Governor Noem Announces Special Legislative Session
PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noemannounced that she will be calling a special session of the state legislature. The legislature will meeton Monday, October 5, 2020, with the purpose of considering legislation related to the use of federal stimulus relief funds, including the $1.25 billion allocated to South Dakota in Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF).
“South Dakota has used our federal CRF funds as intended to cover many costs related to COVID-19,” saidGovernor Noem. “We’re in tremendous shape in our fight against this virus. My team and I have spent many hours talking with numerous legislators, especially leadership, as well as the general public. I look forward to hearing from the entire legislature in its official capacity.”
Barring an extension, South Dakota hasuntil December 30, 2020, to spend all CRF dollars. Some of the funds have already been allocated including $200 million for city and county government operations, more than $100 million for the Re-employment Insurance Fund, nearly $100 million for state public safety and public health officials, $75 million for K-12 schools, and more than $20 million for universities and technical colleges. Governor Noem also has proposed up to $400 million in small business grants and up to $100 million in grants to community-based healthcare providers.
To learn more about South Dakota’s fight against COVID-19, visitCOVID.sd.gov.
SD Treasurer Josh Haeder Elected to serve on National Association of State Treasurers Leadership Team
Haeder Unanimously Elected Treasurer of NAST
PIERRE– The National Association of State Treasurers announced its 2021 leadership election results at last week’s virtual Annual Business & Membership Meeting. South Dakota State Treasurer Josh Haeder will serve as the organizations Treasurer starting January 1, 2021.
Haeder said, “It is an honor to work with such and exceptional and diverse group of Treasurers on both sides of the aisle. Through this opportunity, I will work to share our states vision of returning unclaimed funds to rightful owners, promote sound fiscal management and build lasting relationships that benefit our mission of government that serves the people.”
State Treasurer Josh Haeder was unanimously elected by State Treasurer’s across the country to serve as the Treasurer of the National Association of State Treasurer’s (NAST)
The roster of 2021 NAST elected leaders includes:
President: Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell
Senior Vice President: Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden
Secretary-Treasurer: South Dakota State Treasurer Josh Haeder
After being cleared by the Sioux Falls City Council Ethics panel and the Sioux Falls Council as a whole, Sioux Falls City Councilman Greg Neitzert is on facebook today, pointing out some of the carnage left in the wake of the purely political attacks, including an enormous legal bill, which is coming out of his own pocket.
After a lengthy 6+ month legal battle, I finally cleared my name and hopefully put an end to this unfortunate episode. …
Thank You to South Dakota’s Frontline Heroes By Sen. John Thune
As the coronavirus pandemic spread from city to city and state to state throughout the country, heroes emerged in some unlikely forms. Delivery drivers helped keep our economy moving, literally. Grocery store workers risked their own health and safety to ensure shelves were stocked and home necessities were available. Sanitation and utility workers helped keep our lights on, our internet connected, and trash off of our streets. And, of course, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals stepped up in a big way and have been fighting on the frontline since this crisis first began.
From the early days of the pandemic, when Congress was grappling with how to respond, members of South Dakota’s health care community were some of the first and most consistent calls I made. I can recall sitting in my office in Washington in between meetings about what would eventually become the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – bipartisan legislation that was unanimously approved by Congress in March – and getting real-time updates from medical professionals on the ground in South Dakota.
Congress knew that the virus wouldn’t affect every state the same way, so it was critical to hear what folks were seeing and hearing throughout the country. The feedback I received from South Dakota’s health care providers helped shape my approach to coronavirus relief discussions in Congress. I wanted to ensure our health care community had the tools it needed to prepare for what was coming and to act when necessary. Since the CARES Act’s passage, I’m proud to say that nearly $520 million in federal relief funds have been allocated to South Dakota’s health care community to help fight this battle.
Just because Congress acted, it doesn’t mean my reliance on these frontline workers’ advice and feedback has ended. This is an unprecedented crisis, and I want to be sure the federal investment in the response is working effectively and efficiently. I also want to be sure there aren’t additional needs that aren’t being met.
As I said, I’ve been in constant contact with South Dakota’s health care community – through phone calls, virtual meetings, and other correspondence. Seeing things firsthand can’t be replicated, though, which is why I recently made several stops to hear directly from providers in our state.
I was fortunate to meet with officials from Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell and Prairie Lakes Healthcare System in Watertown. These folks are the real heroes, and I was humbled to thank them in person (socially distanced, of course) for their continued service. We covered a variety of topics, including progress on a COVID vaccine, the importance of testing and contact tracing, and telehealth services, just to name a few. Their insight continues to prove to be invaluable.
