Thursday, February 15, 2007

Personal Responsibility

What has happened to it? It has now been put on the broad shoulders of the South Dakota Legislature. The latest hot "catch phrase" being bandied about in the blogosphere is how we are becoming a so-called "Nanny State". Why has that term become so popular? Just take a look at some of the bills that have been debated or will be debated this session.

HB1134 - Parents cannot be trusted to safely transport their children in their cars
HB1189 - Second attempt to tell us we can't be trusted with the safety of our children
HB1293 - Women can't be trusted to decide what to do with their bodies
HB1296 - Requiring that women be asked if they wanted to see a sonogram of their fetus before having an abortion (See HB 1293)
SB70 - Regulating massage therapists
SB157 - Bill that would force many small districts to consolidate.
SB171 - Requirement to have abortion clinics post certain legal notices in their lobbies and to make doctors tell patients about these signs.
SB172 - require that a certain statement of law be read by the attending
physician to any pregnant woman prior to performing an abortion.
SB196 - Telling business owners what they can allow their customers to do or not do (smoking).
SB208 - Placing restrictions on the use of tanning beds by minors.

Thank goodness they aren't wasting as much of their time on unimportant issues like heath care and education as we would surely be lost without the above issues getting addressed! How about a bill telling me what time I have to be in bed by as it seems I can't be trusted to figure that out on my own.




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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Making Friends Already

It seems the newly minted Congressman from Minnesota is already making friends on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes it is his right as a Muslim to be sworn into Congress with the Quran. But apparently, the freshman lawmaker doesn’t believe it’s Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-Colo.) right to smoke a cigar in his congressional office.

Ellison’s office called the Capitol Hill Police on Tancredo last Wednesday night as Tancredo was in his office smoking a cigar. The lawmakers have neighboring offices on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building.

Tancredo is currently allowed to smoke in his office though it is a good thing for him he wasn't here in South Dakota as he might have ended up in the "Big House" once the health police got a hold of him.


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Where The Power Lies

Choice, what a magical word. The latest "choice" to be attacked is a business owners choice on whether to allow smoking. In 2002 our legislature mandated that smoking would no longer be permitted in most public places and because of a loophole that I am sure was intentionally left in the bill because of the casino and gambling lobby, establishments that served liquor were exempted.

After abortion, smoking looks to be the next on the list of great evils that our legislature seems to have put the bullseye on. This year, our fearless leaders are again revisiting this issue and this time they are looking to close that loophole, except for you guessed it, casinos. I completely understand those that wish to not be subjected to second hand smoke and many restaurants and bars have already gone smoke free but why are our legislators telling businesses that still allow smoking that they must go smoke free? If you do not wish to be subjected to smokers, you have a choice to go to an establishment that is smoke free. If a business that allows smoking determines that allowing smoking is hurting their business, they are perfectly within their rights to make their business smoke free.

The folks in Pierre seem dead set on legislating how we live our lives and the latest smoking ban is just the latest attempt but what I find funny is how in their seemingly overwhelming concern for our well being, the gambling industry, with all their documented societal issues, again gets a pass. As if it wasn't apparent before, there is no doubt now as to where the power lies. I am all for personal choice, one's right to choose whether to smoke, ones right to choose to gamble, and in this case I guess our legislator's are again choosing to be hypocritical...

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Break From Reality

If you are looking for a break from all the heavy reading regarding world events and politics I came across a really cool site called RetroJunk that would be of interest to those of you like me that grew up in the 60's/70's/80's.

Do you remember Sigmund & the Sea Monsters? How about Inch High Private Eye? This site has clips and articles from these and hundreds of other shows, movies, cartoons, and commercials from the 60's thru the 80's. Check it out but be sure that you have a few hours to kill. Beware, a broadband connection would definitely be a plus if you plan on watching the videos.

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Minimum Wage

In other Legislative news, issues other than abortion actually got discussed as the Senate passed Governor Rounds' minimum wage bill yesterday 29-6. The bill would raise the minimum wage paid to, by some estimates, up to 20,000 South Dakotan's to $7.25 by July 2009.

