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Noem Gets Million Bucks for Pheasant Habitat on Multiple Rule Violations

Kristi Noem, Twitter, 2019.03.29.
Style and form? Sure, fine, whatever, just give me my million dollars! NOW!

Kristi Noem demonstrated a failure to understand many things during her first Legislative Session as Governor: facts, consistency, civics education, agri-business opportunity, transparency, the First Amendment, grammar.

Add to Kristi’s portfolio of (probably willful) ignorance the style-and-form veto.

Article 4 Section 4 of the South Dakota Constitution, as amended by the voters in 1972, allows the Governor to return “Bills with errors in style or form… to the Legislature… with specific recommendations for change.” The Legislature may pass any such recommended changes by amendment on a simple majority vote.

On Tuesday, Governor Noem issued a style-and-form veto of Senate Bill 176, her own proposal to spend a million bucks to restore pheasant habitat. In her veto message, Governor Noem explained that she intended SB 176 to give her one million dollars right now… or at least in this fiscal year and not in the 2020 budget:

Throughout the legislative debate on this bill, it was understood that these funds would come from dollars available in Fiscal Year 2019. That was how the bill was originally proposed and how it was explained throughout the legislative process. Even in the last week of the legislative session, materials prepared by legislators and legislative staff included these funds in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

As Senate Bill 176 passed in its final form, however, it did not include an effective date in Fiscal Year 2019. To carry out the objective of this bill in a manner consistent with the Legislature’s clear intent, I recommend the following Style and Form correction to the Enrolled version of Senate Bill 176:

On Page 1, after Section 5, insert “Section 6. This Act is effective on June 28, 2019” [Gov. Kristi Noem, veto message to SB 176, 2019.03.26].

The absence of the right-now effective date was not a drafting error. Let’s look at the Legislative history:

With the Governor’s emergency-enactment clause requiring a two-thirds vote to pass, SB 176 failed two full House floor votes: four votes short of the necessary 47 on March 5, then five votes short on reconsideration on March 7. Majority Leader Lee Qualm moved to reconsider SB 176 again, stating that he intended to remove the emergency clause.

Before we even got to the emergency clause, Rep. Isaac Latterell called point fof order on the motion to reconsider. He cited Joint Rule 5-11.1, which says, “No motion to reconsider the same question may be made twice in the same house without unanimous consent.”

SB 176 should have been dead right there. Speaker Haugaard muttered something about the motion being on a different bill, but Joint Rule 5-11.1 says “question”, and the question on March 5 and March 7 was, “Shall SB 176 pass as amended?” Speaker Haugaard attempted to gloss over the point of order and let Qualm speak to his motion, let Rep. Tom Brunner speak in blunt opposition (he deemed reconsidering SB 176 a third time “…ridiculous! We need to learn to take No for an answer”), and meandered toward a reconsideration vote. Rep. Latterell boldly rose to point out that after 19 minutes, no direct ruling on his point of order appeared to have been issued. Speaker Haugaard reiterated that the substance of the bill had changed with that day’s amendment. Rep. Latterell then challenged the ruling of the Speaker.

“Excuse me?” said Speaker Haugaard.

“I would challenge the ruling of the Speaker,” repeated Rep. Latterell.

Speaker Haugaard needed another two minutes of coaching to figure out what to do next, joked at the dais about putting a football game on the screen, and then called for a vote on sustaining his ruling. 50 members (himself included) sustained Speaker Haugaard’s improper ruling. 40 members (Haugaard not included) supported the improper reconsideration motion.

And then came the key votes putting the lie to Governor Noem’s characterization of her veto as style and form: Rep. Qualm moved to amend SB 176 to remove the emergency clause and to take the pheasant funds from Game Fish & Parks or other funds rather than the general fund. After another long pause for drafting and distribution, meaning everyone in the chamber saw exactly what the amendment contained, Qualm’s amendment passed on a voice vote. 47 legislators then voted to pass SB 176 as amended, with no emergency clause. Absent an emergency clause, SB 176 would take effect July 1.

The minor point from the March 7 House debate is that Steven Haugaard isn’t fit to be Speaker.

The major point from the March 7 House debate is that the omission of the emergency clause was not a style-and-form error; it was a deliberate Legislative act initiated by the House, sustained through conference committee amendments, and supported by House and Senate in concurrence votes on March 12.

Governor Noem’s veto was not a style-and-form veto. It was an effort to rewrite a passed bill to get what she wanted.

