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: 605-773-3821; House: 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
The FHA Action team of Executive Director Dale Bartscher and Capitol Lobbyist Norman Woods left Rapid City on Monday, January 9, for Sioux Falls but made an inspiring dinner stop in Mitchell with Dusty Johnson, currently the only declared candidate for the 2018 US House seat. Norman reflected on the evening’s encounter saying, “Dusty shared with us an overview of his campaign fundraising, an explanation of why he is running, and several qualities that our next US Representative should have. Dusty is optimistic that he is gaining traction in his fundraising efforts and his explanation of why he is running was tied into the qualities that he believes our next Representative should have. These qualities included: being a hard worker, balancing work and family, being able to stay afloat in all the political nuances, and connecting with South Dakotans back home. He also said he puts great weight in his Christian Worldview and that even though there may be disagreements at some point, we are all striving for the same goal.” Stay tuned as the race for the South Dakota US House seat is about to get really interesting.
On 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.
The 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.”
It 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.
Last week Norman Woods, FHA Action Lobbyist, and I were down by the river and Norman took this photo of the Pierre Bridge. I like it! It is a great reminder of the fact that in our work here at the Capitol we had better be Bridge Builders if we expect to influence Legislators in the passage and/or defeat of certain bills and/or resolutions.
On this truth the wisdom of Solomon shines through in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one, because they get more done by working together.”
It was a pleasure for Norman and I to have worked together so closely this session, on several bills, with Representative Scott Craig (pictured far left) of Rapid City, District 33 and Matthew Sharp of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). We made for a great team as we focused on doing what was right on bills like HB1008 (Student Physical Privacy Act) and HB1107 (Government Nondiscrimination Act).
We were encouraged throughout this session to welcome to the Capitol a number of FHA friends and family like the FHA Board Members pictured here. Seated with me is Dr. Patrick Clinch, FHA Action Board Chair [PHOTO] and standing with me is FHA Board Member, Dr. Brent Bradley.
This session has certainly had its UPS and DOWNS when it comes to those bills the FHA ACTION either supported or opposed.
It was disappointing to see HB 1008…the Student Physical Privacy Act…vetoed by our Governor. The aim of this bill was as well meaning and void of malice as it was accommodating for people on both sides of the issue. It genuinely sought to address what likely is going to be a prolonged debate in the not-so-distant future in our state.
We sincerely believe that the Governor missed an opportunity to get out in front of this issue and help accommodate both sides in a peaceful and respectful manner. All this bill sought was to protect the physical privacy of 100% of our public school students.
We appreciate the seventy-eight Legislators who stood on principle and voted in support of HB10-08.
We are thankful to all those who called or emailed their Legislators and the Governor asking for support, and for all those on both sides of the debate who opted for civil discourse in the discussion of this issue. So stay tuned, as this issue is not going away.
We are grateful for the passage in the HOUSE this week of the following bills, which will now need the Governor’s signature. They are….
SB159 that is a bill that empowers lower income families, who choose to provide a private school education to their children, to be able to afford it. Sixteen other states have adopted this method successfully to provide more parental choice in the education of their children.
SB129 now being called “Jason’s Law” would require that Teachers be given one hour suicide prevention training as a part of their teacher re-certification process.
SB26 will revise certain provisions concerning sex offender registration and will require an offender to notify law enforcement of intended foreign travel. Currently, here in South Dakota we have 3,448 sex offenders on our registry. This bill will simply help law enforcement track their whereabouts in our state. Typically at any one time 25 of them would be out of compliance. So that means that we have an amazing 99% compliance rate in SD. SB26 will only but improve that already remarkable rate.
SB72 will prohibit the abortion of an unborn child who is capable of experiencing pain and provide a penalty thereof. It is called the ‘Pain Capable Bill’. It has been well documented that unborn babies experience pain during abortion. Because the unborn child’s pain inhibitors have not been fully developed, their pain is even more excruciating. Although we believe abortion at any stage of development is a monumental injustice to the unborn, the pain capable prohibition is set at 20 weeks gestation.
SB72 has had several amendments and currently needs the Senate to concur on the House amendments.
The pro-abortion lobby is pressuring the Governor to veto the bill. Your calls and e-mails are needed to the Governor asking him to sign SB72, the Pain Capable Bill.
ACTION: To email Governor Daugaard urging him to sign SB72, the Pain Capable Bill, click here right here, and follow the instructions. In addition phone his office at (605) 773-3212 and leave a quick message. You can do this!
