Brookings Area Businessman John Mills selected to replace Fred Deutsch on the ballot.

This past weekend, the GOP county organizations which comprise District 4 met for the purposes of addressing Fred Deutsch’s resignation from the race for D4 House.  The counties met, and selected John Mills of Brookings County to fill the vacancy.

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And that’s John Mills; formerly of Mills Construction, currently Mills Properties and Mills Development.

John should be a strong candidate, helping to move this district fully in the “R” column.

Gov. Daugaard Orders State Capitol Flags At Half-Staff For Former State Sen. Roland A. Chicoine

Gov. Daugaard Orders State Capitol Flags At Half-Staff For Former State Sen. Roland A. Chicoine

PIERRE, S.D. – Former state legislator Roland A. Chicoine of Elk Point passed away on May 19, 2016. Chicoine, 93, served for 20 years in the state legislature, as a state representative from 1981-87, a state senator from 1987-93, and again as a state representative from 1993-2001.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has ordered flags to fly half-staff at the State Capitol on Wednesday, May 25, the day of Chicoine’s funeral.

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Stolen from facebook: Congresswoman Noem visits an important South Dakota icon

Congresswoman Noem is pictured here visiting an important South Dakota icon with her family…

KristiatZesto

While the State Capitol building is nice, if you’re a Pierre expatriate, you know there’s 2 specific stops you need to make when you’re in town; The Donut Shop at the top of the Euclid (before 8 – 8:30 am, when all the good ones are gone), and when in season, the Zesto’s ice cream building at 213 W. Capitol Avenue ran by Barb & Rick Newman.

Darn it. Now I want a blueberry cake donut from the Donut Shop.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Bringing Some Much-Needed Accountability to the Indian Health Service

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressBringing Some Much-Needed Accountability to the Indian Health Service
By Sen. John Thune

The crisis plaguing the Indian Health Service (IHS) and its facilities throughout the Great Plains area isn’t new. In fact, if you ask Native Americans in South Dakota to share their personal experiences dealing with the agency, you’d be hard-pressed to find any positive reviews. The stories they’ve shared with me are heart-wrenching and call into question the commitment of the IHS leaders who are responsible for ensuring our tribal citizens get the quality care they deserve, but unfortunately haven’t been receiving.

It’s hard to imagine walking into a medical exam room that is anything less than clean and orderly, but based on some of the stories I’ve heard, a clean exam room would be a luxury for many IHS patients in South Dakota. The idea that medical professionals are sometimes relegated to using dirty and unsanitary equipment is hard enough to fathom, but we’ve also heard of patients being prematurely discharged from hospitals. This substandard environment is unacceptable, it’s dangerous, and it’s having a real and oftentimes devastating impact on Native Americans, their families, and their communities.

It is clear the IHS is ineffectively managed. For example, it settled an $80 million lawsuit with unions, $6.2 million was taken from Great Plains area service units alone. This all occurred because IHS could not properly manage an administrative task like overtime pay, and IHS took money that would have been better suited for patient care.

In February, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, invited me to participate in a hearing he organized to examine a number of these ongoing issues and try to determine what can be done to finally fix them. During the hearing, we heard from witnesses, including representatives from the Oglala and Rosebud Sioux tribes, about the abysmal conditions they’d been exposed to. The hearing was a good opportunity for my Senate colleagues to hear about these experiences firsthand, and it provided us with more than enough information to help craft a comprehensive bill that would address this crisis head on.

Sen. Barrasso and I have been working together for months to craft the right kind of bill that tackles patient care and safety issues and emphasizes the need for greater transparency and accountability at the agency. The IHS Accountability Act of 2016, which Sen. Barrasso and I just introduced, does just that. This bill would address some of the systemic failures at IHS by implementing several key, common-sense reforms.

Most importantly – it says it in its name – the IHS Accountability Act increases accountability. It creates an expedited procedure for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, who oversees IHS, to terminate senior leaders at the agency who aren’t doing their jobs. Leadership starts at the top, so if an underperforming member of leadership is creating a barrier to fulfilling the agency’s core mission of providing quality care to patients, then it’s time for them to find a new line of work.

