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LRC Slow on Bill Publication; Hickey Swamping Staff with 12 Proposals!

Last updated on 2015.01.08

Back in 2013, the Legislature concluded that its Legislative Research Council wasn't keeping pace with evolving technology and legislators' demands. They got LRC director Jim Fry to resign, and in the summer of 2014 they hired Jason Hancock to run the show.

Whatever reforms Hancock implemented must have included spending more time reviewing bill drafts. As of close of business yesterday, January 6, the LRC had published just nine bills (bit-chompingly summarized here). Those bills only popped into view Monday afternoon. As Mr. Powers notes, that's notably later than usual. Last year, we had bills to read by December 23. Two years ago, December 19. Three years ago, December 29. Four years ago, December 23.

Maybe the delay indicates that legislators are swamping their LRC with bills. Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) tells this blog that he's working on twelve bills. Twelve bills: if all 105 legislators were that ambitious, we'd have 1,260 bills to plow through! That's more than twice what we usually have; Rep. Rev. Hickey is giving District 9 their money's worth and then some!

Two of Hickey's bills are super-duper secret, but he's willing to share the rest:

  1. death penalty repeal
  2. a mental illness bill related to the Death penalty
  3. two bills I'm calling victim wish bills so people who are murdered who oppose the death penalty have their wishes considered
  4. a bill that allows child sex abuse victims who were litigating their cases in 2010 to not have their cases dismissed because the legislature changed the statute of limitations
  5. two bankruptcy exemption bills
  6. an ATV bill that creates a fund for trails
  7. a bill that brings accountability to the drug control fund and gives 25% back to the counties for indigent defense.
  8. "Long Economic Winter" task force

The death penalty repeal bills are consistent with Rep. Rev. Hickey's conversion on capital punishment in 2013. His bill to repeal the penalty in the 2014 session was defeated in its first committee hearing on a narrow 7–6 vote.

The ATV trail bill could be fun. Expect me and Patrick Lalley to lobby for an amendment to include bicycle access to any new trails.

The "Long Economic Winter" task force is a fiscal prepper idea Rep. Rev. Hickey has been pushing to no avail for a few years. Rep. Rev. Hickey contends that we need to plan for how South Dakota could survive a serious economic depression, a massive cutback in the federal spending that keeps our state afloat (38.9% of the Governor's proposed FY 2016 budget), or worse. Here's how Rep. Rev. Hickey described the proposal to his colleagues last year:

Study the ramifications of a long economic winter on main street South Dakota and state government, and make recommendations for contingency plans. I'd like a LEW (long-economic winter) workgroup to address the following 7 questions.

  1. What would say, a 20% reduction in Federal funds mean to South Dakota?
  2. What would the collapse of the dollar mean to main street South Dakota: What would it mean to our state's large financial sector, which at present is a significant source of revenue and jobs?
  3. What are the possibilities for weaning South Dakota off Federal and other uncertain (or arguably unhealthy) revenue sources?
  4. What if any measures in South Dakota could be adopted so our present statutes don't exacerbate difficulties in buying and selling, or bartering?
  5. What current state statutes might hamstring people simply trying to take care of themselves and their families and or frustrate or prolong our recovery?
  6. What would a significant disruption in the food, fuel or power supplies mean to our population?
  7. Considering the unstable and unsustainable economic environment beyond our borders, just how much should we keep in our reserve funds? [Rep. Steve Hickey, 2014 Summer Studies Ballot, spring 2014]

If the economy gets so bad that we have to barter, details of state law may be the least of our concerns. But maybe California Governor Jerry Brown's plan for power micro-grids would be a good step in toward that disaster planning.

I'm eager to see Rep. Rev. Hickey's full proposals in the Legislative hopper. And really, if we are to be an informed and well-governed democracy, we need to see those bills as soon as possible. Get cracking, LRC!


  1. Nick Nemec 2015.01.07

    Rep. Hickey has shown unusual political courage in his willingness to address difficult issues but his concerns about a "long economic winter" makes me wonder if he spends too much time reading survivalist and conspiracy web sites. The only benefit of this study would be that it would flush kooks from around the nation out of the woodwork and concentrate them in Pierre, making it all the easier for the black helicopters to descend and round them up for placement in FEMA camps.

