Dale’s FHA Action Blog – Day 24

This week’s Catacomb Caucus was uniquely led by a father/daughter team.  Senator Jenna Netherton and Representative Don Haggar inspired us to LOVE out-loud taking as our lead the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:4-9.  We have only three devotional morning’s remaining:  Feb. 22 – Rep. Isaac Latterell, March 1 – PUC Chris Nelson, and March 8 – Trudy Qualm.  If your in the Capitol those days (Wednesdays) then please join us in the Governor’s large conference room from 7:00 – 7:30 a.m.

Author John Maxwell rightly wrote, “Leadership is Influence”.  He’s right and by God’s grace the FHA Action’s team of lobbyists, Dale Bartscher, Norman Woods and Ed Randazzo, are endeavoring to exercise that influence.  The 92nd Legislative Session is currently considering some 436 bills and resolutions.  Please follow the work of the FHA Action by regularly going to www.FHAaction.org and click on ‘Legislative Radar’ to view those bills and/or resolutions we are tracking.

One such bill we are enthusiastically supporting is:  SB149:  A Faith-Based Adoption Agency Protection Bill

We need your HELP in the passage of SB149 an bill that ensures that faith-based adoption agencies in South Dakota are free to continue placing children and making decisions that are consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs and moral convictions. The bill prevents the state from coming down with a “heavy hand” on any agency because that agency follows their convictions.

A few of our wonderful SB149 support team members are pictured here and from left to right they are:  Norman Woods (FHA Action Lobbyist), Jim Kinyon (West River Catholic Social Services), Senator Alan Solano (Rapid City), Troy Cumings (Bethany Christian Services National Office), Renee Eggebraaten (Bethany Christian Services of Western SD), and Dale Bartscher (FHA Action Lobbyist).   Not picture is Representative Steve Haugaard of Sioux Falls and our CWA partners.

TAKE ACTION NOW:  To contact your SD Senator simply click here.  You may also call the Senate and House Switchboard phone numbers and leave a message:  Senate:  605-773-3821House:  605-773-3851.  These numbers are open and available for taking messages from 7:45 a.m. (CST) until one hour after session concludes for the day.  SB149 will likely be voted on the SD Senate floor this coming Wednesday, February 22.

God Bless you and yours as together we fight for that which is right.

2017 Capitol Summit

My Day at the Summit – Ed Randazzo

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.

 

Boots on the Ground in Pierre

“Boots on the ground!”  — That’s a phrase that conjures up images of armed conflict and troop deployments to places most folks have a difficult time finding on a map.  However, FHA Action is “boots on the ground” right now in Pierre, protecting and promoting the values you cherish.  With two full-time lobbyists working the halls and chambers of the State Capitol, we are extremely valuable assets if you value Faith, Family, and Freedom.  Our Executive Director, Dale Bartscher, and our Youth and Young Adult Coordinator, Norman Woods have forged an effective lobbying team with a proven track record.  They will be joined this year, on occasion, by our Public Policy Analyst, Ed Randazzo, who is, in his own right, an experienced political tactician.  And, as if that were not enough, FHA Action has assembled an amazing team of legislative experts, organizers, and communications technology people.  We are night and day analyzing the legislation moving through our state system, and rallying support for the values about which you and we are passionate!

As the action heats up in Pierre, FHA Action is on the ground there working diligently to protect and promote faith, family, and freedom.  Please keep FHA Action in your prayers, and keep your eyes on FHAAction.org as we keep you updated on the bills that impact your life and your values.  Please be prepared to, in a moment’s notice, contact your legislators.  We will help you on this front.  We just need you to stay tuned and ready to respond.

Governor Daugaard Details Medicaid Expansion Plan to FHA Team

By John Dennis and Ed Randazzo

sizedDSC_0235On Friday August 12, Governor Dennis Daugaard, two staffers, and Kim Malsam-Rydson, South Dakota Secretary of Health, made their way to the Rapid City offices of Family Heritage Alliance.  The purpose of the meeting was a cordial and informal informational discussion, between the Governor and FHA Board Members and Staff regarding, the proposed expansion of Medicaid in South Dakota, between the Governor and FHA Board Members and Staff.

The Governor presented almost an hour and a half of information detailing the complexities of health care, and the financial impact it has on the state. He explained his view of the benefits of Medicaid Expansion which include, among others, additional and improved health care for some of the neediest in our state, improving payments to some providers, and reducing the state’s portion of payments in Medicaid cases.

For the board and staff of FHA, this was a fact finding mission only.  The FHA team listened intently to the Governor’s presentation, pausing only occasionally to ask questions.

