Thune Statement on Passage of the FY 2018 Budget Resolution

Thune Statement on Passage of the FY 2018 Budget Resolution

“We want to ensure that Americans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money … Today’s passage of the budget resolution is a critical step toward achieving that goal.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement regarding the Senate’s passage of the FY 2018 budget resolution:

“After eight years of a sluggish economy and stagnant wages, 50 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. That’s not acceptable. Senate Republicans are working toward a pro-growth tax plan that will provide relief to working families and move the economy forward. We want to ensure that Americans are able to keep more of their hard-earned money and that business owners have the resources they need to grow their operations — creating more jobs and bigger paychecks. Today’s passage of the budget resolution is a critical step toward achieving that goal.”

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#TBT: Senator, Senator, President Pro Temp….

Throwback Thursday!

This seems it was a looong time ago, but at the time, it was the 2004 Republican National Convention.  John Thune was a candidate for US Senate, Mike Rounds was Governor, Brock Greenfield was in his second term of his first stint in the State Senate, and Lance Russell was a Fall River County State’s Attorney.

Now, Thune and Rounds are both US Senators, Brock Greenfield is Senator again, and President Pro Tempore, the highest ranking Senator, and State Senator Russell is a candidate for Attorney General.

And it sounds like the Alexander/Murray Bill is going to face some changes…

The Health Care bill being called the Alexander/Murray measure that was introduced today? Don’t consider that measure done cooking yet:

But the legislation is likely to see some changes, especially since Trump opposes the deal as it stands now. Trump derided the payments, which reimburse insurers for lowering co-pays and deductibles for low-income Obamacare customers, as bailouts of insurance companies.

Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., issued a statement that said they are working with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on changes to the legislation to satisfy Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is also opposed.

and…

Trump made several demands for what needs to be included in the legislation to win his support. Those include relief from the individual and employer mandates and “meaningful flexibility” for states to waive Obamacare regulations.

and…

Alexander told reporters Thursday that he hasn’t made a decision on whether to pursue a markup on the bill in a committee. He added if the bill does go through a committee, it likely would be the Senate Finance Committee helmed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who opposes it.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the third-ranking GOP senator, predicts there will be a markup.

“I think our folks will want to have regular order on that,” he said.

Read it all here.

Thoughts?

Release: Rounds Statement on Alexander/Murray Legislation

Rounds Statement on Alexander/Murray Legislation

Is one of 24 Senators – 12 Republican and 12 Democrat – to Cosponsor Bipartisan Bill; Similar Provision had Support from 49 of 52 GOP Senators

WASHINGTON— Following months of discussions between U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Angus King (I-Maine), Rounds made the following statement on the bipartisan Alexander/Murray legislation, which will give states additional flexibility to tailor their health insurance market to fit their individual needs. It also temporarily authorizes Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) payments, which will protect consumers from even higher premiums and help stabilize the market in the near-term.

“Obamacare is a rapidly sinking ship,” said Rounds. “Our agreement will give us time to stabilize the market and provide meaningful flexibility and relief to states while we continue our efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with a competitive, market-based health care system that is actually affordable. In the meantime, we protect low-income families from even higher premiums by temporarily continuing the CSR payments for two years. Meanwhile, we are making meaningful, permanent reforms to the 1332 waiver process, which will provide much-needed relief to states and allow them to tailor their health insurance markets to fit their individual needs. Empowering the states with new opportunities to innovate and strengthen their health insurance market is a significant step in the right direction.”

CSR payments are essentially a government subsidy for low-income individuals. Last week, President Trump announced the administration would stop making the monthly CSR payments, citing a May 2016 federal court ruling which found the payments were unconstitutional because Congress had not appropriated money for this purpose.

This legislation would provide permanent, significant reforms to Obamacare’s ‘1332 waivers.’ Due to House and Senate rules, the 1332 waiver changes outlined in the Alexander/Murray legislation are not eligible to be included in “budget reconciliation” legislation, which is the vehicle being used to repeal and replace Obamacare by congressional Republicans. Those efforts will continue. Alexander/Murray also modifies the affordability guardrails in a way that maintains patient protections but allows states to innovate and develop cheaper ways to cover more Americans.

