

The Argus was reporting on a couple of aspects of the Sutton trial this afternoon. First and foremost, with the Supreme court giving the green light, it's game on at a 27-6 vote:
....the Senate voted 27-6 to appoint the select committee that will investigate Sutton, who is facing allegations of sexual misconduct with an 18-year-old Senate page last year.

The disciplinary hearings are set to begin Tuesday.

Democratic Senators Sandy Jerstad of Sioux Falls, Tom Katus of Rapid City, Frank Kloucek of Scotland, Gil Koetzle of Sioux Falls, Ben Nesselhuf of Vermillion and Theresa Two Bulls of Pine Ridge voted against the measure.

Sen. Jerry Apa, R-Lead, and Sutton were not present for the vote.

Sutton, a Flandreau Democrat, is facing an allegation of sexual misconduct with an 18-year-old Senate page last year. Sutton has denied the allegation.Read that and more here. After Frank's e-mail I'm surprised he was a no vote. Next, the Argus talks about the Secret Witness list:
Seven subpoenas…

If they pass this, I don't want to hear another thing about paying for vaccinations.

As you might have noted, I've taken a little bit of poking from a few of my conservative friends over my support of the Governor's proposal for the HPV vaccinations. I've gotten it privately, and I also see that in the Yankton paper that others have come out against it.

Some are going after it on the basis of the abstinence argument (which is utterly ridiculous), and others are doing so on basis of a spending argument. Although I might not agree with the latter argument, at least I can respect that.

And funny, as KELO is reporting, at the same time some people are grumbling about the propriety of the state paying for vaccinations, others have put a bill in the hopper to pay for something "vitally more important":
A bill has been introduced that would provide $100,000 in state funds to the hall.

The Hall of Fame was established in 1974 at Fort Pierre, but a fund-raising drive was started in 1993 for a central location at Chamberlain.Read it all here, and pinch me aft…

KELO: Sutton thing to drag on yet another week....

The dark cloud hanging over the Senate is going to hang around for a while according to KELO:
A court hearing that had been scheduled for Friday in the Dan Sutton case has been delayed a week.

Lawyers for the state Senate and for Sutton were to meet in the Moody County Courthouse in Flandreau tomorrow, but after a telephone conference call yesterday, the hearing is being delayed until January 26th.Read it all here. Can we just get this over with at this point? I'm as anxious to hear about it as the next person, but it's already been this dark cloud hanging over session. Another week does not do the institution any good.

Dems release Education spending plan. But, where's the money they want to spend going?

South Dakota Senate Democrats release their educational spending plan yesterday, and plan on using the interest from a few trust funds. But the question I have is where is the money they want to spend going now?

According to the Rapid City Journal:
Democratic leaders in the state Legislature on Wednesday announced a plan that would, by the end of five years, increase annual state aid to education by $100 million. And they said they'd do it without increasing taxes and without spending down reserves.

"We truly believe that the resources are present in South Dakota at this moment, as we speak," Senate Democratic Leader Scott Heidepriem said.

The Democrats would pay for the plan with:
Interest from the Education Enhancement Trust Fund, which comes from the state's tobacco settlement.Interest from the Dakota Cement Trust Fund, which comes from the sale of the Cement Plant.Money from the Property Tax Relief Fund, which comes mostly from video lottery."This can be a…

Tonight's rundown...

Aside from the big argument over legislative rules in the House (over an even versus an uneven number of people on the disciplinary panel), it's quiet... almost too quiet.

I'm in a holding pattern on some of what I was hoping to be writing on now, because there are still plenty of PAC reports out. One they are all in - I'm on that like stink on you-know-what. Other than that, I haven't seen much that's had the kind of unique 'hook' that I like, nor has there been anything other than Sutton that's been too controversial.

Although, HB1095 is leaning towards political correctness by changing the term of the jury "foreman" to "foreperson" as it's referred to in administering judicial oaths. I never considered that one gender specific myself. It's like changing the name of a "manhole" to a "personhole."

I've been too busy to spend my lunch hours at the Capitol as I was hoping to, although I was there for a fe…

Argus Reporting that Tim Johnson continues to hire campaign staff

The Argus is reporting today that despite facing months of rehab, Tim Johnson's campaign team is being assembled in the hopes of pressing forward:
Drey Samuelson, Johnson’s chief of staff, said Wednesday that the office has hired Steve Jarding as deputy chief of staff. He starts in February. Jarding, who will work for the senator’s congressional office in Rapid City, is a veteran political consultant who served as a top strategist for James Webb, the Virginia Democrat who upset Republican Sen. George Allen last November.

