Here in South Dakota, we never quite do things the easy way. As you may or may not remember, last November, we South Dakota voters passed four voter initiatives:
- Amendment R, which transfers control of tech schools from local school boards to a new... something
- Initiated Measure 21, which caps payday loans at 36%
- Amendment S, "Marsy's Law", "creating constitutionally protected rights for crime victims"
- Initiated Measure 22, on campaign finance reform.
So far Amendment R and Amendment S have been left relatively untouched. Except that crime victims have to opt-in for their rights under Marsy's Law (something nobody mentioned in the high-profile ads that were running non-stop before the vote), and names, addresses, etc., may continue to be given to news media, insurance companies, etc.
But IM 21 is under challenge, thanks to a House Bill 1090, which - while keeping 36% as the maximum interest a lender can charge, adds all sorts of new fees that a lender can charge, including "fees for optional maintenance agreements and extended service contracts, official fees and taxes, sales tax, title fees, lien registration fees, and dealer documentary fees. Late fees, return check fees, and attorneys' fees incurred upon a consumer default." No wiggle room there, eh? (Why do I get the feeling that someone in the legislature was trying to text Chuck Brennan - "come back! all is forgiven!")
|Governor Daugaard, chastising the voters|
Meanwhile, our legislature is shocked, appalled, and offended that we think so little of them to have passed IM 22. Some of those ads depicted lobbyists handing out cash! As if they'd ever do that! After all, there is no corruption in this state. EB-5, Gear-Up!, and that little sex scandal have all been taken care of.
NOTE: Under the "you can't make this stuff up" column, our legislature rejected a bill to ban legislators from having sex or sexual contact with interns. (My favorite defending quote, not to mention defender: "I'm hesitant to pass something when we get into itemizing every potential wrongdoing that a legislator could commit, lest this become a criminal code rather than a code of ethics," Rep. David Lust, R-Rapid City.) Seven days later, SD Representative Matt Wollman admitted to sexual contact with two interns and a few days later, resigned. But that doesn't mean we need any laws against that kind of thing...Anyway, the SD Legislature would like you to know that there is no corruption, no problems, IM 22 is unconstitutional, that's all (but they won't wait for a ruling from the SD Supreme Court), we voters were hoodwinked by out of town money (not that that's a problem when it's our legislators going to ALEC conferences on ALEC's dime, or when ads starring Kelsey Grammer and paid for by California billionaire Henry Nicholas are pushing Marsy's Law), and so they are pushing their anti-IM 22 legislation "emergency legislation". What's the emergency? Well, under our constitution, emergency legislation is exempt from any referendum of, by and for the people (Article 3, Section 1). So... our SD Legislature's message seems to be pretty much, "sit down, shut up, you had your vote, you were wrong, and we say to hell with you."
|In a strikingly tone-deaf picture, four of our legislators -|
who'd just voted to kill a commission to enforce
campaign finance regulations - posing with
make-believe “gold” watches that contained candy.
You really can't make this stuff up.
Anyway, on February 1st, our legislature struck down IM 22, taking time to lash back at the IM-22 campaign that painted them as corrupt, self-dealing politicians. "I've not known anybody to accept a bribe, I've not known anybody to offer a bribe. In South Dakota, while we're not infallible, that has never been a concern," said Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark. "There are no gold watches, there are no bags of cash." (ARGUS LEADER)
Really? First of all take a look at the picture to the right, my friends. Real classy, huh?
And, for Valentine's Day, South Dakota Senate killed a bill which would have set up a commission to enforce campaign finance law.
Three minutes and fifteen seconds later, in response to a follow-up question about how we proposes to take care of elderly, children, disabled, and other folks currently on Medicaid, Rep. Tapio said, “I’m not saying that we get rid of it.”
NOTE: Rep. Neal Tapio was Presidential candidate Donald Trump's state campaign chairman...
Meanwhile, other times, other scandals...
Allow me to re-introduce you to Joop Bollen (a Dutch foreign national), who somehow was allowed by our own then-Governor Mike Rounds (currently our US Senator) and our current Attorney General Marty Jackley, to privatize EB-5 (cash for green cards, largely used by Chinese investors) and turn it over to himself via his own corporation (SDRC, Inc.). Last April, AG Jackley finally indicted Bollen, for "misappropriating" funds - at the time counted at $1.2 million. Yesterday, Mr. Bollen pleaded guilty to one felony count and got... 2 years probation. ("Authorities" say he paid back most of the money, except for $167,000.)
This might not bother me so much if there still weren't $120 million missing from the EB-5 program, which had to have gone somewhere.
It also might not bother me if a woman in Sioux Falls wasn't facing 10 years for embezzling $57,000.00. My bet is, she'll do time in prison, not probation.
Well, that's it for now. More later, from South Dakota, where we talk like Mayberry, act like Goodfellas, and the crazy just keeps on coming.