Of course the all too common hypocrisy, as seems to be the rule in Pierre, was expressed by some detractors of this bill.

Sen. Kenneth McNenny, R-Sturgis, said the state could wait for the federal government to act. A bill in Congress mirrors the measure the Senate passed.

"I really think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves if we're going to jump out and set a minimum wage ahead of the federal," McNenny said.

When it comes to helping living South Dakotan's earn a decent wage we are being told that we should wait for the Federal Government to act but when it comes to other issues that I am sure we can all think of, it is the duty of our state government to get the ball rolling.


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Petiton Not Required

Update Below

As was expected, the latest incarnation of our legislator's attempt to ban abortions passed through the House State Affairs Committee yesterday by a 10-3 vote which means that it is now headed to the full house. It did end up getting changed slightly as the committee members made things just a bit easier on the pro-choice side by requiring that if this bill does indeed pass and get signed into law that it will automatically go to a vote by the residents of South Dakota before making it's long and expensive taxpayer funded trip through the court system. Not that this is a big deal as I have no doubt that like last year's attempt, there would not have been any problem getting enough petition signatures to get it on the ballot but now that extra step will not be required.

Also on an interesting side note, South Dakota already has a trigger law in place that would have banned all abortions very similar to the bill that was defeated last November. This law would have automatically taken effect in the event that the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade. This new legislation, if passed by the Legislature and later by voters would replace that trigger law if it somehow makes it to the SCOTUS and they end up overturning Roe.

My question is if all this eventually occurs, no matter how unlikely, how soon afterward are we facing this question again as you can bet that the zealots in Pierre will again be trying to get rid of any of exceptions that would be contained in this new trigger law and this time it would be a whole lot easier because the Roe question will no longer be hanging over their heads. I guess you can call this the gift that keeps on giving...

UPDATE: KELO is reporting that Gov. Rounds is questioning the Constitutionality of sending a bill directly to the voters without going through the usual petition referral process so it might not be a done deal yet in regards to getting this on the ballot without circulating petitions.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Refreshing

Did anyone catch the 60 minutes interview last night with Barack Obama? I have very little knowledge about his ability to lead our country this early on nor am I saying that he should be considered a viable candidate so soon into the 2008 election cycle but what I found refreshing and to be honest quite impressive was his out-right candor.

Remember Bill Clinton's "I experimented but didn't inhale" quotes? Obama came right out and admitted his drug use as a young adult chalking it up to a rebellious childhood. Colorful language? Just read his first book, according to Steve Kroft from 60 minutes, FCC fines would be awaiting him and 60 minutes if he quoted some of the passages from that book.

Do colorful language and prior experimentation with drugs make him a qualified Presidential Candidate? Of course not, but for once it is refreshing to see a politician admit he is human and not try to spin his life as something it wasn't. I am sure the next couple of years will help provide voters with information they need to decide whether or not they would support him but at least to this point he gets high grades on my honesty scale.


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Legislative Morality At Work

South Dakota legislators are again hard at work this session trying to dictate to us what we should do. This morning at 10am the House State Affairs committee begins the process of getting this year's version of the abortion ban going. Only a few month's after voters turned down their last attempt, they have added the exceptions that they tried to get us to believe were in the last bill including heath of the mother and rape and incest exceptions.

Last Friday, the Health and Human Services Committee passed SB187 which sought to require that hospitals give out information about emergency contraception options to rape victims. Sounds good doesn't it? Well it would have been if they hadn't changed the bill so that medical professionals that oppose this on religious or moral grounds would not have to follow this requirement. Now call me stupid but what would this bill now accomplish? Those believing that rape victims should get this information are already passing it along even without being legally required to do so while those that this bill was written for in the first place would still not be required to do so. Heh, let's waste some more time why don't we.

What I find funny is in an article in the Argus reporting on this there is a quote from Avera Health and Concerned Women for America, 2 groups opposed to requiring health care workers being bound to giving out this information.

medical personnel should not be forced to provide information that might not be factual to all groups or that could be seen as catering to certain views.