The bill also streamlines the hiring process so we can get more dedicated, hard-working people on the job faster and keep them there longer. Tribal input is key, which is why we built in a provision to the bill that ensures tribes are consulted during the hiring process for area directors, service unit CEOs, and other key officials. Retaining good employees has always been a problem, which is something we sought to correct by giving the HHS secretary greater flexibility to create competitive pay scales and reward employees for good performance.

Protecting whistleblowers was also an important goal of ours, which is why the bill requires the Government Accountability Office to review the protections that are currently in place and determine whether or not any changes are required to create additional layers of protection. And in the spirit of complete transparency, the bill requires the HHS Office of Inspector General to investigate each and every patient death in which the IHS is involved.

The IHS Accountability Act is hands-down the most comprehensive IHS bill introduced this Congress. And while this is an important step, it’s just the first step. Our effort will mean nothing unless we continue to engage with the tribes, solicit their input, and improve this bill where we can. I look forward to continuing that conversation and building on the important groundwork we’ve laid together.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Overtime Rule Will Hurt South Dakota’s Workforce and Employers

Rounds Logo 2016 MikeRounds official SenateOvertime Rule Will Hurt South Dakota’s Workforce and Employers
By Sen. Mike Rounds

The Obama administration recently issued a new regulation—one of the 195 new regulations issued so far in 2016—to more than double the salary threshold under which employees can qualify for overtime pay of time and a half. Like so many of the administration’s regulations, the new overtime rule is a one-size-fits-all mandate that doesn’t take into account individual needs and regional differences. In fact, it will actually end up hurting the citizens it is meant to help: employees and the job creators who hire them.

Currently, employees making $23,660 or less per year automatically qualify for overtime after 40 hours per week. The new rule issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) would raise that threshold to $47,476, effective Dec. 1, 2016. Labor costs will go up, and many hard-working, mid-and-entry-level employees will feel the squeeze. Employers will be forced to either pay these new labor costs or reclassify salaried employees as hourly workers and limit their hours. Additionally, employees who will be converted from salaried to hourly will lose the flexibility they have today. Not only is this bad for business, it also makes it more difficult for new and mid-level workers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck, to support their families and advance their career.

By forcing small businesses, restaurants, retailers, colleges and universities to comply with yet another costly new mandate, the administration is hindering economic growth and stifling innovation. The best way to strengthen the middle class is to boost our economy by lowering the tax burden, removing costly regulatory mandates and increasing workplace flexibility. Unfortunately, this new overtime rule will have the opposite effect.

Earlier this year, I cosponsored the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, which would require DOL to pursue a balanced and responsible approach when updating federal overtime rules. Under this legislation, DOL would be required to perform a deeper analysis of the impact changes to overtime regulations will have on businesses, nonprofits, local economies, healthcare providers and colleges. Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has pledged to file a Resolution of Disapproval to stop this new rule, which I wholeheartedly support.

Since the rule was first proposed in 2014, DOL received nearly 300,000 comments, many of which came from employees, business owners and local government officials, who tried to explain that the rule would stifle growth. Still, the DOL pushed forward with the rule, disregarding the input from those it says it is trying to help. Additionally, the administration failed to take into account regional differences when finalizing this new mandate.  What’s good for South Dakota may differ greatly from what’s good for California and New York. This is especially true when you’re talking about cost of living and family budgets.

Employees deserve fair pay for an honest day’s work, but forcing employers to comply with this rule is irresponsible. It threatens businesses, employees, state and local governments and the economy as a whole. If the president wants to truly help the middle class – he should start by withdrawing this misguided rule.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Paving Her Way

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Paving Her Way
By Rep. Kristi Noem

Kassidy, our oldest daughter, graduated from SDSU a few weeks ago, officially making Bryon and I the parents of a bona fide college graduate. She finished in four years with her Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business, something she earned while also being heavily involved in athletics, clubs, and intramural sports and working on the side. Kassidy is largely paying her own way, but she’s busy becoming a licensed appraiser now to start making a dent in those student loans.

I guess that pretty much sums up her last four years. Still, it doesn’t quite encapsulate the person she’s become in this time. To say that Bryon and I are proud of her would be an understatement. Kassidy is a hard worker. She’s incredibly responsible. She’s kind and adventurous – and perhaps most importantly, she has a deep love for the Lord.

