GOP House Candidates Compete to Be the Most Extreme →


GOP House Candidates Compete to Be the Most Extreme

SIOUX FALLS – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement from Executive Director Sam Parkinson in response to the Republican candidates for U.S. House competing to take the most extreme positions in favor of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and voter suppression laws:

“While it’s disappointing to see Secretary of State Shantel Krebs holding a fundraiser with Kris Kobach, a divisive figure known for his creation and support of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and voter suppression policies, it’s downright disturbing to see the race to the bottom on these policies between the Republican House candidates caused by Kobach’s visit.  While the Republican Party and their candidates rush to embrace the discriminatory and unconstitutional policies of Kris Kobach and the Trump administration, Democrats will keep fighting for equal opportunity and equal protection for everyone, regardless of race, religion, or background.”


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Republican Budget Cuts Hurt South Dakota Families →


Republican Budget Cuts Hurt South Dakota Families

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement from Executive Director Sam Parkinson in response to House Republicans narrowly passing a budget bill this morning:

“This Republican budget – voted for last week by Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune, and voted for today by Rep. Kristi Noem – takes money out of the pockets of hardworking South Dakota families and gives it to the top 1 percent. It will make drastic cuts to vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid to give huge tax cuts to wealthy corporations and millionaire and billionaires. Even worse, these tax cuts aren’t paid for. The Republican budget will increase the budget deficit by at least $1.5 trillion, which will in turn be used by Republicans as an excuse to make even deeper cuts into programs that help South Dakota families.

“But while Republicans continue to fight to give more and more to the wealthy and special interests, Democrats will continue fighting to give all working families the economic security and opportunity they deserve.”

Here is a closer look at how the Republican budget will hurt South Dakota families:


  • The Republican budget calls for nearly $500 billion in cuts to Medicare.
  • In South Dakota, 156,127 people who rely on Medicare are at risk.
  • Medicare beneficiaries make up 18 percent of South Dakota’s total population, including:
    • Seniors: 87 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in South Dakota are seniors.
    • People with disabilities: 13 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in South Dakota have a disability.
    • Women: 58 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in South Dakota are women.
    • Rural communities: Nearly one in four Medicare beneficiaries nationwide live in rural areas.


  • The Republican budget calls for more than $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid – an even deeper cut than Republicans proposed in their health care repeal bills.
  • In South Dakota 109,100 people who rely on Medicaid are at risk.
  • Medicaid beneficiaries make up 14 percent of South Dakota’s total population, including:
    • Adults: 1 in 12 nonelderly adults in South Dakota.
    • Children: 1 in 3 children in South Dakota.
    • Seniors: 1 in 2 nursing home residents in South Dakota.
    • People with disabilities: 2 in 5 people with disabilities in South Dakota.
    • Women: 65 percent of nonelderly Medicaid beneficiaries in South Dakota are women.
    • Rural communities: Medicaid covers one in four nonelderly rural residents nationwide.
    • Veterans: 4,000 veterans in South Dakota rely on Medicaid services.


  • The Republican budget calls for deep cuts to programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, and Social Security.
  • SNAP helps 96,000 South Dakota families and workers stay out of poverty and keep healthy food on the table.
    • Almost 75 percent of SNAP participants in South Dakota are in families with children.
    • More than 48 percent of SNAP participants in South Dakota are in working families.
    • Almost 27 percent of SNAP participants in South Dakota are in families with members who are seniors or have a disability.
  • In 2016, SNAP benefits added $145 million to South Dakota’s economy, because families spend their SNAP benefits at local grocery stores and other retailers.
  • 21,041 South Dakotans rely on Social Security Disability Insurance, which workers pay into so they can support their families if they develop a severe disability.


  • By passing their budget, Republicans have cleared the first hurdle in moving forward to a vote on a tax bill that has been written in secret and few have seen. If the Republican tax plan were to pass:
  • The richest one percent of South Dakota residents would receive 62 percent of the state’s total tax cuts in 2018. These households are projected to earn at least $589,600 next year and would see an average tax cut of $129,120 in 2018.
  • In stark contrast, middle-class South Dakotans would only receive 5 percent of the state’s total tax cuts. These households would only get an average tax cut of $500 in 2018.
  • Millionaires alone would get 54 percent of the state’s total tax cuts. Their average tax cut would be 532 times the tax cut middle class families would get.
  • 7 percent of South Dakota households would face a tax hike if the GOP tax plan was in effect in 2018.


