Last updated on 2012.01.07
Holy cow: I've woken up and found myself inextricably attached to the future. Happy 2012! In the Madville Times tradition, let's take a look at ten stories that I hope I get to report on in 2012:
1. South Dakota House Faces Three-Party Challenge: (Pierre, Nov. 13, 2012) Speaker Bernie Hunhoff ordered Capitol maintenance staff to rearrange seats in the House chamber to accommodate the new three-party balance of power. The 29 Democrats elected last Tuesday will be seated in the center section to keep the peace between the House's 25 Republicans and the 16 members of the new Mugwumps who split from the GOP and denied Republicans a House majority for the first time since 1973. Mugwump leaders Stace Nelson and Thad Wasson say they will seek to build on the coalition with Democratic leaders similar to that which allowed the Mugwumps to depose the House GOP leaders during the Pressuregate ethics scandal of the 2012 session.
2. Partners Announce Lake Herman Funplex: (Madison, June 2, 2012) Prairie Village has completed the annexation of land owned by the Madison Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, the Madison Country Club, and hundreds of acres of adjoining land. "We realized that asking the City of Madison for a loan to renovate our clubhouse was just silly," said country club board member Mark Lee. "The failure of Forward Madison showed us that instead of tying our fortunes to a sinking ship, we should synergize with the growing success of our neighbors at Prairie Village." Prairie Village visitors will enjoy discounts on golf and target practice on the Izaak Walton shooting range. Prairie Village and the country club will build a 100-room hotel and conference center on newly acquired land adjacent to the Moonlite steakhouse and a new boat launch adjacent to the Ike's clubhouse.
3. Allen Named LAIC Director: (Madison, February 15, 2012) The Board of Directors of the Lake Area Improvement Corporation named Ashley Kenneth Allen its new executive director. "The failure of Forward Madison showed us that we need new leadership," said board member DeLon Mork. "We haven't even written Allen his first paycheck, and he's already revamped the LAIC website, integrated Facebook comments and Twitter on the site, held two public forums on economic development, and met with CEOs of three major retailers. He brings a level of public engagement that the LAIC has never had."
4. Noem Closes Crop Insurance Business: (Bryant, December 22, 2012) Bryon Noem announced the closure of Noem Insurance, Inc., effective January 1. Said Noem, "With Kristi out of Congress, we can't count on keeping the subsidies flowing like we used to. Now that she's home, we'll just concentrate on raising horses."
5. 15 South Dakota Schools Add Elementary World Language Programs: (Spearfish, September 15, 2012) Thanks to higher than expected revenues and good sense from legislators, South Dakota's public schools are translating a funding renaissance into an academic renaissance. Among the improvements: 15 school districts are now teaching foreign language at the elementary level. "We've done some introductory Spanish at grade 6," says Spearfish superintended Dave Peters, "but we need to do more and do it earlier." Spearfish first-graders now receive an hour of French instruction every day.
6. Stricherz Recognized for Legislation Protecting Children: (Sioux Falls, May 12, 2012) South Dakota Voices for Children presented Rep. Patricia Stricherz (M-8/Winfred) with its 2012 George S. Mickelson Policy Leader Award. Stricherz authored two key pieces of legislation during the tumultuous 2012 session to expand protections for abused women and children and to ensure South Dakota's compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act. Stricherz was also instrumental in forging the Mugwump-Democrat coalition in the Legislature that won increased funding for K-12 education and women and children's health programs.
7. Voters Nix Corporate Welfare: (Pierre, November 7, 2012) Governor Dennis Daugaard expressed his continuing disgust at democracy after voters killed his corporate welfare proposal by a margin of 71% to 29% on Tuesday. "How am I supposed to recruit businesses," lamented an exasperated Daugaard, "when all I have to offer these bigwig CEOs is cheap labor and housing, good schools, clean air and water, easy traffic, hunting, and the Black Hills?"
8. Legislature Overrides Governor's Veto of Eminent Domain Restrictions: (Pierre, March 19, 2012) In a show of comity rare in this raucous Legislative session, lawmakers voted 65-3 in the House and 24-5 in the Senate to override the governor's veto of legislation restricting the use of eminent domain in South Dakota. The new law gives landowners much greater protection against private companies seeking to take their land for profit. It also includes an amendment by Rep. Charles B. Hoffman (R-23/Eureka) that forbids foreign companies like pipeline builder TransCanada from obtaining land and rights-of-way through eminent domain.
9. Hyperion Abandons Refinery, Dissolves: (Elk Point, March 4, 2012) In a terse press release, Hyperion Refining, LLC, announced that it is abandoning plans to build an oil refinery in Union County. The press release also announced the dissolution of a corporation that in five years built nothing. Suddenly unemployed Hyperion staff refused to offer comment; however, industry analysts have long maintained that there is no business case for the Union County refinery. This announcement comes just days after the Obama Adminstration's denial of the Keystone XL permit, as well as continued maintenance problems causing stoppages on the Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline, the only practical source of oil for the Hyperion project.
10. South Dakota Blogosphere Participation Explodes: (Vermillion, October 28, 2012) Online authors leading a roundtable discussion at the John R. Milton Writers' Conference said they have seen enormous growth in readers and commenters in the South Dakota blogosphere. "More people are making their voices heard online and expecting answers from their government," says Doug Wiken, a veteran South Dakota blogger. More legislators are responding to that expectation; a sample of recent posts on ten prominent South Dakota blogs found 36 incumbent legislators, 57 legislative candidates, and dozens of local officials participating by name in online conversations. "The blogosphere is the public sphere," said Rep. Scott Munsterman (R-7/Brookings). "We have to meet our constituents where they are. With so many people on computers all day and carrying smartphones and tablets, online is where it's at."