To continue to research and better understand the complexities of this issue, Dale Bartscher, FHA’s Executive Director, has already reached out to “Americans for Prosperity”, requesting a similar meeting to examine this issue from another perspective.  Ben Lee, Executive Director of AFP was quoted as saying, “consider it done.”

Family Heritage Alliance is deeply honored that Governor Daugaard and team would take time to travel from Pierre to Rapid City to discuss this very complicated issue with us.

Stay informed and in touch with us here for further updates on this important issue for South Dakota.  Much discussion is yet to be had before this issue possibly comes before South Dakota legislators in the 2017 session.

For more pictures from this event, check out our Facebook post.  Click here.

SD Governor’s Veto Consideration Day

signing2-jasonflatactOn Tuesday, March 29, FHA Public Policy Analysis Ed Randazzo, FHA Lobbyist Norman Woods and I made our way to Pierre for the Governor’s Veto Consideration Day.  It was a FULL day, which began with Norman and I being invited to stand in a photo shoot as the Governor signed two of the bills we supported into law.

The First was the signing of SB129 – the Suicide Prevention Bill.  South Dakota has become the 17th state to pass the Jason Flatt Act.  Matt Walz of the Keystone Treatment Center, Canton, SD, said of SB129,

Today, supporters from across the state attended a bill signing ceremony with the Governor. The passage of the Jason Flatt Act in South Dakota is an exciting step toward reducing the ‘Silent Epidemic’ of teen suicide.

The Jason Flatt Act – South Dakota, will require teachers and certified public school personnel to complete at least one hour of training on youth suicide prevention and awareness per certification cycle. Teachers are on the front lines of suicide prevention and if given the right tools, they can identify a teen who may be considering suicide and refer appropriately. 

Teacher training is proven to be one of the most impactful policy strategies a state can adopt to prevent teen suicide, said Clark Flatt, President of the Jason Foundation.

signing1The Second signing was of SB72 – the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Bill.  Representative Fred Deutsch, who also serves as the President of the SD Right To Life, wrote of those gathered for this photo shoot:

(We are) Grateful to work with these fine people to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain.

When it comes to the subject of ABORTION Pope Francis was wise in having said: “Abortion is a death sentence for unborn children.”  This bill – the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act – supports South Dakota’s long-standing tradition of upholding a “culture of life.” 

dale-martyIt was a good day of connecting with a number of our FHA Legislative friends and meeting some NEW Legislative candidates as well.  One such friend is our Attorney General Marty Jackley.  We are looking forward to working with him and fellow Legislators as we prepare legislation for the 2017 92nd Legislative Session in Pierre.

What FHA is All About

DSC_0478compressedRegularly, I get the question, “what exactly does Family Heritage Alliance do?”  It is then my task to try to encapsulate the identity and mission of this organization in a ten second burst of information.  Why ten seconds?  Glad you asked.  My research has determined that ten seconds is about the length of time it takes for the inquirer to experience that overwhelmed, eyes glazed over, “sorry I asked” response.  I can say we are a faith and family valued advocacy group, but that only gets a little sliver of what we do.  I can say we are public policy think tank, but then again, that only covers a tiny portion of the FHA and FHA Action’s work, mission, and vision.  I can say we are lobbyists, but that only covers a tiny corner of our wheelhouse.   In defining FHA and FHA Action, it would be really cool if there was one event that, in a scaled down way, demonstrated everything that we are about.  Fortunately, as it turns out, such an event does exist.  Every year in February, as the South Dakota Legislative session is fully under way, FHA Action brings ministry leaders in from all over the state for a day at the Capitol in Pierre.  They are there to be educated and encouraged.  They are there to influence and encourage the legislators.  They are there to make a simple statement: “We are Christians, and we aren’t about to bow out of the public square.”  In a very real way, we intentionally collide two worlds that many assume cannot or should not coexist.  We intentionally mix the two things most experienced hosts know you don’t talk about at a family gathering.  Yes, yes we do intentionally mix politics and religion.  But before you make a judgement on this, be advised of the following.  We believe at our core that Jesus demands to be Lord of our life, not Lord of our life with the exception of certain areas which we or our society have deemed outside His domain.  So, pretty sure, politics and our involvement therein fits neatly in the territory Jesus rules.  If that makes folks uncomfortable, they will have to take it up with HIM!

