2017 SD Legislative Sessions – Dan Ahlers Week 7 Update

dan_ahlersGreetings from Pierre. Its crunch time at the capitol. We had cross-over, Appropriations sub-committees reviewed department budgets and I will give an update on some of the more interesting bills.

Cross-over was Thursday. This day is when all bills must be out of the house of origin. House bills out of the House and vice versa. Legislators are like high school students that wait until Sunday to finish homework due on Monday. Consequently, the House worked until 9:20 p.m. and the Senate until 6:30 p.m. on Thursday to get its work done.

Appropriations sub-committees started meeting this past week with departments to evaluate budgets. So far, we have adopted sub-committee recommendations for the governor’s office, lieutenant governor, office of economic development, state auditor, state treasurer and the PUC. Many of these departments have small budgets, so the reviews do not take much time. Appropriations must find $25 million in the 2017 and nearly $30 million in the 2018 in order to balance the budget. Most of 2017 will be accomplished with one time savings like the closure of STAR Academy. The savings from the closure will be approximately $2 million. Some of the savings will come from department suggestions and a reduction in current spending for the remainder of the fiscal year. Any deficit left will most likely come from reserves. For 2018, Appropriations and its sub-committees are eliminating most of the department’s program expansions. Education will get its mandatory increase of .3%. Our service providers will receive no increase. This approach will eliminate most of the deficit. Any remaining deficit will most likely mean program cuts.

Here is an update on some bills of interest. HB 1076, the government accountability board, passed the House by a vote of 64 to 3. Email your Senators and ask for their support. This is an excellent bill and has the support of the Attorney General and Secretary of State. SB 54 from the Secretary of State’s office addresses campaign finance was amended and passed the Senate by a vote of 19 to 16. Unfortunately, this bill does very little to limit campaign donations like IM-22. Attempts to amend the bill failed. We will try to amend again in the House. It is important that the limits in this bill reflect those in IM-22. Legislators should respect the will of the voters. Finally, SB 55 known as the “Science Bill” would have allowed teachers to teach non-scientific theory in place of actual science. This bill failed in House Education and was deferred to the 41st legislative day 11 to 4.

Thank you for the email and calls this past week. Your input is important and appreciated. If you have questions or concerns, please email dan.ahlers@sdlegislature.gov or call 940-3071.

Library Continues to Thrive in Dell Rapids

LibraryDedication-2Dell Rapids Carnegie Library Director Brittany Moeller spoke to the Dell Rapids City Council during their regular meeting on Tuesday, February 21st.  She provided an update to the council on the happenings of the library and painted a picture of continued success since the renovations were completed in March of 2015.

Moeller reported that the library just completed their winter story time sessions that lasted a total of eight weeks in the months of December and January.  Around 150 children participated in the story time sessions.  Moeller and the library staff are getting ready for their spring time story sessions which will begin on March 6th.  Moeller also mentioned that over 80 children took part in their Valentine’s Day craft, which is the most they’ve had since doing the event.

The library has also seen many daycare providers bring children through.  Busy Blessing daycare has been bringing around 20 children through the library once week over the past couple of months.  The library has also seen children from Next Generation Childcare and Learning Circle pre-school.

Moeller then reported that the library will be partnering with the senior citizen center to provide technology classes.  They are looking to offer a couple of different courses including a beginners computer class, a more advance computer class, and sessions on smart phones and tablets/e-readers.  They hope to be starting those sessions soon and more details will be provided in the near future.  The library is also getting ready for their summer reading program, which will officially start in June, but they are planning for some kick-off events that will take place in May.

The library also continues to see new memberships.  Moeller said that they have had about 10 new members join since the beginning of 2017, but she anticipates they will get a big jump in new memberships when school is out for the summer.  She told the council that is typically when they get most of their new memberships since they send flyers and information home with children from both Dell Rapids public and Dell Rapids St Mary.

2017 SD Legislative Session – Dan Ahlers Week 6 Update

dan_ahlersGreetings from Pierre. This week I would like to explain the revenue process as it relates to the budget. I will also give an update on bills concerning ethics and campaign finance reform.

Appropriations, as part of the budget process, adopts revenue estimates for each fiscal year. As a member of the revenues sub-committee, my job is to analyze revenue estimates from our legislative and the governor’s financial staff. First, we review the revenues for fiscal year 2017 which began on July 1st, 2016. Based on revenues for the previous 6 months, we determined that this year’s revenues will come in $25 million below the adopted budget.