As she walked across the platform in Frost Arena, my mind went back to the day she was born. It was several weeks after my dad had been killed in an accident at our family farm. We were struggling as a family to imagine a future without him. The days were filled with trying to make decisions, calve out the cows, and get the crop planted. The nights were filled with tears and wondering how God could have thought he needed a 49-year-old farmer in heaven when he still had so much to do here with us. I’ll be honest with you: I was mad and I felt devastated. The only thing that seemed to bring me any kind of peace was keeping busy with the cattle, so having a baby was not something I spent much time getting ready for.

Then came April 21 and everything changed. When Kassidy was born, she reminded our family how to be happy again. We started being optimistic about the future; I actually began to look forward to the next sunrise.

Kassidy, who we quickly nicknamed “Hop-a-long,” spent hours in tractors and combines and with Grandma Corinne. Even at three years old, she could sense when I was tired (and yes, maybe a little cranky). She’d look at me with these scolding eyes and remind me to fix my attitude, saying: “somebody’s crabby…!” She had a special love for animals. Almost everything was “pretty neat, huh?” And we always told her wonderful stories about her Grandpa Ron and how much he would have loved to meet her.

As Kassidy grew, more cousins were born and there was a lot for her to do. She kept them in line, made sure they behaved, and handed out chores like a boss. On my side of the family, she was the first cousin to play sports, go to school, drive, rodeo, and run equipment.

Today, Kassidy loves traveling, the outdoors, hunting and spending time with her family. She is often the one who volunteers to take long road trips with me when I need to attend meetings across the state. Time and again, she’s filled in for me if I have to be in DC as well.

Our second oldest, Kennedy, and I were discussing a trait of Kassidy’s the other day. Kennedy said, “I think Kass just has really high standards for other people.” I hadn’t really thought about it like that before, but Kennedy was right. Kassidy expects people to try to be their best, to be responsible, to serve the Lord, and to work hard, because she does. It may seem bossy to a little brother or type A to a friend, but it’s not a bad thing as long as it’s done with love.

Many families across South Dakota are celebrating graduations this time of year. It is a wonderful time to reflect on childhood memories and dream about the future. For our family, I’m excited to see what God has in store for Kassidy. While so much is unknown, I am confident that Grandpa Ron would have been proud.

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Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Memories of the 2011 Flood

daugaardheader daugaard2Memories of the 2011 Flood
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

It is hard to believe that it has been almost five years since the Missouri River flood.

I first received word of the escalating water releases from the Oahe Dam on a Tuesday as I was on my way back from Chicago. We had been visiting with Bel Brands about doing business in South Dakota, and in a matter of moments our focus shifted from business recruitment to how we would manage the rising waters.

At the time I had no idea that flood response would be our primary focus for the next several weeks. The Army Corps of Engineers told us the releases would be at record-high levels and it was uncertain how long they would continue.

My kids had planned to come to Pierre that Memorial Day weekend to relax. After hearing the news I called them to cancel our plans. They came to Pierre anyway and spent the weekend filling sandbags with my wife Linda.

The following days were a flurry of activity.

In short order we opened up the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), blocked one lane of Interstate 29 for use as a haul road, and asked the citizens in some areas of Dakota Dunes and Fort Pierre to evacuate.

We watched as Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters placed one-ton helibags of sand in and around places like McCook Lake, Wynstone and Yankton.

I recall flying over Lake Oahe and seeing the big whirlpool that formed where the water was draining through the dam.

I spent hours in the EOC, assisting in the Pierre/Fort Pierre area response, while Lt. Gov. Matt Michels coordinated efforts in the southeast.

We walked the levees, to ensure the berms of earth and rock were solid; we rode in dump trucks to monitor traffic so it flowed as efficiently as possible; and we helped our neighbors carry their possessions to higher ground.

I remember the frustration we felt as the water-flow peak estimates changed from 85,000 cubic feet per second, to 110,000 cfs and ultimately to 160,000 cfs. The previous peak release from the 50-year-old Oahe Dam was 59,000 cfs. Things looked grim but there was no time for doubt.

There was a noticeable feeling of relief when the National Guard arrived. They worked for 96 consecutive days on 12- to 15-hour shifts. It was the largest in-state deployment since the 1972 Rapid City Flood. Prison inmates also pitched in. At one point, the National Guard members and the inmates started a competition to see which group could fill the most sandbags.

