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Legislative Social Calendar: Eight Pages of Fun Saved from IM 22!

Thank goodness Judge Barnett blocked Initiated Measure 22: now we can get back to reviewing all the great free chow our legislators (and sometimes spouses, cabinet officials, constitutional officers, staff, interns, and pages) can get in Pierre during Session. The South Dakota Chamber of Commerce has posted its 2017 Legislative Social Calendar! Whoo-hoo!

Here are the social events on tap for legislators just this week:

  • Tuesday, January 17 (today!):
    • SD Birth Matters Luncheon, Rotunda 11–1
    • SD Licensed Beverage Dealers & Gaming Association hog roast, Red Rossa, 5–9
    • SD Stockgrowers Assoc. mixer, Americinn, 6–9
    • ALEC wine & cheese & Swiss steak dinner, American Legion, 6:30–9:30
    • SD Dept. of Tourism reception, Ramkota, 7–9
  • Wednesday, January 18:
    • SDPB breakfast, President’s and Speaker’s lobbies, 7–10:30
    • SD Dept of Tourism conference, Ramkota, 8–5
    • SDSU/Brookings ice cream social, Rotunda, 11:30–1
    • SD Beer Distributors Assoc. reception, Red Rossa, 5–7:30
    • Southeast SD Tourism social, Ramkota, 5–7
    • SD Missouri River Tourism social, Ramkota, 5:30–6:30
    • SDSU/Brookings reception, Discovery Center, 5:30–7:30
    • SD Dept. of Tourism social, Drifters, 7–10
  • Thursday, January 19:
    • Unified Judicial System breakfast, Red Rossa, 6:15–8
    • SD FFA breakfast, Americinn, 6:30–7:30
    • Deadwood Historic Preservation Society breakfast and lunch, President’s and Speaker’s lobbies, 7–1
    • SD Head Start Assoc., 8–3
    • SD Dept. of Tourism conference, Ramkota, 8–4:30
    • SD Electric Utility Companies luncheon, Capitol Lake Visitor Center, 11:30–1
    • SD Dept. of Tourism gala banquet, Ramkota, 5:30–9:30
    • ABATE social, American Legion, 8–10
  • Friday, January 20:
    • Governor’s Prayer Breakfast (tickets sold by Pierre Chamber), Ramkota, 6:30
    • ABATE Day at Legislature, Capitol, all day

Legislators can come back early Sunday for SD Right to Life’s “Hour of Reflection” in the Rotunda from 1 to 9 p.m. (um, that’s eight hours of reflection, right?). Legislators can then fill up on Monday at receptions hosted by Sanford Health, the SD Auto Dealers, and the SD Trucking Association. But leave room: there are seven more pages of events for the Session after that.

Legislators and the Chamber were telling us that our vote for IM 22 would have doomed all of these events. But remember: IM22 would only have mattered if any of these organizations had tried to feed legislators and their spouses more than $100 worth of cheese and wine and ice cream. Even then, any lobbyist concerned about exceeding the $100-per-legislator gift limit could have simply charged admission at the door and asked legislators to dip into their $142 per diem that we taxpayers provide for just such expenses.


  1. grudznick 2017-01-17 20:55

    That is indeed a lot of free breakfasting, and evening beverages for no money. I can understand a bit more why some of the people want to be in the legislatures and partake of all that goodness. If not excess. It would be interesting to see if there is a study by the Council of Research or maybe one of the other lobby groups about the average weight of the legislatures and if it is far above the already fat norm for South Dakota (not Iowa, they eat more bacon there so it is not a fair apple comparison)

  2. grudznick 2017-01-17 21:00

    That is a very nice list of meals. At least the Governor charges tickets for his. I do not understand how between meals and naps anything gets done in the legislatures. I can really see now why some people want to be there and eat free schmoozing with the powers in the gilded halls. Do you think they have hot breakfasts every day?

  3. Porter Lansing 2017-01-17 21:36

    WOW!!! That’s excessive lobbying giveaways. Do any legislators get “paid for” upgrades on accommodations?

  4. Porter Lansing 2017-01-17 22:49

    Groups give away meals because they want favors. SDDP could act better and run candidates having a no favors pledge.

