HR1003 Denouncing New York

On February 27, the SD House of Representatives passed a resolution presented by Representative Hansen “Denouncing the recent passage of New York’s abortion law and requesting that the Governor declare a day of prayer and fasting to atone for the unspeakable crime of abortion.”

Click Here for the full text of HR1003

Click Here to see how each Representative voted

Click Here for the audio of Rep. Hansen presenting HR1003

Click Here for a video of the discussion and picture of the vote-count!

A Few Memories from 2018, and Our Vision for 2019!

Legislative Session

Legislative Session

Ed Randazzo and I were proud to represent FHA Action during the 2018 Legislative Session and were honored to be a part in several victories including the passage of SB110 which held Planned Parenthood of SD accountable for several failures and the defeat of SJR9 which was the first step towards an expansion of gambling into Yankton, SD.

Ministry Leader’s Capitol Summit

This event is always a highlight of our Legislative session, and 2018 was no exception! When asked to share the most rewarding part of the day, attendees responded with favorites like: “Ushering prayer into the capitol,” “Praying with Legislators,” “Meeting with like-minded believers,” & “Filling the Capitol with praise to God as we sang on the steps” (my personal favorite).

Culture Impact Teams

Under Phil Shively’s leadership, we has been able to increase the Culture Impact Team network across the state and have already seen the success of these teams in situations like the Western Dakota Tech. Policy #2005 campaign. The Rapid City teams were called upon, and helped us collect over 420 signatures in 2 weeks!

The StEP Worldview Class

In May/June of 2018, 12 students attended the first “StEP” class. Here’s what Riley had to say after finishing:

“I enjoyed learning about the different worldviews; it amazes me that after taking this class I can clearly define the differences in beliefs. I have noticed myself identifying worldviews by listening to people; I believe this helps me in debating because I know what they truly believe before entering into a debate. The biggest takeaway for me is the fact that so many people settle for cloudy answers to important questions instead of searching for and researching the truth.  People rarely think for themselves.  Even those people raised in Christian homes fall away from the church and want to experience & believe what the world is offering instead of questioning what the world is offering.” -Riley (StEP Worldview Student)

Our Vision for 2019

As we look to the next year, our purpose remains simple: we will continue to protect and promote Faith, Family & Freedom through working to stop threatening policy decisions from being made and through equipping statesman to enact good public policy.

South Dakota has been given an opportunity unlike most other states. We are, as a state, beginning a period of potential.

Look to the Governor’s office, you will see strong Christian leadership.

Look to the Senate chamber, you will see capable Godly leaders.

Look to the House, you will see leaders committed to Biblical values.

This is not to say that no previous Governor has been committed to Biblical values, nor that members of Legislative leadership have never given an ear to Faith, Family & Freedom, but simply that the future looks bright as we begin to work with the new Administration and new Legislative leaders.

What does this mean? That it’s time for Christians to “take a break” because there are good leaders in place? No, far from it. This means that it’s our time to shine. We need to continue offering research help to our allies, and enable them to make the most of the opportunities ahead. We need to continue building the Culture Impact Team network, and show the State that when leaders take a stand, the body of Christ will stand with them.

Thank you for your involvement in 2018, and we look forward to your standing with us in 2019 as we work to make South Dakota a State where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive & life is cherished!

We Need Your Help in 2019!

As 2018 draws to a close and our minds turn to homemade cookies and Christmas carols, I wanted to take a moment give you an update on FHA as well as explain our current goals. Since the Stand Banquets in September, we’ve had several irons in the fire. There have been several major successes in building the CIT Team network as more churches catch the vision and want to influence their culture, namely within the realm of public policy. Through those networks and other connections we’ve been active at the Rapid City School Board, voicing our opposition to their addition of problematic language into the policies of Western Dakota Tech. After the November election we began actively preparing for the upcoming legislative session which is shaping up to be a whirlwind! We have two Legislative briefings coming up, which will be a time for us to really take a deep dive with legislative allies and organizational allies into what we can expect to see this session. We are already aware of several issues that we expect to see this session:

Assisted Suicide: In the last election cycle, the proponents of a practice called “Physician Assisted Suicide” were unable to get the number of signatures needed to place the issue on the 2018 ballot. Because of this failure to reach the ballot, we expect to see a piece of legislation allowing this practice to be presented during the 2019 session.