Some legislators tried to make that point yesterday:

Representative Taffy Howard, a Rapid City Republican, called for House members to vote against Noem’s change

Representative Thomas Brunner, a Nisland Republican, said it was an obvious abuse of the style-and-form veto. Uphold the constitution. Do the right thing, Brunner urged.

…Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said the House deliberately removed the emergency clause that would have let the bill take effect immediately upon Noem’ssignature.

This bill was passed in the form the money comes out in 2020. Now they want the money to come out in 2019, Nelson said.

…”If we allow what’s happening today, if we okay this as a style and form veto, we are setting precedent, and ten years down the road, twenty years down the road, the future legislators will be referring back to us and saying, ‘Well, they allowed it, so it must be okay,'” Howard said.

“This has been a very, very hard session. People have been told that principles don’t matter, we need to give up on our principles,” Howard continued. She added, “This has been a tough session, and this may be another tough vote.”

…”Adding a section or a sentence to the bill is very dangerous. It obviously is outside what we normally would call style and form,” Brunner said. He added, “I will never vote against the constitution knowingly and I certainly won’t do that today” [Bob Mercer, “On Wildlife Habitat, South Dakota Lawmakers Give Governor Her $1 Million Wish,” KELO-TV, 2019.03.29].

But 41 Representatives and 24 Senators gave Kristi what she wanted.

As an unseen rider to SB 176, Governor Noem will also be signing a declaration officially renaming the Legislature “Bryon.”

I’ve never really dug Kristi Noem’s sense of style. But Governor Noem’s sense of style and form is atrocious.

Governor Noem’s amendment of SB 176 was not a style-and-form veto. It was a substantive change to an appropriations bill, removing an expenditure from the FY2020 budget and advancing it to the FY2019 budget. As a special appropriation, SB 176 required a two-thirds vote to pass, as specified by Article 12 Section 2 of the South Dakota Constitution. In receiving only 41 votes in the House on Friday, SB 176 fell short of the required two-thirds consent. Governor Noem has thus used the fiction of a style-and-form veto to obtain an illegal appropriation.


  1. grudznick 2019-03-30 20:30

    Mr. H, grudznick, and young Ms. Howard are peas in a pod. We all agree that Mr. Haugaard isn’t fit to be Speaker.

  2. jerry 2019-03-30 20:58

    GNoem knows grifters gotta grift. Age old fact that she has learned to perform well. No doubt she is the same cut of millionaire like Thune, grifted it all by being a civil servant.

  3. Debbo 2019-03-30 22:20

    So Haugard and the SD Lege are becoming Chinless Wonder McTurtle and the US Senate. It’s clear that Noem aspires to the constitutional ignorance/disregard of Frantic Flaccid Fool. Way to go SD. Toss your constitution because it’s not really that important.

  4. Roger Elgersma 2019-03-31 04:44

    The pheasant industry seems to attract prostitution. Supplying so many birds that anyone can reach their limit in an hour or two helps attract very poor hunters and make them feel macho for being a good hunter. It also makes for many hours of free time to fee macho with the maids. Trying to increase the bird population for non hunter types, just increases the amount of free time the hunters have. Strange that a woman would be promoting this.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-31 09:04

    That, Roger, is a really interesting connection to make. Now I’m not sure I’d go as far as to say that the effort to expand pheasant habitat is an effort to oversupply the hunters and leave them shooting their limit too quickly (although economically, do we make more money off those hunters when they spend less time in the field and more time in town?). Noem’s intent could be just to reclaim good pheasant habitat that we’ve lost and do good for the ecosystem as a whole.

    Noem… do good for the ecosystem… HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

    But seriously, habitat restoration done conscientiously would strike a nice balance, a sustainable number of pheasants, still requiring some effort to bag, but not completely marginalized.

  6. Marvin Kelly 2019-03-31 09:20

    This is how these unprincipled people work. I new she was a crook when she was in the house of representatives. It doesn’t matter to these Republicans they only want what is good as they see it and to hell with the rules or the rest of us.

  7. Rorschach 2019-03-31 09:24

    You would think that after Noem hit Hoogaard on getting taxpayers to pay for the legal judgment against him that he might want to hit back. But I’m not sure Hoogaard’s mind works quick enough for him, in that moment, to recognize the opportunity he had.

  8. Glenn Dykstra 2019-03-31 10:43

    Happened to run into an article about the first introduction of the pheasant into South Dakota in 1919. Guess what I’m driving at is that this is the 100th anniversary of the project. I think a bit of celebration is a good idea since I enjoyed hunting those birds in years past. Though I know that Redfield gets all the claim to fame as the pheasant capital, here is a short statement of the actual history. “In 1919, two hens and one cock were released by the state on the Axel Peterson farm, five miles east of Rosholt.” Don’t know the politics of the situation as I live in Missouri, but I would donate to a cause for celebrating the the 100 years of interesting sport that goes on in SD. But a million dollars?

