This week was a busy week at the Capitol and joining the excitement was the Annual TeenPact Class at the Capitol. Some 43 Middle and High School students from across the state converged on the Capitol for a week of learning and building relationships that will last a lifetime. Then another 44 children flooded the Capitol for TeenPact’s one-day event for 8 to 12 year olds.
Norman Woods, Joanne Woods and Dale Bartscher
FHA Lobbyist Norman Woods was a TeenPact Student and rightly so since his mother, Joanne Woods, is the South Dakota TeenPact State Coordinator. Joanne brings an excitement, passion and a flare of excellence to this needed and awesome program.
Norman and I bookended the week as I was asked to address these TeenPact students in their opening ceremony and Norman had the honored of addressing the students during their Graduation ceremony.
Mark Howard, Dale Bartscher and Norman Woods
It was a treat to stop and visit every so briefly with Mark Howard of Rapid City. Mark is Representative Taffy Howard’s husband. We are so grateful to the many spouses, like Mark, who sacrifice much for their mates to serve the people of South Dakota during the Legislative session.
Tuesday, February 7, will be a day long remembered as the day #130 Pastors and Para-Church Ministry Leaders converged on the SD State Capitol in 2017. It was on this day that the FHA Action celebrated our 7th annual SD Ministry Leaders’ Capitol Summit.
I, along with seven friends, gathered for dinner in Pierre the night before the Summit. Norman Woods, Brennan Culverhouse (FHA Intern), Pastor Scott Craig (FHA Board Chair), Amy Wagner (SD National Day of Prayer), Amy Willson (SD ACT for America) and Gywn Write (Club For Growth). Joining the seven of us was JC Church, the Family Research Council’s Midwest Representative and the Summit’s keynote speaker. It has been said, “We can either fight, flight or freeze when a challenge comes!” Well, the eight of us, gathered that night,are up for the challenge and we’re in this fight for our family values to WIN it.
One of the greatest blessings from the day is the time these Spiritual Leaders have to spend with their elected officials. Pictured here is Matt Irwin of Rapid City in prayer with his Pastor and Representative Sean McPherson. This scene was duplicated dozens of times throughout the morning.
Every year those gathered for the Summit meet on the Rotunda steps for a photo shoot and the opportunity to sing a few patriotic songs. Once again we were joined this year by our SD Governor and Lt. Governor along with our Attorney General and numerous other elected officials. The Summit’s afternoon’s luncheon and meeting was held at the Pierre Community Bible Church. Pastor Harvey Friez and their Hospitality Team treated us with a flare of excellence.
We are grateful that President Trump has promised to protect our Constitutional freedom of religion. Now is your chance to hold him to that promise! Family Heritage Alliance, our national ally Family Policy Alliance, and our network of 40 state-based family groups have written a letter to be sent to President Trump and Vice President Pence urging them to sign an Executive Order to protect our religious freedom. Click Here to read this letter.
The Executive Order reinforces existing religious freedom protections in the law and affirms that the Administration will respect the religious freedom rights of all Americans.
The policy of the previous administration was one of systematically bullying individuals of faith, religious organizations, faith-based businesses and churches. This hostility at the federal level impacted religious freedom at the state level as well, including here in South Dakota.
Who can forget the story of Barronelle Stutzman, a florist in Washington State, who stands to lose her business and her life savings all because she refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding ceremony? Or what about the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who provide care for the elderly? They were nearly forced to offer contraception in their healthcare plan simply because the Obama Administration dictated it.
Side Note: The FHA Action is supportive of South Dakota’s SB149. This bill would ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are free to continue placing children into families with a mother and a father. Catholic Social Services, Bethany Christian Services and New Horizons Adoption Agency, all in South Dakota, are at risk of closing if the state or a state agency forces them to adopt out to families other than what their convictions allow. Please write a brief email by Clicking Here and ask for the Legislators support of SB149.
President Trump also needs to hear that you believe religious freedom means more than just the freedom to worship in our churches—it means that all people, of all faiths, in all places, at all times have the freedom to live out their faith. That’s what makes our country so great. We’ve made it easy for you to make your voice heard.
Share this post and Click Here to write a message to President Trump, asking him to sign the religious freedom executive order because it:
Fulfills his campaign promise to make religious freedom a “first priority.”
Protects religious organizations against being forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs.
Defends faith-based charities (which provide over $ 1 trillion annually in benefits to Americans) from being punished by the government for peacefully operating consistently with their beliefs.
It’s Tuesday February 7th. There’s a light dusting of snow on my truck as I make my way to the Flying J Truck Stop on the eastern edge of Rapid City. I am going to meet the Stagecoach West bus that will take me to Pierre, South Dakota for the Family Heritage Alliance sponsored SD Ministry Leaders’ Capitol Summit.
I’m honored to be riding with some 38 pastors and ministry leaders and the cabin is abuzz with conversation. Tonya Torve, FHA’s Administrative Assistant is moving through the cabin offering refreshments and a warm smile. A few ask about what’s the latest in Pierre but many are just sharing experiences with other like-minded believers. In the sure and experienced hands of our driver, Ken Updike, the trip goes quickly and soon we arrive at our State Capitol.
The sun is shining brightly as we make our way to the Rotunda where we are met by Executive Director Dale Bartscher, Norman Woods and more than a hundred others. While we were approaching from the west, Lavonne Fosness was leading another bus load of believers from Sioux Falls and a host of other vehicles were arriving from across the state. After some coffee, cookies and a yogurt parfait, Dale and Norman briefed us and then all are free to fan out through the beautiful Capitol Building to engage with lawmakers, constitutional officers or to sit in on committee meetings.
I visit Room 423 where the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee is conducting a hearing on SB 81, a bill to prohibit powdered alcohol in South Dakota that FHA Action is supporting. Dale Bartscher is testifying in support of this bill and the committee approves unanimously to send it to the floor for a vote. It’s fun to win one!!!
But it’s now almost 11:30 when we return to the Capitol Rotunda and fill the entire grand staircase for a group photo. We are joined there by many legislators, constitutional officers, Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels and Governor Dennis Daugaard and as a group we sing, filling the entire building with my favorite “God Bless America”.
It’s off then to enjoy lunch graciously provided and served by Community Bible Church. Once again we are honored to be joined by many legislators and constitutional officers.
But it’s not over yet!!! We then are inspired by a rousing message from Pastor J.C. Church from the Family Research Council who spoke of the need for all churches and believers to be bold and stand for our values and beliefs. Wow, if this man doesn’t motivate you to action, I don’t know who will.
Then it was back on the bus for the loud and fun ride back home. As I stood and watched from the back of the bus, I thought that the ride to and from alone was great. But everything else made it a truly memorable day.
God blessed us abundantly and I am especially grateful that I could be a part of it.
Pastors and Ministry Leaders mark your calendar today for next year’s Capitol Summit on Tuesday, February 6, 2018. Can’t wait till next year.
It’s Friday and the Legislative Session is concluded for the week. Norman Woods and I are headed back to Rapid City for a quick turnaround weekend. Norman’s driving and I’m typing 🙂 It is always great seeing friends swing by the Capitol from time to time during session. Such a friend was Matthew Johnson. Matthew is a med student with USD and the son of Rapid City resident’s Dr. David and Teresa Johnson. Matthew interned with Norman and I at the Capitol in 2012. We wish this young man the very, very best.
We were more than grateful that HB1069 passed its final hurdle and was signed by the Governor. This was the bill that repealed Initiated Measure 22 – a 34 page, 70 section, 14,000 word disaster of a measure. Now the Legislature is in the process of replacing some of the vital interests in the measure. May God grant these men and women wisdom in doing so.
Senator Stace Nelson
SB102 has now passed through the Senate on a vote of 33 to 0 with 2 excused. This is a human trafficking bill that will require that the name and telephone number of an organization fighting to end sex trafficking be given, in writing, to any woman seeking an abortion. We so appreciate the passionate support coming from the floor of the Senate today from these Senators: Stace Nelson (Prime Sponsor), Jenna Netherton, Deb Soholt and Phil Jensen.
Please continue to follow our work here at the Capitol by going to www.FHAaction.org and click on Legislative Radar. The Apostle Paul said it right in I Corinthians 15:58… “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
The past few days here at the Capitol have certainly been UP and DOWN to say the very least.
SB102 Dale in Committee
THE UP:Concurrent Resolution #4 – Finding That Pornography is a Public Health Crises — has now made it’s way through BOTH the Senate and the House with unanimous votes. This Resolution will now be a tool in our toolbox as we continue to support the strengthening of our South Dakota families. We give a shout-out to this Resolution’s sponsors – Senator Jenna Netherton of Sioux Falls and Representative Taffy Howard of Rapid City.