On telehealth, in particular, I think we’ve all learned just how important this vital service is to rural communities. It’s something I’ve been fighting to strengthen for years – both on the health delivery side and the rural broadband side. Both are critically important to telehealth’s success, and we’ve seen just how well it can work during the pandemic. It’s an issue that I will continue to advocate for and find permanent solutions to some of the obstacles that still exist.
Again, I can’t say it enough, but on behalf of a grateful state, I want to extend a hearty “thank you” to everyone, especially our health care heroes, who have stepped up over the last few months. That list also includes the people of South Dakota who have continued to show that personal responsibility is also a big factor in fighting this virus. I’ve been saying it from the beginning, but we’re all in this together, and South Dakotans have proven that’s true.
Click here and here for photos from Sen. Thune’s recent visits to Mitchell and Watertown.
Backing the Blue By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
Jacob Chestnut. John Gibson. They’re not household names instantly recognizable. They were sons, husbands and fathers. They were two regular people, just like the rest of us, except they possessed a little bit more courage. Their stories weren’t known until July 24, 1998. On that fateful day, a lone gunman walked into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. He shot and killed the first person he encountered, Officer Chestnut, operating the X-Ray machine at an entrance. Quickly, the gunman then found Detective Gibson who heard the previous gunshots and was helping others find safety. Even after being mortally wounded, Detective Gibson was still able to return fire and wound the gunman just enough to stop him from inflicting any more harm.
Our nation mourned this senseless loss of life. Congress saluted these two officers by making them the first people to ever ‘lie in honor’ in our nation’s Capitol. Prior to this, Presidents and Members of Congress were recognized after death by ‘lying in state’ at the Capitol Rotunda. This new distinction, lying in honor, bestowed upon the officers has only since been granted to Rosa Parks and the Rev. Billy Graham. The officers were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Our country honored these two fallen officers and remembered them exactly as they were: heroes who risked their lives to protect others.
Right now, there’s a growing hostility toward law enforcement in this country. This past week, we watched videos showing two officers sitting parked in their squad car being ambushed at pointblank range in California. The hatred needs to stop. It’s simply un-American.
This aggression was seeded in the Defund the Police movement. Following the death of George Floyd, riots broke out in Minneapolis. Peaceful well-meaning protests turned violent and chaos has spread across the country from Kenosha to Portland. Law-abiding citizens feel unsafe and are fleeing to new communities and states that understand the link between liberty and security.
It goes without saying that here in South Dakota, we’ve got it pretty good. We are patriots who love our country and want to see it succeed. And we don’t understand how local leaders could stand by and watch their communities burn.
Our law enforcement community is not perfect. Like all professions, we’ve witnessed examples of bad apples in police departments. But let’s be clear, those bad apples have not spoiled the entire bunch. Police forces in South Dakota and across our country are filled with brave men and women who put their lives on the line, day in and day out, to make sure our communities stay safe. Police officers are public servants. Police officers are not public enemies; they fight the enemies.
That’s why, in June, when many spewed hatred toward our law enforcement community, Senate Republicans joined together and proposed commonsense legislation, called the Justice Act, which made significant, meaningful reforms to police departments. Unfortunately, National Democrats saw the chaos unfolding in our country as a winning issue heading into the November election, suggesting that our proposal did not go far enough to penalize police officers. They put partisan politics ahead of protecting people and blocked our bill from moving forward.
While our efforts may have stalled, there’s still significant work to be done. This week, in light of the recent surge of attacks on officers, my colleagues and I introduced legislation making it a federal crime to knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer. If convicted, the criminals could face up to 10 years imprisonment, or a life sentence if the offense includes attempted murder, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping or if a death results. Last week, we also sent a letter to Attorney General Barr asking him to consider whether the Department of Justice needs additional authorities, resources or tools to protect our officers. If so, we stand ready and willing to assist.
Having a legitimate discussion about improving policing policies is one thing. Attempting to defund the police is entirely different. Defunding the police can only lead to one thing and that’s anarchy – just look at Portland, Kenosha or Minneapolis. These cities should learn a lesson from South Dakota and back the blue.
Congress passed the last COVID-19 relief bill 174 days ago. Hundreds of thousands of Americans – schools, families, and small businesses – are still struggling from this virus. Both the House and the Senate have proposed vastly different proposals to help these hurting Americans. The House passed a bill with a $3T price tag – that’s too much spending so I voted no. The Senate has offered several packages with a lower price tag, but Senate Democrats have offered no support. We need to find common ground.
Because of that, a few weeks ago the White House reached out to a few U.S. House members, asking that they develop a bipartisan proposal that could break the stalemate. I was honored to be one of the four members leading that project.
Our group, two Republicans and two Democrats, put aside brinksmanship and political games. Once we focused on what was good for the country, it didn’t take us long to find common ground. This is how Congress is supposed to work.
Our proposal, the “March to Common Ground,” made a lot of headway this week. The Trump Administration said the framework is something they can work from to get to a deal, it was endorsed by the Washington Postand the New York Times, and several Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle have agreed – this proposal is a good compromise.
The framework addresses key areas of need, including testing, direct stimulus payments to families, small business support, liability protection, food security, election support, state and local aid, and school funding.
The March to Common Ground spends less than half what the Speaker wants to spend, but it’s still a lot of money. I am very consciously concerned about our nation’s debt. Our country’s top economists all agree our country needs an additional stimulus package to dig our way out of this COVID-19 economic slump.
Like many Americans, I’ve been frustrated with the lack of progress we are seeing from Congress. The leaders of both chambers have been at this for a long time – I know they can get something done for the American people.
I’m proud of the work a few new, but bipartisan, members of Congress were able to get done over the last several weeks. This proposal is gaining traction and bringing people back to the table.
Americans can’t afford to wait any longer. Please read the March to Common Ground proposal here.
For years, I’ve been working to advance ethanol to benefit South Dakota farmers. Our state ranks sixth in the nation for ethanol production capacity, and we produce more than 1 billion gallons of ethanol annually. Not only does biofuel production help our farmers, but it also supports additional job creation in South Dakota. We have ethanol jobs ranging from truck drivers to PhD microbiologists. I have several pieces of good news to share regarding progress we’ve made on ethanol.
The EPA recently reiterated its commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS.) The RFS is crucial to ensure that there is a market for our farmers to sell their corn for ethanol production. President Trump also recently announced that E15 blends will be more widely available across the country. These are but the latest bits of progress for our crucial ethanol industry.
As Chair of the Governor’s Biofuels Coalition, I’ve urged the Trump administration to drop restrictions on the ethanol industry, and we’ve already made progress on these goals. The Trump administration approved the use of E15 year-round. We also persuaded President Trump to reject a movement that would have waived portions of the RFS for small petroleum refineries. It’s been tough work, but it’s worth it to help South Dakota farmers.
We’ve been working diligently to convert our state’s fleet vehicles to be flex-fuel compatible, and 76% of our fleet now has such capabilities. We’re already dispensing E30 ethanol for state vehicles at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre, and the SDSU campus. By the end of November, we’ll have added sites in Aberdeen, Chamberlain, Yankton, Huron, and Webster, with four additional sites across the state in the works for next year. State government is leading by example, and it is my sincere hope that South Dakota’s businesses and citizens emulate this support for our ethanol industry.
As COVID-19 swept across the country, I issued an executive order to provide regulatory relief for ethanol facilities, and I instructed our state department of Environment and Natural Resources to help ethanol producers adjust their operations while still meeting federal requirements. I also joined fellow governors to ask United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to use CARES Act dollars to assist our biofuel industry. Secretary Perdue has taken that message to heart, pushing Congress to provide funding for ethanol in future relief packages.
The Obama administration paid lip service to ethanol, but President Trump is actually following through on his promises to farmers. His administration is taking the necessary steps to promote biofuels and expand ethanol production. Frankly, it takes leadership from the top, and I want to thank President Trump for continuing to fight for agriculture. There is still more work to accomplish, but I’m confident that we can build on the progress that we’ve already made and get it done.
Flags Flown Half-Staff Statewide to Honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
PIERRE, S.D.– Today, Governor Kristi Noem ordered that flags be flown at half-staff statewide in honor of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Flags will be flown at half-staff from sunrise until sundown from Saturday, September 19, 2020, until the time of her interment, which will be announced at a later date.
“Bryon and I are keeping Justice Ginsburg’s family and friends in our prayers during this difficult time,” said Governor Kristi Noem.
WHAT: Gov. Noem orders that flags be flown at half-staff statewide in honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
WHEN: From sunrise until sundown from Saturday, September 19, 2020, until the time of her interment, which will be announced at a later date.
The SDGOP is offering a large piece of 2020 Campaign memorabilia to people who donate at least $50 to the State Republican Party.
While local state party organizations have not been big on issuing campaign material in recent years, this election, the SDGOP is on the bandwagon, and has 3×5 (as in 3×5 foot) “Trump 2020 Keep South Dakota Great” flags available with a $50 donation to the party.