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Chris White: Governor Has Too Much Power over Legislature, Leaves Counties Unheard

The Wednesday Aberdeen American News included a page-2 headline reading, “County Officials Want Better Representation at Legislature.”

Hey, Duane, Rachel, Mike, I offered you that, but y’all picked Al, who can’t even use his Majority Whip to get his juvenile justice bill or his county sales tax passed.

South Dakota’s next Attorney General, Brown County state’s attorney Chris White, complained that our current legislators are yoked by an absurdly powerful Executive Branch:

Josh Haeder and Chris White, Gypsy Day Parade, Aberdeen, SD, 2018.09.29.
Come on, Chris! You know some folks in Pierre! Put those connections to work for Brown County! (White, right, with now-Treasurer Josh Haeder, Gypsy Day Parade, Aberdeen, SD, 2018.09.29.)

“A lot of the representation, it seems like they’re representing the governor’s office more than they are the local constituents, and that’s a big problem. It’s because the governor’s office has so many more resources than us,” he said.

“For me to take a day to go to Pierre, it can wreak havoc on my office. And that’s what I always tell other state’s attorneys at state’s attorney conferences — it’s part of our job to go up there and fix some of these laws that are slamming our counties, and we need to do it more often, but we have full-time jobs that aren’t in Pierre. But the lobbying that goes on there, it’s absurd,” White said [Shannon Marvel, “County Officials Want Better Representation at Legislature,” Aberdeen American News, 2019.03.20, p. 2].

But hey, when you keep electing legislators with no ideas of their own who wait for the Governor to blow their vanes when they get back from vacation, you should only expect an imperial gubernatorate that doesn’t listen to the provincials.


  1. John 2019-03-22

    The SD legislature is more than 90% sheep. There are very few thinkers and lions in the mix. Watching the proceedings and committees reveals that.

    A legislature that thought it more than a rubber stamp would require its consent on judicial nominations.

    A legislature that thought it more than a rubber stamp would require elections to replace legislators who resigned, or at least legislative consent for temporary replacements.

    And yes, the lobbying runs amok. Much of the lobbying is to the detriment of our citizens.

  2. Donald Pay 2019-03-22

    John is about right on the percentage of sheep, but I would limit that to the Republican caucuses, not the whole Legislature. And he is right: all you have to do is go to the hearings and watch the floor debate for one day to see how pitiful the Legislature is. But that’s only when one party dominates the Legislature. When there is a roughly even mix of parties, the Legislature works as a Legislature should work.

    But, for now that’s not what you have there. So let’s take a look at the Republican side, since there aren’t enough Democrats right now to matter much. The Republican sheep are of various kinds. There are the “climbing sheep,” who want to ascend to leadership by becoming the client of a powerful patron. Generally, the patrons are either powerful lobbying groups and/or the Governor’s office. After proving themselves minimally capable, the climbing sheep get offered prime sponsorship opportunities on important bills for the patron groups. Eventually they graduate to committee chairs.

    Then there are the “cipher sheep,” who patrons consider to be incapable of the task of carrying important legislation or most other leadership roles. Cipher sheep are eager beavers, though, when it comes to voting the way the patrons want in committees and on the floor. They are reliable sheep, who rarely bleat, but follow the leader. A reliable cipher might be in line for a lower-level leadership position late in his legislative career.

    Let’s move on to the sacramental sheep. These are the religious dead enders, who follow their hate-filled and corrupted idol of their pretend “Lord” in doing preachers’ seats off a high diving board. The spray hits the powerful lobbying patrons and gets them wet, which is an embarrassment to them. However, the sacramental sheep know that they get nothing for their legislation if the patrons don’t get genuflected to, so they fall in line with the patrons on most issues most of the time.

    Then there are the “rogue sheep.” They can’t be counted on to follow the leaders, but on 90 percent of the patrons’ legislation, they line up with the other sheep. They have goofy ideas, introduce legislation that never makes it out of their majority committees, gripe about corruption, do nothing constructive to end the corruption and generally fall in line on most issues.

    There you have it from my perspective. Discuss.

  3. grudznick 2019-03-22

    Good blogging, Mr. Pay.

    Those sacramental sheep really get grudznick’s goat.

  4. grudznick 2019-03-22

    Mr. White should put in a phone call to his paid lobbist. Does he not know he has Bobby Wilcox on retainer and all he was to do is whistle him up and take off the leash.

  5. happy camper 2019-03-22

    For those of you who can explain the actual dynamics it is much appreciated and encourage you to do so and remember most of us have no idea how things actually get done (or not done).

  6. Debbo 2019-03-22

    Great comment Don. And such a sad state of government for SD, but a crash course in how to descend below the basement to the absolute reeking sewer of corruption.

  7. grudznick 2019-03-22

    Mr. camper, the things that need getting done get done, and the things that don’t need getting done don’t get done. There is a small, secret group that decides which things need getting done. They are not in the legislatures, but they puppet all the strings.

  8. Donald Pay 2019-03-23

    I agree, Grudz, to a point, but it’s more complex. Grudz seems to prefer the “small, secret group.” In part it depends on the party composition in the Legislature. In a Legislature dominated by one party, the things that the patrons need and want get done. The things that need to get done, sometimes get done, but only in a way that patrons want. The things people need and want that don’t have the support of a patron rarely get done. In a one party Legislature, Grudz’ “small, secret group” rules. The moto of this state of affairs is “Under God, the Patrons Rule.”

    In an evenly divided Legislature, the things that patrons need and want are considered along with what is needed and wanted by the people and what needs to get done. There is discussion, debate, amendments and compromise. The “small, secret group” is still there and working hard, and they still have a lot of power, but they can’t pull all the strings. A Legislature that works as it is supposed to work is a beautiful thing to watch. That hasn’t happened in South Dakota for a couple decades. When the Legislature works the way it is supposed to the motto for this state of affairs is “Under God, the People Rule.”

  9. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-23

    What a disgusting state of affairs. We need an opposition party.

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