The Bullying Issue

I recently sat down with KELO LAND TV (see video below) to discuss the issue of bullying. Most states around the country have passed legislation to mandate that school districts have bullying policies.

In South Dakota, there have been numerous bills introduced on this issue over the past 3 years. What we have discovered as a legislative body is that we are fortunate in South Dakota that our school districts have adopted policies already. In fact, I would argue that the introduction of the bullying legislation (although the bills failed) forced our local school districts to strengthen their existing bullying policies. I belive that any policy on bullying should ultimately give the flexibility to local school boards and administrators to adopt the policies to fit their student population and demographics. These decisions are best made at the local level.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the bullying issue. Here is the story from KELO TV:

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New Legislative Redistricting Map Approved

The South Dakota Legislature met yesterday (October 24) to debate and vote on the final redistricting plan for the 35 legislative districts that will be in place for the next 10 years.

As a member of the South Dakota Legislative Redistricting Committee, I am very proud of the transparent and fair process the committee followed throughout the spring, summer and fall. The redistricting committee conducted 17 public hearings where we listened to public testimony from many citizens of South Dakota. The committee held these hearings in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, in Pierre and on 4 Native American Reservations. Throughout this process, many members of the redistricting committee also met with service organizations like Rotary clubs, Kiwanis clubs and chamber organizations.

The redistricting committee was able to incorporate much of the public testimony we heard throughout the summer and fall into the map that was adopted. The public’s imprint is all over the statewide map that was ultimately approved and the citizens of South Dakota are the biggest beneficiaries of the new map.

To view the new redistricting map, click on the link below:

Also, click on the video below to watch a recent KELO-TV story on the South Dakota redistricting process:

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Open Records in South Dakota

During the 2009 South Dakota Legislative Session we passed a bill that allowed for open records of public documents except for areas that were specifically exempted in the bill. Now that the statute has been on the books for several years, it appears likely that we will be clarifying certain aspects of the open records statute during the 2012 legislative session. I anticipate broad bi-partisan support and the citizens and taxpayers of South Dakota will be the big winners once again.

This story from Keloland TV does a nice job summarizing the issue:

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2011 South Dakota Legislative Redistricting Update

The 2011 South Dakota Redistricting Committee is making great progress in our task to redraw the state legislative district boundaries following the 2010 U.S. Census.

On Tuesday of this week (September 13th) we had a great committee meeting that focused on various map proposals for the Native American “Majority-Minority” districts in the state. We recieved outstanding public testimony at this meeting and ultimately voted on and passed three recomended maps for “Majority-Minority” districts.

The next legislative redistricting committee meeting will take place on September 27 at the State Capitol in Pierre. This will be a very important meeting as we will be taking public input and testimony on statewide map proposals for all 35 legislative districts.

I also recently had the opportunity to participate as a panelist for a Legislative Redistricting disucssion on South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s South Dakota Focus show. Stephanie Rissler from SDPB hosted the show and other panelists included State Rep. Mitch Fargen, Sue Roust from the SD Citizens Redistricting Commission, and Tate Walker from the ACLU of the Dakotas. The program was very insightful regarding the process of legislative redistricting. You can watch the program by clicking on the website link below:

South Dakota Focus

Sen. Schlekeway joins the set of SD Focus to discuss Legislative Redistricting

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Lewis & Clark Regional Water System Tour

Sen. Schlekeway on the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System tour

I recently had the privilege to join a delegation that toured various sites along the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System. This was a great opportunity to see the current progress of the construction of this vital infrastructure project.

With the explosive population growth in Sioux Falls and southeast South Dakota, this project is of the utmost importance. There is no more basic service linked to quality of living and economic development than access to reliable and safe water resources. When completed, Lewis & Clark will provide treated water to Sioux Falls and other member municipalities and rural water systems. Over 300,000 people in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota will ultimately benefit from this water system.

It is my hope that the tri-state congressional delegation will be able to convince their colleagues in Congress that completion of this water system is of the highest priority and that dedicated funding sources will continue to be appropriated at the federal level in a timely fashion in order to finish this project.

I would like to thank Troy Larson (Executive Director of the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System) for the opportunity to participate in the tour.

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South Dakota Legislative Redistricting Committee

South Dakota’s 15 member Legislative Redistricting Committee is currently conducting public hearings in order to gather citizen input and feedback in order to help us effectively redraw all 35 legislative district boundaries in the state. I am honored to be one of the members who are tasked with this important responsibility that occurs every 10 years after the new federal census numbers are unveiled.

The 2010 federal census numbers were very interesting to analyze. Consider these facts and figures derived from the 2010 census:

* The population of South Dakota is now 814,180 people

* There are 25 counties in the state that increased in population since 2000

* There are 41 counties in the state that decreased in population since 2000

* Minnehaha, Lincoln and Pennington Counties have experienced 20.8% growth in the last 10 years

* The pockets of growth appear to be in the southeast region of South Dakota, to certain counties along the I-29 corridor, the Black Hills region and then many of the Native American Reservations.

The Legislative Redistricting Committee consists of the following members:

Rep. Jim Bolin (Canton), Sen. Jim Bradford (Pine Ridge), Sen. Corey Brown (Gettysburg), Sen. Joni Cutler (Sioux Falls), Rep. Mitch Fargen (Flandreau), Rep. Brian Gosch (Rapid City), Rep. Kent Juhnke (Vivian), Rep. Mark Kirkeby (Rapid City), Rep. David Lust (Rapid City), Sen. Russell Olson (Madison), Sen. Deb Peters (Hartford), Rep. Val Rausch (Big Stone City), Sen. Larry Rhoden (Union Center), Sen. Todd Schlekeway (Sioux Falls), Rep. Susan Wismer (Britton).

Our next public meeting will be July 28 in Pierre, South Dakota. We will be conducting other public committee and sub-committee meetings throughout the summer and fall. The entire 105 member legislature will ultimately debate and vote on a new redistricting plan on October 24 during a special session of the legislature.

All of our meetings and hearings are streamed live on the Legislative Research Council website ( Feel free to contact me at if you have any suggestions and insight for me during the redistricting process.

God Bless!

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Governor Daugaard Signs SB 149 (Youth Concussion Education & Safety Act)

Here is the photo from the signing ceremony for Senate Bill 149.

Governor Daugaard Signs Youth Concussion Education & Safety Act

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KSFY Story: South Dakota Lawmakers React to Budget

The 2011 SD Legislative Session culminated yesterday in the passing of the General Appropriations bill that will fund state government for fiscal year 2012 (July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012). I will have a complete summary of the 2011 Legislative Session in a future update.

Click on the video link below to watch a KSFY story on lawmaker reaction to the budget:

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KELOLAND TV Story Update on Concussion Legislation

SB 149 (The Youth Concussion Education & Safety Act) passed the House Health & Human Services committee on Thursday by a vote of 10-2. The bill will now be debated on the House floor early next week.

KELOLAND TV aired a great story Thursday night on the process that an athlete goes through to recieve “clearance” to return to practice/competition. Click on the video link below to watch:

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KELO TV Story on Final 3 weeks of the 2011 SD Legislative Session

Here is a video story from KELO TV discussing the final three weeks of the 2011 SD Legislative Session and the budget decisions that await state lawmakers:

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