ALEC influences state lawmakers

There’s an unfortunate trend in the actions of recent S.D. Legislatures. Many lawmakers seem wary of too much democracy, claiming that we voters can be easily swayed by outside influences (justifying the Legislature’s repeal of last year’s initiated measure which aimed to reduce the influence of money in politics).

There’s an irony here: many S.D. legislators attend sessions organized by ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), where large corporations provide model legislation favorable to big business, encouraging attendees to introduce these bills in state legislatures. This sounds a lot like outside influence. ALEC’s stamp can be clearly seen on S.D. laws, including reductions in the power of workers’ unions, preservation of the monopoly power of energy utilities, and the encouragement of a siege mentality regarding peaceful protests against certain corporate projects, such as pipelines. In this last example, we’ve seen attempts to restrict the right of assembly and militarization of law enforcement’s response to demonstrations. The fact that much funding for the ALEC organization comes from fossil-fuel energy companies owned by the Koch brothers may explain the emphasis in these areas.

We elect legislators to represent us, not to overrule us in favor of their corporate backers.

Don Kelley

Deadwood

SD should raise age for tobacco sales

I am asking South Dakotans to support legislation that would raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. Use of tobacco in our state remains unacceptably high with new users starting every day. Nearly 95 percent of adults who use tobacco products started before 21.

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I am a retired oncology nurse. I witnessed the devastating impact of tobacco-related cancers, including oral cancers in people who had used chewing tobacco starting as teens. People who dip or chew get about the same amount of addictive nicotine as regular smokers. This can lead to smoking and using other forms of tobacco. They also get at least 30 chemicals that are known to cause cancer.

Children aren’t in a good position to judge the risks these products pose. Raising the minimum age of sale for tobacco products to 21 is an effective way to keep tobacco out of our schools and away from our children.  Let’s lead the way to better health, South Dakota, and encourage our lawmakers to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21.  

Carla Brutico

Rapid City

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