Opinion

My Facebook wall, and even my Twitter feed, have been covered with reports and opinions on the rioting these last few days, some condoning such actions, others calling the entire movement BS, and a few calling out the rioting while also sympathizing with the idea that the system does need to be reworked.

I fall among the latter. I don’t understand how rioting is going to help a cause; all it will do is increase the stigma people have for the marginalized group. I also agree with the sentiment that some people don’t care about the movement and are selfishly using it as an opportunity to steal or take out their anger at the world. 

Now that I’ve gotten my stance out of the way, I have to wonder why the riots are all the media seems to be reporting on. Where are the peaceful protests? Where was the coverage of the march that was going on in Sioux Falls the same day as the riot on the other side of town? Where was the coverage of the march in Flint, Mich., where the town’s sheriff even showed his support and joined in? Where was the coverage of the peaceful protesters stopping those trying to incite violence, protecting stores and even handing offenders over to the police like in Washington, D.C.? Where’s the coverage of the officers in many locations across our country taking a knee with protestors?

Instead, most of what I’ve seen reported by big media are the riots, police attacking protestors, rioters attacking police. Because that’s what brings in ratings – sensationalism sells. But this kind of irresponsible reporting just incites outrage and violence and continues to push our country into this “us vs. them” mentality. 

It’s not a surprise coming from the media that already enjoys pitting Republicans and Democrats against each other. That’s why I don’t trust networks like Fox News and CNN that use language to cast blame on the other side. The screenshot included with this column illustrates my point. Neither of these titles tell us about what was passed; instead, they immediately begin attacking the other side. News networks should portray the barebone facts for the viewer to decide how they feel, not portray their own opinions as facts. Be careful not to fall for this trap. Casting the blame on everyone in a single party or group would be like saying “all cops are bad.”

As for the rioting, understand that I’m not suggesting media only portray the “kumbaya” moments, as that would skew the perception that there’s no need for social reform. I just want to see both the peaceful protests and the riots, a well balanced view of the situation. Instead of this oversaturation of anger and despair, let’s bring a little camaraderie and hope into the world.

By Rep. Marli Wiese

It was good to meet with constituents in Flandreau, Madison and Howard last weekend, and I am thankful to the groups that arranged these cracker barrels. Many times, there are questions and comments that we haven’t seen yet, and it helps to know what issues residents of our District are interested in.

All school districts are anxious to hear about sales tax revenue numbers for the last quarter of 2019. We may have good estimates by the end of this week. Legislators are working with the appropriations committee to see if we can give teachers, state employees, and community support providers the increase they need.  

There were several questions about the security system installed at the capitol this fall.  This was not an expenditure that legislators were asked to approve. The system was up and running earlier this year and appears now to be fully operational.

House Bill 1083 to adopt the change in name from technical institutes to technical colleges passed out of the Education committee and the full house floor last week. The bill was proposed as a marketing tool as technical schools work to enroll more students. There were concerns that, since enrollment at tech schools was growing while the Board of Regents schools struggled to hold students, that the bill wasn’t needed. Surrounding states also making this change was another reason for the bill’s introduction.

The Judiciary committee heard HB1047 revising provisions regarding human trafficking. Becky Rasmussen with Call To Freedom was instrumental in the drafting of this bill and has been working with trafficking victims in the state. The bill enhances the crime of human trafficking and allows a minor to apply for expungement of their record while they are still a minor instead of waiting until they are 18 years of age to appear in court on their own. The bill also provides better access to victim resources in terms of victim compensation and restitution.

Madison residents, Kim Verhey and Dan Fritz with American Legion Post #25, were in Pierre last week to receive a commemoration recognizing and honoring the Veterans Park to be built in Madison. The commemoration was read in both the House and Senate chambers. It is our hope that this will draw more attention to the project and assist Post #25 as they continue in fundraising.

I can be reached at  marli.wiese@sdlegislature.gov with any questions or comments you may have as the 95th session enters its fifth week.

By Rep. Randy Gross

Thursday, Feb. 6, was the last day for final bill and joint resolution introduction. The next few weeks will be busy as several hundred bills work their way through committees. I encourage anyone having interest in a specific bill to read the bill, study the topic, identify the committee that will hear the bill and come and testify, if you have the opportunity. Bill information and schedules can be obtained at the state website https//sdlegislature.gov. It is important to promote your position at the committee level, as that is the “grass roots” legislative level. If you are unable to get to Pierre, contact legislators serving on the committee that will debate the bill. You can also testify via conference call by making call arrangements, with the committee chair, prior to the meeting.

In Appropriations committee, we hear from state agencies and departments. In addition to hearing their budget requests, we learn a great deal about our state and opportunities available to our citizens. For example, the South Dakota Department of Tourism offers free online hospitality training. While designed for our state’s tourism industry, the free training is a valuable tool for any business wishing to improve its customer service. Aren’t we all ambassadors for South Dakota! Take a look under “industry resources” at SDvisit.com. Did I mention it’s free?

Another opportunity, offered through our state Department of Education, is the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program. JAG is a state-based, national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing dropouts among young people who have serious barriers to graduation and/or employment. In more than three decades of operation, JAG has delivered consistent, compelling results – helping young people stay in school through graduation, pursue postsecondary education and secure quality entry level jobs leading to career advancement opportunities. South Dakota currently has 200+ students in five school districts participating in the program, with a 100 percent graduation rate.  

A tool all citizens should also be aware of is your ability to report suspected fraud, noncompliance or abuse. If you suspect wrongdoing within state government, go to the Auditor General’s website (legislativeaudit.sd.gov) and click on the red flag on the lower left side. The site provides definitions and instructions for reporting.

This past week, I had the pleasure of meeting briefly in Pierre with several School Superintendents from the 8th District. These individuals are valuable leaders in our communities, linking generations and dealing with many issues which go far beyond traditional education. In addition, 8th District Legislators had the chance to ask and respond to questions from many of you at Saturday’s Cracker Barrel sessions in Flandreau, Madison and Howard. Thanks to all who took time to attend and discuss issues.

Please remember, this is your government and all citizens are welcome to visit their Capitol and testify on bills or simply observe the process. Information on the content and status of bills is available on the state website https://sdlegislature.gov. I can be contacted at Randy.Gross@sdlegislature.gov.

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