Some of my faithful readers think we liberals are backwards anyway, so let's start the Madville Times year in review series with the traditional year in preview. Every year, I prepare a wishlist of the stories I'd love to blog in the coming year. So here are my Top Ten South Dakota Blog Stories for 2015:
1. Wessington Springs, SD, October 16, 2015: Independent candidate for U.S. Senate Kurt Evans reported over $212,000 in campaign funds raised during the third quarter. The former Libertarian attributes his fundraising success so far to starting early, engaging voters online, and seeking common ground with Democrats, Independents, and disaffected Republicans. Evans spoke at a press conference in Wessington Springs with former Senator Larry Pressler, who announced the inclusion of Evans in a growing crop of candidates whom the Centrist Project will support in the 2016 election. "Like me, Evans has conservative principles," said Pressler, "but he has shown the commitment to practical solutions that the Centrist Project says America wants."
2. Pierre, SD, November 30, 2015: Secretary of State Shantel Krebs today certified petitions for eight initiated measures. The 2016 statewide ballot will include measures to cap interest rates, expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, implement a corporate income tax, increase teacher pay, and place the Governor's Future Fund under the direct control of a new non-partisan board. "As Secretary of State, I am always happy to see citizens actively participating in government," said an exhausted Krebs, whose office put hundreds of overtime hours subjecting the petitions to an unprecedented level of scrutiny. An outraged Governor Dennis Daugaard vowed to back legislation to quintuple the signature requirements for ballot measures and to require all initiative organizers to pay for fiscal analyses of their proposals prior to circulation of petitions.
3. Pierre, SD, March 5, 2015: Education groups reacted with cautious optimism to passage today of HB 1235, which repeals the all state-mandated standards and testing in South Dakota's public K-12 schools. "It's time for us in Pierre to get out of our schools' way and trust our professional teachers to do what they do best," said HB 1235 Senate sponsor Betty Olson (R-29/Prairie City). "This bill will liberate local districts to innovate and educate," said ASBSD exec Wade Pogany. "Now if we can just keep anyone from getting hurt in the big Common Core binder bonfires."
4. Sioux Falls, SD, December 31, 2015: Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and Brendan Johnson put to rest months of speculation and announced that they will campaign for the Democratic nominations in 2016. Herseth Sandlin will run for Senate; Johnson will run for House. "I'm ready to bring common sense and practical problem-solving back to Washington," said Herseth Sandlin told Todd Epp in a joint appearance with Johnson on KSOO's Viewpoint University. "We couldn't wait any longer," said Johnson. "We heard that if we didn't get in the race, Kevin Weiland and Cory Heidelberger were going to run, and that would have been a liberal train wreck!"
5. Washington, DC, September 30, 2015: Senator Rick Knobe announced he is caucusing with Democrats. "The Republicans here can't get their act together," said Knobe. "It was the Democrats and Independents who offered a practical spending bill and built the coalition to keep the government working. If being Republican means making government fail, I can't be a Republican." Knobe is the fourth Republican this year to defect, bringing the Senate to a 50-50 balance. Knobe was appointed to the Senate on July 24 by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard following the indictment and resignation of Mike Rounds.
6. Rapid City, SD, July 2, 2015: Gasoline prices are swinging upward this holiday weekend. Prices at the pump are topping $2.40 a gallon after six months at or below $2.25 around the Black Hills. "We thought the cancellation of Keystone XL and the slowdown in Bakken production would cause prices to rebound," said AAA spokeswoman Marilyn Buskohl, "but demand keeps going down as Americans drive more efficient vehicles."
7. Scotland, SD, December 12, 2015: The South Dakota Democratic Party has reported a 15% increase in registered voters over the past year. SDDP voter registration czar Frank Kloucek says the party has registered over 30,000 new Democratic voters since January 1. "The party needed some hustle in this area," said SDDP vice-chair Joe Lowe, "and Frank's record of success in retail politics made him the right man to lead this effort." Democratic registration cracked 200,000 last month for the first time since 2009.
8. Mitchell, SD, July 8, 2015: South Dakota Progress met in Mitchell today for a mid-year progress assessment. SDP chair Katrina Wilke said the group's first foray into local candidate recruitment was a success. "As a trial run, we recruited four candidates for local school board elections and two for city elections this spring," said Wilke. "Five of those candidates faced opponents; all five won!" SDP members agreed to expand operations. Their meeting was disrupted briefly when police had to remove two local citizens, one who kept shouting, "Free Annette!" and another who chanted "New Age Theocracy!"
9. Rapid City, SD, April 24, 2015: Nancy and Jennie Rosenbrahn will celebrate their first wedding anniversary as a legally wedded couple in South Dakota. Last month, Judge Karen Schreier ruled in favor of the Rosenbrahns and five other South Dakota couples who sued to overturn South Dakota's ban on same-sex marriage. Thursday, Attorney General Marty Jackley announced the state will not appeal the decision. "We have bigger fish to fry," said Jackley, who was on his way to pre-trial hearings in his office's prosecution of EB-5 kingpin Joop Bollen.
10. Grand Junction, CO, April 2, 2015: Colorado State Police tracked down and arrested fugitives Annette Bosworth and Chad Haber in an RV parked near a creek south of Grand Junction yesterday. Bosworth and Haber moved to Colorado in January to set up a clinic in Boulder to sell marijuana. The couple disappeared in February after Bosworth failed to appear in a South Dakota courtroom to face perjury charges related to her unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2014. Bosworth and Haber face charges of failing to pay workers and state taxes at their Boulder clinic, as well as FEC and IRS investigations for misuse of campaign and non-profit funds.
Feel free to add to the wishlist, readers! If these stories do break, you'll hear about them in great detail here on the Madville Times. Happy new year!