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Democratic Legislative Leaders Respond to Low Revenue Projections →

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Democratic Legislative Leaders Respond to Low Revenue Projections

PIERRE, S.D. – At their weekly press conference Thursday, State Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Billie Sutton of Burke and State House Democratic Leader Spence Hawley of Brookings responded to the revenue estimates adopted by the Joint Appropriations Committee this week for the remainder of this fiscal year and the next fiscal year, which are a combined $53 million below previously expected growth.

“Democrats recognize the need to live within our means, but we also believe we must continue to make smart investments in our people which will aid South Dakota’s short-term and long-term economic growth,” said Hawley. “We should use our rainy-day funds to make sure we do not cut planned investment in important priorities, like education.”

“In the words of an old saying, ‘We shouldn’t eat our seed corn.’ For too long our state has eaten our seed corn and failed to make the needed investments in people to give our state a larger and more stable economic foundation,” Hawley said.

Sutton and Hawley noted that Democrats had introduced the “Opportunity Agenda for Working Families” this Session, a package of legislation which would have helped level the economic playing field for working families through legislation guaranteeing paid sick and family leave for workers in large corporations, creating a pre-K pilot program and restoring childcare assistance, fully funding the Building South Dakota Program, fully funding a needs-based scholarship program, and repealing the sales tax on food.

“These commonsense pieces of legislation would have put money in the pockets of working families which they would have spent in their communities – which would be a boost for our state’s revenues,” Sutton said. “As a state, we have a moral obligation to support the economic liberty and freedom of the working class in South Dakota. Unfortunately, the six pieces of legislation advancing this agenda which have been heard in committee so far have been killed in committee on largely party line votes. We don’t think helping the working people of our state should be a partisan issue, but apparently our friends across the aisle feel differently – the six pieces of legislation heard in committee have only received 2 Republican votes combined.”

“As we head into the remaining weeks of Session, Democrats will continue to advocate for working-class families and to support legislation that respects the voters’ intent,” Sutton continued. “We will also continue to fight against budget cuts to education and healthcare providers by prioritizing available dollars in our budget.  We all have a moral obligation to invest in people, not pet projects.”

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Democrats Call on Congressional Delegation to Publicly Support an Independent Investigation →

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Democrats Call on Congressional Delegation to Publicly Support an Independent Investigation on Links Between Trump Campaign and Russian Government

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement in response to the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn over improper conversations with the Russian Ambassador the United State and reports that Trump campaign aides were in “constant” contact with senior Russian officials, including Russian intelligence, during last year’s campaign:

“It’s time for Senators Rounds and Thune and Rep. Noem to show some leadership and move beyond meek calls to give the Trump administration a break because “these things happen.” The integrity of our elections demands nothing less than an immediate, independent, and open investigation into the connections between Donald Trump, his staff, and the Russian government. Half-hearted investigations buried in the secret Republican-controlled intelligence committees or run by a Donald Trump’s handpicked Attorney General are not good enough. We call on South Dakota’s congressional delegation to publicly support – and demand – the formation of a special select committee with open hearings, a bipartisan, 9/11-style commission, and the appointment of a special counsel at the Department of Justice to investigate these matters. Failure to do so is a dereliction of duty and shows their loyalty to their party is more important to them than their loyalty to their country.”

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  Democrats Respond to Republicans Blocking Democratic Efforts to Honor the Will of the Voters →

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 Democrats Respond to Republican Legislators Blocking Democratic Efforts to Honor the Will of the Voters on Campaign Finance

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement in response to Republican legislators on the Senate State Affairs Committee voting to block Democratic attempts honor the will of the voters by inserting language creating a strong campaign finance ethics commission into Senate Bill 53 on a party-line vote:

“Democrats believe it is our duty to listen to the people’s voice when they speak through their votes. Now that Republicans in Pierre repealed Initiated Measure 22 (the Anti-Corruption Act passed by the voters) without a replacement in place, Democratic legislators are working to honor the intent of the voters by putting forth legislation to reform government accountability, lobbyist rules, and campaign finance. Today’s proposed amendment to SB 53 was an attempt to do that by re-creating the campaign finance ethics commission established in Initiated Measure 22.

“Once again, the Republican majority showed their contempt for the will of the voters by not only blocking this attempt by Democrats to fulfill the will of the voters, but even killing the weak commission contained in the original text of SB 53. Democratic legislators will continue to do all that they can to respect the will of the voters. We call on Republicans in Pierre to stop blocking them and start working with them. Voters will remember who is on their side in 2018.”

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Democratic Leaders Highlight Efforts to Help Working Families and Honor the Will of the Voters →

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Democratic Legislative Leaders Highlight Efforts to Help Working South Dakotans and Honor the Will of the Voters 

PIERRE, S.D. – State Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Billie Sutton of Burke and State House Democratic Leader Spence Hawley of Brookings marked the midway point of this year’s legislative session today by releasing the following statement highlighting Democratic effort to pass legislation to level the economic playing field for the working families of South Dakota and to honor the will of the voters by fighting to pass meaningful reforms in government ethics, lobbying rules, and campaign finance reform:

“Democrats recognize that even though South Dakota’s unemployment is low, many families are struggling to get by, and we believe that as elected representatives of the people, we have a moral responsibility to help working families get ahead. Therefore Democrats have introduced our ‘Opportunity Agenda for Working Families.'”

