Opinion

I read with interest and agreement on Noel Hamiel’s recent article about poetry and its current versions in publications. Some poems have become popular songs—for example, Badger Clark’s “Round up Lullaby”.
I am including a poem I wrote after watching a meteor shower with three little granddaughters. The sonnet was written by my daughter when she was in school. The location is by the stagecoach trail along the James River from Huron to Mitchell and on to Yankton.
This is the route Laura and Almonzo Wilder went on their way to Missouri. It wasn’t noted in her journal she wrote along the way because the building was no longer there. Some of the sandstones were used to build the house across the river.
Respectively submitted by
Evelyn Walters,
Letcher

A Celestial Phenomenon
We got up in the middle of the night
To see a phenomenal shower from a meteorite.
The moon was just a sliver and gave no light,
The sky was perfect to view the sight.
They came in singles, pairs and groups
And left light in streaks and loop-to-loops.
We watched a while through the glass doors.
It was way to early to do chores.
Someone got dressed and went outside in the dark,
To get a getter look at every firecracker like spark.
Comets flew across the sky in every direction,
Too far from earth to make a connection.
Some fluttered and fell like a leaf in the breeze
Or left big, long tails over the trees.
One streak was wide and exceptionally long,
You’d think to a jet, it did belong.
Also visible were all of the stars.
The Big Dipper, Orion and even Mars.
Then in the still and silence way above the ground,
Came a faint squawking, honking wild goose sound.
The closer they came the louder it got,
All of those meteors would delay them not.
Then they passed and the silent night returned.
And one by one each and every meteor burned,
The little lights like candles went out.
Before going back to bed, we all gave a shout!
What took place in the sky that mild cool November night,
Really was an awesome sight!
By Evelyn Walters
Nov. 18, 2001

Memories of Old
Where a stage once rode,
Today only indentations remain
Of many a man in the train—
Fighting Indians along the road.

Fertile farmland soon sowed
Of fine crops of milo, corn and cane.
Grass rippling as a horse’s mane,
As the wind blows over the hills of old.

Around a cross designating God,
O! How beautiful a sight to behold
As the cross stands in water—golden rod!
The cross, sculpt of granite, now old.

Many a year has passed,
Memories of a trail long last.

Marlene Walters,
1973
Letcher
(The cross in the poem is located six miles north of Mitchell along the James River.)

The 2017 legislative session has ended and there were some things accomplished that should be of interest to our district.  The appropriations process is complex and I was fortunate to have some house and senate members help bring me somewhat up to speed on how state government funds all programs.
A balanced budget was achieved by making some spending cuts to allow for a 0.3 percent raise to teachers’ salaries and healthcare workers.  This consumed the final days of the season and was a great learning experience for me.
IM22 bills were passed after the repeal of the initiated measure approved by voters last fall.  Laws are now on the books that deal IM22 such as restrictings gift from lobbyists, providing protections for public employee whistleblowers, and provisions for a state government accountability board.  There will be further study and recommendations brought forward to the 2018 legislature on campaign finance and possibly some other aspects of the repealed law.
The governor has signed into law the protections for faith-based and child placement agencies.  The law provides for more options for adoption and foster care.  Amendments were made to the bill before passage that required a child placement agency to have in place a written policy, statement of faith or other document adhered to by the child placement agency.  The agency is further required to provide in writing information advising an applicant of the Department of Social Services website and a list of licensed child placement agencies with contact information.
I am grateful for the support I have received from many of you and look forward to your comments and suggestions for the next legislative year.

The final week of the the legislative session ended with little fanfare as we approved the final budget numbers with the passage of SB 178, an act to appropriate money for the ordinary expense of the legislative, judicial and executive departments of the state, the expenses of state institutions, interest on the public debt, and for common schools. I know it’s a mouthful, but the budget is really an educated guess as to what the future economy will look like, and then trying to identify proposed expenses, as I mentioned in a previous column.
We did agree to cut some programs to fund the 0.3 percent CPI to the schools that was required, and added some help with the ever increasing health insurance costs for state employees. There was a small amount added to the Department of Social Services budget, after some cuts, to provide for a small Medicaid increase of 0.3 percent to some select providers. All in all, we managed to balance the $1.6 billion budget, which in total is $9 million less than FY 17.
SB 176 gathered a lot of attention, as the Governor was concerned, after some reports of potential protest camps similar to what North Dakota had experienced with the Dakota Access pipeline, that our state would not be able to respond with the same resources due to the Keystone pipeline.
The issue that North Dakota had was, if a protester was arrested for trespassing, they would pay their fine and then be right back at the protest site again. That happened many times, as less than six percent of the protesters at the North Dakota site were from North Dakota. There were other issues as well, including people having  their private property vandalized, and truckers being forced off the public road. I supported the stripped down version, which did not include declaring a public safety zone with private property. It did restrict stopping traffic, as well as some other specifics. Let’s hope we don’t have to utilize it!
We debated the cannabidiol (CBD) bill again this year, SB 95. This particular version removed  CBD from the definition under marijuana, and added it to the list of Schedule 4 drugs. For the first time, I supported this idea, as CBD has no psychoactive properties, as it has no THC. The CBD extract is used to treat epilepsy, especially in children, and the trials to allow CBD products to be a prescribed, FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved drug are close to being completed. If approved by the FDA, I would support the legalization of this byproduct.
There were about 24 bills that were introduced to address the many issues that the IM 22 passage created. Those included campaign finance reform, initiated and constitutional ballot measure reform, and a host of other topics. A Government Accountability Board was created, as well as some other changes made to our present reporting system for campaigns. If you want to discuss any specific bill, I would be glad to privately, but there were too many to cover in this column.
Some of you have been following the Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab proposal at SDSU. At issue was not whether to build it, but how to fund it. The ag groups were to come up with a fee or way of taxing their respective groups to pay for the bond payments over 25 years, amounting to about $3.3 million per year. With the total project being almost $59 million, it seemed a heavy lift when the ag sector has been experiencing a downward trend. A proposal was made to use the increased  sales tax dollars originally earmarked for ag land property tax relief from last years’  adjustment to the general school fund levy, which amounted to about 13 cents per acre of land. The ag groups agreed, and SB 172 authorized the ADRDL.
I truly enjoyed serving the citizens of District 8 this year. I hope you believe, whether we are on the same page or not, I will study the topic at hand and make an informed decision. I do have some issues that I will be working on for next session, so if you have any questions or concerns, you can reach me at Leslie.Heinemann@sdlegislature.gov