Three main factors contribute to the down turn in revenues. The Ag economy is down and commodity prices are low. Farmers purchase less equipment and sales and use tax revenues goes down. There is a price deflation in consumer goods that also impacts revenues. When you go to McDonalds and purchase a McPick 2, the cost is $2. Normally, the cost is $5. Currently, the sales tax collected is 15 cents instead of the 33 cents at regular price. If you compound this price deflation over thousands of transactions every day, there is a significant decrease in sales tax revenue. Finally, the uncollected sales tax from internet sales continues to have a negative impact on revenues.

The second part of revenue projections is estimating the revenues for fiscal year 2018. Essentially, we are making an educated guess on a year’s worth of revenues 6 months before that fiscal year begins. We make those estimates based on current fiscal year data as well as economic forecasting on the state and national level. Both the governor’s financial and the legislature’s financial staff present statistical and economic trend data. We also consider outside forecasts from economists. Using all this data, the revenue projections sub-committee adopts a revenue estimate. The revenue estimates for fiscal year 2018 are $38 million less than the governor projected in his December budget address.

While this information sounds bad, I suggest now is the time to take a breath and gain perspective. This week, the governor’s departments we come to appropriations with areas where money can be saved. Our sub-committees will look at department expansions and determine if it is necessary. We can make many changes without cuts to programs. We also have $136 million in reserve funds. If we need $10 to $15 million to balance the state budget, it would be an appropriate use of funds. The worse thing we can do in a single down year is make unnecessary cuts. In 2011, we had a significant structural deficit. The knee jerk reaction was a 10% across the board cut. Those cuts had a negative impact on many state programs, schools and service providers across the state. Later, we learned that the deficit was not as bad as anticipated. The depth of the cut was unnecessary, but many of those dollars were not restored. It took our service providers and schools four years to get back to the funding levels pre 2011. It would be fiscally prudent to take a year and ride out the economic rollercoaster.

Here is an update on current ethics and campaign finance reform bills. HB 1073 which establishes limits on gifts from lobbyists passed the House this week by a vote of 66 to 0. It will be heard next in Senate State Affairs. HB 1076, the government accountability board will be heard in House State Affairs on Wednesday. Email your legislators and ask for their support. This is an excellent bill and has the support of the Attorney General and Secretary of State. Finally, SB 54 from the Secretary of State’s office has been amended and action was deferred until this week. This bill contains a lot of language updates and definitions of what constitutes a donor, entity and political organization. Unfortunately, the bill does very little to limit campaign donations like IM-22. I’m sure there will be further attempts to amend. I will keep you updated.

Thank you for the email and calls this past week. Your input is important and appreciated. If you have questions or concerns, please email dan.ahlers@sdlegislature.gov or call 940-3071.


South Dakota Rock & RollTickets for the 2017 South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association (SDRRMA) Induction Ceremony are on sale now. This two-night music extravaganza will be held at the Ramkota Inn Exhibit Hall in Sioux Falls on April 21-22.  “We’re excited to present another great event filled with music and memories,” said SDRRMA Board Chair John Mogen. “It’s a great annual tradition that recognizes the brightest and best in the South Dakota music scene.”

This year’s inductees include eight bands, three ballrooms, and half a dozen South Dakota rock and roll supporters. Additionally, the Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Nick Schwebach of Dell Rapids and Wakonda.

Tickets are available online at www.sdrrma.com or at Lewis Drug Southgate.

The schedule is as follows:

  • Friday, April 21 — Artist Reception and Jam Session
    • Private artist reception followed by a jam session (open to the public) featuring several Hall of Fame inductees. Donations are appreciated at the door.
    • Artist Reception, 6:30 p.m.
    • Jam Session, 8-10 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 22 — Induction Ceremony.  Every year the SDRRMA recognizes the men and women who have contributed to and had a significant impact on rock and roll music, especially in South Dakota. Join us in honoring this year’s inductees.
    • Autograph Session, 3 p.m.
    • Doors Open, 5 p.m.
    • Induction Ceremony, 6-10 p.m.
  • 2017 Inductees:
    • Bands:

      • The Fabulous Unknowns (Winner)
      • The Playboys (later known as The Toads, Arlington/Lake Preston)
      • Sad Lad and the Mourners (Sioux Falls)
      • The ‘70s Flippers (NW Iowa)
      • Precious Cargo (Aberdeen)
      • Wild Cherry (all-girl band, Rapid City)
      • The Unbelievable Uglies (Detroit Lakes, MN)
      • Wakefield (Sioux Falls)
    • Ballrooms: Vic’s Place, Dimock; The Depot, Aberdeen; and Taco Towne, Vermillion.
    • Radio Station: KSDN, Aberdeen
    • Booking Agent: Don Romeo, Omaha
    • Spirit of the Music: Buddy Miles and Tommy Bolin
    • Music Store: A to Z Music, Pierre
    • DJ: Jon Michaels, Sioux Falls
    • Lifetime Achievement: Nick Schwebach (Dell Rapids/Wakonda)

ChiroSport Now Open in Dell Rapids

ChiroSport_NewsThe newest chiropractic business is now open in Dell Rapids.  ChiroSport started accepting appointments in their new Dell Rapids location on Monday, February 13th.

Drs. Alex and Danika Nachreiner, a husband and wife team, will be operating the Dell Rapids location.  Dr. Alex has a primary focus on athletes and people living active lifestyles, while Dr. Danika has a primary focus on chiropractic care for children and pregnant women.

ChiroSport will offer the following services:

  • Chirpractic
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Pediatric care
  • Maternity care
  • ARP trainer rehab
  • Functional and dynamic rehab
  • Graston soft tissue therapy
  • Myofascial work
  • Spinal decompression
  • Kinesiotaping

The new office is located at 410 W. 4th St., Suite C, next to Revive Fitness and Great Life.  Their phone number is 605-428-6656.

The Dell Rapids location is the third location for ChiroSport.  There are also locations in Sioux Falls and Brandon.

High School Girls Soccer Request for Dell Rapids HS Takes Step Forward

SoccerA request to make high school soccer a girls sport in Dell Rapids took another step forward during the Dell Rapids School Board meeting on Monday, February 13th.

The board passed a motion to approve the intent to move forward with a cooperative with Garretson for two years for girls high school soccer.  As part of the approved motion, Superintendent Dr. Summer Schultz, Athletic Director Jeff Dvorak, and school board member Jody Schumaker will be looking over the cooperation language to ensure it looks appropriate and protects the district.  They will then meet with representatives from Garretson to finalize the agreement language before everything becomes finalized.

“The district understands that although soccer hasn’t been a school sponsored activity, its popularity has grown in the community.  The cooperative allows us to provide an opportunity for varsity level female athletes to participate while we continue to monitor the level of support and participation that can be expected,” said Dr. Schultz.

Once a finalized agreement has been made between Dell Rapids and Garretson, the final step will be to submit the cooperative agreement to the South Dakota High School Activities Association prior to their April meeting.  The SDHSAA will have to approve the cooperative.

Revive Fitness and County Fair Partner to Promote Health and Wellness

Revive Fitness owner Brittani Bollock and County Fair Foods managers Byron Busk and Steve Clark are partnering together to help promote health and wellness in Dell Rapids and the surrounding area.  The goal of the partnership is to help people better understand how food acts as fuel for our bodies.  Revive ReviveRecommendsFitness will be providing periodic health and wellness education pieces written by Revive Fitness trainers, dieticians, and other Revive wellness expert partners.  The periodic informational package can be found at the entrance of the County Fair Foods store near the weekly County Fair Foods sales flyers or newspapers.  The packet will include information such as new recipes, healthy grocery lists, and specialty ‘Revive Recommends’ items for healthier and easier shopping.

Bollock said, “Our vision is to work together to promote healthy information, choices and options for the families in this community in which we serve and love so much!  We want to let people know that you don’t have to travel to another store to find healthy options.  You can find them right here in Dell Rapids and for a cheaper price than you might think.”

Bollock also said that Revive Fitness also intends to bring in specialists and professionals from around the area to hold question and answer sessions, cooking classes, and more.  Community members are encouraged to send any questions and requests to revivedellrapids@gmail.com.

Big Sioux Media will have a page that will list the featured recipes and healthy shopping lists.  That page can be found by clicking here.


Dell Rapids Middle Schoolers “Dodgeball” for American Heart Association

DRMS_Dodgeball_2017_1In observance of the American Heart Association Awareness months of February and March, Dell Rapids Middle School students in grades 5 through 8 competed in a dodge ball tournament on February 10th, 2017.  In order to raise money to support one of the leading causes of death in the United States, students donated money toward socks or a shirt which they could wear for the tournament. The students enjoyed the tournament and raised $1,627.00 for the American Heart Association.  Each class was divided into teams and played against one another.DRMS_Dodgeball_2017_2

The $1,627.00 raised this year beat last year’s record number of $1,315.00.