From time to time an organization or business will furnish lunch for those in the Capitol and this week once again it was Madison/DSU Day at the Capitol. They chose to have Hy-vee cater the meal….Yummy!
HyVee Day Lunch
I was honored to give testimony on SB102, a bill the FHA Action has endorsed. Yes, it passed on a 6-0 vote out of the Health and Human Services Committee this week. SB102 is an act to require that the name and telephone number of an organization fighting to end sex trafficking be given, in writing, to any woman seeking an abortion. It is now on its way to the Senate for a floor vote. We give a shout-out to this bill’s sponsors – Senator Stace Nelson of Fulton and Representative Lynne DiSanto of Box Elder.
Catacomb Caucus was a needed breath of fresh air this week as friends crowded into the Governor’s large conference room to remember who’s in charge – God is! Music was led by Trudy Qualm, Representative Sean McPherson shared our devotional thought for the day and Pastor Mark Chase of Netcasters closed in prayer. It doesn’t get any better than this.
THE DOWN: As you may have heard by now (news travels fast) our ’Student Privacy Act’ has been WITHDRAWN in Committee this week. We simply could not overcome…..LEGISLATIVE FATIGUE…..and the Governor’s promised veto of SB115!
Protecting the privacy and dignity of all students while under the care of our public schools is a high priority. Thus, SB 115 would ensure that every South Dakota elementary and secondary public school student is guaranteed a baseline of privacy while using the most intimate areas: public school locker rooms, showers and other changing facilities. All this while still permitting local schools to craft accommodations that suit the needs of their student body.
This year the school restrooms were intentionally left out of SB 115. This was done as a good faith compromise to Governor Daugaard who last year vetoed a like bill…HB1008. We were in sincere hope that our Governor would take a second look at the merits of this bill but unfortunately he immediately called a press conference and publicly rejected SB 115 before our team had the opportunity of defending it in his presence.
The FHA Action remains committed to addressing this issue across the state of South Dakota because protecting the PRIVACY of every South Dakota Student must be assured. So … stay tuned as this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. In the meantime follow our work here at the Capitol by going to www.FHAaction.org and click on Legislative Radar.
Many of our friends across the state have been following our efforts to pass Senate Bill 115 – our Student Privacy Act.
Protecting the privacy and dignity of all students while under the care of our public schools is a high priority for the FHA Action. Thus, SB 115 would ensure that every South Dakota elementary and secondary public school student is guaranteed a baseline of privacy while using the most intimate areas: public school locker rooms, showers and other changing facilities. All this while still permitting local schools to craft accommodations that suit the needs of their student body.
This year the school restrooms were intentionally left out of SB 115. This was done as a good faith compromise to Governor Daugaard who last year vetoed a like bill…HB1008. We were in sincere hope that our Governor would take an honest second look at the merits of this bill but unfortunately he chose to immediately call a press conference and publicly rejected SB 115 before we had the opportunity of defending it in his presence.
Thus SB115 was to go before a very reluctant Senate Education Committee this past Tuesday morning. So, due in part to the Governor’s promised Veto, the Prime Sponsor of SB115 chose to WITHDRAW the bill rather than put the bill through a possible Senate smoke out attempt and a veto override battle. The FHA Action remains committed to addressing this issue across the state of South Dakota because protecting the PRIVACY of every South Dakota Student must be assured and is a priority. So … stay tuned as this issue isn’t going away anytime soon.
We more than appreciate the Prime Sponsors for SB115: Senator Lance Russell of Hot Springs and Representative Tom Brunner of Nisland. They are champions who truly believe in protecting the privacy of every student and were fully committed to the passage of the bill.
We want to encourage you to follow our work at the South Dakota Capitol during this 92nd Legislative Session by going to FHAAction.org and click on LEGISLATIVE RADAR.
On Wednesday, January 25, Senate Bill 115 (Click Here for the Bill) – The Student Privacy Act – was posted on the SD Legislative Website. It will be first heard in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, January 31 at 7:45 a.m. (CST).
The Family Heritage Alliance Action enthusiastically endorses the passage of SB115 and applauds the bill’s Sponsors, Senator Lance Russell (District 30) and Representative Tom Brunner (District 29), for championing this family valued legislation.
