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House Passes HB 1234 by One Vote; Brunner Demands Thanks

Last updated on 2012.12.11

The South Dakota House of Representatives approved HB 1234, Governor Dennis Daugaard's package of destructive education reforms, this afternoon. The vote was 36-33.

Updated Vote Count, 17:51 MST: Governor Daugaard got two Republicans who voted nay last time to switch to aye this time: Rep. Don Kopp from Rapid City, and Rep. Jim Schaefer from Kennebec.*

Public pressure got six Republican House members to change their votes from aye to nay: Moser, Munsterman, Romkema, Tulson, Van Gerpen, and Wink. Stace Nelson was also present, and as promised, voted nay.Those seven would have raised the nay count from 28 last time to 35 this time.

Had Kopp and Schaefer not caved, we would have defeated HB 1234.

I'm busy reading up on the referral process, then maybe job openings in Minnesota. But of all the shovel-loads of rationalizations, obfuscations, and red herrings offered by the Governor's servants against the people's servants, permit me to mention Rep. Thomas Brunner's closing comments. Sounding rather bitter, Rep. Brunner asked why teachers kept sending him e-mails saying HB 1234 was bad policy when he was supporting the millions in unexpected one-time money provided by other legislation. Where are the thank-yous? Rep. Brunner whined.

Oh, Tom. You can hear yourself, can't you? You sound like my six-year-old saying she got a smiley face at school... which is great, except I just told her not to throw rocks at people.

Actually, she's better behaved than that. Maybe it's more accurate to say you sound like the guard expecting me to say thanks as he opens the door for me on the way to the gas chamber.

Update 17:39 MST: Dusty Johnson's Twitter feed coughs up a photo of Team Daugaard celebrating their one-vote victory. These are the only people celebrating in South Dakota right now.

*Update and correction 19:47 MST: I erroneously stated that Rep. Schaefer was appointed by Governor Daugaard. Rep. Schaefer won election in 2010. Gov. Daugaard appointed the other guy in District 21, Rep. Dave Scott, in 2011. I regret the error. Reps. Schaefer and Scott are unlikely to correct the errors they committed today so quickly.


  1. D.E. Bishop 2012.02.29

    I used to live in Newell, Brunner's district. He's not a bad guy, but he's also not an independent thinker. Too reactionary, too much an ALEC guy.

  2. Michael Black 2012.02.29

    I would think that your Masters of Information Systems degree would get you a job far better paying than any teaching position.

  3. Steve Sanchez 2012.02.29

    Is it too late for the Governor's Office of Economic Development to request Manpower, Inc. also recruit for vacant teacher positions in SD? I'm not sure the jobs would meet the "in-demand" requirement.

  4. larry kurtz 2012.02.29

    @rcjMontgomery: Six legislators -- Moser, Munsterman, Romkema, Tulson, Van Gerpen & Wink -- went from Yes to No.

  5. larry kurtz 2012.02.29

    @rcjMontgomery: If HB 1234 had one fewer vote, Abdallah's absence would have been huge.

  6. grudznick 2012.02.29

    Where was this Mr. Abeallah, that he did not vote?

  7. larry kurtz 2012.02.29

    is education becoming the KXL of the chemical toilet?

  8. Douglas Wiken 2012.02.29

    Rep. Jim Schaefer from Kennebec may have been at a Winner,SD cracker barrel, but I missed it. Reports from a teacher at that cracker barrel indicated the Republicans that showed up could not explain their reasoning and when questioned objected to the questions because "everybody (especially them apparently) has a right to their own opinion."

    Probably a good thing I did not attend.

    I hope Daugaard's landslide victory on the anti-education bill is echoed by a real landslide defeat when he runs again with his fellow turkey from Sioux Falls.

  9. Sam Peil 2012.02.29

    “@Tony_Venhuizen: A good day.”

  10. Stace Nelson 2012.02.29

    When in the history of the Republican party have Republicans EVER said more government is good?

    Proud to stick to my Republican principles.

  11. Jeff Nolte 2012.02.29

    Hopefully we can get the referral process going and show the governor and those who are in favor of this bill what the public thinks. First lets get the bill referred, then lets have a changing of the guard in Pierre. We need to remove those who only vote with their party. It is a destructive practice.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.29

    Steve: you are dangerously sharp.

    Stace: proud you should be.

