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Rep. Nelson: Open GOP Caucus Meetings, End EB-5

Last updated on 2014.02.02

Rep. Stace Nelson (R-19/Fulton) makes my day with two new bills aimed at the arrogant secrecy of his own party.

Notoriously averse to omnibus bills, Rep. Nelson keeps his bills short. House Bill 1172 is a neat little dig at the leaders of his own party:

Any gathering of a simple majority of either the South Dakota House of Representatives or the South Dakota Senate, meeting to discuss introduced legislation, shall be open to the public.

Translation: no more closed door meetings for the Republican caucus, or for that matter, the Democratic caucus, should they ever retake a majority in either chamber (hey, quit laughing!).

House Bill 1176 takes the simplest approach to fixing the shady EB-5 visa investor program: ban it!

No official or agency of the State of South Dakota nor any political subdivision of the state may participate in, or enter into any contract or agreement associated with, the federal EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Both of Nelson's bills seem perfectly sensible. HB 1172 would bring the Legislature in line with other elected boards in the state, quora of which cannot meet behind closed doors to discuss policy matters. HB 1176 offers the legislative branch its first opportunity to publicly debate the merits of a controversial economic development program with a questionable record in South Dakota.

Rep. Nelson also backs up his claims to put principle above party with the coalitions of sponsors he has sought for his bills. Both bills bear the names of hard-right Republicans like Rep. Dan Kaiser, Rep. Elizabeth May, and Senator Tim Begalka next to good Democrats like Rep. Patrick Kirschman, Rep. Kathy Tyler (the Dems' point gal on EB-5), and Senator Larry Lucas.

The House has assigned both bills to House State Affairs, where Speaker Brian Gosch, GOP Majority Leader David Lust, and Assistant Majority Leader Justin Cronin will all likely gang up on Rep. Nelson and push to kill his bills. I will enjoy watching to see if Democratic committee members Bernie Hunhoff, Scott Parsley, and Kevin Killer will ride to Nelson's rescue and rally the consciences of just enough Republicans to be open with the people who elect them and end South Dakota's reliance on the corruption-prone exploitation of the EB-5 visa investment program.

Rep. Nelson's bills may face long odds of passing. But they demonstrate that, of the Republicans running for U.S. Senate, Stace Nelson is the most likely to stand up to the corruption in his own party.


  1. John 2014.01.30

    So much for dems leading to clean up Eb5 mess.

  2. guido 2014.01.30

    Well at least there is one republican in Pierre with some morals. Now turn him loose to find out the shady dealings with the Northern Beef Packer fiasco in Aberdeen.

  3. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.30

    I congratulate Senator Nelson for his bill on EB-5. I just wish that someone would have the temerity to introduce a bill to get State as well as City governments out of economic development. It is not their job. Let the Chamber of commerce do it.

    This EB-5 program was meant to be a means of creating jobs for Americans, and yet here in SD, it has brought an influx of illegal aliens and even in the case of the building of NBP, foreign nationals for the construction work.

  4. Mark Schuler 2014.01.30

    I agree with Lanny V. Stricherz. I would like to add my opinion about the EB-5 program. I think Washington, D. C. is leaning hard on South Dakota to promote this program to fit their agenda. I think they want these illegal aliens here to work and give them rights to vote to promote their (Washington) agenda. I believe this is a bigger can of worms to open. We South Dakotan's want this program investigated and any wrong doers brought to justice and I'd guess the trail will take us to Washington,D. C.. It seems to me D. C. is promoting this all over the USA. I just don't understand the thinking behind this belief.. I don't see the value in this, as to how this will "help" South Dakota or its people. It looks like the opposite to me.

  5. Les 2014.01.30

    Bob Mercer@"The Daugaard administration pulled the plug, voluntarily, on state government’s participation in EB 5 last autumn, before anyone in the Legislature or the general public knew about the scandal that would begin to unfold upon the Oct. 20 death of Richard Benda."
    This statement minimizes his readers intelligence. The fact a Federal Grand jury was in existence for 6 months prior, reeks of Press Secretary Mercer pulling royal wool.
    Transparency can be redemption.

  6. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.30


    The page you were looking for was not found.

  7. Roger Cornelius 2014.01.30

    It seems that Mr. Nelson may have the right intention, but lacks what is needed. I fully agree with the transparency of GOED activities and other related programs on economic development.

    Is the solution to end EB-5 program because Republicans can't keep their hands out of the till or should we continue the program with significant "financial" oversight and transparency?

    We probably should end the program, Republicans are very capable of finding ways imaginable ways to skim money with the protection of the state's Attorney General and Governor.

  8. Les 2014.01.30

    The link works for me if that is what you mean Lanny?

  9. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.30

    I clicked on it after I sent my message and got the same thing. I just clicked on it again and the same message appeared. I then clicked on "Your State" and it brought up all the states and we rank 49th in corruption (that would be 2nd in most corrupt). We got an F on the Home page of that site. Thanks Les. I found no article by Denise Ross.

  10. Les 2014.01.30

    Directly under the report card is a link saying, "The story behind the score" that would be Denise's story. Don't know how else to get that link here Lanny.

  11. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.01.30

    Well Les, I am an airhead. I tried to get to the link off the email notification of your post on Madville. I finally went there off Madville itself, and found the article. It is definitely an important read. The following two numbered quotations are from the article.

    1. "Still, Dusty Johnson, chief of staff to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, says he believes state government operates in an ethical fashion and has sufficient oversight."

    I wonder if Dusty was thinking about his standing for election to the PUC in 2010 and then resigning the night of the election or the next day to accept the Governor's appointment to be Chief of Staff, so that the Governor could ensure that he could appoint another Republican to the PUC post, so that Chris Nelson then could run in 2012 as the candidate with experience. Doesn't sound ethical to me Dusty or Governor Daugaard.

    2. Gov. Daugaard recently announced his "Better Government" initiative, a major component of which is a plan to make state government as open as possible. The governor said it will be "a cultural change for some.”

    "It is part of my more general philosophy that, to the extent we are able, state government should provide as much information as it can, as quickly as it can to anyone who asks, whether they are members of the press or members of the public," Daugaard wrote in a Sept. 16 op-ed. "I believe strongly that, unless there is a clear, compelling, and legal reason, government information should be open and easily accessible."

    I wonder if during the campaign of 2010 that included not saying anything about cutting education funding and I cannot find the quote, but I am almost sure that he said that he would not, before he tried to cut it 10%.

    Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)
    Dennis Daugaard refused to tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2010 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.
    Since Governor Rounds refused to take the Political Courage Test prior to the 2010 governor's race, you can see his responses to prior tests at the following website. Some pretty interesting positions for a governor to take, if he is actually for all the people and not just the extreme right.

    Doesn't sound very open to me Governor Daugaard.

  12. Sam Kooiker 2014.02.01

    I think HB1172 to implement simply quorum rules for the Legislature makes perfect sense. Some legislators will probably oppose it because Stace Nelson is a sponsor and other legislators will oppose it because they see it as "grandstanding by Democrats" in an election year. I hope people will look past the perceived personal motives, and instead look at this bill for what it is: a simple, logical and long overdue rule to require the legislature to abide by the same rules that all local governments do.

    How fair is it for the Legislature to be able to have a quorum talking about serious policy issues, when local governments do not have the same ability? If the Legislature is serious about consistent open government, they would support his bill wholeheartedly regarding of personal dislike of who the sponsors might be.

  13. Les 2014.02.01

    If nothing more, this bill should headline some of the folks suppressing transparency or open government. We saw the great citizens of RC stand up and demand change, it can happen statewide.
    Change is coming.

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