On Tuesday, December 8, FHA Executive Director Dale Bartscher, Youth Coordinator Norman Woods, and Public Policy Analyst Ed Randazzo, joined South Dakota lawmakers as they gathered at the state Capitol in Pierre to hear Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proposed budget for next year. Lawmakers paid particular attention to our Governor’s proposals and thoughts on Medicaid expansion here in South Dakota. Those in attendance were also looking for the Governor’s thoughts on the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s education recommendations but he ended up delivering little substance on that subject and will wait to do so until he delivers the State of the State Address in January. Fiscal responsibility and educational opportunities are core family values and thus capture the eye of FHA Action. Stay tuned!
FHA Action executed two almost perfect legislative briefings this month, as we officially start the ramp-up to South Dakota’s 2016 legislative session. This year, we were joined by Americans For Prosperity as partners in the event, and their State Director and Lobbyist, Ben Lee, joined our Executive Director, Dale Bartscher in heading up this project.
In Rapid City, the legislative briefing was held on Saturday, December 12 at Dove Christian Center. As always, the hospitality of the ministry team and the folks at Dove was amazing. Also, we are so grateful for the help of our volunteers and several FHA Action folks who prepared all the breakfast goodies for this early morning “working breakfast”. We had 52 in attendance including Rapid City’s Mayor, Steve Allender, representatives from the offices of all three members of our U.S. Congressional delegation, representatives from numerous advocacy groups, FHA and FHA Action board members and staff, 13 legislators, and several lobbyists.
Then on the Eastern side of the state, the FHA Action / AFP team held a second legislative briefing at the Central Baptist Church in Sioux Falls. Central Baptist Church is Senator John and Kimberly Thune’s home church. Central Baptist did a superb job hosting the event. We had 51 in attendance at the Sioux Falls briefing, including representatives of all three of our U.S. Congressional Member’s offices in Sioux Falls, FHA Board Members, representatives from a host of ministries and advocacy groups, and 19 legislators. As is universally the case, our Sioux Falls representative, LaVonne Fosness was so instrumental in pulling together all the moving parts and making the event a success.
Pastors and Para-Church Ministry Leaders are encouraged to come. The event begins with refreshments in the Capitol Rotunda. Our keynote speaker will be Pastor Mark Gonzales of National Black Robe Regiment / Wall Builders. Lunch will be served at Noon at Community Bible Church.
Welcome to the new improved FHA Action website. It is our passion at FHA Action to make the process of communicating with you an effective, well-oiled machine. As South Dakota’s 2016 legislative session draws closer, we wanted to roll out something that truly would make it easier for us to communicate to you. But a one-sided conversation isn’t a conversation. So we also wanted to make the process of you communicating with us easier as well. So here is what version 3.0 of FHAAction.org delivers. (By the way, we are still ramping this new site up, so for a few days yet, let’s call this version 3.0 beta).
- First and foremost, it was imperative that fhaaction.org be mobile friendly (or “responsive” as the geeks call it). As the mobile traffic on our site continues to increase, we wanted to make it ever so easy for the mobile user to get to and consume the information on our site. But, we wanted to retain the robust user experience you have come to expect from the our site on a desktop computer. So, we met and exceeded these goals. The new site looks smashing on a mobile device (see pictures upper right), but also works nicely on a full-size monitor.
- You will notice a much flatter, more crisp, business look. We think it does a great job of saying “FHA Action means business” when it comes to promoting and protecting the values you cherish.
- Going forward, all our news, blogs, article, and alert posts will allow our users to comment. Comments will be mildly mediated to assure a civil discourse.
- Just when you thought our advocacy tools couldn’t get any better, well guess what — they did. We have a new and improved Legislative Radar (which currently is only showing demo data since the legislative session hasn’t begun) and the same great Action Center tools for contacting your elected officials and letting them know what you are thinking.
- Version 3.0 delivers a site that is “searchable” from stem to stern. So if you are looking for a particular bill or person, the search bar will be waiting for you at the top of the right sidebar on any page beyond the home page.
- Also, on subsequent pages beyond the home page, you will find a list of “tags” and “categories” in the right sidebar. Consider those to be a quick search index of information on the site.
- Our new site employs new technology to make it easier for search engines to find us and the content on our site quickly and efficiently. This will make it much easier for folks who aren’t yet acquainted with FHA Action to find us as they are searching for a particular bill or political issue.
- For the power users, we now have a site that can easily be syndicated or subscribed to. Subscribers will get all our updates in the email in-box or in other “feed-readers” you may have installed. Use the little “RSS” feed icon located in the top right of every page or located at other locations around the site.
- Yes, there is a lot more yet to come, but this isn’t a bad start for our 2016 web presence! I so wanted to say something silly like “yes there does seem to be a disturbance in the force”, but I decided against it. One of the really cool tools we are playing with is a new iPhone and Android app that will allow the users to stay up to date on the important alerts as they happen. More on that in a future post I hope!
Well, we have been busy going over the work of the folks who represent you in Pierre. The 2015 legislative session was a busy one, and FHA Action was in Pierre with two full-time lobbyists and a handful of additional ones who lobbied on specific issues. We were there putting our efforts into protecting and promoting the values you cherish at the State Capitol. As we gear up for the 2016 legislative session, we thought you might be interested in how your legislators did on some of the more important bills and measures that we were working. We have prepared a concise scorecard that shows exactly that. Click the image below to get your copy today.
Editor’s note: This article was written by Amy Willson who serves FHA Action as our Executive Assistant.
On Tuesday, March 10th Governor Dugaard signed HB 1089. 1089 is an act to ban the practice of female genital mutilation in SD (better known as the FGM Bill). FGM is recognized as a human rights violation and an extreme form of violence and discrimination against women and girls worldwide. FGM is most prevalent in communities in Africa and the Middle East but it is not confined to distant shores. According to a 2013 report by Sanctuary for Families, SD was found to have an estimated 1,344 women and children at risk for FGM. Even though FGM is a Federal crime in the US, there is a general lack of information about how to handle FGM. SD has now become the 24th state to place a state law prohibiting FGM which will help relevant local and civil society groups working in our communities to address this issue.
I was so proud to be able to work with Representative Lynn DiSanto and Senator Jenna Haggar who both embraced this bill when it was brought to them in January. I personally learned a lot about the political process and was honored that the FHA would allow me to lobby on behalf of such an important bill.