  9. 96Tears 2019-03-31 10:55

    NOTE to Governor Kristi von Shtupp, the Reichsgräfin of Hamlin County:

    Why? Why did you go to such embarrassing length to ram a $1 million outlay through the leggie to spend money immediately and expect everyone to hold their nose and make an illegal vote, masquerading in plain view as a “style and form” issue?

    Now that’s just a few peas short of a casserole, right? You knew that back when you reached your potential as assistant House Leader in Pierre. So let’s just stop the tom-foolery for a minute.

    I’m done asking why.

    Who? Who do you have lined up to take advantage of this money? There are some pay-to-hunt places in the Castlewood area. Maybe one of the knuckle crackers at Kones has big plans. Or one of the relatives?

    South Dakota is famous for stinky payoffs using the Office of Governor as a casino cage for pals, family members (what? you did that already?), business associates and folks with lots of money.

    Nobody in this thread believes for one second you sprouted an environmental inkling. So, what’s the real emergency here? Who’s getting the payoff?

    Someday, we’re going to find out.

  10. mike from iowa 2019-03-31 11:03

    The state could reclaim good pheasant habitat with buffer strips and save the earth for future generations to enjoy the scenic beauty of lake shores and stream banks.

  11. bearcreekbat 2019-03-31 11:24

    If this bill indeed violates “Article 12 Section 2 of the South Dakota Constitution” I would think that a judical challenge by any interested taxpayer provides a quick and effective remedy.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-31 11:55

    Given that it has no emergency clause, we could also try to refer it to a public vote… but I hate to be the guy running around with a petition that says, “Don’t fund pheasant habitat!”

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-03-31 11:57

    96, if she has some beneficiary lined up in the Castlewood area, she didn’t have to go to this length to get the money. As amended, SB 176 only puts the money in her hands three days earlier, June 28 instead of July 1.

  14. Sharon Neva 2019-03-31 17:29

    kristi is either ignorant of government protocol or she will just do whatever it takes to get her way. Her million dollar pheasant money (don’t get me started on that) was supposed to come out the 2020 budget, but she pitched a hissy fit and strong armed her way into getting it out of the 2019 budget. Kristi, no means no. You are the are the Governor of South Dakota, not the Queen.

  15. JW 2019-04-01 14:46

    Cory: You’re not thinking thoroughly…….. Noem has a private shooting preserve that, for the most part, buys and releases pheasants for the gun…….. South Dakota has over 200 of these places. Habitat on those places is style and form management………. What somebody needs to watch is where all of this “habitat” money is actually spent……….. Private shooting preserves are not exempt from receiving habitat money or assistance from the state…….. Are you willing to wager that a whole bunch of this money won’t get funneled to all her cronies in the shooting preserve, fee hunt industry where the average South Dakotan has no access to it’s benefits….and quick and easy shooting for larger limits than are allowed for the rest of the state. Where it’s only habitat creation will be “style and form” to give a would be wealthy, non-resident nimrod the visual and physical experience of hunting/shooting in real “pheasant country”…………. It’s not about habitat………. Its about recreation, value added income subsidy for landowners, and added rings at the cash register that translates to added sales taxes. There is nothing genuine about this crock at all………

    Meanwhile, habitat for prairie grouse, (to include the imperiled sage grouse) deer, antelope, elk, other big game and non-game alike will go begging into the next century…………. Has anyone looked into her GFP free give away of live traps at a cost of over $100,000 and the estimated $500,000 in license money that will likely be spent without pre-arranged concurrence from the GFP who has sole authority for GFP budget expenditures. What the legislature fails to do in any of this is require full program assessment and accountability to say nothing of setting up a monitoring program to determine the cost to benefit and the actual, on the ground success or failure of spending a million and one half dollars of the publics money. All this is as crooked as a dogs hind leg and I’d like to know why there aren’t more than a handful of legislators smart enough to figure out that part of their job is protecting public money from fraud and abuse.

  16. Bob Mercer 2019-04-02 07:25

    From section 3 of the final version of SB 176 that the governor signed into law Friday, March 29:

    “Participants in programs supported by funds appropriated through this Act agree not to charge any person or entity any fee or payment for hunting access to any property under the ownership or control of any participants. A person who has a commercial fee hunting establishment may not participate in any program supported by funds appropriated through this Act.”

    Bob Mercer

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