“While several of the bills in this package of legislation are still awaiting a hearing, those that have had a hearing – guaranteeing paid sick leave for workers in large corporations, establishing an early childhood education pilot program, establishing an Early Learning Advisory Council , and repealing the sales tax on food – were defeated in committee on largely party-line votes. These four commonsense proposals received only one Republican vote between them. It is unfortunate that while we Democrats are doing everything we can to help level the economic playing field for the working families in our state, our friends across the aisle have so far done everything they can to stop us.”

“Further, Democrats believe that as the people’s representatives, it is our duty to listen to their voice when they speak through their votes. That is why, while Democrats were willing to work across the aisle to make any need clarifications to Initiated Measure 22 (the Anti-Corruption Act passed by the voters), we were opposed to any repeal of it without a replacement in place. However, now that it is repealed, we will work to honor the intent of the voters by passing legislation to reform government accountability, lobbyist rules, and campaign finance. Democrats have introduced legislation along these lines for years; it’s up to the majority party to show that they are serious on these issues.”

“Even if our friends across the aisle are content with politics-as-usual, Democrats will continue to do all we can to help restore trust in Pierre by advocating for this type of fair, common-sense legislation to help the working families of our state and bring accountability back to state government – and make sure state government works as well for you as it does for big-money special interests and the political establishment. We call on the majority party in Pierre to stop playing partisan games and start working with us. South Dakotans will remember who is on their side in 2018.”

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O.K., I Am Mad as Hell

O.K., I Am Mad as Hell

The following is an editorial from South Dakota Democratic Party Vice-Chair, Joe Lowe

Vice Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

Joe Lowe – Vice Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

While I have a lot of work to do today, I just could not stay quiet about Donald Trump and I’m mad as hell. He is clueless about the meaning of service and sacrifice to country. President Trump was granted five deferments during the Vietnam War – even though at the time he was the picture of health, had played competitive football, tennis, and squash, and was starting to take up golf.

Despite this involvement in athletic activity, after he graduated from college in the Spring of 1968, he received a 1-Y medical deferment for bone spurs on his heels. This deferment exempted him from going to war during a period when many young Americans were being deployed to Southeast Asia. At that time, the Selective Service System was inducting 300,000 into service to their country.

So, while American Service Men and Women were dying on the battlefield, Donald Trump was dancing in New York night clubs. One of those young Americans who died on the battlefield was my favorite uncle, William Reid. I was one of those family members that carried his flag draped coffin to his final resting place.

In addition, my father, Joseph Earnest Lowe, was killed in action over the English Channel on a heavy bomb run to Germany during World War II; his body was lost at sea. It was painful growing up knowing that you look like him and have many of his traits and mannerisms, but never got to know him.

After my father’s death, I was the sole surviving son for the Lowe family and was not drafted. So, I chose to serve in the fire service. I am a 36-year veteran of the fire service. I did this to serve the people of my community.

Even though Mr. Trump has never served, he has no problem attacking those who have – for instance, attacking Sen. John McCain on several occasions. Yesterday, Mr. Trump was angry at Sen. Richard Blumenthal for telling the media that Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, had told him he found Trump’s frequent attacks on judges disheartening. Even though Judge Gorsuch gave Sen. Blumenthal permission to share his comments, Mr. Trump lashed out at Sen. Blumenthal on Twitter, writing:

“Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who never fought in Vietnam when he said for years he had major lie), now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?”

Not only was this a misleading attack, it left out the important fact that Sen. Blumenthal has served in the Marine Corps Reserves.

Mr. Trump, you don’t know the first thing about service. Your service has always been to self. Stop the Twitter rants and attacks on anyone who disagrees with you. If you want to be treated like a legitimate president, at least try to act like one.

Joe Lowe

Vice Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party.

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Letter to the Editor from Our Executive Director

With Bollen Plea Deal Republican Establishment Sweeps EB-5 Scandal Under the Rug Once Again

11986463_10207681434302727_4776833507063561107_nSouth Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Suzanne Jones Pranger sent the following letter to the editors of the daily newspapers of South Dakota last week:

This week the only man ever charged with a crime in connection with South Dakota’s EB-5 scandal accepted a plea deal that will allow him to avoid spending a day in jail.

It really is no surprise that Attorney General Marty Jackley, after a politically motived, years-long delay in bringing charges against Joop Bollen in the EB-5 corruption scandal, let Bollen off the hook with a lenient plea deal that only required Bollen plead guilty to one of five charges against him.

