Posts Tagged ‘SD Legislature

28
Jan
14

Rep. Susan Wismer Announces Campaign for Democratic Nomination for Governor

Susan Wismer

Susan Wismer

State Rep. Susan Wismer, (D-Britton) announced today that she will begin collecting signatures for a campaign for the Democratic nomination for Governor this week.

“South Dakotans need and deserve a state government that works for them,” said Wismer.  “It’s time we had a Governor that stands up for middle-class South Dakotans, invests in education, and brings a fresh voice to the conversation, instead of the machine that has controlled Pierre for a generation.  That’s the kind of leader I intend to be.”

Wismer is a third term Democratic legislator from Britton. She is a small business owner; she and her sister have operated a tax and bookkeeping practice for over 25 years.

She and her husband Mark, also a Britton native, are the parents of three children. Her family has a long history in South Dakota politics. Her grandfather Art Jones was a rural electric leader and State Senator; her uncle Curt Jones was a State Senator from 1970-1986.

Wismer has served on Appropriations Committee since the beginning of her legislative service. She is a current member of Government Operations and Audit Committee, and has served on the Legislative Redistricting, Legislative Planning, and various summer study committees. She is a representative to the Midwestern Higher Education Compact and on the planning committee for the International Legislators Conference. She is an alumnus of the Midwestern Council of State Government’s Bowhay Legislative Leadership Development Program. She was a member of the first class of South Dakota Ag and Rural Leadership.

Wismer is a 1978 graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, with a major in English and a minor in Journalism, and passed the CPA exam in 1982. In her community she has served as secretary treasurer to the Britton Economic Development Corporation and Britton Area Hospice for over 20 years. She is a member of First Presbyterian Church of Britton and has participated on several Presbytery committees.

“I owe the voters notice that they will have a choice in the race for Governor this spring in the primary and in the fall. I will continue the important work of being a state legislator through the course of this year’s session.  I would appreciate your patience as I work through the legislative session, along with my busy tax season at my office. I owe my constituents and my clients my full attention until April 15, after which I will turn my attention to the campaign full-time.”

An official statewide kickoff tour will be announced in the coming months.

15
Jan
14

Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s State of the State address

In case you missed it — here’s a link allowing you to view South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s coverage of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s State of the State address, presented to the Legislature in Pierre Jan. 14:

Video: State of the State Address – 2014 | Watch Statehouse Online | SDPB Television Video.

12
Dec
13

Rep. Kathy Tyler Renews Request for an Independent Forensic Audit from Executive Board

Sioux Falls, SD (December 11) – Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City) plans to ask the state legislature’s executive board to authorize an independent forensic audit of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) overseeing the controversial EB-5 program after her call for a special session did not garner enough signatures.

Tyler released the following statement today:

“While I’m disappointed that two-thirds of the state legislators did not want a special session to follow the money associated with the EB-5 program, Northern Beef Packers, and the GOED, I am pleased at the amount of bipartisan support that there is for an investigation of the EB-5 program and the GOED.

“Many legislators told me they too want answers to the many questions raised about the EB-5 program  but that a special session wasn’t the right venue, and I understand that. They pointed to an article by South Dakota government reporter Bob Mercer, which laid out how the state legislature’s executive board, which has subpoena and summons powers, can authorize an investigation.

“ I had, in fact, already followed Mr. Mercer’s advice. I asked to be placed on the agenda of the November 18th executive board meeting; however, the board rejected my request because of ongoing state investigations. With state investigations closed, we’re now left with more questions than answers.

“Because of continuing bipartisan support for an investigation of the South Dakota’s EB-5 program and its projects, I’m renewing my request for an independent forensic audit at the next executive board meeting on Monday, December 16.

“The more I research the issues and the more people I visit, the more I see the necessity of an independent forensic audit of the entire program and its projects. The $550,000 stolen from the state Future Funds program is just the tip of the iceberg; South Dakota citizens have lost millions of dollars and deserve to know where their money went. It’s our responsibility to find the answers; let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all.”

Kathy Tyler

State Representative

48170 144th St

Big Stone City, SD 57216

605.237.0228

rep.tyler@state.sd.us

www.facebook.com/tylerfordistrict4

04
Dec
13

Commentary by Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City)

Can the state authorize a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc?
By Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City)

One of the big questions concerning my request for a forensic audit of South Dakota’s EB-5 Visa program is whether or not the state has the authority to authorize an audit of SDRC, Inc, a privately held company.

The SD Legislature could and should immediately authorize a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc.

The contract outsourcing the administration of the lucrative EB-5 franchise to SDRC, Inc was made effective on December 22, 2009 and was signed by South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda and by SDRC, Inc. President Joop Bollen on June 4, 2010.

Under Section 14 of the contract: (Please note that SDRC in this paragraph refers to SDRC, Inc.; DTSD is the Department of Tourism and State Development—now GOED; CIS is Citizen and Immigration Service)

“SDRC shall maintain such books, records, and reports as are currently or in the future required by CIS, 8 CFR 204.6 or other applicable law, or as may otherwise reasonably be required by DTSD. SDRC shall provide true and correct copies of such books, records and reports to DTSD as often as such books, records and reports are required to be provided to CIS, but in no event less than monthly. SDRC shall provide DTSD or its designee reasonable access to SDRC’s original books, records and reports such that DTSD can assure itself of SDRC’s compliance with the record-keeping requirements contained in this paragraph.”

Even though the Administration official claims that South Dakota cannot legally audit SDRC, Inc., the contract language specifically states our right to access the original books, records, and reports. The state can and should authorize an audit of the entire program, starting in 2004 to the present time.

Unless the Administration is going to suggest that the Legislature cannot provide oversight to an Executive Branch Department, there is no reason not to order up a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc. It is our duty and responsibility to the citizens of South Dakota to authorize this audit.  It’s time to do what’s right.

If SDRC, Inc. wants to obstruct justice, they can seek their own private attorneys.  It will illuminate just where guilt truly lies.

And off the record, I’m not asking for an audit of a federal program as some reports are stating. I am asking for an audit of South Dakota’s EB-5 program.

12
Jun
13

Governor cancels special legislative session

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has cancelled the special legislative session that had been called for Saturday, June 22, according to a press release issued late Wednesday morning. The governor cancelled the session because of what he describes as “good news” from the federal Veterans Administration. Here is the message that was sent to state lawmakers:

Members of the South Dakota Legislature:

I am writing today with new information from the federal Veterans Administration that is good news about the State Veterans Home project.  Due to this good news, I will be canceling the special session that I had called for June 22.

As you know, I called a special legislative session after bids for the Veterans Home project came in significantly higher than was estimated.  I also accepted the low bid for the project, contingent on approval from the State Legislature to appropriate the additional funds.

As the materials sent to you on May 31 explained, we believed that delaying construction of the project into next year would lead to the State losing a $23.6 million grant from the federal Veterans Administration, as well as the loss of eligibility for Medicaid.  A special session was the only way to appropriate the necessary funds without delaying the project.

That is no longer the case.  We have been working with federal VA officials to find a way around this deadline.  Yesterday, we received word that the grant can be extended so that we have until February 2014, rather than June 2013, to finalize construction plans.   We can also continue to be eligible for Medicaid, so long as work on a new facility is ongoing.

This additional time will allow us to revisit the current plans, seek a scaled-back redesign, and rebid the entire project.

I have spent the last three weeks closely scrutinizing this project, with the hope that cost savings could be found to reduce the cost of the project.  When I wrote to you on May 22, I said that I didn’t believe that we could cut the cost of this project by $10 million and still build the facility that our veterans need.  I now believe that additional cost savings are possible.

Now that we have received additional time, I am ordering that the entire project be reevaluated, redesigned, and rebid.  We owe it to the taxpayers to be certain that we are building a durable, quality, and affordable facility.  Scull Construction has agreed to set aside our contingent acceptance of the bid, and I very much appreciate that.

I am hopeful that design changes could lead to a total cost that we can all feel more comfortable with, although I would caution you that construction costs in the Black Hills do seem to be higher than many regions of the country.  There will be additional information over the next several months, and a new plan will be presented to the 2014 Legislature.

Finally, I want to thank you all for the patience you have shown as we have worked through this difficult process.  I know that many legislators had to change plans to attend the June 22 special session, and I truly appreciate that.  We all want to honor our veterans with a home that will meet their needs for decades to come, even as we maintain our responsibility to the taxpayers we serve.

23
May
13

Governor plans to call special session of Legislature in June

Gov. Dennis Daugaard is preparing to call a special session of the South Dakota Legislature. Here is the message that was sent to state lawmakers today (Wednesday, May 22):

ImageMembers of the South Dakota Legislature:

I want to let you know that I will be calling a special session of the legislature in late June because of developments with the construction of a new State Veterans Home in Hot Springs.

This legislative session, you appropriated $41.3 million to use for the construction of the new Veterans Home.  This includes state funds and spending authority for a $23.6 million federal grant.  I appreciated your support for this important project.

The State Engineer recently opened the bids from contractors for this project.  The lowest bid was considerably above projections, leading to a total project cost of $51.3 million – an overrun of $10 million or almost 25 percent.

Needless to say, I am very disappointed with our architect.  My priority is to build a durable, quality facility for our veterans – they deserve nothing less.  I do not believe that we can cut $10 million from our plans and still build the facility that we need.

Fortunately, I do not believe that this setback needs to delay progress on building the new home.  The State is approaching the end of the fiscal year, and we currently believe that our tax revenues will be $7-10 million higher than projected, and our expenses will be $7-10 million lower than projected.  That means we will have $14-20 million at the end of the fiscal year.

Normally, those excess funds would go into reserves automatically.  Instead, I will be asking the legislature to appropriate a portion of those funds to make up the gap for the construction of the Veterans Home.

In order to expedite this process, I will be calling a special session in late June, so that I can ask you to approve this appropriation.  I do not believe that we can afford to wait until January to take action, because we would lose this construction season.

I have contacted your leadership about setting a date for the special session, which I believe can be completed in a single day, and we will let you know the date soon.

As we head into Memorial Day weekend, I’m sure we will all take time to remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.  Expediting the construction of the Veterans Home honors all veterans by ensuring that South Dakota will continue to provide a quality home for those who need it.

Thank you,

Dennis

19
Jan
13

Shoot down HB 1010

A piece of legislation that likely is very similar to a bill that couldn’t survive a veto from Gov. Dennis Daugaard at the end of last year’s legislative session has been introduced again.

The new bill may have the same intent as the one from last year. It couldn’t be introduced, however, in a time of wildly different circumstances.

Read more of our thoughts on the proposal here: Shoot down HB 1010.




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