  • CUTS TO EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Nationwide, the Republican budget cuts close to $200 billion from services like Pell Grants and student loan assistance over the next decade.


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SDDP Response to Noem’s Vote Against Relief for Hurricane and Wildfire Victims →


The SDDP Responds to Noem’s Vote Against Disaster Relief for Hurricane and Wildfire Victims

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Sam Parkinson issued the following statement in response to Rep. Kristi Noem voting against disaster relief for hurricane and wildfire victims this afternoon:

“Kristi Noem’s vote against helping Americans victimized by hurricanes and wildfires shows just how far out of touch she is with South Dakota values. When our neighbors across the street or across the country are in trouble, especially from natural disasters, South Dakotans do what they can to help out and get their neighbors back on their feet. Not only does her vote today violate South Dakota values, it – along with her vote against a hurricane relief bill last month – could jeopardize disaster relief for South Dakota in the future. The next time a tornado or blizzard hits South Dakota and we need help from the federal government to recover, let’s hope Rep. Noem’s colleagues do not follow her example from these votes and vote against aid for South Dakota families.”


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PRESS RELEASE: @SoDakDems calls on @sdgovdaugaard to condemn Sen. Phil Jensen

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Contacts:  Zach Crago,

South Dakota Democratic Party calls on Governor Dennis Daugaard & GOP state senators to condemn GOP Sen. Phil Jensen for condoning discrimination 

Sioux Falls, SD (March 19, 2014)— In the wake of GOP Senator Phil Jensen’s comments to theRapid City Journal, the South Dakota Democratic Party is calling on South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard & GOP state senators to condemn Jensen’s remarks. Dennis Daugaard

Senator Jensen’s comments, made in an interview that appeared on March 16, 2014, explain his belief that his recently-killed bill (SB 128) that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against Lesbian and gay customers should also have allowed business owners in the Ku Klux Klan to refuse service to African-Americans. 

Senator Jensen explains that his bill would have protected “the constitutional right to free association, the right to free speech and private property rights.”  Will Governor Dennis Daugaard and the SDGOP condone discrimination or condemn Senator Jensen’s position? Zach Crago, Executive Director of the South Dakota Democratic Party, is calling on them to answer that question:

“State Senator Phil Jensen’s remarks are not only a disgusting affront to South Dakota’s diverse residents but also a slap in the face for anyone who values diversity here in South Dakota and beyond. The South Dakota Republican Party should be ashamed. 

“That’s why I’m calling on Governor Dennis Daugaard and Jensen’s peers in the state senate to condemn these hateful remarks. Daugaard needs to be a leader for the people of South Dakota and admit that discrimination has no place in public accommodations.

“Every citizen deserves equal protection under the law. That battle was concluded nearly 50 years ago, and backward thinking from extreme Republicans like Senator Jensen does not help South Dakota at a time when we’re trying to project a welcoming vision of our state across the country.”



GOP Lawmaker Says Businesses Should Be Allowed To Deny Services To Black People
The Huffington Post // Shadee Ashtari

State Sen. Phil Jensen (R-S.D.) doesn’t believe governments should interfere in the private sector’s ability to engage in race-based discrimination, according to an interview published in the Rapid City Journal on Sunday.

“If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks, and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them,” Jensen told the Journal, advocating for the free market’s role in promoting civil rights.

His comments come after a recently failed attempt to advance controversial anti-LGBT legislation, which he introduced in January. Under the auspices of freedom of speech, the bill, SB 128, sought to permit South Dakota businesses and residents to refuse services to customers based on their sexual orientation.

Three weeks later, the state Senate Judiciary committee voted 5-2 to kill Jensen’s proposal, which state Sen. Mark Kirkeby (R) called a “mean, nasty, hateful, vindictive bill.”

Jensen defended his efforts during his interview with the Journal, positioning the failed proposal as “a bill that protects the constitutional right to free association, the right to free speech and private property rights.”

President of the Black Hills Center for Equality David Patton, a vocal opponent of SB 128, rejected Jensen’s reasoning, citing the necessity of civil rights legislation to protect minority groups.

“The free market didn’t do away with slavery,” Patton told the Journal.