  2. Nick Nemec 2015.01.07

    Geez, concern makes.

  3. Steve Sibson 2015.01.07

    Nick, that is what the ruling elites want you to believe.

  4. Steve Sibson 2015.01.07

    "1.What would say, a 20% reduction in Federal funds mean to South Dakota?"

    That means the Governors proposed budget would get reduced back to what we spent in 2014.

  5. larry kurtz 2015.01.07

    Infrastructure and rail improvements are happening with federal money under pressure from me.

  6. Jenny 2015.01.07

    Small town South Dakota has been in a "long economic winter" for decades. I always kind of think that 'pubs like Hickey want the economy to collapse hard under Obama so they can blame him. It hasn't so far and things are moving upward for a lot of states like MN with their one billion dollar surplus under a democrat governor. Explain that one, Hickey and Sibby.

  7. Steve Sibson 2015.01.07

    Jenny, the huge stimulus financed by debt is keeping things going. The "long economic winter" will be caused when the debt levels are reduced, and will not happen during the Obama watch. Instead of paying now, we will pay later, one way or another.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2015.01.07

    The doom and gloom economic forecast promoted by Hickey conflicts with the picture the governor has been suggesting. Daugaard says we are #1 in business atmosphere and promotion while at the same time saying we have a sagging economy in our future.
    The bottom line is that Hickey, Daugaard, and the GOP are laying the foundation for the 2016 campaign. South Dakota's economy is terrible and it is Democrat President Obama's fault.
    Naturally they will ignore to real economic recovery President Obama has directed and achieved.

  9. Steve Hickey 2015.01.07

    Both parties over a couple decades have produced the house of cards economy I'm referring to, AND we are guilty too with our irresponsible consumption, borrowing and debt and demand for entitlements, AND we have all be manipulated, robbed and shackled by central bankers. To me this isn't about Obama, politics or 2016. With regard to Daugaard, he continues to plan for economic recovery while remaining cautious because of the economic stability beyond our borders. It has been my fortune to travel a few times a year to other parts of the world where suddenly my debit card doesn't work for a few days. We are fools to think what happens in other parts of the world can't happen here. If banks locked up for a week most in SD would runout of gas and groceries as our debut cards are our only access to cash. It's not just preppers who are talking about 2015 being a year of economic reckoning.

    My long economic winter work group is reasonable and it was rejected this year because studying wine distribution was chosen instead.

    If Avera Hospital Systems can have an economic crisis contingency plan to keep seeing some patients if and when reimbursements stop coming in, and they do, then state govt should perhaps be thinking along those lines too. If I'm a crazy prepper for pushing this, so are the CEOs at Avera.

  10. leslie 2015.01.07

    paul krugman has been saying for some time the stimulus was not big enough.

    both parties my ass(ets)!

  11. Jana 2015.01.07

    Well now the GOP wants to add "Dynamic Scoring" to rationalize crony capitalism...

    Given that we have seen historical proof that trickle down economics don't work I can see two things.

    1. Hickey is right to worry when the GOP congress, blinded by dogma and personal greed, will try to drag us back down into another recession.
    2. Kristi, Mike and John will vote however they are told to vote...evidence be damned.

  12. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.07

    Hickey, are you thinking about an apocalypse?

    Regardless of your answer, I think you are right to urge some advance planning on the state. It doesn't sound Crazy Doomsday Prepper. It sounds like reasonable governing.

    (Jeez Hickey, we could agree on a lot. If you just didn't read the Bible so oddly.)

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.08

    Deb, I wonder to what extent we need to prepare for apocalypse. Can we make an effective Great Depression (or worse) plan, or would a disaster of such scale defy any plans made in the comfort of a pre-cataclysmic Pierre? Would our energy be better spent on prevention at the federal level?

  14. Tim 2015.01.08

    What does it say about our legislature when they have to have a separate commission (LRC) to make sure stupid doesn't get out to the public?

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.08

    Tim, the LRC is a good component of state government. We need some ongoing bureaucracy (I use the term in the good sense) to maintain institutional knowledge and memory and perform independent research for part-time legisaltors.

  16. Tim 2015.01.08

    Not arguing your point Cory, it is good that the legislature won't have to waste their time on stupid, just saying. I guess it won't matter to the voting public one way or the other, as they keep electing stupid.

Comments are closed.