    Doug: that's all any of the GOP guys could say in the floor debate today. Appalling dodging of the issues.

    Jeff: I think we can pursue both goals simultaneously. Dems, get on the ballot! SDEA, bring around the clipboards!

  13. Joseph Nelson 2012.02.29

    I went to the Army Education Center today, specifically citing this bill as the big reason I am pursuing a education plan to teach in Wyoming.

  14. Monty 2012.02.29

    I'm really going to enjoy voting to keep the travel reimbursement for legislators at 5 cents a mile. They earned that money this year.

  15. Owen Reitzel 2012.02.29

    can we recall the Governor-like Wisconsin?

  16. Dale Moeller 2012.02.29

    Minions! (58 of them)

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.29

    Sorry, Owen, no recall of statewide officials here. Focus on ousting those minions; then the Governor won't have anyone to carry his water.

  18. Jenae Hansen 2012.02.29

    This makes me sick! I will be breaking out my walking shoes and bringing my clipboard to make sure that when I come back to South Dakota to raise a family, the legislators will be ones who appreciate the fine education system we have here in the state.

  19. grudznick 2012.02.29

    teaser: there will probably be at least 2 votes on 1234 that will be included on the Conservatives with Common Sense Scorecard. I can divulge that now that the bill is complete.

  20. grudznick 2012.02.29

    The rest is gravy-taters under the bridge.

  21. Donald Pay 2012.02.29

    I would guess a referendum would get the signatures in half the required time. One thing I noticed during past fights in South Dakota is once you get teachers organized and cranked up on an issue it ain't going to fail.

  22. Jeff Nolte 2012.03.01

    Just thinking out loud here, but can we also start a petition for and initiated measure that requires the state to fund education fully according to the funding formula? Something they can't weasel their way around. (I know we already have something like this on the books).

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.01

    An initiative for the funding formula will have to wait until 2014, Jeff. SDCL 2-1-2 says that initiatives must be filed a full year prior to the general election. The only things that can still be placed on this year's ballot are constitutional amendments the Legislature places there and referrals of laws passed by this year's Legislature.

    The deadline for submitting referral petitions is 90 days after the end of session, which this year works out to Monday, June 18.

  24. Michael Black 2012.03.01

    We have to remember that merit pay proposals are everywhere: states and federal government. Just having educators against HB1234 is not enough. You must have ordinary Republicans willing to sign petitions and vote against the law in November. We know that legislators and the governor are for it. I'd love to see a media outlet do a scientific poll to see what the general public thinks.

  25. Matt Groce 2012.03.01

    What about a legal challenge? Seems to be a question of constitutionality that was brought up on the house floor. \

  26. larry kurtz 2012.03.01

    Pray for Brunner's children: "The mind of the fundamentalist is like the pupil of the eye: the more light you pour on it, the more it will contract." --unk.

  27. Steve Sibson 2012.03.01

    And Hickey votes Yeah on a bill that he admits is bad. He just wanted the conversation to continue. Well it will, and his rating on the 2012 Republican Platform scorecard will suffer.

  28. Steve Hickey 2012.03.01

    Who deemed you the Keeper of All Things Orthodox? That scorecard is a joke and it fully irrelevant to any decision I make.

  29. Steve Sanchez 2012.03.01

    Forget about the scorecard, Rep. Hickey. Since you're here (and, thanks, by the way), did overwhelming opposition to this bill from one end of the state to the other have any relevance in your arriving at a decision to vote for it? Did the input - solicited and, thankfully, unsolicited - from those closest to facilitating student achievement have any relevance in arriving at that decision? If so, how?

    This stick was poorly disguised as a carrot from the beginning. The joke is, regrettably, quite obvious. If only there was a way it could be explained to a few dozen elected officials at the statehouse.

  30. Steve Hickey 2012.03.01

    I'll call you Mr. Sanchez because we have three Steve's here and two Steve S's. Absolutely the opposition was a consideration. Most of the time emails weren't related to things current in the bill as amendments, I thought, took care of their concern. Cory can disparage Rep Brunner's comments about there being no acknowledgement that we have been working to get additional money's to education but Brunner has a point that relates to your question. It is very apparent when you look at hundred emails that they have the same "messaging" and those emails can then be grouped at SDEA fueled opposition. I know from being married to an educator, the SDEA doesn't speak for all teachers. I tried to read carefully the emails from my district, consider their concerns, and judge the bill according to those concerns. Perhaps Cory will tolerate a link here back to my blog where I have a more extensive statement about my vote yesterday:

  31. D.E. Bishop 2012.03.01

    Hickey, are you saying that if you don't like where the emails might be coming from, or if their comments are quite similar, you disregard them? Seriously?

