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Governor Saves Child Sexual Abuse Task Force; House Politics Remain Unexplained

Whatever political game the Republican caucus is playing with sexual abuse of children, Governor Dennis Daugaard has said, knock it off. Yesterday Governor Daugaard announced that he would use a federal grant to allow the Jolene’s Law Task Force to continue its work to address child sexual abuse. On Wednesday, Republicans on the House State Affairs Committee killed a bill to fund that task force.

Jolene Loetscher, the Sioux Falls woman for whom the task force is named, cheers the Governor and allies who put good policy over the callous political gaming of the House GOP:

The Executive Branch will partner with the Department of Health to continue Jolene’s Law Task Force for another year. As Gov. Daugaard stated this morning, “This work is too important.” I am so incredibly proud and thankful for those of you that joined us in this fight for the children of this state. To the hundreds and possibly thousands that stood up to the ten Representatives who tried to stop our work, you showed the caring and compassion they could not.

My appreciation to all those who worked behind the scenes, including Sen. Soholt and to Gov. Daugaard. For those that live with the pain of child sexual abuse, may today bring the light of hope to brighten the darkness of hurt. Survivors do not stand alone. We stand together [Jolene Loetscher, press release, 2015.03.06].

House Majority Leader Brian Gosch (R-32/Rapid City) has said he and other committee members weren’t really killing the task force Wednesday; they were just putting process over practical results:

The Senate passed bill number 71. However, Wednesday a House subcommittee deferred it to the 41st day. Representative Brian Gosch who voted to defer it says he doesn’t think the bill should be forming a task force and should be going a different route.

He said in a statement to ABC9 News, “The decision on summer studies and task forces that are paid for by the legislature, through the legislature’s budget, are made through the legislature and the executive board, not individual bills.  The idea might still have a chance and be part of a summer study if the legislature and executive board believe it to be a priority amongst other issues” [Allison Warren, “Woman’s Work at State Capitol on Hold, for Now,” KCAU-TV, 2015.03.04].

KSOO’s Rick Knobe doesn’t hear Gosch’s explanation as a rational reason for killing the sexual abuse task force bill. Knobe agrees with my assessment that the process argument advanced by Gosch and by Rep. Roger Solum (R-5/Watertown) in committee doesn’t square with Gosch’s and Solum’s and everyone else’s vote the same day to fund a new task force on elder abuse. Knobe says the Republicans who voted against Jolene’s Law should be ashamed, and voters should remember their names.

There is a crackerbarrel in Rapid City this morning at 9 a.m. at School of Mines. Perhaps Rep. Gosch and Rep. Mike Verchio (R-30/Hill City, another no vote on the sexual abuse bill and yes vote on the elder abuse bill) will be on hand to clarify this week’s strange doings in Pierre.

p.s.: South Dakota’s “guide to the inside baseball of South Dakota’s political scene” is loading too slowly to explain the baseball behind House State Affairs’ killing of SB 71… or an explanation of why we’re playing baseball at all with an issue this serious.


  1. Steve Hickey 2015-03-07 06:18

    Remember my bill to create an economic contingency task force? State affairs killed it saying this was not the way to establish a work group. I was told to go through the normal channel. Two more bills then came requesting work groups. Those bill sponsors were also told before the committee meeting their bills wouldn’t survive and they should go through the normal channel. I would have been upset had they passed one of those bills having told me to go the normal route. Then comes the Jolene work group bill. The Prime Sponsor was told before the hearing this was how state affairs was handing these bills. It had nothing to do with the content of the bill.

    Then second floor stepped in and figured out a way to fund three of these task forces, all except mine. The House gets made out in the press to be hard hearted toward child abuse. That’s bull. All these news agencies should issue a retraction and the Govr should issue a statement of clarification. The real story here is the second floor picking winners and funding them.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-07 06:24

    I do remember, Rep. Hickey. So why is the elder abuse task force proceeding without the same opposition?

