GOOD: It was quite a week for area teams and athletes. Both Rapid City Stevens and Central boy’s and girl’s Class AA basketball teams qualified for the state tournament. The Douglas boy’s team also qualified. Sturgis Brown nearly made it, losing 61-57 in overtime to Sioux Falls O’Gorman in the division’s new Round of 16 format. Belle Fourche and St. Thomas More, the top two girl’s ranked teams in the Class A division, also earned bids to the state tournament. On the college level, Black Hills State University women’s team received an at-large bid to the NCAA Division II tournament. And last but certainly not least, Nate Rotert of Spearfish won the 197-pound title on Sunday for South Dakota State University at the Big 12 wrestling tournament. Congratulations to all these teams and athletes.
BAD: State officials and lawmakers like to tout South Dakota’s pro-business climate, which certainly is the case in many instances. The recent legislative debate on winery regulation shows, however, that lawmakers aren’t above picking winners and losers with their thirst for oversight. Farm wineries that grow grapes like limits on how much bulk wine their competitors can purchase. Senate Bill 187 initially limited wineries from importing no more than 25 percent of their inventory in order to meet the criteria for a wine-manufacturing license. If that bill had been approved, it could have put Firehouse Wine Cellars, a popular establishment on Main Street in Rapid City, out of business. The bill was amended to raise the import threshold to 50 percent. The limits imposed on wineries are clearly protectionist in nature, which is not inherently pro-business. The state should take this shackle off wineries and let the consumer decide. It should be competition, not selective regulation that has nothing to do with public health and safety, that decides winners.
UGLY: It’s common knowledge that there are South Dakota lawmakers who loathe the initiative and referendum process that enabled voters in 2016 the opportunity to pass Initiated Measure 22, which had a number of election and campaign reforms. In 2017, lawmakers made the dismantling of IM 22 their top priority and it was overturned by the Legislature in the first weeks of the session. In the current session, lawmakers have introduced between 15 and 20 bills to make it more difficult for citizens to put measures in the ballot. A measure approved last week by the Senate Affairs Committee serves to discourage people from circulating petitions, the first step to getting an item on the ballot. It requires circulators to give petition signers their name, email address and phone number. It’s inappropriate for the state to require anyone to give contact information to strangers, which leaves them vulnerable to harassment, stalking or worse.