  32. Steve Hickey 2012.03.01

    Did I say that, Bishop? No.

  33. Steve Sanchez 2012.03.01

    I appreciate the reply, Rep. Hickey, and I'm sincere when I say the attempt to explain your vote is appreciated. The arguments, however, aren't convincing.

    Rewarding up to 20% of teachers is not addressing the issue of low teacher pay in SD. Front-end bonuses for new teachers can, in no way, be conducive to building a long-term, efficient and effective cadre when new teachers will, in some instances, earn more than experienced teachers. Then, there are matters of continuing contracts/tenure/underperforming teachers, increasing mandates, etc. It has all been discussed before.

    This is what I see as the bottom line: Until the entire SD teaching corps is appreciated and respected enough by those influencing their pay at the state level (with opt-outs becoming the "norm" at local levels), it's clear that South Dakota's over-achieving educators will remain at the bottom of the pay scale for teachers nationwide. This is unacceptable.

  34. Jeff Nolte 2012.03.01

    Mr. Hickey the words for your blog say "Yesterday I was called spineless and compared to Judas selling his soul for 30 pieces of silver. Spineless? The easy vote would have been no. It takes a backbone to stand up and say we aren't just throwing more money at something if doing so historically has proven to not be the answer."

    My question then is why did more Representatives change to red even with the pressure coming from the governors office and party leaders? To me it sounds as though many of you are afraid to speak out against the governor or any of his ideas.

    The bill could have very easily just set of the advisory council and left things alone until most parties involved were happy. Instead it was loaded with a lot of ideas.

    Another quote from you says the bill was "quite narrow subject matter - teacher compensation as it relates to student achievement." How does continuing contracts relate to teacher compensation? second how does it relate to student achievement? How do scholarships (for future teachers) relate to student achievement? (I got a scholarship so I am a better teacher, and students will have a better classroom experience!)

    Wow, the point teachers are trying to make is real education reform is just as much about the students as it is about the teachers. You can't teach a student who refuses to learn. But that student can make a teacher look bad according to this bill.

  35. Jeff Nolte 2012.03.01

    It takes backbone as a republican to stand up against the governor. Thanks to those republicans who had that type of backbone.

  36. Bill Fleming 2012.03.01

    "...real education reform is just as much about the students as it is about the teachers. You can’t teach a student who refuses to learn."

    Exactly. I'm astonished that point seems never to have been made clear. The person most responsible for excellence in education is the student.

  37. mike 2012.03.01

    I'm going to plug my Senator's horn for a moment.

    Senator Schlekeway (from district 11 in SF) showed serious backbone standing up to the Governor and his folks. By most accounts this guy has a big future in SD politics and the easy thing for him to do would have been to sit quiet and rubber stamp the Gov's orders.

    His proposal made the most sense. I don't understand why this had to be a my way or the highway vote. I think it is an agenda item we are all supportive of. We just don't like certain aspect of the bill. We could easily have taken 10 months and worked together and gotten this same goal accomplished with bipartisan support, a warm and fuzzy feeling and been proud of ourselves.

    Hickey is perhaps one who let me down the most. He's for it, then against it and then for it... I wonder if he got a cornhusker kickback or a threat that certain other bills close to his heart were going to be vetoed?

  38. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.02

    Unplug that horn, Mike, and unmix that metaphor! :-)

    Kidding aside, you're right: Sen. Schlekeway, like Rep. Hunhoff, saw this bill was too flawed to enact. He wasn't just saying no; he wanted us to take time to study the issue, find the real problems, and come up with better solutions before writing them into law.

    The supporters of HB 1234 are now spinning mightily to rationalize their ayes. They ignored their constituents, the evidence, and their own conservatism just to do what the Governor told them. After making a choice like that, it's got to be hard to look in the mirror. This fall, we voters need to be that mirror.

  39. mike 2012.03.02


    Hunhoff impressed me aswell! There was quite a bit of bipartisan behavior to kill HB 1234. It was nice to see so many people coming together.

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