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Legislative District Caucuses This Saturday, March 12

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Democratic Party Presidential Delegate Selection Caucuses will be held in each of South Dakota’s 35 Legislative Districts this Saturday, March 12.

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Find the time and location of your March 12th Legislative District Caucus here.

Click here to see how many delegates your district can elect.

Delegates elected in each Legislative District Caucus on Saturday, March 12, 2016 attend the Statewide Caucus on Saturday, March 19, 2016 in Pierre.

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.

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

How many delegates are elected at the Statewide Caucus on March 19th? 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 each Presidential candidate at the Democratic National Convention.

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

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DEADLINE: To participate in the Presidential Delegate Selection Process, you must submit the “2016 Delegate Pledge Form” before Wednesday, 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
    • sam@sddp.org
  • 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- South Dakota Democrats Express Disappointment with Medicaid Expansion Delay

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Immediate Release: Monday, February 29, 2016

Pierre, SD (February 29, 2016)-

South Dakota Democrats express disappointment with Medicaid expansion delay

Today South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaurd announced that further action on Medicaid expansion will be delayed. South Dakota Democrats expressed their concern about the delay in providing health care coverage to an additional 55,000 South Dakotans.

South Dakota House of Representatives Minority Leader, Representative Spencer Hawley said, “Democrats are disappointed that no action will be taken on Medicaid Expansion this Legislative Session. We are hopeful that the Governor remains committed to expanding healthcare coverage to thousands of South Dakotans while also dramatically improving healthcare to our Native American population.”

South Dakota Senate Minority Leader, Senator Billie Sutton said, “We remain optimistic that we can make Medicaid expansion happen for the people of South Dakota. The federal government has agreed to make changes to Indian health reimbursement, and now it is the Legislature’s duty to uphold South Dakota’s end of the agreement that will provide vital health services to 55,000 South Dakotans.”

The Governor proposed no action be taken on the Medicaid expansion proposal in the last two week of this Legislative Session. A special session of the Legislature may be called to address the issue at a later date.

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State House passes HB 1182 to increase teacher pay →

Immediate Release: Monday, February 22, 2016

Contact: Michael Ewald, Communications Director, (605) 271-5405, press@sddp.org

State House passes HB 1182 to increase teacher pay

Sioux Falls, SD (February 22, 2016)-

South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Suzanne Jones Pranger released the following statement in regards to the passage of HB 1182, a bill designed to provide more funding for South Dakota teacher pay.

Today, we took a step in the right direction. Let’s make sure it’s the first of many on the pathway toward the best public education system in the country. The support we should be providing our schools, teachers and children will require the continued dedication of all those who have been fighting many years for more equitable education funding.”

Education will continue to remain a top priority this session as HB 1182 will now move to the Senate for approval. Several additional measures to increase teacher pay and reconfigure the funding formula will go before the Senate soon.

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Guest Blog: But when are you coming back?

Communications Director’s note: I read this piece yesterday and was moved by the succinct and articulate way it summarizes the difficult choice facing South Dakota’s youth regarding where they should make their home. We asked and received Erika Unger’s permission to reprint her essay in its entirety. We think it nails any number of problems facing South Dakota – from economic development to population decline, the culture we create matters. Erika’s article was also printed in the Argus Leader.

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Hi. I’m Erika Unger. I call South Dakota home. My father has a farm operation outside of Mitchell. My mother works in education administration in Madison. My entire immediate and immediate extended family, with the exception of one uncle, lives within the borders of the Rushmore State.

I graduated from the University of South Dakota, and I now live with my husband and one daughter (soon to be two) in Denver, Colorado, where I practice law as a public defender.

When I think of the people I know from my time in SD and at USD, a smile comes to my face. They are wonderful and talented. They have masters and professional degrees and successful careers. They are public policy analysts, news anchors, social media directors, teachers and doctors.

Vermillion is a little slice of heaven for us. We all regard our time there fondly, often sharing group texts talking about what we would give for a Mister Smith’s sandwich and lamenting that 50 cent taps at Pros are no longer a part of our weekly routine. We all spent some or all of our formative years in South Dakota.

And yet, none of us live there.