  5. grudznick 2017-01-17 23:32

    Mr. Lansing, I hear where you are coming from. I would hope that all dozen of the Democrat legislatures would post here their intention to not ever eat any free hot dogs or ice cream cones. How could they not make that pledge? If people post pictures of Mr. Sutton or Mr. Hawley stuffing their maws with free food then I say the Democrats should cry out to have them ousted!

    I submit to you that Mr. Nesiba will be the fellow who eats the least free food of the Democrats. There are probably people out there tracking it. What say you, Ms. Wismer? Will you eat a big free hot dog?

  6. Porter Lansing 2017-01-18 15:27

    BOOZE TAX INCREASE? Judging by the give-aways, probably not. Why not raise the booze, wine, beer and gambling tax if you have a deficit? Because … if you cultivate a mindset that all tax increases are bad, the ones who need to pay higher taxes skate away like a teenage girl.
    ~ anecdote There’s an ag commodity sold in CO that’s not sold in SD. The sales tax is 12%. Come July 01 that tax drops to 10%. Our governor Hick, has proposed that instead the tax should rise to 14%. No one cares and if they do, only 14% of the citizens (and a lot of tourists) buy this commodity and that’s not enough votes to stop the tax increase. Voila … $41 million more for our schools. Moral of the Story – It’s the Republicans who are keeping South Dakota from the tax money that’s rightly and honestly due to help the schools.

  7. Donald Pay 2017-01-18 16:39

    These social events aren’t the problem. Sometimes I think they are the solution. They are openly disclosed. Not only that, but get a lobbyist badge for the Temperance Union and you will still likely be welcome to attend the South Dakota Beer Distributors function. They may snicker a little after you leave, but if that’s the price you have to pay for a free beer, well, it’s worth it.

    When I started lobbying for the Sierra Club, I didn’t attend the events. I thought I’d be shown the door at some of these events. Then I got brave, and went to a few, and found out it’s just the opposite. People welcome you in, no matter what your position is. Sure, some lobbying occurs at these events, but not much, because people go to these events to socialize, not work. Any lobbying is out in the open, not in the majority leaders’ offices, which are off-limits to most folks. Does a free beer change you mind about legislation? No. I’d go to the gaming industry events and I never once voted for gambling when it was on the ballot.

  8. Porter Lansing 2017-01-18 17:32

    It’s a gambit, Bob. It’s not what you vote for. It’s what you don’t vote against or come up with an idea, against. Like I pointed out. You can’t make a dog run faster and win. Dogs are drug tested. But, you can feed him like hell and make him run slow, when the odds say he should win. Bet on the second fastest dog, heavy.

  9. grudznick 2017-01-18 19:00

    I am told there was free food in the legislatures today. Not a single one of the Democrat members had a single bite, I am told. I do not believe that for one minute and bet you we will have pictures of Ms. Wismer eating free food within the week. Does anybody remember that fellow Mr. Kloucek? He would travel vast distances to attend any party that had free food, as would I, and he even handed out cookies in the rotundas himself to the legislatures, presumably to buy their votes.

  10. MD 2017-01-19 10:32

    These meals can be used for good influence as well as negative influence.
    I participated in one of these legislative soup kitchens a couple years ago (in another state) as a representative of a public health association.
    Our free meals got us opportunities to have one-on-one discussions of how we are being stewards of legislative and citizen resources and what steps we were taking to improve the health of the state. Of course, since most of the people we were there with were associated with government entities, our opportunity was limited purely to “educating” and not “lobbying”
    Thus, in the absence of real change, we might considering using these powers for good. Maybe instead of opening up regional SDDP offices as Cory suggested, the SDDP could utilize that money to host “Great Gatsby” style parties every night of the legislative sessions.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2017-01-19 11:19

    I have no problem with MD and other citizens hosting social events to bring together and educate lawmakers about important issues.

    I have no problem with strict ethics rules, like those at the federal level, that require lawmakers and candidates to pay for their own steak and wine.

    I have no problem with advocacy groups renting cheap spaces, setting out a simple box of cookies and some pop, and focusing their limited funds on printing useful lit and bringing in honest experts to talk with us about good public policy.

    I have no problem with making these social events open to the public so every interested person can come learn… and keep an eye on their legislators.

  12. Andrew L'Amour 2017-01-28 00:54

    Corruption at the highest level n this state and no one cares.

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