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Press Release- Dark Ages not the answer to transgender, cultural angst

Immediate Release: Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Contact: Michael Ewald, Communications Director, (605) 271-5405,

Democrats respond to HB 1107 and HB 1112: Dark Ages not the answer to transgender, cultural angst.

Sioux Falls, SD (February 10, 2016)-

The South Dakota Democratic Party criticized House Republicans this week for passing two discriminatory measures aimed at enforcing archaic social mores.

HB 1107 eliminates the government’s ability to protect members of the public from discriminatory actions of employers and/or service providers. For example, the legislation would allow a business owner to fire an employee for simply being gay or engaging in premarital sex.

“HB 1107 dramatically increases the power of a corporation or government agency to enforce their ethics on your life,” South Dakota Democratic Party Communications Director Michael Ewald said.

HB 1112
establishes a biological determinant for gender identification and overturns any South Dakota High School Activity Association policy governing transgender participation. It’s just the latest attack on transgender rights. Earlier this session, House Republicans passed HB 1008 preventing transgender students from using bathrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identity.

“It’s clear. This isn’t about small or limited government. It’s about reactionary out-of-state interest groups trying to drag South Dakota into the Dark Ages. Empathy and compassion are South Dakota values, not intolerance and hate,” Ewald concluded.

Proponents from Arizona based ‘Alliance Defending Freedom’ testified in favor of both bills. The Argus Leader reported the group’s “fellowship literature cryptically refers to the group’s desire to “recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th and 5th century.”


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Press Release- House Appropriations passes education funding increase

Immediate Release: Monday, February 8, 2016

Contact: Michael Ewald, Communication Director, (605) 271-5405,

House Committee on Appropriations passes education funding increase

Sioux Falls, SD (February 8, 2016)-

The House Committee on Appropriations voted in favor of HB 1182, the 1/2 penny sales tax increase designed to provide a stable revenue source for teacher pay. House Democrats all voted in favor of the bill.

During Committee, Democratic House Minority Leader Spencer Hawley proposed an amendment to provide almost $40 million additional dollars to K-12 public schools designated for property tax relief in HB 1182. Hawley said the amendment would make available revenue to reach a target average salary competitive with neighbor states.

Hawley argued, “We won’t be able to come back next session and fix this issue. We need to be bold now.”

The amendment failed on a party line vote.

HB 1182 will move to the House floor where it needs a two-thirds majority to pass.



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Democrats on cracker barrel: ‘They’re bullies. Plain and simple.’

Immediate Release: Sunday, February 7, 2016

Contact: Michael Ewald, Communication Director, (605) 271-5405,

Democrats respond to cracker barrel transgender comments: ‘They’re bullies. Plain and simple.’

Sioux Falls, SD (February 7, 2016)-

South Dakota Democratic Party expressed concern Sunday regarding comments about transgender students made by Republican state legislators at a weekend Sioux Falls cracker barrel. Click here for video.

Republican State Senator David Omdahl (District-11) said of transgender individuals, “I’m sorry if you’re so twisted you don’t even know who you are.”

He then suggested they seek psychological help. “They’re treating the wrong part of the anatomy. They ought to be treating it up here,” Omdahl said gesturing to his head.

“The only thing twisted is Sen. Omdahl’s medieval worldview. Supporters of this session’s transgender discrimination bills have tried to suggest they were about accommodation. These comments show their true colors. They’re bullies. Plain and simple,” said South Dakota Communication Director Michael Ewald.

Transgender discrimination has become a controversial issue this legislation session as out-of-state interest groups such as Arizona based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) have pushed for legislation like HB 1008 which would require transgender individuals use separate bathroom facilities or HB 1112 that reverses a SDHAA policy protecting transgender student rights. The Argus Leader reported, “Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) fellowship literature cryptically refers to the group’s desire to “recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th and 5th century.”

Advocates for transgender rights warn that those who identify with a gender other than their biological sex at birth are at a substantially higher risk of bullying. Studies show nearly 41% of transgender persons will attempt suicide in their lifetime.

Senator Omdahl wasn’t the only legislator who made controversial remarks. Republican Representative Steve Haugaard (District-10) said of transgender individuals, “Pressing someone forward in this confused lifestyle is doing them a disservice.”

