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District 27 Representative Mark DeVries visits Philip schools

Mark DeVries visited the Philip schools on Thursday, April 19. He was implementing a legislature-back-to-school program in which he hoped to visit with students in most, if not all, of the schools in his district.

In the Philip High School, he first quizzed students on how much they already knew about state lawmaking. He said he was pleased with their responses. They already knew about how legislators can "smoke out" a bill, forcing it out of committee and onto the legislative floor.

He talked about a "hog house bill" which side steps the deadline for introducing bills during a session. When South Dakota State University's hog houses burned down many years ago, money had to be allocated for rebuilding, but the deadline had passed for introduction of such a bill. A defeated bill was then completely rewritten, passed and then appropriately retitled. Now in almost every session, there is some late bill that is handled similarly.

DeVries stated that the most disliked legislators are the ones who cannot make up their minds and change their votes frequently. They are eventually ignored by lobbyists and other legislators. Having previously been a lobbyist himself, DeVries quickly learned that when it came to talking with them, "I've better things to do with my time."

While working for the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and Alternative Instruction (any schools not state credited), he hoped that a better candidate would run for office. He then was told, "We found a candidate - congratulations." With the variety of people who ran against him for this his first term, DeVries said there was some very unique vote splitting on the ballot.

"Lobbyists are actually a two way street," said DeVries. "If you have a bill that will impact a group, that group can help work on the bill for you. A good lobbyist puts both sides of an argument up front. If you are trying to maintain integrity, some situations can put you in a bind," continued DeVries. "Those times often involve the lack of honesty of a few lobbyists and even of a few congressmen.

"People would be amazed with how many laws dealt with in Pierre do not apply in any way to District 27. Not everything applies equally everywhere.

"With around 500 pieces of legislation to be viewed this year, your nose is to the grindstone for the 40 days of the session. Still, I'm pleased with the system we have in South Dakota. I think it works."

One opinion DeVries stated was, "South Dakota does not have unlimited resources. Every cent that Uncle Sam or Uncle Rounds spends comes out of our pockets. To me, it is insane on how much money is spent on bussing for extra curricular activities. Playing the same team twice or three times would be better than traveling so far away to play a certain team once."

If a constituent is trying to get an e-mail through to their lawmakers, make sure to state who is the sender. DeVries concluded with, "Unknown, out of state and out of district e-mails are quickly trashed by a legislator's fast index finger. People coming to Pierre are listened to and they can make a difference."