Bollen, a former employee of the state who benefited from state contracts after leaving government, misused hundreds of thousands of South Dakota taxpayer dollars, spending it on things like ancient Egyptian artifacts. Worse yet, an individual ended up dead in the fall out from the scheme. Yet, Jackley’s agreement with Bollen means that no one will spend a day in jail for the corrupt activity.

Another troubling result of AG Jackley’s plea deal with Bollen is that the public will now get even less information about the EB-5 scandal because no trial will take place to expose the facts to the public. Once again, the Republican establishment in Pierre is sweeping corruption under the rug.

Suzanne Jones Pranger

Executive Director, South Dakota Democratic Party

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Letter to the Editor from Our Vice-Chair

Letter to the Editor from Our Vice-Chair

Vice Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

Joe Lowe – Vice Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

South Dakota Democratic Party Vice-Chair Joe Lowe sent the following letter to the editors of the daily newspapers of South Dakota:

Last week, the Republican majority in Pierre passed, and Governor Daugaard signed, HB 1069, overturning the Anti-Corruption Act (Initiated Measure 22) passed by the voters of South Dakota this past November.

Not only did the Republican majority pass a bill to repeal the will of the voters with no replacement in place, they used extraordinary measures to ram HB 1069 through the legislature and get it signed by the governor as quickly as possible.

Republicans in Pierre pulled this same stunt back in 2015, when they passed a “youth minimum wage” to undercut the minimum wage increase approved by the voters in 2014. The only votes Republicans seem to think should count are the ones for them.

Adding more accountability and oversight to state government is not about ideology, it’s about people, and through their votes, the people spoke. Whether I liked the ballot measure or not, if I had been in the governor’s shoes I would have vetoed HB 1069 – or any bill that undercut the will of the voters.

Time and again, Republicans in Pierre have ignored the will of the people. It is up to you, the people, to decide whether or not they get away with it.

Joe Lowe

Vice-Chair, South Dakota Democratic Party

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SDDP Responds to GOP Blocking Legislation to Advance Early Childhood Education   →

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Democrats Respond to Republicans Blocking Commonsense Legislation to Advance Early Childhood Education 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement in response to the Republican majority in the Senate Education Committee killing two commonsense pieces of legislation to help advance early childhood education in South Dakota – SB 155 and SB 156, which would have established an Early Learning Advisory Council and an early childhood education pilot program, respectively:

“Making these sensible investments in early childhood education would have been important steps forward in improving the educational achievement of the children in our state and stimulating our state’s economy. According to experts in early childhood education, Pre-K education helps close the achievement gap between children from families of different economic backgrounds, helps children succeed later on in school and in life, and returns as much as $7 to a community for every $1 invested.”

“This is yet another example of the Republican majority in Pierre being short-sighted and either incapable or unwilling to take the steps needed to help the working people of South Dakota and their children get ahead. Just this week, Republican-controlled committees in the House and Senate killed several other bills that would have given a boost to the working families of South Dakota, on almost purely party-line votes:

  • SB 96 – Which would have required a minimum amount of paid sick leave for employees
  • HB 1119 – Which would have lowered sales tax on food
  • HB 1120 – Which would have created protections and accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in their places of employment

The legislative session is now past its halfway point, and Republicans have neither put forward any legislation to help our state’s working class, nor let any of the bills introduced by Democrats to do so advance out of committee. Democrats will continue advocating for this type of fair, common-sense legislation to even the economic playing field for the working families of our state. We call on the political establishment to stop blocking us and start working with us. South Dakota’s working class will remember who is on their side in 2018.”

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Democrats Respond to Republicans Blocking Tax Cut for Working Families →

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Democrats Respond to Republicans Blocking Tax Cut for Working Families 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement in response to 11 Republicans in the House Taxation Committee killing HB 1119 today on a largely party-line vote, keeping South Dakota’s regressive tax on food in place and denying a tax break to the working families of South Dakota:

“South Dakota has the 4th-most regressive and unfair tax system in the country. HB 1119 would have been a major step in making our tax system more fair. It would have given a tax cut for our working families, put money back in their pockets and stimulated our state’s economy. This is yet another example of the Republican majority in Pierre ignoring the needs of the people of South Dakota. Regardless of the intransigence of Republicans in Pierre, Democrats will continue advocating for this type of fair, common-sense legislation to even the economic playing field for the working families of our state. South Dakota’s working class will remember who is on their side in 2018.”

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Democrats Respond to Rounds and Thune Voting to Confirm DeVos →

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Democrats Respond to Rounds and Thune Voting to Confirm DeVos

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement in response to Senators Mike Rounds and John Thune voting to confirm the unqualified and unfit Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary:

“Betsy DeVos is incredibly unqualified to be Education Secretary. But because of her and her family’s millions of dollars in donations to Republican Senators – including $46,800 to Sen. Rounds and $17,500 to Sen. Thune – Senators Rounds and Thune and other Washington Republicans overlooked her serious shortcomings and voted to confirm her. With today’s vote, Senators Rounds and Thune put big-money interests and party loyalty above South Dakota students, teachers, and schools, and the people of South Dakota won’t forget it.”

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