Speaker of the House G. Mark Mickelson (R-13/Sioux Falls) is a funny guy. The Legislature’s 2017 Interim Study Survey included a comment section where Speaker Mickelson submitted this important guidance for his colleagues’ consideration:
Speaker Mickelson certainly has an eye for the super-cool topics for interim study. Today the Legislature’s Executive Board picked two of the topics the Speaker ranked highest for study before the 2018 Session: the non-meandered waters issue and workforce housing.
The non-meandered waters issue will take some serious thinking… or maybe just a new survey and a big round of eminent domain (because ultimately, that’s what the fishing advocates are after, the state finishing the taking that the rain gods started). But workforce housing? Come on, G. Mark—that’s just another issue where Republicans and business owners are going to ignore the obvious solution: raise wages, and workers can afford to fix up or buy houses. (There, done, saved you three meetings.)
76 of our 105 legislators* responded to the interim study survey by April 12. Summing their rankings produces this list of preferred topics:
Legislators came nowhere near taking my dare to put refugees on the interim agenda: the three refugee-related topics finished 14th, 19th, and dead-last 22nd. Adding those three topics’ rank points still wouldn’t have beat non-meandered waters or workforce housing (or #3, issues facing the new Government Accountability Task Force). The least popular of those three refugee study proposals, Study “K”, came from Democratic Senator Reynold Nesiba, whose District 15 includes a lot of refugees have settled in Sioux Falls. His proposal was phrased favorably toward refugees, immigrants, and religious minorities, seeking study of these questions:
- How do we ameliorate differences and better facilitate cross-cultural understanding to more quickly and effectively integrate new South Dakotans into our workplaces?
- What is already working at firms with diverse workforces?
- What obstacles exist to further integration? How do we overcome these?
What? Senator Nesiba wanted to get rid of obstacles to making new people part of South Dakota? No wonder it came in last: the only other legislator to express interest in Senator Nesiba’s positive refugee proposal was fellow freshman Rep. Bob Glanzer, Republican from Huron, where a number of Karen refugees have settled to work at the turkey plant.
*p.s.: Legislators not responding by April 12 and not listed on survey tally:
- Reps. Anderson, Bartling, Bordeaux, Brunner, Conzet, DiSanto (no guns on topic list, so boring!), Frye-Mueller, Goodwin, Hunhoff, Johns, Kaiser, Latterell, Marty, McCleery, McPherson, Kent Peterson (hey! Mr. Assistant Majority Leader! How about leading?), Qualm (hey! Mr. Majority Leader! Ditto!), Ring, Rozum, Smith, Wiese, and York;
- Senators Cammack, Cronin, Killer, Monroe (certifiably allergic to study), Russell, Tidemann, and White.