We are also grateful for the passage in the SENATE this week of the following bills which will now need the Governor’s signature and they are….
HB1110, which will provide pre-natal medical care for certain non-citizen mothers.
HB1157 will require that a doctor provide a woman additional information as a part of informed consent prior to performing an abortion. It has become known as the ‘Informed Consent Bill for Chemical Abortions’! This bill simply provides the mother with better decision-making options.
Friends, in closing, you are invited to attend one of our three, upcoming, Legislative Session Debrief Events sponsored by the Family Heritage Alliance. Please make plans now to attend one Tuesday – Thursday, March 15-17. Sharing a wrap-up of this year’s 91st South Dakota Legislative Session – the good, the bad and the ugly – will be FHA Lobbyist Norman Woods along with myself. For more information and/or to register go to click here!
Until Next Time….Keep looking up and forward my friends!
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.
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.
Each year the FHA Action selects a couple of young people to Intern with us at the Capitol for a one week period each. Those who Intern basically simply shadow Norman and I as we go about our Lobbyist duties. Tomorrow I’ll share with you this week’s FHA Action Intern but first let me take you back to last week when we were honored to have Leah Woods Intern with us. Yes, Leah is the sister to FHA Action Lobbyist Norman Woods as pictured here. She was a joy to work with and represented herself and the FHA Action with a flare of professionalism and excellence. We so appreciate her for taking the time away from her high school studies to experience the SD State Capitol for this past week.
HB1008 (Student Physical Privacy Act) Passes on to House Floor!
Today was a day filled with GOD’S FAVOR as the FHA testified in support of HB1008 in the House State Affairs Committee. This was the ‘Student Physical Privacy Act’. This Bill’s Prime Sponsor Representative Fred Deutsch was magnificent as his testimony was thoughtful and inspiring. I was honored to have testified on behalf of the Bill as well and after all was said and done HB1008 passed out of this committee on a vote of 10 Yeas and 3 Nays. It will now be heard on the floor of the House this Wednesday at the earliest.
HB1048 (Video Lottery Bill) Defeated in Committee
The other Bill I testified in opposition on this morning was HB1048. This was a Bill an Expansion of Video Lottery Bill. The FHA Action was grateful to have teamed up with the always appreciated help of CWA (Concerned Women for America). This Bill was appropriately defeated in the House Commerce and Energy Committee on a vote of 9 Nays and 4 Yeas.
Today was the annual Czech Days at the Capitol and thus I took a moment to have my picture taken with South Dakota’s Czech Days Queen, Princess and Prince.
It was a total joy to spend some time with the Hays Family at the Capitol today. Mom, two daughters and a host of children made their annual family trip to the Capitol to have the children experience our Republic in Action. The father of six of these children, Ezra Hays, serves as our West River Advisory Council Chair. BTW….if you come to the Capitol then please let me know so that we can meet, take a photo, and then you might just end up in my Capitol Blog….like the Hays Family 🙂
Until NEXT TIME please keep looking up and forward my friends!
An annual highlight of the Legislation Session every year is the honor of attending the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. This year a 150+ were in attendance and enjoyed the event’s theme from Acts 2:42 “Teaching, fellowship, breaking bread and prayer.” Yes, it was good to reunite with friends from last year’s event and rub shoulders and hearts with SD Legislators who purposed to rise early for this time of encouragement. Down through the centuries, it has become apparent that great things happen when a few people who love God and love people become bound together in a common commitment with a great love for one another. Ordinary people become extraordinary when such a relationship exists.
This year’s Keynote Speaker was Doug Burleigh, Associate for the Leadership Development Foundation and formerly with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. His message was thoughtful and inspiring as he pronounced, “Our agenda here today is not a religion but a person!”
It was also gratifying to spend a few quality moments with our South Dakota US Senator Mike Rounds. I am always appreciative of those times when we gather to honor our God and we have many of our elected officials in the room simply because they share our Faith in Him. Such was this event as it was also hosted and attended by our Governor Dennis Daugaard.
Following the breakfast it was time to head back to the Capitol for a FULL day of positively influencing our Legislators when able to do so. FHA Action Lobbyist Norman Woods, as pictured here, gave supporting testimony to House Bill 1013. This is a Dept. of Education Bill supported by the SD Homeschoolers and the FHA Action. BTW – it past out of the House Education Committee on a vote of 13 to 0 🙂
Until NEXT TIME please keep looking up and forward my friends!