  3. Steve Hickey 2015-03-07 06:35

    The reason we were able to proceed with the elder task force study is because after State Affairs told Sen D Novstrup “no” on the elder abuse study, the judicial branch figured out how to fund it. All four task force bills met a consistent fate in State Affairs and all of us, Sen Soholt, Sen Novstrup and myself were told our bills were not the way we establish these vital task forces.

    The House committee was consistent. Many of the members were co-signers of my bill, even enough to pass it. I guess in that pre-meeting I whined about they were looking ahead and saying we can’t do these task forces this way. And so good for them. These sponsors were all told ahead of time. I was a bit taken back that Sen Solholt acted in the media like it was personal to the topic of her task force bill and the Govrs office as well. Not cool.

  4. mike from iowa 2015-03-07 06:37

    Same old same old. Is Daugaard part of the problem or part of the solution? Would love to encourage more wingnuts to see the light and repent,but as Obama found out you offer a ravening pack of sniveling cowards your hand,they’ll demand the whole arm and not even say thank you.

  5. larry kurtz 2015-03-07 06:57

    Rep. Hickey, Deb Geelsdottir, i’m so sorry that Sibby is defaming both of you. He is truly unhinged.

  6. mhs 2015-03-07 07:07

    Steve, it seems like what happened is the leadership finally got around to trying, yet again, to come up with a process for studies. This time they waited until nearly the end of session, had no agreement on anything and just decided to each to their own way. It’s not like studies don’t get talked about all year long, every year, right.

    They completely failed communicating to the sponsors, the supporters, the press, the voters the 2nd floor and about every other interested party. The result is yet again the Legislature looks like a bunch of buffoons. The Governor’s office, rightly and smartly: since this is politics, saw an opportunity to step in and save the day and take the credit. The result is 800,000 South Dakotans see him as a hero and no one outside the caucus cares as to why it happened.

    The lack of leadership is breathtaking. Never would this happen in the days of Barnett, Lammers, Harding, etc. that were the leadership all the years I worked in Pierre.

  7. Steve Hickey 2015-03-07 07:34

    With all the angst in the House over various parts of the road funding bill I’d think it unwise for the second floor to throw the House under the bus in this fashion. We support the Governor for the most part on his big bills even when we have issues with aspects of them. That courtesy needs to go both ways. I’ve never felt it toward things I’m putting forth. If it was me whose picture was plastered on the front page of the Watertown paper with a headline about not caring about child abuse I might not be in the mood to go along with the governor as mentioned above.

  8. Bill Fleming 2015-03-07 07:57

    Kurtz, Sibby’s not relevant here, is he?

    Confucious say, ‘Man who fart in church must sit in own pew.’ :-)

    Why sucker yourself into playing proxy to his concern troll? If we want to see what he’s thinking, we all know what his address is.

  9. larry kurtz 2015-03-07 07:59

    Bill, i really believed i could soothe his delusions but no.

  10. mike from iowa 2015-03-07 08:13

    Hopefully my final word on this OT subject-Sibby is a nut!

  11. Heckifino 2015-03-07 08:18

    Hicky, you said “if It was me whose picture was plastered on the front of the Watertown paper with a headline about not caring about child abuse I might not be in the mood to go along with the governor.”

    Pastor hickey your argument is vengeful. Based upon your comments alone you believe it is okay to make a vote based upon how you were treated. This believe is what gives politicians a bad rep. If politicians simply voted for what was right they would receive much more support and we would have a better national and state government.

    Debate is great in politics and is a necessary part of the process but it crosses the line when one or more people from a certain party make an example out of one of their own for their own special interests is when the process breaks down.