Jarding was offered the position by Senator Johnson in early December, prior to Johnson’s December 13 surgery.

“All of us are delighted that Steve is once again coming to work for Tim,” Samuelson said, “He brings a wealth of experience to the job.”

Jarding is a native of South Dakota and worked for Johnson in 1997 and 1998. He helped elect Democrat Mark Warner as governor of Virginia in 2001 and has worked for former Democratic senators Bob Kerrey of Nebraska and Tom…

Both sides have argued. Now we wait for the decision.

Both Attorney General Larry Long and the Sutton legal team have made their arguments to the South Dakota Supreme Court. Now it's time for the waiting game to begin as we start the vigil waiting for a signal on whether the Sutton groping allegations can be resolved or not.

Check out the latest at Argus
In Wednesday’s filing, Long called Circuit Court Judge David Gienapp’s actions in stopping potential Senate hearings “truly extraordinary” and asked the Supreme Court to allow the proceedings to take place.

Long also argued that Gienapp doesn’t have the authority to stop the Senate from acting.

The Senate, Long wrote, “is unaware of any assignment by the chief justice to expand the circuit court’s jurisdiction beyond the Third Judicial Circuit.”

Long’s response came one day after Sutton’s lawyers contended the Senate has no constitutional authority to expel a member unless that person has been convicted of a serious crime. Sutton has not been charged or convicted of any crime.

Sorry. I just didn't get to that.

The Mitchell Daily Republic was reporting the other day on a topic I had touched on earlier. Specifically, on Representative Hargens' moral authority to go after Roger Hunt.

I had brought up the fact that he filed a financial disclosure form several months late, and recently in the Mitchell Daily Republic, Reporter Seth Tupper called Hargens on the carpet for the fact that his latest campaign finance filing was pokey as well:
State Rep Dale Hargens, D-M one of the leading critics of an alleged campaign finance violation by a fellow legislator, is 11 days overdue in filing his own campaign finance report.

Hargens the House minority leader, is among 24 legislative candidates who have not filed post general election reports that were due Jan. 2. All of the state’s 223 legislative candidates were supposed to ifie a report by the deadline. Locally, three of the 10 candidates for Davison County offices also have failed to file reports.

Hargens said Friday that he still plans to file but ‘…

Heidepreim to address local dems, etcetera.

The Capital Journal is reporting this morning that former Republican and current Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepreim is addressing the Hughes and Stanley County Democrats tomorrow to talk about the "Democratic Agenda" for the 2007 session.

Everyone is reporting on how Sutton's lawyers continue to try to block any senate action against their client. Watch for Larry Long to make his arguments to the State Supreme Court today.

And last night, I heard the very first rumblings of a draft movement for a candidate for congress. I'll let you know more on this as it solidifies.

Of Venues and Convergence

I had an e-mail asking me something the other day.

It said, "why would the action to stop the State Senate from hearing the Sutton matter be filed in Moody county, instead of Hughes, where most matters against the state are sitused?"

O.K.. So, that got me hunting to try to figure out why the action would be handled over there instead of in Pierre where literally every other action against the Senate would normally be heard.

SDCL 15-5-2 notes in part that:
Venue where cause of action arose. Actions for the following causes, or upon the following instruments, must be tried in the county where the cause, or some part thereof, arose, or the forfeiture was declared, subject to the power of the court to change the place of trial

(2) Against a public officer, or person specially appointed to execute his duties, for an act done by him in virtue of his office, or against a person, who, by his command or his aid, shall do anything touching the duties of such officer;

More Legislator comment on the HPV Vaccine

I see a few of the legislators around the state are reacting to the HPV issue. Check out what was said in the Yankton paper:District 19 Rep. Gary Jerke (R-Tripp) expressed concerns about the message that is being sent with the vaccination of young girls for a virus that can be spread by sexual activity."It makes me nervous that we don't have a corresponding emphasis on abstinence or those things that would discourage (sexual activity)," Jerke said. "To me, this makes a statement that the state endorses that type of lifestyle, of sexual promiscuity. What is the message that we as a state are sending, to make a drug available to 11-year-old girls and not, at a minimum, provide any other emphasis?"District 18 Rep. Garry Moore (D-Yankton) disagreed, looking at the vaccination as a health issue and not as sending the wrong moral message."The governor said it best, that ... there is still a need to talk about abstinence," Moore said. "Anybody who think…

Nathan Peterson involved in new SD political group

Nathan Peterson, late of the Campaign for Healthy Families, (who also writes over at South Dakota Progressive) is featured in an article in today's Capital Journal as the South Dakota spokesman for the National Environmental Trust.