SOGI: If you have seen any of our recent articles discussing the blue and white billboards that are popping up in South Dakota, you know that Colorado money is wanting to add Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity to our statutory protected classes list. Our prediction is that a ballot measure in the coming years is the most probable avenue they will take, but a legislative attempt is still a real possibility.

Alienation of Affection: There has been a lot of discussion lately in the news media about the Alienation of Affection statute in South Dakota. This statute essentially allows someone to file suit against another person who allegedly broke up your marriage and alienated you from the affection of your spouse. Some claim this statute treats people as property, while others speak to the legal weight and importance the language gives to the institution of marriage.

These are only 3 of 12 bills that we are already expecting to see this legislative session, and we need your help! The Stand Banquets in September gave us a much-needed financial boost, but we fell short of what we need, especially with regard to FHA Action, non-tax-deductible funds. Because of this, we have set a goal of raising $20,000 in FHA Action funds before January 31st. In order to have a successful Legislative Session in 2019, we need your help!

We have also set a goal of raising $20,000 in 501(c)(3), tax-deductible funds before January 31st. These dollars will continue to equip our staff in networking, alliance building, CIT engagement, public education, and many other areas. Would you consider Family Heritage Alliance in your Year-End giving?

I Can Help!

Click Here to help us reach our goal of $20,000 and ensure a successful legislative session!

 

I Can Help!

Click Here to give a year-end gift and help us reach our goal of $20,000!

The Man Behind the Billboards

In a previous article we discussed the agenda behind the blue & white billboards that have been popping up around SD, but let’s peel back one more layer of the onion.

First, a recap. We know that the message behind the billboards is that South Dakota needs to place Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) in state statute, to mandate protections against discrimination and harassment. This effort will either be attempted in the State Legislature, or on the ballot. The cause of protecting people against these things is noble on the surface, but as we discussed earlier; what is presented as a shield of protection is often used as a sword of punishment. This has become the case for Jack Phillips, Baronnelle Stutzman, Blaine Adamson, and many others. It also paves the way for situations like what happened to Alexis Lightcap or the Thomas Family.

Now onto the next layer of the onion. We know the agenda of the website listed on the bottom of the billboards, BeyondIDo.org, but what about the small logo to the right of the website? That’s where more of the true colors of this message begin to show. The Gill Foundation was founded by Tim Gill, and is one of the largest funders of LGBT causes. The Gill Foundation website claims they have spent over $343 Million dollars on their cause, which the Rolling Stone summarizes as “…academic research, polling, litigation, data analytics, and field organizing.” The article explains that  “Gill’s fingerprints are on nearly every major victory in the march to marriage, from the 2003 Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health case, which made Massachusetts the first state to allow same-sex marriage, to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision two decades later that legalized it in all 50.” Although the amount of money spent and the amount of influence exerted by the Gill Foundation is surprising, the motive behind the actions is even more alarming. Mr. Gill is not simply looking to hold ground that has been made, but rather continuing an offensive strategy against those who hold traditional beliefs about marriage, sexuality and gender. He says “We’re going into the hardest states in the country” … “We’re going to punish the wicked.” 

A message that was discernible by looking at the outcomes of Jack and Baronnelle’s situations, is made crystal clear by Mr. Gill’s statements. He has an agenda he is pushing and anyone who stands in the way will be punished.

In Response to the Rapid City Journal’s Endorsement of W

Amendment W would add 3,329 words to the state Constitution, and would essentially create a fourth branch of government that operates outside the normal checks and balances system of the other branches. The new article would also be superior to all other aspects of our state Constitution. The amendment says “In any case of a conflict between any provision of this Article and any other provision contained in this Constitution, the provisions of this Article shall control.”

The editorial by the Journal ignored several aspects of Amendment W that are quite troubling, and gave no mention to the increased ethics safeguards that the Legislature put in place after the repeal of IM-22. Those safeguards included a 4-member State Government Accountability Board, limits on lobbyist gifts, whistleblower protections, doubling the waiting period before officials may become lobbyists, and stopping campaign spending for personal use.

Amendment W creates a State Government Accountability Board that will have rule-making authority. The ability for a board or commission to “promulgate rules” is common in South Dakota, but always under the supervision of a higher State entity who answers to the voters. Neither the voters of South Dakota, nor the three branches of State Government, will have adequate ability to correct this board. Although the amendment mentions judicial-review, that ability is questionable as the amendment states that the board will operate “…notwithstanding any other provisions of the Constitution…” The board members are appointed, which means the voters have no power to remove them. There are also legitimate concerns as to the level of transparency that will be required of the board its self, which means the citizens may not have the power to monitor them.

