Legislature to Use Session Time to Make Speeches to Itself

Amidst the flood of new proposals pooped out by the Legislature’s Executive Board yesterday is a plan to have lawmakers give a “State of the Legislature” speech early in the Session, after the State of the State, State of the Judiciary, and State of the Tribes speeches:

[Speaker G. Mark] Mickelson said they could be chosen by caucus leaders and presiding officers from each chamber and could follow a pre-approved agenda of talking points.

…Mickelson said the legislators’ address would be Tuesday, Jan. 16.

“It does show vision,” said Sen. Brock Greenfield, R-Clark. He is Senate president pro tem and vice chairman of the Executive Board this year. He becomes chairman in 2018.  “I think that will make us stronger” [Bob Mercer, “Legislature Plans Changes Seeking Increase Power,” Watertown Public Opinion, 2017.11.13].

Yes, because nothing shows vision like talking points delivered by a committee.

Hey, G. Mark! Brock! If you want to make the Legislature stronger, how about instead of appointing a committee to make a speech to yourselves, you spend that hour actually debating and passing legislation? Or—radical suggestion—how about you use that hour for the sexual harassment training that other legislatures are deeming worth their time?

Yesterday’s E-Board meeting also included more anti-ballot measure rhetoric, anti-labor bushwah, and the big legislative pay raise amendment. Stay tuned—barring impeachment, I’ll tackle all of those issues later in today’s blog cycle!


8 Responses to Legislature to Use Session Time to Make Speeches to Itself

  1. Donald Pay

    Why don’t they give time to the big-time lobbyists to provide the Legislature their marching orders? Now that the special interests have complete control over the Legislature, why should they have to hide in the corners of the Legislature? They run the show. They ought to be provided their rightful time and place to give the public and the lackey legislators their orders.

  2. I want a State of the Blogosphere Address… or maybe a broader State of the Punditocracy… or hey! How about a State of the Voters Address, where we voters get to come in and remind the legislators at the beginning of Session for whom they work?

  3. More talk. Not about specific bills, but just for the sake of talk. Blah, blah, blah. Here’s the talking points, now I’m going to read them to you during session instead of during the Republican press conference or the Democratic press conference.

    Do South Dakotans really want our legislature to be more like congress? Personally, I’d like congress to be more like our legislature.

  4. Donald Pay

    Look, the legislature can have as much power as they want right now, but they have to stop being parties to the corruption machine. They have to stand for something other than kneeling before special interests and the exeuctive branch with their goddam hands out. Making speeches doesn’t get the Legislature any more power. It just makes them look corrupt and impotent.

    When the Legislature works to hinder and overrule the people’s legislative process they just hand power right to the executive branch. I don’t know why they can’t understand that. As long as they go down the path of stripping the right of the people to initiate and refer laws, they are simply playing into the hands of a corrupt executive branch, or they are a part of that corruption themselves. They really need to stop thinking of themselves all the time, and start thinking about the people.

    Here’s one idea: Have real people, not special interests, present you with their ideas for legislation. Legislators go to all sorts of private meetings with lobbying groups and special interests, where they get hit with requests to support this or that statute change. Why not ditch those meetings and actually listen to real folks, and see if you can make their suggestions or concerns into a bill?

    Here’s another idea: Ask high school students statewide to come up with some suggestions for legislation. Put them up on the LRC website and have all high schools students vote them. The top four or five get drafted into bill form, and introduced by the Speaker. Then have a day where the high school students come to committees and testify on their bills. If they pass at committee, it’s up to them to follow through as would any group with a bill. It would be educational for them, and for legislators. I bet if Alice Kundert were around, she would love this idea.

  5. Donald makes a good point. If the Legislature feels it isn’t as powerful as it should be, it can assert that power far better by acting as a real check on gubernatorial power rather than rolling over for the lobbyists from the second floor on most issues. Making a speech (or several mini-speeches) won’t re-assert or exert their power any more than any of their current floor speeches.

    Interesting point about private lobbyist meetings. How many public events do legislators hold during Session? Crackerbarrels back home are great, but about some crackerbarrels in Pierre? How about one night a week is open house night instead of lobbyist reception night?

    An Alice Kundert package of bills from HS students? I’ll bet they’d have more chance of passing than our DFP bills! :-)

  6. I like the open house night instead of lobbyist reception night. They should do that on Thursdays, which is when most of the parties are, and that way it would have an effect on cracking the whip on the harassment of young ladies, too.

    Rent a big room somewhere, ask some local restaurateurs to step in with finger foods and ice water, and make all the legislatures be there in booths to answer the public who can walk through and look.

    Set some tables on the side with cloths and candles, like a dining establishment, and people could tap out legislatures to come and sit with them at a table and snack on the food and talk about things, just like how lobbyists do it now.

    Put a time limit on each meeting, maybe give the legislatures a device like at Red Lobster for when your table is ready, so people don’t horde the good ones and ignore the boring ones.

  7. Donald Pay

    There are lots of ways to open up the process that provides more power to the Legislature. The problem is that is not what the Legislature really wants. Most of these folks have no problem being led around by the nose, like show cattle. If it isn’t the Executive Branch doing the leading, it’s the lobbyists for special interests. Basically, they are corrupt cattle, but I suggest the following just in case they are actually serious: Ban all party caucuses, and use that time to take input from citizens on the floor calendar bills for that day. This would stop the leadership from lining up votes against the public interest and for the executive branch and special interests, while giving the people more power.

    Other ideas are meant to reign in the arrogance of the anti-ballot measure crowd:

    (1) every bill must have at least one co-sponsor from every legislative district.
    (2) every bill must be sponsored by no less than six legislators (5%)
    (3) every bill must be accompanied by an opinion from the Attorney General
    (4) every bill must have a fiscal note
    (5) no out-of-state money may be used to elect or lobby an legislator
    (5) any restriction to the initiative shall automatically be applied to bills

  8. I support Donald’s call for equivalency in all Legislative processes, whether carried out by citizens or legislators.