According to the article, the N.E.T. is "a non-profit, non-partisan organization established in 1994 to inform citizens about environmental problems and how they affect our health and quality of life."

Peterson notes that South Dakota specific issues his group is focusing on includes a SDSU report on how global warming effects waterfowl population, and other effects on the South Dakota Ecosystem.

The article should be on-line at the cap journal sometime later this AM.

Rapid City Journal: South Dakotans going over the line to dodge the taxman

The Rapid City Journal is reporting tonight that South Dakotans out in the Hills are going over the state line to dodge the increase in Tobacco Taxes:
Two weeks after the state’s new $1-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes took effect, vehicles with South Dakota license plates — Lawrence County mostly, but also Pennington and Butte — came and went from the Stateline Station often enough to keep manager Kathy Drentlaw hustling throughout the morning and into early afternoon.

“They’ll start in the morning and come as late as 9:30 at night. It’s an all-day event,” Drentlaw said.

It’s also a money maker for the Stateline convenience store. Drentlaw has had to increase her normal cigarette orders to keep pace with increased demand. She typically ordered about 100 10-pack cartons a week for the store but had been increasing that level leading up to the Jan. 1 effective date of the new law. And last week, she ordered 900 cartons.

“I know I sold at least 700 or 800 (cartons) last week,” she said. …

A cautionary tale?

I've always found the stories about lottery winners who end up hating their good fortune interesting, if not a cautionary tale. In the latest, the $315 Million Powerball winner is now saying he's broke, and can't pay a court settlement, and that thieves cleaned out his bank accounts:
A man beset by problems since winning a record lottery jackpot says he can't pay a settlement to a casino worker because thieves cleaned out his bank accounts.

and...Since then, he has faced his granddaughter's death by drug overdose; he has been sued for bouncing checks at Atlantic City, N.J., casinos; he has been ordered to undergo rehab after being arrested on drunken driving charges; his vehicles and business have been burglarized; and he has been sued by the father of an 18-year-old boy, a friend of his granddaughter's, who was found dead in Whittaker's house.In the latest lawsuit, Whittaker told French's lawyer, John Barrett, that "a team of crooks" cashed che…

Is there Litmus paper for Republicans?

On my recent post where I noted that I agreed with the Governor for his proposal on HPV vaccinations (and have a current running count of 109 comments from the classroom) I've taken some heat from some conservative members of the GOP, who think abstinence is the better option.

One commenter in particular noted that I was a "cafeteria Republican" and intimated that I might just be a liberal. Which, besides the "liberal" poke steaming me a bit, it brought up a good topic for discussion:
What is the litmus test for being a Republican, if there ever was one?I cited in my spirited response the often repeated series of Republican principles...
I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person's dignity, freedom and ability and responsibility must be honored.

I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual ini…

John Edwards for President Blog? Nahh. Give me the Republicans!

I just got an invitation to join the John Edwards for President team. Thanks....I think?

"Live Republican or Die" me is going to pass on that one, but I will note it for the readers who lean towards the donkey.

You can catch the John Edwards for president blog at

For my elephant loving readers (in case you need to cleanse the palate) you can catch Rudy Guliani for President here, The unofficial Mike Huckabee for President blog here, the Draft Newt Gingrich for president website here, the draft McCain movement here or the explore McCain website here, or read about the Mitt Romney exploratory committee here. Brownback for President is here.

A lesser known candidate is former Virginia Governor Gilmore, whose website is here. Duncan Hunter, a US Representative is supposedly talking about it, but if he is, I'm not finding a website right off. And the list is rounded off with the exploratory committee of former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.

Check o…

GOP Goals for the session

I was out of the loop on Thursday and Friday when this came out, but the GOP outlined their goals for the 2007 session in a press release issued jointly between the GOP House and Senate caucuses towards the end of last week:

House Majority Leader Larry Rhoden and Senate Majority Leader Dave Knudson
unveiled the Republican legislative agenda which includes a number of key initiatives.

“Our plan for this session will address a number of important issues that are at the heart of South Dakotans,” said Knudson. “Our growing economy and state revenues put us in a unique position to improve our education system, provide tax relief for our working families and invest in the future of our state without mortgaging the state’s resources or raiding the trust funds.”

The plan includes: · The immediate use of the increased tobacco tax revenues to provide at least $45 million in property tax relief over 5 years.

· Direct increased tobacco tax revenues to help enhance state support for K-12 education with…