In 2011, Jensen, a staunch pro-life advocate, sponsored a bill to amend the state’s definition of justifiable homicide in a way that potentially would have legalized the killing of doctors who perform abortions. Although the Rapid City lawmaker denied such an interpretation, state lawmakers shelved the proposal after bipartisan concern over the legislation’s phrasing.

Jensen also discussed another recently failed measure during his interview with the Journal — a bill proposed by state Sen. Mark Kirkeby (R) in January that sought to establish mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients.

Although Jensen told the Journal he supported the legislation, he was unsure whether recipients of other forms of government assistance, like farmers who receive subsidies, should be subjected to similar testing.

“You got me there,” Jensen said, laughing.


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We need your name on this petition

Dear Friend,

In the early 1990s, I joined a group of individuals fighting for equality in Pierre to stop a bill banning gay marriages. It passed the state house, but our organized strength helped kill the bill in the state senate. The rights of the LGBT community were safe – for awhile. The next year, a similar bill passed the legislature, but the legislature didn’t stop there. Lawrence Novotny

Years later, the state legislature passed a constitutional amendment in 2006 to ban gay marriage that was upheld at the ballot box by the narrowest of margins (4%). Our rights had been taken away, but we knew history was on our side.

Today, extremist Republican legislators don’t just want to stop the tide of history – they want to turn back the clock. SB 67 would allow businesses to refuse service to the LGBT community simply because of who we are. It’s Jim Crow all over again with a new target. That’s why I was so heartened to see advocates like Sen. Angie Buhl O’Donnell start a petition to fight back.

Well, we’ve clearly touched a nerve. In just three days, more than 2000 people have taken a stand against SB 67. But I told Angie we can do better. If we get to 2500 signatures by Tuesday afternoon, we can keep up the pressure on Republican legislators returning to Pierre.

Will you add your name right now so they know just how many South Dakotans are standing united against SB 67?

We can stop this bill, but we need a united front. I hope you’ll join Angie, me, and thousands of other South Dakotans who don’t want laws discriminating against its citizens.

Lawrence Novotny
Brookings County Democrats Committeeman
Chair of Equality South Dakota

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Senator Johnson helps pass ENDA, but where’s Rep. Kristi Noem?

With the support of Senator Tim Johnson, an overwhelmingly bipartisan group of Senators passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, meaning that Congresswoman Kristi Noem and House Republicans are now the only obstacle to making sure that workers can’t be fired for who they love.

The Senate voted to pass ENDA today by a vote of 64 to 32, but Congresswoman Noem’s House Majority Leader Eric Cantor confirmed that the legislation won’t even come up for a vote in the House, meaning many Americans will continue to live in fear of discrimination and firing because of their sexual orientation.

Want to do something about it? Pledge your help today to Send Noem Home.

Send Noem Home

Congresswoman Kristi Noem wants to dismantle Medicare, gut food assistance for families, keep tax breaks for millionaires & billionaires. Be a volunteer to help Send Noem Home!
  • Please let us know what more you can do to help.


The Senate Overwhelmingly Passed the Employee Non-Discrimination Act “In a Bipartisan Show of Support That is Rare for Any Social Issue.” “The Senate on Thursday approved a ban on discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity, voting 64 to 32 in a bipartisan show of support that is rare for any social issue. It was the first time in the institution’s history that it had voted to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the country’s nondiscrimination law. Despite initial wariness among many Republicans about the bill, 10 of them voted with 54 members of the Democratic majority to approve the measure. But nothing is guaranteed in the House, where Speaker John A. Boehner has repeatedly said he opposes the bill.” [New York Times11/07/13; S. 815, Vote #232, 11/07/13]

…But Speaker Boehner Opposes ENDA and “It Seems Unlikely That it Would Even Get a Vote” in the House. “House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) affirmed on Monday morning that he would oppose a law that would prohibit discrimination against gay and lesbian employees in the workplace, citing the possibility that it would put a financial burden on businesses. […] And with Boehner coming out in opposition, it seems unlikely that it would even get a vote.” [Huffington Post11/04/13]

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Happy Birthday VAWA!

Today we celebrate 19 years of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – bipartisan legislation that President Clinton signed into law in 1994.  VAWA has stood as an example of what commonsense legislation with bipartisan support can do to make America a better place for women.

But, as we celebrate, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recall that Congresswoman Noem was one of ten female legislators to vote against the reauthorization of VAWA because the legislation included additional protections for Native American women & LGBT who are disproportionately affected by sexual violence. Noem put party politics ahead of some of her most vulnerable constituents. Luckily, her vote didn’t stop the reauthorization of VAWA, and women of all background will see the full protections of this legislation.

