The Associated Press
Argus Leader, Sioux Falls. Sept. 19, 2012
Attention needed for farm bill
The lack of a new farm bill is complicated when it shouldn't be and a reminder that members of Congress often forget for whom they work.
It's easy to shake our heads in disgust and say, "Just pass a farm bill." The one authored in 2008 expires Sept. 30.
Can it be that difficult for Republicans and Democrats to come up with a solution that makes sense for farmers, our food supply and the economy, especially in a state such as South Dakota, where agriculture is a huge part of our income and spending? Is it possible our representatives in Washington, D.C., could have worked harder along the way so that the bill wouldn't be allowed to expire when they go home Friday?
Enter the ugliness of politics. The full senate passed a farm bill in June, followed by the House Agriculture Committee action a month later. But that's where the bill stopped, hung up in the full House, with neither side cooperating and both sides blaming the other.
For farmers in South Dakota and other states, a long-term delay in a farm bill will mean uncertainty for those who grow crops and livestock for a living, and it could lead to increased consumer prices. In a year when crops are thwarted by drought and the economy's gears remain stuck in recovery mode, it seems short-sighted to resort to politics instead of a solution.
In the "real world" outside of Washington, people are expected to do their jobs even if the task is difficult. Workers are paid to solve problems, come up with solutions and meet deadlines. It would be nice to think that our representatives in Congress remember how to do that, too.
In this case it's time they get to work on the public's business instead jockeying for position in the November election.
Rapid City Journal. Sept. 20, 2012 Deployed military can vote early
Absentee voting for the Nov. 6 general election begins Sept. 21, in South Dakota. While anyone who is a registered voter can cast their ballots early using the absentee voting procedure, it is especially important that South Dakota residents who are overseas due to a military deployment are aware of how absentee voting works and that they get their ballot returned on or before election day.
To help military and overseas voters get access to an absentee ballot and return them by Nov. 6, the South Dakota Secretary of State's office has helpfully included a section on its website at http://sdsos.gov that explains the steps necessary for obtaining an absentee ballot and returning it to their county auditor by election day.
Overseas voters cannot cast ballots electronically, but the website includes links for obtaining a copy of the South Dakota ballot that can be printed out, completed and then returned by mail, fax or scanned and emailed to a local election official, which in South Dakota is the county auditor where a citizen is registered to vote. According to a release from the Secretary of State's office, the deadline for submitting an absentee ballot is 3 p.m. on election day, which this year is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Voting is an important civic duty of every citizen. We are confident that most military personnel take their right to vote seriously. Being deployed overseas, however, makes participating in the democratic process more difficult. The absentee voting procedure is designed to make it easier for military and overseas voters to return their ballots in time to have their votes count.
Family members at home can do their part by reminding their loved ones to remember to vote. With 46 days remaining until election day, there will be plenty of time for deployed military personnel and overseas voters to return their absentee ballot by Nov. 6. But make sure that you do return your absentee ballot in time, because every vote counts.
Watertown Public Opinion. Sept. 20, 2012
Local voters decide local issues
Every so often a story comes out of Pierre where one state agency or another thinks it has a pretty good idea that everybody should follow. When it comes to education, sometimes, those ideas make sense; sometimes they don't. There should be state standards when it comes to teacher training and certification. There also should be statewide standards about the type of education a public school is expected to provide. And there should be standards about requirements a student needs to meet in order to graduate.
After that, however, things get a little iffy. We have been strong supporters for local control of schools whenever possible. For example, funding. Yes, there must be rules concerning how much money is available to pay for public education and who provides it. And every so often a funding proposal surfaces that demands more money for every district in the state whether they need it or not.
We have two words in response to those proposals: Castlewood, Hoven. Both districts recently voted on local measures to opt out of the state-mandated property tax freeze. Hoven voters said "yes," agreeing to replace an expiring seven-year opt-out with a new seven-year opt-out. Castlewood said "no," deciding to let an opt out passed in 2009 expire rather than approve a new one.
We're not going to comment on the finances of either district or what they should or should not do. But we do like the fact voters in both communities decided for themselves what was best for their communities. After all they live there. They know what the problems are and they're the ones who will live with the decisions they made.
That's the way it should be and why we support local control of local issues whenever possible. One-size fits all solutions coming out of one bureaucracy or another aren't always the answer. How can someone living in Pierre or Sioux Falls or someplace else know what is best in Castlewood or Hoven when it comes to funding and maintaining their schools?
Those are decisions that need to be made at the local level and recent votes prove that. Hoven voters said "yes we need more money now" and Castlewood voters said "no we don't." Those are their schools. Those are their communities and those were their choices. That's the way it should be.