Now correct me if I'm wrong here but aren't these 2 groups guilty of exactly what they are using as their reason for opposing this bill? So it's ok to not give out information that is against their views but it is ok to withhold it for the same reason? Hypocrisy, you gotta love it.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

State Library Transition Project

From the email bag:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
From:
State Representative Thomas J Van Norman, District 28A House of Representatives State Capitol Building Pierre, SD 57501


SAVE OUR BOOKS BILLS-"DEFERRED BY HOUSE EDUCATION COMMITTEE"


PIERRE-House Bill 1215 referred to by some as the Save Our Books
bill was deferred to the 41st day by the House Education Committee
Friday, February 2, 2007. The companion Senate Bill 210 received the
same treatment in the Senate Education Committee.


I urge ordinary citizens to contact your Legislators, the
Secretary of Education, and the State Librarian asking them to keep the
State Library open as a public institution, to keep the interlibrary
loan program intact so the State Library can serve citizens, and to
stop the disbursement of 80% of the South Dakota State Library book
collection!


State Representative Tom Van Norman one of the sponsors of the
Save Our Books Bills says, "This is a setback in our efforts to stop
the part of the South Dakota State Library Transition Project Strategic
Plan that calls for disbursement of an estimated 80 percent of the
South Dakota State Library book collection." It also calls for
"disbursing" of all large print books, and cancellation of direct
services for citizens. In fact, the State Library has been sending out
its books since January 1st and closed its doors to the public that
date. The plan is to change the Library from a Public Library into more
of a "special" library that would primarily only serve state government
employees and legislators, as opposed to citizens of this state.


The plan will essentially eliminate a one stop library resource
for South Dakota residents located in rural, small towns and Indian
Reservations. Tribal Colleges do not appear to be eligible to access
the interlibrary loan program under the plan.


Breaking up and removing one of the best library collections in
the midwest and replacing the book shelves with Government office space
just doesn't make sense to me.


Changing the mission of the South Dakota State Library is a
policy decision and to my knowledge the legislature was not consulted
in this rush to implement an out of state library consultant's
misguided plan. I think we need to slow the process down, take a deep
breath and see what the consequences of this plan will actually be to
the citizens of this state before cutting public services even more. I
believe a legislative interim study should be made before our State
Library books are disbursed forever, making it more difficult and more
costly for South Dakota citizens to use. It would be very costly to
replace a great book collection such as what the State Library has made
available to the citizens of South Dakota's since 1913.


And where did all of the large print books get sent off too?


And why is there no money in the proposed State Budget to help
the local libraries who are supposed to handle all interlibrary loans
from now on?


And what are the hours of operation in our rural towns?


The Library Plan is replete with bad timing, bad policy and sends the wrong message.


Our State Government is supposed to serve the citizens, and
that's what the law says about the State Library. The State Library is
responsible for executing the library policy of the State of South
Dakota to promote adequate library service for ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE
STATE, to PROVIDE FOR THE CITIZENS of this state specialized library
services and materials not generally appropriate, economical or
available in other libraries of the state; establish and operate a
state publications library distribution center, and other functions.


Let's keep the books where they belong in our central library!


Tom Van Norman, State Representative District 28A

Nice isn't it? But I see they are going ahead full steam with this year's version of the abortion bill (HB1293) as the next committee hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.  Anyone willing to bet that this bill won't be deferred?



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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Back Once Again

Screw me once shame on you, screw me twice shame on me. What about the 3rd time? My old web host again suspended my site saying that my small little blog was using too many server resources yesterday morning and instead of going into it here I posted about it elsewhere. In my case the 3rd time meant it was time to find another web host that believes a small site using a popular and stable script isn't a burden on their severely over sold servers.

If you are reading this now, it means that the site has finished propagating to the new server and I can finally say goodbye to Webhosting Buzz, the afore-mentioned web host. A few other items you will probably have already noticed is that I have cleaned up the look of the site by changing the template and because of the over 4300 spam comments I have had to resort to making potential commentators login before being able to comment. I also lost a few weeks worth of posts and comments when Webhosting Buzz shut me down.

Anyhow, hopefully I can now get back to a somewhat more regular posting schedule as I shouldn't have to waste time fighting my web host. Thanks to everyone that has kept visiting through all the problems.