2022 Legislature: SD’s best interests taking back seat

District 10 Rep. Steve Haugaard

Last week’s political news from Watertown confirmed that there are two Republican parties in South Dakota.  One is the group which actually reads and applies the Republican Party Platform as well as the Constitution.  The other is the group who sees politics as their social status and their opportunity to run the state like their own business opportunity without regard for the Constitution or the Republican principles.  

It has become so obscene that the brazen acts of self-interest and superiority appear in the news, but you hear no apology, no sense of remorse, and see no accountability. 

The best interests of South Dakota take a back seat to the political goals and aspirations of people who have seized leadership either by deceit, manipulation or because it was ‘for sale’.  For example, nearly everyone running for office claims to hold to certain winning values such as ‘low taxes’, ‘limited government’ or ‘transparency’. But, the only way to determine whether those principles are being applied is to see an actual voting record. That has been part of the problem, and an additional part of the problem is the way in which ‘leaders’ find their way into leadership by ‘helping’ other members get elected with ‘campaign contributions’.  

Last week the Senate’s President Pro Tem clearly stated his disdain for certain conservative members as he took credit for personal attacks on those members.  n addition to that he said the Governor was supporting those efforts.  

Because of these deep divisions within the Republican party there has been a lack of long-term progress on matters which affect South Dakotans. We have seen no long-term planning or policy in regard to:

Agriculture policy (The current administration combined the department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources instead of recognizing that they are unique and independently important. There must be a focus on retaining ag profits in South Dakota or we will simply become full corporate farming and ranching.  There has been a lack of attention to profits, processing, opportunities, and the list goes on.);

Corrections policy (Firing the warden didn’t solve that problem. Then there was no follow-up nor did the Governor live up to her promise to right-size funding. Plus, we have counties all across the state asking for funding for new jails, but there has been no public discussion about regionalizing jails AND prisons, and the list goes on.);

Criminal Justice (No long-term plan for control of crime, especially drug related crime, no clear plan for staffing and funding probation or parole, no attention to clarification of statutes as to offense levels, and this list goes on.); 

Education policy (Every year there’s a new ‘band-aid’ instead of addressing the issues of student population, costs, shared administration, need to focus on educational outcomes instead of ‘How can we get more federal funding?’, curriculum, use of technology, and the list goes on.);

Healthcare (No statewide plan to address real needs including mental health, addictions, availability, and the list goes on…); or

Taxes (No public analysis of revenue needs or the out-of-control increase in assessed real estate values with accompanying tax increases.)

So, you can see that political ambitions are compromising the work of state government and resulting in self-serving representation. The voters need to take a hard look at what their elected officials and candidates have done and are claiming to do. All elections are important, and it does take some effort to find out what the candidates really stand for. Informed voting requires study. Good representation requires people with “political will” and a desire to serve the best interests of South Dakota.    

Please go to www.sdlegislature.gov to see what else is coming up in state government in the days ahead. 


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