Citizens for Liberty releases annual legislator scorecard

Citizens for Liberty releases annual legislator scorecard


South Dakota Citizens for Liberty has released its annual scorecard that evaluates the performance of all 105 state legislators.

"One point of interest on this year's scorecard is the denoting of the seven legislators who were appointed to their positions," said Mike Mueller, president of SDCFL. "Seven members of the Legislature — about seven percent — were selected for their legislative position by Gov. Noem instead of the voters in their districts."

Two of the members appointed by Noem received a score in the lows 60s. The rest were in the low 40s and 30s.

Tonchi Weaver, lobbyist for the group and project director for the scorecard, says the scorecards help citizens who don't follow government closely to better understand how they are being represented in Pierre.

“The bills we select deal with important issues of taxation, property rights, government growth, immigration, protecting life, parental rights, and individual freedom,” she said. "U.S. and South Dakota founding documents and the planks of the Republican platforms are the references we cite to determine the correct vote."  

Mueller observed that by comparison, the House is the more conservative chamber.

"There were several good bills that passed the House easily this year only to be killed in Senate committees before they got a floor vote. It's up to voters in June and November whether or not that situation will change," Mueller said.

The average score on the "conservative scorecard" was higher for those in the House of Representatives, however, the only 100% score came from the Senate.

Phil Jensen voted with the group on every issue. Lance Russell received a 94% score. The other three Rapid City area senators didn't agree with the Citizens for Liberty as often, as Helen Duhamel, Jeff Patridge and Jessica Castleberry each scored below 50 percent.

In Rapid City, only half of the 10 House members scored more than 75%, according to the conservative group. Tina Mulally scored 75% and Chris Johnson was rated 78.9%. Taffy Howard received a score of 89% and Julie Frye-Mueller and Tony Randolph both agreed with Citizens for Liberty more than 94% of the time. 

Tim Goodwin received a score of 73.7% and Scyler Borglum received 58.8%. Michael Diedrich, Jess Olson, and David Johnson agreed with the group on less than 50% of the issues chosen by the group.

The bills considered in each house and the preferred position of the Citizens for Liberty included:

HB1057 — Prohibit gender transitioning of minors – Yes

HB1094 — Repeal provisions for concealed carry/motorcycles – Yes

HB1096 — Prohibit commercial surrogacy – US Declaration – Yes 

HB1099 — Authorize half-cent county sales tax – No

HB1133 — Presumption of shared parenting – Yes

HB1167 — Revise privileged communication with students – Yes

HB1172 — Require Zero-based budgeting – Yes

HB1294 — Budget bill ($62.3 million spending increase) – No

HB1296 — Expand emergency powers (better than the original form; still not good) – No

HB1297 — Grant authority to the Sec. of Health during emergency – No

HCR6003 — Support the Electoral College – Yes

HCR6012 — Right of Pray in Public Schools –  Yes

HCR6020 — Denounce NEA policy on right to abortion – Yes

SB70 — Allow Spanish driver’s license exams – No

SB75 — Habitat stamp (original passage) – No

SB92 — Repurpose Star Academy – Yes

SB135 — Increase bid limits – No

SB147 — Prohibit Collective bargaining for Board of Regents employees – Yes

SD172 — Civil Forfeiture only after conviction – Yes

SB180 — Badges and registration fees for paid circulators – No

SB191 — Expand county authority – No

The scorecard is available for viewing on SD Citizens for Liberty’s Facebook page and on their website at The original documents detail all 105 lawmakers' scores and give an explanation of why the group supported or rejected each measure on the scorecard. They also include links to each bill considered and links to information about each legislator.

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