    Specifically, Jolene’s law task force had received strong support by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. The Senate congratulated them on their workand felt that their work was not nearly due to the complex nature of it.
    The house state affairs clearly did not feel the same. According to Representative Solem he felt that a summer study should be of legislators due to process? Solum thought there may be other issues that need to be studied. These thought came after group after group testified as a proponent for Jolene’s Law Task Force and not one person or group testifying in opposition. Also based upon your words Hicky your saying the two Democrats that voted to continue the work don’t know what they are doing. It appears clear the house affairs republicans were sending a message to the republican senators who are on Jolene’s Law Task Force. Maybe for a vote the establishment didn’t like?

    I believe that if we live our lives doing the right thing and protecting and helping others that cannot protect themselves that we are doing good. That is the definition of the members of Jolene’s law task force.

    In conclusion all the house affairs committee members should be plastered in their local papers. They are accountable for the votes they make. Either good or bad. It’s what they signed up for. But vengeance is not the right way to govern our state.

    By the way Cory thank you for covering this important story.

  12. Steve Hickey 2015-03-07 09:42

    I needed a second floor hero to save the day earlier in Session as I was seeking to get some justice to Indian boarding school victims of child sexual abuse. The stories are horrible- young boys and girls made to perform oral sex on their priest while he smacks them in the back with his rosary beads. This and far more launching these precious young ones into a life of suppression, anger, substance abuse, failed relationships and crime. Smarmy legal moves in past sessions and the cases are tossed out of the Courts. It should be never too late to hold perps and institutions that enable them accountable. But it is in SD, I’m told, because the Supreme Court already ruled on these cases.

    Also, lingering out there in our state are serious allegations about the State taking native children through our foster care system. I have not formed an opinion on that yet but if we are serious about child advocacy we will address these accusations to the satisfaction of all.

    Next, why are our public schools sheltered from civil action in cases of childhood sexual abuse but churches exposed to liability up to the point the victim hits age 40? Maybe I’ll bring that bill next year so we can make a loud statement in SD that we have a zero tolerance policy toward child abuse. Hope much support to you suppose I’ll get?


  13. Steve Hickey 2015-03-07 09:54

    And I would be remiss to not mention a crazy high stat I was given the other – hope it’s not true – that 90% of girls on the Rez are sexually abused by age 18. I guess they have their perps too. Even if it is far less than that, these are at risk children who we should care about.

  14. larry kurtz 2015-03-07 10:05

    Rep. Hickey, the state has no place on the rez: only the families, the tribes and the feds can change what happens in tribal nations.

  15. Les 2015-03-07 10:24

    We all have a place on the Rez, Larry.

    Children’s Home Society can give you answers on the reasons (profitability) we’ve gotten into the seizure of Indian children, Revvy.

    Daugaard will sign 177. It’s his bill proven by his veto proof signers all on board.

  16. mike from iowa 2015-03-07 12:17

    Rev-what’s the political makeup of the Soopreme Court of South Dakota. If they are all pretty much from your party,it does not come as a surprise when they rule in favor of abusers and not the abused.

    Soopreme Court of Wisconsin actively campaign for the court and accept mucho dinero from the koch bros. They never seem to find a conflict in taking koch bros monies and voting in favor of koch bros litigation.

  17. Jana 2015-03-07 15:00

    So let me try and piece things together.

    The Lt. Gov, Matt Michaels believes in collective brilliance.

    When Republicans want to avoid holding someone personally responsible that could hurt them they call the Governor by his nickname, 2nd Floor.

    The Governor, Daugaard, doesn’t think collective brilliance extends to those outside his circle. (This includes the voters of South Dakota and people who actually are experts serving on task forces)

    Daugaard decides to pull a black veil of darkness over committee hearings and just tells them what to do.

    Daugaard wants limited citizen’s involvement on task forces.

    Daugaard knows there is some possible personal exposure in getting all of the facts around the abuse of native children and the effort to hide that abuse.

    Daugaard’s directive on task forces hits a nerve with Jolene’s Law and offending his base of senior voters and green lights them to avoid looking like a puppet master control freak.