The forced constitutional expenditure of $389,000 every year, increasing with inflation, is unheard of and irresponsible. The current ethics board costs less than one-tenth that amount. Additionally, allocating such a large expenditure to the board may act as an incentive to interpret clerical mistakes as corruption to justify its existence. If that seems farfetched, simply look at the claims made in regard to Larry Rhoden’s missing of a filing deadline.

This experiment inflicted on South Dakota by an organization from Massachusetts and several Hollywood elites might be interesting, but it is objectionable. If passed, it would take another statewide vote to fix it, which means South Dakotans would be forced to live with its problems for at least two years. The Rapid City Journal claims W adds needed transparency, but ironically, W needs added transparency.

She Speaks Our Language

We have an opportunity here in South Dakota. An opportunity to do something that I believe will have a lasting impact. This November we have the chance to place a person in the Governor’s office that is truly committed to Faith, Family & Freedom. Electing Kristi Noem as Governor along with electing solid Representatives and Senators this November will put South Dakota in a position to make substantial progress.

Kristi has a track record that is worth studying. Throughout her years in public service she has been a champion on issues such as the sanctity of life, human trafficking and many others. This drive is shown by things like her score of 100% with National Right to Life. Her drive and passion is not something she “drummed up” in light of a Governor’s race, but rather has been a constant attribute of hers. In 2017, GovTrack ranked her the 15th Top Leader in the US House, and noted her voting record as 99%. (She only missed 7 of 710 votes). She also is not afraid to work across the aisle, which is attested by the fact that 9 of her 22 bills and resolutions in 2017 were co-sponsored by Democrats and Republicans.

In 2014 Family Heritage Alliance awarded her with the William Wilberforce Elected Leadership Award, and many who were at that Stand Banquet still remember her remarks: She explained her original desire to go to DC and make progress. To shake things up, and get things done. She explained to the audience that evening how frustrating the process in DC can be, and how she quickly found herself struggling to find a purpose and reason to keep fighting. Then one day she was working during hours when most of the offices are empty, and the cleaning staff began working their way through the offices. When a lady came to Kristi’s office to begin cleaning, she invited her inside and sat down with a cup of coffee to talk. After their conversation, the lady told her that in all her years cleaning for members of Congress, this was the first time anyone invited her into their office for a conversation. That evening at the banquet, Congresswoman Noem explained that she could easily see the impact she had just had on this lady’s life, and she began to see a greater purpose to her time in Washington. She told the crowd that yes, she is in DC to change policy and law, but there is a greater purpose that she was called to. A calling to be the light of Christ in her everyday actions, and that even on days when it seems like nothing is getting done she has the ability to make an impact. Stories like this illustrate the high caliber of Kristi Noem, a caliber that recently caused a Rapid City pastor to explain after a presentation of hers: “Mrs. Noem, I am a hard sell, and I must tell you that I am uniquely impressed. You have my support.” She speaks our language.

If you visit the Noem campaign website and begin looking at the policy proposals and goals, you will find the Family First Initiative. In this initiative she outlines her goals within the realm of family values. She promises to be a “family first” Governor who seeks to “strengthen the family unit and preserve the values South Dakota has long embraced.” The Family First Initiative includes commitments like defending the sanctity of life by placing an “unborn persons advocate” in the Governor’s office, actively pursuing legislation that protects unborn children, opposing Physician-Assisted-Suicide, and engaging top legal minds to litigate on behalf of these pursuits if necessary. In the plan she recognizes the gap in today’s parenting, and explains how she believes the gap is meant to be filled by parents, not more government. This includes strengthening parental rights through parental choice in education, whether that be public, private, or homeschool. She also commits to defending traditional family values in light of the threats posed by the federal government.

            After looking at the track record Kristi has accumulated, realizing the caliber of candidate she is and studying her vision for the future of South Dakota, the choice becomes very clear. Kristi Noem should be the next Governor of South Dakota.

She speaks our language.

