Our Legislature has reversed some previous good sense, deciding this year that South Dakota is so flush with cash that we can afford to pay for memberships and travel expenses for every legislator to go to the partisan lobbying meetings of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Exchange, as in exchange your local grass-roots democracy for crony-capitalism). Instead of waiting for the legal start of the new fiscal year on July 1, our Republican legislators rushed this new policy to make your tax dollars available for nine Republicans to travel to the Oklahoma City ALEC conference on May 3 and 4.

This policy is so odious to fiscal good sense that some prominent Republicans have spoken against it. The South Dakota Democratic Party is promoting an online petition to criticize it. So is Brookings activist Phyllis Cole-Dai. Both petitions are opportunities for folks left and right to put their voices together for the same cause.

Cole-Dai and friends tell me that they plan to turn their online petition into an ad to run in local newspapers to hold legislators up for some public scrutiny. If you'd like to help bring your local Republicans to their senses, sign Cole-Dai's petition (you'll join 343 people who've signed as of this posting) and maybe even consider chipping in for the cost of running the ad (contact Phyllis via Signon.org to ask how else you can help).

These petitions are not legally binding, of course. They are simply a healthy exercise in publicly expressing our disgust. So I wonder: would anyone care to circulate an initiative petition that would ban spending state money on any legislator travel outside of South Dakota?