I can still see the faces of the state and local emergency response officials, mayors, county commissioners, and the individuals from the Red Cross and Salvation Army who worked so tirelessly. I remain grateful for the long hours they labored.

I will never forget the crews who worked so hard to construct the levees. In just a few days, they did a job that would normally take months or years. They constructed earthen berms that held back the Mighty Missouri for several miles. As crews were building the levees, there were times they could see the water rising and did not know if they could finish in time; but they kept on going.

Most of all, I remember the volunteers. People from all over the state came to help. They came by the busload. They filled thousands and thousands of sandbags to protect homes, businesses and loved ones. They brought food, drink, comfort, encouragement and hope to the crews.

At one point, I met a retired woman living in Pierre who didn’t know if she’d get her house sandbagged in time. She lived on her own and was struggling. Before the water arrived a group of young volunteers showed up just in time and got the job done. There are many similar examples up and down the river.

South Dakota had had disasters before – tornadoes, blizzards, fires and floods. We always have joined together to help our neighbors recover and move forward. But this flood was different. We had never been given so much advance warning. Thousands of South Dakotans joined together to avoid a disaster.

Many homes were damaged, and some were destroyed. Still, we did all we could, and thanks to our efforts, a great deal of property damage and human suffering was avoided. As high as the floodwaters rose, South Dakota rose higher. I am just as proud today as I was five years ago.

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Adelstein PAC attacks Jensen over objecting to Vietnam war 44 years ago. Who wins when no one is likeable?

I was just sent this from today’s mail in Rapid City:

all_southDakota_front

all_southDakota_inside

The “All South Dakota” Political Action Committee is one of several that former State Senator Stan Adelstein funnels money through to alternately attack his enemies or support his friends. You can see the latest filing from it as noted below:

all_sd_pac by Pat Powers

I’ve long documented Stan using PACs to ferry money here and there. And while serving in the State legislature, Adelstein was referred to by one colleague as being a cancer on the caucus, as he sought to gain favors and position.

The attack ad comes at a surprising point in time when Adelstein has faded from view, and his name only comes up in news stories about him fighting with his neighbors, and insinuating people are anti-semetic for disagreeing with him.

Contrast that with Phil Jensen, who has his own notoriety as a member of the State Senate, as I reminded everyone back in February:

Just when you think Phil Jensen had that foot out of his mouth from last election’s comments over racial discrimination….

“If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks, and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them,” Jensen told the Rapid City Journal.

Read that here.

…. he manages to wedge it back in there with the other foot with his comments in today’s Rapid City Journal:

Speaking over the phone on the way to Pierre on Tuesday, Jensen recalled when one of his constituents told him he witnessed “dozens of South Americans” fleeing a white bus parked near downtown Rapid City.

“He knew they were South Americans,” Jensen said, “because they had different skull structures and skin tones from Mexicans.”

Read it here.

The political hit-piece is basically Adelstein is attacking Jensen for an action he took 44 years ago. Which brings up the question whether it’s an issue that should hold sway in 2016?

And who wins when no one is likeable?

The issue may resonate for Vietnam Era Veterans and their families, or possibly veterans in general, and they have every reason to feel that way. But beyond that, It’s a political attack using 44 year old information because someone, when they were 18, didn’t really want to go to fight in a controversial war during a turbulent time in our country’s history.

You know, this is one of those cases where you can’t find yourself compelled to root for anyone. And I’m not sure how effective it’s going to be in moving voters. Jensen supporters will likely excuse it, and Jensen haters are still not going to like him.

I tend to think you just watch the mudslinging for the two or three minutes of entertainment, go “meh,” and go back to whatever you were doing.

Epilogue: These Bootz are made for hiding.

If you’ll note my post a few hours back about District 3 Democrat House Candidate Nikki Bootz offering a rather stark opinion of the University community at NSU she hopes to represent in Pierre (after this thirty-something-year-old was lamenting that “Theatre class is hard? Since when“)..

f_northern… Apparently, seeing it in print caused this candidate to suddenly grew a sense of discretion.

bootzaremadeforhidinOr, at the least, she decided that her Bootz are made for hiding.