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Rep. Jensen Would Ax Mileage for County Officials, Maps, Jail Oversight

Freshman Rep. Alex Jensen (R-12/Sioux Falls) seems to think it would be a good idea to repeal some laws dealing with county officials. House Bill 1081, Rep. Jensen's first bill in the hopper, would make three changes to state law:

  1. Repeal the mileage reimbursement that state law currently requires counties to pay to all county officials except for sheriffs.
  2. Take away the power of county commissioners to procure a copy of the field notes of the original field survey of the county and order a big map be drawn therefrom.
  3. Erase the duty of the county commission to visit the county jail once a year during a regular meeting.

I invite discussion of possible reasons to make these changes. Over breakfast, I can think of no good ones.

  1. We should pay county officials for the travel expenses they incur doing our public business. SDCL 7-7-24 makes sure we don't short our public servants.
  2. I like those big county maps! They help me pass the time when I'm waiting for Deb to get off the phone. SDCL 7-8-22 does mandate anything; it just says that if the commission wants a map, it can get one.
  3. I don't think anyone county jailers are running the Gulag Rura Penthe, but it doesn't hurt to have one little bit of oversight. We put people in cages; we should have an obligation to look at those cages, at least once a year, to make sure we're o.k. with the condition of those cages and the offenders therein.

Repealing mileage reimbursement, map rules, and jail oversight didn't figure among candidate Jensen's priorities during the 2014 campaign. Jensen said he'd work on health care, education, and business-friendliness; HB 1081, his only bill so far, appears to do nothing about those issues. But I guess the party leadership has to keep its trainees busy with something.


  1. happy camper 2015.01.27

    Good questions Cory. A jail is not a place the public gets to scrutinize so is once a year enough? They may be inspected by the state in some way, but by their nature they are local. Add another visit and make it two would be better than none. They are such odd recommendations someone must have suggested them, but why?

  2. Amanda 2015.01.27

    So if we eliminate mileage reimbursement for county officials, why not for state or municipal officials? Seems pretty silly and petty to me.

  3. jerry 2015.01.27

    Next it will mandate that only cold gruel and porridge made with raw milk be served to prisoners, and only once a day.

  4. PlanningStudent 2015.01.27

    If there was a good reason for these measure the Association of County Officials and / or the Association of County Commissioners would be sponsoring them. Any maybe they asked Rep. Jensen to introduce them, but I feel like they probably did not... Sioux Falls and Minnehaha have bad blood between each other right now, is this connected to that?

  5. 96Tears 2015.01.27

    Eliminate pay for all elected officials in South Dakota as well as benefits and expense reimbursements. There! Done! All problems solved!

  6. Roger Elgersma 2015.01.27

    Jensen probably realized that he should not get paid mileage for driving to Pierre. If he cuts others first he might feel that he was not selfish or to hard on himself. But if he does not cut himself, I will doubt if he is logically consistent.

  7. Moses 2015.01.27

    Is this a pat powers relation.

  8. MC 2015.01.27

    The Minnehaha County Jail is under contract to provide services to a couple of surrounding counties, All of those counties need to visist the Minnehaha jail?

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.27

    You know, MC, I'd say they should. If we the people are imprisoning fellow beings, we should see the conditions ourselves (or at least our elected representatives should; jailer doesn't need all 12,000 people in Lake County tromping through the cell block).

  10. MC 2015.01.27

    One county commission going through one jail isn't bad. When you have several commissions going through one jail on different days or times, it can become a issue.

  11. grudznick 2015.01.27

    Mr. Jensen may end up being one who is insaner than most. I don't think he is yet. But he is close. Rest assured, the Conservatives with Common Sense are tracking the activities of young Mr. Jensen and he is under scrutiny. I do not doubt he will get himself squared away soon.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.28

    MC, is that any worse than having multiple counties sending their convicts to that single jail? (The answer could depend on the quality and character of your county commission....)

    Having multiple county commissions visit a single county jail seems a trivial problem of scheduling and courtesy. Then again, for real oversight, might we not want unannounced visits from county officials?

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.28

    PlanningStudent makes a good point—do we have any county support for these measures? What improvement do these measures make in county government?

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