The event, by the way, is called the S.D. Ministry Leaders’ Capitol Summit, and this year it happened on Monday, February 22, and was attended by over 150 ministry leaders, legislators, elected officials, and FHA Staff.  Our keynote speaker this year was Pastor Mark Gonzales, executive director of the “Black Robe Regiment”.  To say that he had the room on the edge of their seats is an understatement.  We also heard from FHA’s legal counsel, Jennifer Utter; Don Matolyak who was representing Franklin Graham’s “Decision America Tour”; and others.  As is often the case at FHA events, one brilliant show-stealer was the youngsters that were there.  Most of the youth there were FHA interns, admirable and quality folks everyone.  We are so thankful to Pastor Friez and his entire team at Community Bible Church in Pierre.  They always do such a great job.  LaVonne Fossness and Amy Willson worked on opposite ends of the state to bring this off flawlessly in the middle.  Ed Randazzo did a great job of photography and security.  Our lobbying team of Dale Bartscher and Norman Woods did a super job of guiding us through issues and protocol.  In all, it was just about a perfect day.  To all who came, our deepest appreciation.

I know it will take some time, but take a look at some of the video below.  It will help give you a sense of what the Summit is all about.  To see all the images of the event, take a look at our Facebook post by clicking here.

We are in the middle of a fund drive for FHA Action.  Now is the time to give if there ever was one.  We are fighting tooth and nail for the values you cherish.  Please consider giving right now by clicking on this link.

FHA Action Wraps Up Successful Legislative Preview Tour

previewtourcolFHA Action’s legislative preview tour began January 12 in Rapid City where 140 came out to eat chili and listen to an overview of the issues facing South Dakota’s 91st Legislative Session.  Thanks to all who made chili.  The chili went over well and it was a huge boost to FHA financially!  Also, at the Rapid City event, we were honored to have our Mayor, Steve Allender, in attendance and on the stage for a quick “State of the City” address.

The FHA Action team left Rapid City for an evening dessert reception in Mitchell.  We had 20 in attendance at that event.

From there, our hearty travelers moved on to Sioux Falls for a luncheon there on January 13.  In Sioux Falls, the team found 60 in attendance.

As always, Dale and Norman (our lobbying “A” team) did a great job, enthusiastically lining out some of the many issues we face as the 2016 legislative session gets underway in Pierre.

Thanks to Craig Ericks, Amy Wagner, and our newest staff member, Ed Randazzo who joined the travelers on their journey.  Many of the pictures of this event came from Ed’s camera.  Thanks for that Ed.  We so appreciate our host churches:  RC – Bethel Assembly of God; Mitchell – Mitchell Wesleyan Church; and SF – Church at the Gate.  We so value the partnerships we have with so many amazing congregations across the state.  Also, thanks to our volunteers, our interns, and Amy Willson and LaVonne Fosness who always keep these projects on track.

Click here for all the pics from the event on our Facebook post.

SD Lawmakers Gather For Governor’s Budget Speech

red_DSC_0926On 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!

Click here to see all the pictures from this event on our Facebook post.

A Message to Congress

Written by Dale Bartscher

The Family Heritage Alliance Action’s message to those representing
“We The People” in the US Congress is clear and it’s essence is found in the words
of an unknown author:
“Don’t pray for a lighter burden. Pray for a stronger back.”

dale_legislatorsIt was a flying trip putting 750 miles on my car in less than 12 hours but it was more than worth the effort! FHA Policy Analysis Ed Randazzo and I received a gracious invitation to attend a reception in Sioux Falls on Thursday, August 6. Our South Dakota US Representative Kristi Noem hosted this event. Her traveling guest, on this day, was US Representative and former Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

A hundred plus patriots filled the room that evening. This face-to-face encounter with two Christian conservative leaders in the US House gave me, as your FHA Executive Director, an opportunity to address with each of them several family valued issues they will soon be dealing with in Congress.

When Congress does return on September 8, they will have little time to deal with some very important legislation such as bills –

  • to defund Planned Parenthood;
  • to prohibit abortions over 20 weeks (Pain Capable Bill);
  • and to pass the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).

It seems to us that Conservatives in both the House and Senate, like Noem and Ryan, need to find ‘must-pass legislation’ to attach these three important bills to. As standalone legislation, each of them face a Presidential veto and currently there are not enough votes to override his veto.

Pierre Bynum, Chaplain and National Prayer Director for the Family Research Council (FRC) recently shared this urgent plea: “FADA cannot wait. So much hangs on religious liberty. Without it, conscientious objectors to the HHS mandate (e.g., the Little Sisters of the Poor, Christian Universities, etc.) and same-sex marriage (e.g., wedding vendors, chaplains, county clerks, etc.) will all be in jeopardy.”

Today as Christians let us STAND to encourage those who represent us in DC to move these three important pieces of legislation along in the best form possible for their ultimate passage. Psalm 11:7 (MSG) echoes this sentiment, “God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.”