Speaking about transgender anatomy, Republican Rep. Jim Stalzer (District-11) said, “They can call it he/she/whatever.”

Beyond the harm these comments inflict on those that identify as transgender, Ewald said it puts the state in a negative light making it more difficult to attract to South Dakota high paying industries and a talented workforce.

“Similar discriminatory legislation against the LGTBQ community caused Indianapolis to lose $60 million dollars in business convention opportunities. Arizona was forced to veto legislation or risk losing the Super Bowl. These comments jeopardize one of Sioux Falls and the entire state’s major opportunities for growth– tourism,” Ewald said.



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Presidential Election: “2016 Delegate Pledge Form” due March 9th

Be a Delegate to Nominate the Next President of the United States at the Democratic National Convention

IMPORTANT: To participate in the Presidential Delegate Selection Process, you must submit the “2016 Delegate Pledge Form” before March 9th! 

How can I get the “2016 Delegate Pledge Form“? Download it here: 2016 Delegate Pledge Form.

The Delegate Pledge Form must be printed and signed (electronic signature not accepted), and returned to the South Dakota Democratic Party prior to 5:00 PM on Wednesday March 9, 2016.

Forms may be submitted by:

  • EMAIL: Print form, sign, scan, and email to
  • MAIL: Print form, sign, and mail to
    • South Dakota Democratic Party
    • P.O Box 1485
    • Sioux Falls, SD  57101

Who must complete the “2016 Delegate Pledge Form”? Anyone who plans to participate in the Presidential Delegate Selection process. The “2016 Delegate Pledge Form” must be returned to the South Dakota Democratic Party by March 9th in order to participate in the Legislative District Caucuses in each legislative district on March 12 and the Statewide Caucus in Pierre on March 19th.

Who is eligible? Any South Dakota registered Democrat, at least 18 years old on or before the June 7, 2016 primary is eligible to be a delegate.

How are delegates to the National Convention elected?

Delegates elected in each Legislative District Caucus on Saturday, March 12, 2016 attend the Statewide Caucus on Saturday, March 19, 2016 in Pierre. Find the time and location of your March 12th Legislative District Caucus here.

14 delegates (7 men and 7 women) will be elected on March 19 for each Presidential Candidate. South Dakota’s “binding primary” means that the Primary Election vote on June 7, 2016 will determine the percentage of delegates seated for the National Convention.

How many may attend the statewide caucus from each legislative district? This is determined in each of the 35 legislative districts by the number of votes per district in Nov. of 2012 for President Obama and the July 1, 2015 voter registration of Democrats in the district. Click here to see how many delegates your district can elect.

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Press Release- Native American education bills pass Senate

Immediate Release: Thursday, February 4, 2016
Contact: Michael Ewald, Communication Director, (605) 271-5405,

Bills aimed at improving Native American education pass Senate.

Sioux Falls, SD (February 4, 2016)-

The South Dakota Democratic Party welcomed the passage of Senate Bills 81 and 82, saying the proposals will help stop the growing achievement gap between Native American and non-Native American students.

Senate Bill 82 establishes the Native American achievement schools grant program to be administered by the Office of Indian Education within the Department of Education. The purpose of the grant program is to fund the establishment of up to three Native American achievement schools aimed at improving academic outcomes for Native American students.

Assistant Minority Leader Senator Troy Heinert (D-26), the prime sponsor of both pieces of legislation and also a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe explained the schools will help preserve a fundamental component of Native American culture— their language.

“When you lose your language, you lose your culture. When you lose your culture, you lose your identity,” Heinert said.

Senate Bill 81 creates a program whereby paraprofessionals working within Native American schools could take steps toward becoming fully licensed teachers under the scholarship program.

Both bills aim to increase efforts to heal cultural issues between Native American and non-Native American students.

Mato Standing High, Director of Indian Education, testifying before the Senate Committee on Education explained the importance of raising awareness between Native and non-Native communities. After relating a story about a Rapid City school administrator that had expressed excitement about learning aspects of South Dakota Native American history, Standing High said, “I thought to myself, imagine if you could have learned that when you were 6 instead of 66, how that could have changed your perspective on relationships, on stereotypes. When we have a better understanding of each other, it’s better for our children. That’s how it’s for all of us.”


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