Happy birthday, VAWA, and thanks to all the Democrats & common sense Republicans who still believe our government has a role in protecting all Americans from sexual violence.

I want to be a volunteer!

The South Dakota Democratic Party is volunteer driven organization. Our volunteers spread our message, determine our goals, and help elect Democratic candidates up and down the ballot. Be a South Dakota Democratic Party volunteer today!

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A Dream Delivered: Raise the Wage

Yesterday, America celebrated 50 years of progress towards equality since Dr. Martin Luther King delivered Jr. his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. But what did equality mean to King?

Three weeks before Dr. King was assassinated in 1968, he spoke for strikers in Memphis about genuine equality:

“Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know now that it isn’t enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a hamburger?”

Today, I want to reflect on the cause of the March on Washington – for Jobs and freedom – for which march organizers alongside Dr. King like Bayard Rustin called for immediate action towards King’s genuine equality: “We demand that there be an increase in the national minimum wage so that men may live in dignity.”

Genuine equality & dignity in work. Is that a dream we can help deliver in South Dakota today?

As far as I know, Dr. King never visited South Dakota. He never saw our wind-blown prairie, our rolling clouds roaming our endless blue skies, or our beautiful Black Hills with its monuments to Crazy Horse and America’s founding fathers. But I’m sure he’d recognize the modesty of our unassuming family farmers, the unfailing work ethic of our teachers and our welders, the pride of our tribal members in Indian country. And yes, I think he’d also recognize the unease betraying the sunny smiles of South Dakota’s moms holding two low wage jobs to make ends meet or the anguish that comes to good dads who work hard, play by the rules, but just can’t get ahead.

If Dr. King visited today, he might call for a March on Pierre for Jobs and Freedom.

Indeed, at the time of King’s March on Washington, the minimum wage was $8.37 an hour when adjusted for the rising cost of living, a full dollar and 12 cents higher than today’s rate of $7.25 an hour. Even South Dakotans in the lowest cost-of-living county in America say they can’t make ends meet with the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. That is unacceptable.

That’s why the South Dakota Democratic Party is proud to continue Dr. King’s efforts for genuine equality by advocating for an initiated measure to raise the minimum wage.

The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom recognized that the freedom our founding fathers fought for is limited by low wages, and raising the minimum wage can provide a pathway out of poverty towards the “freedom from want” that FDR spoke of and to which our very own Senator George McGovern dedicated his life.

It’s time to deliver on part of the dream that King and so many others stood up for 50 years ago in Washington. We’ll march across South Dakota – going door to door, standing in front of courthouses and post offices, and passing along petitions among friends at coffee shops and family at the dinner table.

But we can’t do it unless we march together. As President Obama reminded us on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial yesterday, “The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own.” Be a part of our effort. Learn more about how you can help at or request a petition right away at

On the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, let us commit ourselves to “genuine equality”: economic opportunity and the freedom it provides working South Dakotans by raising the minimum wage.

Let us recognize this anniversary as the year we marched for a “dream delivered.”

– Zach Crago
Interim Executive Director, SDDP

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Nesselhuf Statement on DOMA Supreme Court Ruling

South Dakota Democratic Party chairman Ben Nesselhuf released the following statement after the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act:

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today is a victory for LGBT people across the country who have fought for equal rights under the law. But the fight isn’t over. The South Dakota Democratic Party is committed to marriage equality, and we’ll keep working until every loving couple across South Dakota has the same rights under the law that the US Constitution affords them.”


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Equality Wins #DOMA

BREAKING news this morning:

The US Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits for legally married same-sex couples.

Equality took a big step forward today. Be proud. But know our work is not yet done. We need leaders who stand up for equality all across America, including here in South Dakota. Are you going to have their backs? Let our Democratic leaders know you’re standing with them today.

I Believe in Marriage Equality

The Supreme Court struck down the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples who are legally married in their states. The decision was a big step forward to ensure that all Americans benefit from the civil rights that each of us deserves. However, Republicans like state Senator Ernie Otten (R-Tea) are still fighting to discriminate against LGBT couples in South Dakota. We need your help to keep fighting so that we are ALL seen as equal under the law.

Commit to standing with your South Dakota Democratic Leaders who are fighting for equality. Join us today.

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