    Daugaard can’t admit the truth of his behind the scenes directive and hangs the committees out to take the blame.

    Daugaard, snatches the opportunity to look like he actually cares with the will of the people and doesn’t have the courage to admit it was direct consequence of his will and instead takes the credit for salvaging Jolene’s law.

    Lots of moving parts here…how do we make sense of all of this? More importantly, will anyone have the courage to take personal responsibility for this cluster(bad word) of dishonest legislative process? (As a follow up, will the media or any legislator apply enough pressure to get an honest answer?)

  18. Roger Elgersma 2015-03-07 15:00

    “the bill should not be forming a task force”, no it would not have formed a task force, it would have continued funding a task force that was already there.
    Professionals will come up with every devious word game in the book to not appear wrong when they are wrong.
    Child sexual abuse is so destructive to a persons character that it is real hard to detect at times and those who are expert at abusing know that. If a person is not given very good values as a child, then they have a tendency to not get good values till they are in their forties and to make it illegal to report it after you are forty is just wrong. I learned in Human Resource Management class that if you want to hire someone to manage an office in another state that you should hire someone who is past forty since they are the ones that have realized that the world is not going to give them values so they need to follow their own values and not expect others to figure out what is right for them and then just follow orders. So if a child is raised wrong, then they will have a tendency to not follow good values on their own. A perfect example of this was Linda Tripp who reported about Clinton and Lewinsky. She was a single mom and at age forty she said, “I came to a point in my life when I decided that I should stand up for what is right.” She had been a loyal and obedient employee in the White House for twenty years and followed orders good enough to be kept through administrations of both parties. But she did not have the values to stand up for what was right till after forty. When those Native men did not report abuse by the priests till after forty, and then the legislature passed a law that they could not file after forty while the case was In the courts, and now they are told that they can not get justice since it is now through the courts when the courts got the rules changed during the process, then anyone can get by with anything if they quick change the rules after someone takes them to court. When you guarantee some one no justice in that way, you have told them that if they want justice that the law is not the way to get it. This devious method will result in anarchy and gangs doing the justice rather than the courts doing the justice.
    Some people are such control freaks that when they are wrong they simply try to cover it up and cause themselves very big problems in the long run when they were just trying to put out a fire they started themselves. That type of irresponsibility is not they type of people that should hold positions of responsibility.

  19. Roger Elgersma 2015-03-07 15:03

    If research projects were agreed upon by the whole legislature and governors signature rather than just a small group, then the voters would know who they were voting for and it would be much less likely to get to much bias in the decision making process of deciding what to research. It would be a more well represented decision and also would be more input on what is researched and what is not.

  20. Jana 2015-03-07 16:32

    Reality check.

    Governor Daugaard is sitting on millions of dollars of campaign donations that could be viewed as ‘bribe’ money for those that follow his lead.

    Could get expensive for those that choose to not let him dictate how the legislature handles bills from introduction to an actual vote.

  21. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-03-07 19:08

    Jana, those campaign donations are bribes.

    Larry, I never read Sibson, anytime or anywhere. I’m not at all interested in anything he has to say. He has serious mental health issues. Whatever goes through his mind has never been about me.

    Hickey, you are mistreated by Republicans. I sincerely wish you the best in reforming them, bringing clarity and transparency.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-07 19:54

    Hang on, Rep. Hickey.

    1. You say you gave the sponsors fair warning that their bill was doomed. Why did the sponsors plow ahead, lining up all that testimony for Wednesday, and not warning Loetscher and their people? Why was everyone apparently blindsided?

    2. Why did the committee not give the bill a softer landing, explain the situation, maybe even emphasize on the record, with the sponsors and proponents in the committee room, that yes, we like the work this committee has done, yes, we want to continue addressing child sexual abuse, and if you’ll just give us a month, go through the process, we’ll put this task force on top of the list?

