On 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.
Regularly, 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.
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!
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FHA Action is pleased to be associated with these national organizations.