Saturday, January 27, 2007

First Crackerbarrel: Schmidt Guards The Plug

I was pleased to have the opportunity to brave the cold wind this morning and attend the first legislative cracker barrel of the season. It was wonderful to see a less divided table up front and a less-divided audience.

My favorite quote of the day was from Sen Tom Katus about how people are guarding $750 M of trust funds, and resisting even using the interest to fund education (I paraphrase):
Some want the State to invest in the stock market. Instead, we want to invest in our children.

I was impressed that Jean French came with a very good and pertinent question about the plans to set up the Voc-Tech system in South Dakota under its own governance and budget, apart from the K-12 umbrella under which it now exists. It was great to hear her on an issue that doesn't just divide everyone. Nice earrings, too, Jean!

I asked brand-new Sen. Dennis Schmidt (R-Rapid City) (below) about why he was the only one to vote against a well-thought out set of bills on end-of-life medical decisions. This package of bills (SB74-75-76) have passed the State Senate and are off to the House and are something we really need. Sen. Schmidt got himself in the news by sounding off that he didn't think the bill was a serious enough effort, mentioning the obvious point that "this isn't about a dog, it's about people." (Read more here on Blogmore.)

We all got a sermon that he always stands on the side of life.

Well, yeah, Sen Schmidt, that's why these bills were carefully crafted by nurses, doctors, and lawyers that, uh, know all about this issue, including former State AG Mark Barnett and others.

This is a good package, it has passed the Senate and is currently in House Judiciary. I recommend you support it. If you want to know more, listen to some of the hearing on the SDPB website (RealPlayer). Schmidt's sermon, which sounds like he wasn't listening (or could not follow) the excellent testimony from the hospice nurses, doctors, and lawyers behind the bills, starts near the end of the tape at 55:30.

Sen. Bill Napoli (below) had some concerns about SB74/5/6 but I hope he will come around and reconsider his support of this legislation when it comes back to conference.

Afterwards I went to Surbeck Center to get this snapshot of Democracy In Action's post-cracker barrel meeting. (DIA meetings which IMHO are striking in their chaotic intensity, but really fun. And they have sure accomplished some great things.)

Here they are conspiring on their socialist agenda to like, uh, give women a fair deal under the law, fund education, increase access to good health care, and support good jobs. (Shameless, aren't they?)

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