Dell Rapids Middle School Physical Education teacher Julie Barber said, “Thank you to these DRMS students and their families for supporting this worthy cause and raising such a large amount of money! This was a great exercise in community service and working with each other in an effort to address an important issue facing our society.”

DRMS_Dodgeball_2017_3As part of the fundraising efforts, a pizza party was awarded to the class that had the highest amount of donations.  This year’s winning class was Mrs. Gruneich’s PE class.  As for the winners of the tournament in each grade level, Mrs. Gruneich’s team won the 5th grade tournament, Mrs. Hettinger’s team won the 6th grade tournament, the orange team won the 7th grade tournament, and the orange team won the 8th grade tournament.

DRMS_Dodgeball_2017_5 DRMS_Dodgeball_2017_4


2017 SD Legislative Session – Midpoint Update from Dan Ahlers

dan_ahlersGreetings from Pierre. We are at the midpoint of session. I will highlight some of the bills of interest and status. I will also share some information about the Democratic goals in “Opportunity Agenda for Working Families.”

As many of you are aware, HB 1069 passed and was signed by the Governor. This bill repeals IM-22. Currently, there are 25 other bills that deal with campaign finance, government accountability and ethics. There are 3 bills to focus your attention. HB 1073 will revise provisions to limit gifts from registered lobbyists. This bill limits gifts to a cumulative of $100 in any calendar year. This bill may be amended to include a provision for limits on meals. SB 54 is submitted on behalf of the Secretary of State for campaign finance reform. This bill is currently being rewritten and will be amended in committee on Monday. I will keep the readers updated on the campaign limits set in this bill. Finally HB 1076 establishes the government accountability board. This bill has bipartisan support and is supported by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General’s office.

A bill getting a lot of attention is SB 61. This bill will take licensure control for nurse practitioners away from doctors. Currently, a NP works under a collaborative agreement with a doctor. The cost of these licenses is extremely cost prohibitive to NPs that wish to work in rural areas.   The opposition will argue these agreements are essential for oversight. However, none of the states surrounding South Dakota require NPs to get their license from a doctor.   Nurse practitioners are individuals with Masters or Doctorate degrees and have many hours of experience. This bill will not prohibit collaboration between an NP and a doctor. In fact, our surrounding states have demonstrated, in many cases, collaboration improves. This bill will help our rural areas recruit more NPs and will work in conjunction with our tuition reimbursement program for rural medical professionals.

Democrats recently introduced the “Opportunity Agenda for Working Families.” This initiative consists of five goals to make South Dakota’s economy work for working families. These goals are guaranteed sick and family leave, a pre-K pilot program, restoring childcare assistance, a comprehensive affordable housing program and a fully funded needs-based scholarship program.

Unfortunately, this year, the sick leave and pre-K bills have failed in committee on party line votes. I don’t believe these are party issues and we can find common ground over the summer months. Efforts continue to enhance affordable housing and fund the needs based scholarship. Regardless of this year’s outcomes, we will continue to work on common-sense legislation to help working families.

Again, thank you for the calls and emails. Please stay involved in the legislative process. Your voice matters. You many call me at 940-3071 or email at danahlers1973@gmail.com

City Council Update from Feb 6th Meeting

DellRapidsTowerThe Dell Rapids City Council held their last regular meeting on Monday, February 6th.  During the meeting, the following items were decided upon:

  • Ordinance 844;  Animal Ordinance Amendment Allowing Chicken and Fowl had its second reading and was approved unanimously.
  • The council approved the request from Norby’s to replace the carpet in both sides of Norby’s.  The city owns the property that Norby’s operates its business.  The motion carried.
  • The council approved the contract for the Wastewater Treatment Facility – Sequence Batch Reactor – to KHC Construction.  The amount of the contract is $4,094,000, which was under the estimate of $4.8 million.  The motion carried.
  • The council also approved entering into an agreement with Keith Stroh to put together structural engineered plans for the new comfort station.  The agreement will cost the city $12,500.  The motion carried by a 6-1 vote.
  • A report was given that DGR is in the process of getting plans together for the campground utilities installation.  An issue that was discovered at the end of 2016 was the existence of a designated wetland in the center of the property.  Mitigation of the wetland will have to happen prior to making any improvements.  DGR has made the necessary contacts to begin this process, but will come at a cost of $1,200.