State politician shares ideas, knowledge with classroom

Brittany Westerberg

Brittany Westerberg

Governor Mike Rounds took a break from his legislative schedule to come talk with SDSU students in Robert Burns’ American Political Issues (POLS 102) class on Feb. 5.

Rounds said that he wanted to come speak in Burns’ class for a few years now, but he had never done it. This year, he decided this would be the year.

After Burns welcomed the governor, Rounds started off the class period by speaking about legislative activity at the South Dakota Legislature and how it compares to the activity at the national level in Washington, D.C.

“Our legislative process works very well,” he said. “[The legislators] get in, do their work and go home.” The legislators then have to go back to their constituents, who hold them accountable.

In the federal government, however, Rounds said he is frustrated by a lack of accountability and communication. “It’s dysfunctional,” he said. “It does not work. They’ve gotten stuck on procedure. They’re stuck in a system that rewards procedure, not results.”

A student raised the question about the conflict between the South Dakota Board of Regents and technical schools in the state. During the 2007 legislative session, the technical schools wanted to create their own governing board. The Regents, however, do not want technical schools competing for students and duplicating majors, which would drive up costs, according to the BOR.

Rounds said that he thinks most of it has been resolved. The technical schools are governed by local K-12 school districts and their curricula are approved by the state Board of Education.

According to the South Dakota Constitution, anything not under K-12 jurisdiction is the responsibility of the BOR. However, if the technical schools had their own system, it would put the regental schools and the technical schools in competition for not only students, but also money from the legislature.

Rounds answered several more questions from students, including questions about a state government’s frustrations with the federal government, the most influential interest groups in South Dakota, cooperation between the state government and tribal governments, the house bill supporting firearms on campus (HB 1261) and his plans for the next year in economic development.

Rounds was also asked about the abortion issue and if he thought anything more would come of it this year. The governor admitted to being pro-life, but he said that confronting Roe v. Wade-the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1973 that struck down most laws restricting abortion-directly was not the best way to overturn it. He believes, he said, in chipping away at the decision.

He also talked about the presidential race. While Rounds supports Huckabee, he is interested in the fact that all of the candidates want to make changes in the federal system. “We’re wrong if we tell people everything’s hunky-dory in Washington,” he said. “It’s the system that’s broken, not the people. The greatest opportunities come when there’s a demand for change.”

Azhar Adam, a sophomore political science major, enjoyed the governor’s visit to the class. “I think it was a good opportunity for the governor to come talk to students,” he said.

#1.882889:1926355251.jpg:mikerounds_JNweb.jpg:Governor Mike Rounds speaks to the American Political Issues class on Feb. 5 on SDSU’s campus.: