US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Protecting Free and Fair Elections

Protecting Free and Fair Elections
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Free and fair elections are a vital part of our democracy. Being able to cast a ballot, beginning at the age of 18, gives us a voice in the decisions being made at all levels of government. With the U.S. midterm elections coming up in November, it’s important to uphold our democratic election process by preventing interference from outside actors.

In the 2016 election, there was clear evidence that Russia attempted to undermine our elections by hacking political entities and manipulating social media platforms to spread misinformation, or ‘fake news.’ While there is no evidence that the Russians were effective in manipulating the outcome of the 2016 election, their attempts served as a wake-up call to our cyber vulnerabilities.

As the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Cybersecurity Subcommittee, one of my top priorities is to increase and improve the defensive and offensive cyber capabilities of the Department of Defense (DoD) to make sure it is fully able to defend against cyberattacks whether on military or non-military entities. The DoD has a critical role to play in challenging and influencing the mindset of our cyber adversaries and defending the homeland from attacks—attacks that could include cyber-attacks by other nations against our election infrastructure. We want to be sure DoD has all the tools it needs to do this, particularly as we enter another election year. We recently held a subcommittee hearing focusing exclusively on the DoD’s role in protecting democratic elections.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats recently warned that he has already seen signs that Russia is targeting our November 2018 election process. During a Congressional hearing, Coats said that “there should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 U.S. midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations.” There is also evidence of Russian meddling in the 2018 Mexican presidential campaign. And all of this comes after confirmed attempts by Russia to influence the elections in France and Germany last year.

We must have a plan to seize the strategic high ground in cyberspace. We need a strategy that moves out of the trenches and imposes meaningful, devastating costs on our adversaries. The lack of consequences for the countless cyber-attacks by those who wish to do us harm has not only emboldened our adversaries, it has left us even more heavily targeted by their emboldened behavior. As long as our adversaries feel that they can act with impunity they will press further.

At our recent subcommittee hearing, the panel of witnesses confirmed that we must tailor our strategies to the uniqueness of the cyber domain if we are to prevent our adversaries from exploiting us. The attack attempts we experienced during the 2016 election are just the latest rung on an escalation ladder of cyber-attacks.

As the 2018 election gets closer, my colleagues and I will continue doing our part to help make sure we protect a free and fair election process. As Chairman of the Cybersecurity Subcommittee, I will also continue to work with the administration, to include its military and intelligence community leaders, to craft and implement a strong, clear strategy to deter bad actors from attacking us in cyberspace.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Trucking Toward the American Dream

Trucking Toward the American Dream
By Rep. Kristi Noem

South Dakota is a big state with two major interstates running through. We rely heavily on our local trucking operations, so I take it very seriously when the federal government starts imposing regulations like the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. This U.S. Department of Transportation rule makes it more difficult to reliably move livestock, commodities, and goods through the state.

Time and again, I’ve spoken to South Dakota truckers with deep concerns about the added burden. No one wants to compromise when it comes to safety – especially those who make their living behind the wheel. But no one is looking to change the safety protocols. The Hours of Service Regulations, which limit the amount of time truckers can spend on the road, remain in place no matter what. The question is really about whether to require those hours to be recorded by a costly electronic device or by hand with old-fashioned pen and paper.

In December, I co-sponsored legislation that would put a two-year delay on this mandate. This would give additional time for further research into the impact on trucking operations, particularly small companies and those that haul live animals.

Earlier this month, I also sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation to request exemptions for small trucking businesses with exemplary safety records, saving these drivers with the tightest profit margins the $500 it costs annually to comply with the ELD mandate.

I believe strongly in evidence-based policymaking, and I have significant concerns about the questions left unanswered regarding the ELD mandate. Until more can be learned about the mandate’s efficacy and practical impact, I believe we need to delay this rule and work toward a solution in which South Dakota truckers can continue operating safely while pursuing their American Dream.

Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Good Reason To Be Hopeful

Good Reason To Be Hopeful
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard: 

On Tuesday, February 13th, the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations adopted revenue projections for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and FY2019 state budgets. Fortunately, since I offered my budget proposal in December, more recent months of revenue collections have been stronger.  These months of improved revenue, coupled with the economic stimulus expected from federal tax cuts, portend better future revenue. For the current fiscal year, FY2018, the revenue projection has increased by $16.3 million. For FY2019, the revenue projection has increased by $18.8 million. As we plan spending within these projections, we must remain committed to principles of fiscal responsibility and conservative management. It is important that we use non-recurring revenue for one-time expenses only, and that we appropriate dollars for recurring expenses only with revenue which is expected also to recur.  South Dakotans expect their government to be prudent with state spending.

There is no better place than South Dakota to live, work and raise a family. South Dakota is a state where people can succeed. If you show up and work hard, you can make a good life for yourself. This is why Site Selection magazine named South Dakota the number one state for achieving the American dream.

We also have a high quality of life, with an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, safe communities, good schools and quality post-secondary education opportunities.  Based on EPA standards, we have one of the best safe drinking water records in the nation. Our air is clean, too. We are one of just five states in the country that has never had a “nonattainment area” under the Clean Air Act. We have good roads. Our highways rank second in the nation for overall performance and cost-effectiveness. Among many recreational opportunities, we saw record attendance at our State Fair last year and our state park visitor numbers increased again.

The safety net programs we administer are well-managed. Take Medicaid, for instance. Our Medicaid program is run so well that we are the only state in the nation that has had a continuous exemption from federal audit requirements. Our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – or “food stamps” – has been ranked #1 in the nation for its procedural accuracy.  This earned us half a million dollars in rewards from the federal government last year. And our child support program is #2 in the nation for overall performance and cost effectiveness.

If we consider all of these things and what we have achieved in the last seven years – structurally balancing the budget every year, securing AAA status, raising teacher pay, investing in our roads, improving our criminal justice system – then we have good reason be proud of the state that we call home, and good reason to be hopeful for the future. Take a minute today and appreciate your state. I know there is nowhere else I would rather be and no other people I would rather be with.


Sad news coming in of Don Rounds’ passing.

There are early reports coming in that Don Rounds, father to US Senator Mike Rounds, State Representative Tim Rounds, and Crooks Mayor Jamison Rounds has passed away.

The patriarch of the Rounds’ family was not just an institution in Pierre, but also among the members of the South Dakota Republican Party. I’ll have more on services as information comes out.

Dr. Fred Deutsch to run for District 4 State House

Dr. Fred Deutsch to run for District 4 State House

Dr. Fred Deutsch today announced his intention to run for the South Dakota House of Representatives for District 4 (Grant, Deuel, Rural Brookings and rural Codington Counties) in the 2018 election. Deutsch, a Republican, served previously in the legislature from 2015-16. He served on the Education, Health, and Commerce committees.

“I have spent my life dedicated to public service and to caring for people,” Deutsch said. “When I heard one of the Reps wasn’t planning to run again, Kathleen and I began to pray about returning to the legislature. As things came together, we felt it right to run again.”

If elected, Dr. Deutsch said his priorities will include keeping our children safe at school and improving transparency and civility in government.  Deutsch continued, “As a father and grandfather, and a former school board member, the only thing more important to me than providing our children world-class schools is providing them safe schools.”

“If the voters return me to Pierre, I will promote transparency and civility in government, and will always listen to the people. It was an honor to serve the people of District 4 and the State of South Dakota, and it would be my great honor to serve them again for the next two years.”

Deutsch has lived in rural Watertown since 1983. He met his wife Kathleen, a Webster native, at chiropractic school and they have practiced together in Watertown for 35 years. They raised four daughters and have maintained an active life serving their patients, church and community.

Dr. Deutsch cites his upbringing as the son of a Holocaust survivor who came to America with a sixth-grade education and spent his life working as a laborer as what has influenced his love of public service and education.

Terry LaFleur: Diversity is “BS,” “reverse discrimination.” But special treatment for himself is ok.

Dark horse GOP Gubernatorial candidate Terry Lee LaFleur has some choice words about diversity this morning, referring to it as “BS,” and equating it with “reverse discrimination”:

I find it odd that someone running for Governor seemingly claiming that diversity hiring is ‘BS’ and ‘reverse discrimination’ had accessed special treatment in law school, and has previously sued the State Bar in 2006 seeking accommodations under the ADA – the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Terry Lee LaFleur failed to pass the South Dakota bar examination on three occasions.   On his last attempt, he failed even though the South Dakota Board of Bar Examiners granted his request for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   Those accommodations included time and one half to take the exam and a private, distraction free room.   Prior to a fourth attempt, LaFleur requested double time and other accommodations, but the Board only granted the accommodations provided on the third attempt.   LaFleur appeals.   We affirm.


While in law school, LaFleur experienced difficulties maintaining acceptable grades and was placed on academic probation.   He underwent psychological testing by Dr. Robert J. Fabiano.   Dr. Fabiano diagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Inattentive Type) and Major Depressive Disorder (Single Episode, Mild).   Thereafter, LaFleur received special accommodations in law school, including additional time to take examinations and the use of a private testing room.   With these accommodations, LaFleur met the requirements for graduation.

Read that here.

So, according to LaFleur, diversity hiring practices – which include encouraging the hiring of qualified people with disabilities – would be reverse discrimination and BS. Despite his own use of special accommodations in his schooling, and suing the state bar for the same.

Kind of ironic.

Committee on Discipline and Expulsion forms on argument between Rep. Dave Johnson and Rep. Lynne DiSanto

From Twitter:

I’ve heard over the past couple of days that an argument on the House Floor during session a couple of days ago between Reps Lynne DiSanto and Dave Johnson continued after session, and may have gotten a bit heated. So much so that we’re seeing comments like this:

There are not a lot of details I’m aware of just yet. As soon as the full audio of the day is archived, I’ll have more on this.

Update – from the Argus Leader:

South Dakota lawmakers on Friday called for an investigation into Rep. David Johnson, following allegations that the Rapid City Republican verbally assaulted another legislator on the House floor.

The House of Representatives voted 45-13 to establish the Select Committee on Discipline and Expulsion, which will investigate allegations that Johnson displayed inappropriate behavior toward Rep. Lynne DiSanto, R-Rapid City, Wednesday evening.

Read that here.

Update from the Associated Press/Rapid City Journal:

The South Dakota House will investigate a first-term Republican representative for conduct the lawmaker described as “unfair statements” to a colleague.

Read it here.

Freedom to sell pipe bombs and legalization of prostitution consequences of proposed 2020 constitutional amendment

Every once in a while, someone comes up with a great idea.   This is not one of them.

Levi Breyfogle of Rapid City is starting the process to get a constitutional measure on the ballot that has the goal to eliminate many crimes from actually being crimes.  He’s sent a measure to the Legislative Research Council for review and set up a website to promote his new system of government.

If you could call it that. Government, that is.

No victim, no crime. Is a popular saying in circles that value freedom. What this amendment would do is exactly that. Require a victim for a crime to have been committed. If no one was damaged and is willing to press charges there can be no crime.


That Article VI of the Constitution of the State of South Dakota be amended by adding NEW SECTIONS to read as follows:

§ 30. In order for a violation of the law to have been committed each of the following shall occur: 

(1) A charge of a violation may only be filed by a individual victim whose person or property have been physically damaged by the defendant. If the victim is incapable of filing a charge of a violation, a family member may, but only if the victim does not object; and
(2) The damages must be physical, quantifiable, and have already occured.

§ 31. Each known victim in any pending case on July 1, 2021, in the law enforcement, judicial, or correctional systems shall be notified and the victim may file a charge of a violation. If no victim files a charge of a violation, the case, sentence, or outstanding fine shall be dropped by October 1, 2021. If a charge if filed, the charge shall be initially reviewed within 30 days to verify the person filing the charge was a probable victim of a willful, direct, physical action of the defendant. No restitution shall be paid for time or fines already paid by any person currently or previously incarcerated or paying fines even if a charge of a violation is dropped pursuant to this section.

§ 32. No public funds of this state, or any political subdivision of this state, may be expended for the implementation, regulation, or enforcement of any federal law, executive order, rule, or regulation regulating any case that is in violation of this amendment. No personnel or property of this state, or any political subdivision of this state, may be utilized for the implementation, regulation, or enforcement of any federal law, executive order, rule, or regulation that is in violation of this amendment.


How will the government interfere with our day to day lives?
After passing this they really won’t be able to.


What would this do to the economy?
It would lower costs when you bought anything. It would allow anyone to do any kind of work they wanted to and were able. It would reduce the costs invloved with starting nearly any business greatly allowing for lower prices, higher wages, and more profits.

Read that all here.

This measure doesn’t serve to increase liberty as much as it does to utterly eliminate the criminal code, save for the direct physical harm of another person.

So, according to the proposal, if I wanted to manufacture pipe bombs and sell them to 18-year-olds, it appears that according to the measure, I could legally do that, and the state would be barred from cooperating with the federal government to stop me.

Under this proposed constitutional amendment, I’m also reading it to potentially legalize prostitution, brothels, and selling crack.

That doesn’t exactly sound like a good idea. But maybe that’s just me.   It sounds more like anarchy.

Unless you’re into pipe bombs, brothels, and crack. Then it might be your thing.