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VOTE411 Voter Guide

State Senator District 1

Description: The South Dakota State Legislature is the legislative branch of the government of South Dakota. It is a bicameral legislative body, consisting of the Senate which has 35 members, and the House of Representatives, which has 70 members. The two houses are similar in most respects; the Senate alone holds the right to confirm gubernatorial appointments to certain offices. The Legislature meets at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre. It begins its annual session of the second Tuesday of January each year. The legislative session lasts 40 working days in odd-numbered years, and 35 days working days in even numbered years. Term: 4 consecutive 2 year termsSalary: $6,000 + $142 per legislative dayRequirements for Office: 21 years old; 2 years residency; qualified voter; may not have been convicted of bribery, perjury or other infamous crime; may not have illegally taken "public moneys".Petition Requirements: Depends on party and legislative district. See SD Secretary of State's website for details.

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  • Michael H. Rohl
    (REP)

  • Candidate picture

    Susan Wismer
    (DEM)

Biographical Information

What will you do to support the economy throughout our state in the face of international trade conflicts and the COVID-19 pandemic?

What should our state government do to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children?

What would you do for our local governments, such as counties, cities and school boards, so that they can be flexible in responding to local issues?

How do you view the initiative and referendum process in South Dakota? Are there any changes to this system that you would support?

With the redistricting process happening after the 2020 Census, how do you view the legislature’s role in this process and would you support an independent citizen redistricting commission?

What are your plans to protect voter rights such as online or same-day voter registration as well as absentee voting/voting by mail?

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Right now Democrat legislators are encouraging our state to get the nearly $1 billion of remaining COVID federal money out into our state's economy, rather than sitting in the state's bank account. I will continue to advocate for better funding of basic government functions: When teachers and care-givers and state employees are fairly compensated and have safe, respectful working conditions, we have done more than any fancy top-down economic development program can do for the health and safety of our citizens. Providing adequate funding for our technical schools and universities, including being an advocate for research work done there, is key as well. New product and company development from university research is a game South Dakota was very tardy for, and we must continue to support those activities. I will advocate for rail and highway infrastructure that can support today's agriculture.
One small-step was taken by Governor Daugaard in 2016. But he only went half as far as he should have in increasing education funding. Education needs at least as much more funding as was added in 2016. The funding formula was updated in 2016 to equalize local money that hadn't been included in the formula calculations previously. That was a good move in working toward a formula that provides all school districts an equal amount per student. That helped erase some of the inequity that exists between "rich" districts and "poor" districts. There are still several school districts that will probably close in the future, but forcing that to happen earlier than the community wants it to happen will NOT solve our education funding woes statewide, and should not be looked upon as a solution.
Cities have more funding flexibilities than counties because they have access to 2% city sales tax revenue in addition to property taxes. Counties need some additional revenue to address the criminal justice burdens that have been passed down to them by the state. The state is essentially balancing its budget on the backs of county taxpayers. That is wrong. I have and will continue to advocate for revisions to our government funding formula that give local entities the tools they need to be responsive to local needs.
The initiative process is subject to abuse by out of staters with deep pockets. It is frustrating to be used as a testing ground for someone's pet idea because we are a small market. Some very dangerous proposals from out-of-state entities have been turned down by our voters, but defeating them has cost our local Chamber groups a lot of campaign money. However, recent GOP changes to the process have been so bad that even the courts have ruled them unenforceable. As a Democrat, I am one of the lonely voices standing in the way of the gutting of the initiative process.

Referendums, on the other hand, have been used well the last few years and are necessary to stop bad bills coming out of the legislature, Our legislature does not fairly represent our citizens because our districts have been extremely gerrymandered, and referendums are one way to check that.
I absolutely support an independent citizen redistricting commission. I served on the last redistricting commission. It was appointed in proportion to the then GOP majority in the legislature, and as such maintained and worsened the gerrymandering that guarantees that the legislature does NOT fairly represent the citizens. Voters should pick their legislators, but as it is now, legislators pick their voters.
As a member of the interim committee, Government Operations and Audit, I spoke this week rejecting the various conspiracy theories that the GOP plants about mail-in ballots compromising the accuracy of the vote. As Democrats, we supported on-line voter registration this past session, but it was killed in a Senate committee with NO opposition testimony. GOP members who voted against that bill included Sen. Jim Bolin of Canton and Sen. Brock Greenfield of Clark.