    3. Solum et al talk about the process. Why is the process of the post-session survey and the E-Board decision better than the legislative process, complete with two public hearings where citizens and experts can testify to the merits of the proposed task force and the return the state will get from the investment of time and money?

    4. The funding for the elder abuse bill doesn’t cinch the argument. The Legislature already deemed the sexual abuse task force worth funding last year. They’ve already seen it produce useful legislation. It’s a sure thing. Gosch, Solum, et al. are saying we should treat a proven work group dealing with a proven problem the same as a wholly new idea. That seems incorrect.

  23. mhs 2015-03-07 20:26

    I agree with Corey’s points. (and Ouch, that hurts a bit)

    This was just horribly handled by the GOP legislative leadership. The press had a field day, the public is angry and the GOP legislature looks terrible. Nobody outside the Capitol cares about the inside baseball. They only care that halfway through a project to help abused kids, we backed away with no warning and no explanation.

  24. Tim 2015-03-07 20:32

    mhs, there is an explanation, good luck getting it out of Gosch and his crew. Brian Gosch is one of the most self-serving people I have ever met, he has a reason, bet on it.

  25. Les 2015-03-07 21:06

    Narcissistic is the word, Tim.

    What GOP leadership mhs? Janklow is dead.

    The Democratic party will see results in 16. Turning children’s lives into political games is as bad as it gets. Ya just can’t fix stupid.

  26. Jana 2015-03-07 22:19

    Spot on Les.

    Since Troy has been conspicuous by his absence. I will attempt to provide proof of what Les has observed.

    Psychology Today provides this description of Narcissism:

    “Narcissistic Personality Disorder involves arrogant behavior, a lack of empathy for other people, and a need for admiration-all of which must be consistently evident at work and in relationships. People who are narcissistic are frequently described as cocky, self-centered, manipulative, and demanding. Narcissists may concentrate on unlikely personal outcomes (e.g., fame) and may be convinced that they deserve special treatment…Narcissism involves cockiness, manipulativeness, selfishness, power motives, and vanity-a love of mirrors. Related personality traits include: Psychopathy, Machiavellianism.”

    Arrogant. Check
    Lack of empathy. Check
    Deserve special treatment. Check
    Manipulative. Check
    Power motives. Check
    Machiavellianism. Check

    Lastly, Love of mirrors. I would suggest that the South Dakota GOP in Pierre take a good look in that mirror and see themselves for who they are.

  27. mike from iowa 2015-03-08 07:11

    Wingnuts(in general) have the natural sweetness(compassion,empathy) of a tangle of bobwire. They boldly go where no cluster f%@! has gone.

  28. larry kurtz 2015-03-08 08:52

    Child abuse is a christian trait handed down from colonial times. Expanding Medicaid could reverse the trend in South Dakota by freeing parents from the desperation wrought by religionist GOP control over their lives.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-03-08 08:55

    I regret your discomfort, MHS, but I welcome your agreement. You and Les are right: no case Gosch, Solum, and the GOP make for their action Wednesday comes out sounding good on the campaign trail. The summer study process with which they are trying to shield their petty political gaming isn’t engraved in the constitution or even in statute, is it? We have created all sorts of task forces by statute, including the storied 2005 abortion task force (authorized and funded by the Legislature March 2, 2005, in House Bill 1233). Task forces can produce varied results, but the method of their creation seems to have little bearing on the general welfare.

    Republicans have no problem attacking Democrats like Kathy Tyler over one comment made in committee. We Democrats should feel no compunction about attacking these ten Republicans (Bolin, Gosch, D. Haggar, Langer, Munsterman, Solum, Stevens, Verchio, Wink, Westra) on the basis of this one vote to stop fighting child sexual abuse.

  30. tara volesky 2015-03-08 23:07

    This task for should invite Shirley Schwab, Brandon Taliaferro, Mark Black, Doug and Candi Boes to talk about their experiences. These people have experienced it first hand. There would be dozens of others coming forward. But, this could be a good start.

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