I posted something on Facebook recently about the current legislative session and the hateful measures garnering national attention. I spoke not even so much about the content or the constitutionality of these bills, or the fact that it’s downright crazy they are passing through chambers of our state’s highest branch of government.

Rather, I talked about the contradiction that rises within me. How when I’m asked by friends and family living in SD what keeps me away, I’m often too exhausted to give a real answer, an answer that in some ways implicates them, and instead answer glibly about the weather (the weather in Denver is phenomenal). Or how when my friends outside of SD see bills aimed to discriminate against LGBTQ people, unwed mothers or other groups on national news, I don’t try to quell their stereotypes that South Dakota is full of backwoods rednecks who hate anyone who doesn’t look, act or think like them. Similarly, I answer glibly with something like “tis the season…”

I talked about how when people ask me what I miss most about SD, the answer is easy: the people. The harder part to explain is that many of those people are people that support these types of hateful legislation. The people who taught me the value of hard work. The people who taught me to give and love unconditionally. The people who ask if I’ll ever move back to SD, and what keeps me away.

As the likes and comments on that post came in, I realized the people it most spoke to were similarly situated: those with South Dakota connections who all had things to give back to the state we hold so dear, yet choose to live somewhere else. Choose to use their talents to the benefit of another populous. Choose to support different economies. Choose to send their kids to schools out-of-state.

The group of us who came together in the little sliver of internet on my Facebook page comprised a generation of successful millennials that elude you. We’re the ones you beg to stay with speeches at our commencements; the ones you try and lure back with cheesy, outdated social media campaigns.

We know the benefits of living in South Dakota. We know and love the people there. We know you have jobs. We know that our Denver, Chicago and D.C. mortgages could buy us beautiful houses on the Missouri, in the Hills or on acres and acres of land. We know how awesome it would be to be in closer proximity to our families and for our children to better know their aunts, uncles and grandparents.

But we stay away.

Our mass exodus is a large part of the reason schools are closing and businesses are shutting their doors. The void we leave is part of what makes good workers hard to find.

You’d be remiss to think our legislature and the perceptions of our state don’t play a big role. Our generation cares more about social issues than any generation that has gone before us. We’re more connected. We have access to information at an unparalleled speed. We are educated. We can see through shortsighted explanations and we loathe insincerities.

Having to explain the context of backwards legislation brought by people we love is difficult and in many ways confirms why we left. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the idea of living in a place where our queer friends would be gawked at if they came to visit or worse: refused service.

We left because it’s easier not to deal with those explanations and difficult situations. Or worse, we left because actually experiencing the effects of this ruthless discrimination and hateful rhetoric hurt us deeply.

Bottom line: we left because it’s easier to come back and relish in the things we love and return to the comfort of other places we now call home, places that don’t use twisted ideas of religious freedom and “conservative values” to perpetuate discrimination and hate of things they don’t understand.

South Dakota, we love you and we miss you. And you’re right: we’ve changed. But we’re not coming back until you do.

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House Republicans delay vote on teacher pay

Immediate Release: Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Contact: Michael Ewald, Communications Director, (605) 271-5405, press@sddp.org

House Republicans delay vote on teacher pay

Sioux Falls, SD (February 10, 2016)-

House Republicans today postponed a vote to increase education funding through a procedural motion meant to delay vote on an amendment to HB 1182, the 1/2 penny sales tax increase designed to provide a sustainable revenue source for better teacher pay.

“These games are exactly what the people of South Dakota don’t want when it involves our children’s education. If the House Republicans are too embarrassed to vote against teacher pay with hundreds of educators in the gallery, I hope they are prepared to see them at the ballot box,” said South Dakota Communications Director Michael Ewald.

Debate on HB 1182 will continue next week.

“It’s time to be bold. The only South Dakotans that think this issue can wait another day are the House Republicans,” said Ewald.

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Dark Ages not the answer to transgender, cultural angst

Immediate Release: Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Contact: Michael Ewald, Communications Director, (605) 271-5405, press@sddp.org

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, press@sddp.org

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, Communications Director, (605) 271-5405, press@sddp.org

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 Communications 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
    • sam@sddp.org
  • 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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