Protecting the privacy and dignity of all students while under the care of our public schools is a high priority. Thus, FHA Action is endeavoring to ensure that every South Dakota student is guaranteed a baseline of privacy while using public school locker rooms, showers and other changing facilities while still permitting local schools to craft accommodations that suit the needs of their student body. SB115 is a vital step towards accomplishing this goal.
Upon comparison of the 2016 Student Privacy Act (HB1008) and this 2017 Act, several main differences will be apparent. First, we have improved the language in almost every section of the bill to make for a better law. For example, provisions are added for parents needing to help small children, and schools may rely upon a student’s original birth certificate as definitive evidence of a student’s sex. Second, the “restroom” provision has been removed from the discussion. We have been given counsel by several stakeholders that this would be a reasonable compromise, and we have agreed. The law would provide protections for the most intimate areas—locker rooms, showers and changing facilities, where privacy concerns are at their greatest.
Your opportunity to ACT is NOW. Your voice must be heard in Pierre as our SD Legislature and Governor must be encouraged to do what is right – it’s common sense as every child’s privacy matters. Respectfully encourage a YES Vote on SB115.
Please follow the work of the FHA Action, during the Legislative Session, by going to FHA Action’s Legislative Radar (Click Here) and from here you will be able to contact your Legislators.
Today began well at our SD State Capitol as I was invited to attend what is called – The Catholic Legislators’ Prayer Group. Most Tuesday mornings at the Capitol this group of Legislators, from both sides of the political isle, will meet for Christian fellowship, prayer and a devotional from a prayer book called “A Month’s Journey With the Merciful Jesus” by Allan F Wright. This morning’s session was led by Representative Leslie Heinemann.
Dale Bartscher & Ben Lee
I am always gratified when my friends come to the Capitol for various reasons during session. This past week I sat down with and had a great conversation with my friend Ben Lee. Ben is the State Director, of the South Dakota chapter of Americans for Prosperity headquartered in Sioux Falls.
I was also blessed to run into my friend Bill Walsh. I recognized Bill by the Cowboy Hat he was wearing – as he always wears this Cowboy Hat 🙂 Bill is a political junkie from Rapid City and although we might be on opposite sides of several issues we are still friends who will take the time to hear what one another has to say. Yes, he makes me smile 🙂
Dale Bartscher & Bill Walsh
Today I was gratified that SB55 passed out of the Senate Ed Committee. It is an academic freedom bill which protects a teacher’s ability to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of any scientific information located in their curriculum. Two amazing Resolutions passed on the Senate floor today as well. SCR2 which demonstrates support for our electoral college system; and SCR4 which identifies that pornography has become a national health crises. Finally, the House overwhelming passed HB1069 which in essence repeals Initiated Measure 22 which was slimly passed by the SD voters last November. The FHA Action totally endorses HB1069 in order to rid our state of this unconstitutional IM22.
Today brought some high drama to the Capitol in the form of House Bill 1069 – An Act to repeal and revise certain provisions related to campaign finance and to declare an emergency. In essence this bill would repeal Initiated Measure 22 as passed by South Dakota voters on November 8, 2016, ballot.
A joint session of both the House and Senate State Affairs Committees hosted a room full of observers this afternoon at which time I gave testimony in support of HB1069. Here were my brief comments:
“We stand in support of HB 1069. The Family Heritage Alliance Action sensed from the beginning that Initiated Measure 22 was bad law and that’s why we joined the statewide coalition opposing its passage. On November 23, 2016, following IM22’s very slim statewide margin of victory, the FHA Action became one of many plaintiffs in a court case challenge of the constitutionality of IM22.
The FHA Action believes IM-22 may have good intentions, but unfortunately IM-22 uses methods that appear clearly unconstitutional and will chill legitimate political activity by non-profit organizations, such as the Family Heritage Alliance Action, and individuals across the political spectrum. FHA Action wants to promote ethical government, but even the goal of making government more ethical does NOT justify ignoring important constitutional constraints like separation of powers and equal protection that are also intended to protect the people of South Dakota.
FHA Action absolutely believes in the importance of ethical government and would be happy to support new laws that promote ethical government without violating the constitution or chilling legitimate political activity. Thus, we respectfully ask for your support of HB 1069.”
After two hours and 45 minutes of taking testimony, and asking and answering questions, the vote was taken and HB 1069 was passed overwhelmingly on a vote of 10 to 3. This battle on IM22 simply reminds me on this truth: Good policy is done reflectively and not reflexively.