 

 

 

 

 

And Then There Were Three

A few weeks ago, Ed Randazzo published an article discussing a billboard that we spotted in Rapid City. Now, there are three such billboards that we have spotted. (See updates at bottom of page). We know they are sponsored by a foundation in Colorado, but what message are they spreading? What are they calling for? If you visit the website noted on the billboard and navigate to the South Dakota page, you will see the assertion that South Dakota is legally discriminating against members of the LGBT community. They give links to “fact-finding” pages, as well as the personal story of Crystal and Amanda. The article claims that Crystal was fired by an anti-LGBT boss, which caused great financial hardship. It never says that Crystal and Amanda are from South Dakota, but it makes the claim that a similar situation could easily arise here and that we need legal protections to prevent it. This request sounds quite reasonable and compassionate at first glance. Should someone be fired, or denied housing, or denied healthcare because of who they choose to be in a relationship with? Or because they identify as a gender other than their birth sex? The reaction of most people would be “No, that sounds really mean! We should protect against that.” And you’re right, we shouldn’t be mean. However, the solution they offer is to add Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) to the list of legally protected classes (race, sex, religion, etc.) and here is the problem…

SOGI ordinances and laws that are presented as protective shields, often become swords used against those of a Biblical worldview. The most prominent example is that of Jack Phillips (click here to watch his story). Jack was simply living out his faith in his business, when someone used SOGI protections against him. The same is true for Baronnelle Stutzman in Washington. And Blaine Adamson in Colorado. And the list goes on…

UPDATE: They are going after Jack AGAIN

Although we believe that we as Christians should show love towards those in the LGBT community and would never advocate for anyone to target them, placing sexual orientation and gender identity in the protected class list is not the right step. What is presented as a shield, will someday be used as a sword.

So what’s next? It’s yet to be seen. The BeyondIDo website doesn’t say what specific policy changes they will seek, nor does it tell us if they will be seeking state or local changes. But we do know this: once the proposals surface, we will need your help to spread the message of truth about these dangerous changes. Stay tuned, and let us know if you see a similar billboard in your community!

UPDATE: There are currently 5 Billboards in Rapid City, 1 in Sturgis, & 1 in Ft. Pierre

Board of Regents Free Speech Hearing

During the hearings for HB1073 and SB198 this last legislative session, it was mentioned several times that the policy fixes being discussed should be taken care of at a more local level. Namely, the Board of Regents policies and several of the South Dakota University policies. Thursday was the first significant step towards that goal. Near the end of the committee hearing on SB198 Senator Soholt explained that she would be voting against the bill, but that the Board of Regents needed to take a serious look at the policies and practices of our universities. Senator Bolin made similar remarks, explaining that in South Dakota we are in the habit of letting local control work the problems out.

The free-speech hearing was added into a two-day board meeting by the Regents on the campus of South Dakota State University. They gave opportunity for testimony from University faculty, students as well as national experts. The overall flavor of the hearing: let’s tweak what we have and get it right. The Chicago Statement was mentioned by several of those giving testimony, as well as several board members as a good standard to glean from. One concept outlined in the statement that was discussed throughout the hearing is that the proper response to a message someone deems offensive or even abhorrent is more speech, not censorship.

Blake Meadows with Alliance Defending Freedom outlined 5 common miss-steps they have seen by universities: Misunderstanding who qualifies as a State actor, granting too much power to administrators, vague or unconstitutional policies, speech zones and limiting equal access or expressive association. Tyler Coward with The F.I.R.E. recommended ensuring that all university harassment policies are in line with Davis v. Monroe.

A few other key points made during the hearing:

-Many messages are controversial, but the right to express them must be protected if we value free-speech.

-Controversial speakers and events may result in the need for significant security costs. It was expressed that charging the student groups or the speaker an extra security fee because of this fact may be a barrier to that groups right to present their message.

-Universities in South Dakota aren’t significantly hampering free speech on their campuses, but they are modifying the definition of it and have policies that may prove unconstitutional.

-It is not the role of a University to shield students from views or messages.

-Security fees should be charged based off a viewpoint-neutral standard, and allowing campus and local police the ability to act will often times reduce the potential for a problem.

-Actions that cause damage are illegal, but words, no matter how offensive, are not actions.

-We should not wait until we have a significant event that outlines problematic policies, we should fix them beforehand.

-Including an explanation of free-speech rights in student orientation may be a low-cost way to increase understanding on the issue.

The next step is for the Board to examine their policies and compile possible fixes. They expressed a desire to send the verbiage changes to the major stakeholders for input/advice before they finalize the new policies.