It would also legally authorize the administration to temporarily continue CSR payments for two years, similar to the provisions of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, in which 49 GOP members of the U.S. Senate supported earlier this year.

Reforms to the 1332 Waiver Process Would:

  • Amend the law to provide meaningful flexibility for health plan designs;
  • Streamline the waiver approval process by letting governors apply for waivers without requiring state legislatures to pass an authorization law;
  • Allow for automatic approval of waivers if a state’s application is substantially similar to one already approved by federal authorities;
  • Cut the approval time at Health and Human Services (HHS) in half;
  • Provide additional fast-tracking opportunities for waivers in emergency circumstances; and
  • Allow for waivers to last longer than under current law (six years v. five years today).

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Thune: The Death Tax Looms Over South Dakota’s Farmers and Ranchers

Thune: The Death Tax Looms Over South Dakota’s Farmers and Ranchers

“Many of the farmers and ranchers in my state know that without careful and costly planning, the federal government will come around after their death demanding a staggering 40 percent of their estate, and their children won’t have the money to pay without risking the farm or ranch.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) this week discussed an important objective of the Senate Republicans’ pro-growth, comprehensive tax reform legislation: repealing the death tax. Thune explained that South Dakota farmers and ranchers spend tens of thousands of dollars each year to avoid the death tax and preserve their family farms for generations to come – wasted resources that could be used to reinvest back into the business, create new jobs, and increase wages. If these owners don’t plan accordingly and take costly steps to avoid being hit by the death tax, their family might have no choice but to sell off land to pay the government – which means losing income-generating property or the entire family-run farm or ranch.

In January 2017, Thune introduced the Death Tax Repeal Act, which can be found here. To learn more about Thune’s work on tax reform, please visit the tax reform section on www.thune.senate.gov.

Gubernatorial Candidate Marty Jackley holds telephone town hall last night.

I couldn’t listen because I was helping my son with a school project last night, enabling his classmates to learn all about the state of Idaho, but last night I received a pre-recorded message from Jason Glodt announcing a telephone town hall with Attorney General and Gubernatorial Candidate Marty Jackley.

Anyone listen in?

Pennington Co. GOP hosting ‘Thank You’ Party for former State Sen. Lyndell Peterson on Saturday

From the Pennington County GOP:

THANK YOU PARTY FOR LYNDELL PETERSEN – There will be a “Thank You” Party in honor of Lyndell Petersen on October 21st at the Wall Community Building from 7-9pm. Lyndell, a fellow life long Republican has served Pennington County as a Commissioner and GOP Chairman and has been involved in the Party for years.

“For years” probably does not sufficiently sum it up for the former long-time State Senator who served from 1977-1994, and most recently served two terms on the County Commission in Pennington County.

Here’s Lyndell’s profile from his last term in Pierre:

Lyndell was one of those State Senators who didn’t get up and speak often in the Chambers during session. But when he did, everyone paused and listened because “Rattlesnake Pete” was not one to mince words.

If you’re in the Wall area on Saturday, make a point to stop by and wish him well.

IM22 supporters drop new ballot measure with 50k Signatures with Secretary of State

The same people who brought you the unconstitutional Initiated Measure 22 from 2016 have dropped a new ballot measure at the Secretary of State in preparation for the 2018 Ballot, claiming 50,000 signatures:

“South Dakotans clearly demanded change last November with IM 22, but the will of the people was ignored; now the people are one step closer to having the final say,” Mitch Richter, a co-sponsor of the amendment, said in a statement. “This amendment is a response to what the Legislature has done and failed to do.”

and…

Don Haggar, state director of South Dakota’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group backed by billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, said he’s concerned because the commission would be a “fourth branch of government” with no check and balance. He also said the state constitution shouldn’t contain political rhetoric or appropriations.

Americans for Prosperity, which fought against the 2016 ballot measure, opposes the new amendment, but hasn’t decided how much of a role it will play in an opposition campaign.

The new amendment would also lower campaign donation limits. For example, it would decrease the contribution limit for a state representative from $1,000 a year from individuals to $500 per election cycle.

Read it here.

Campaign finance limits in the constitution? This sounds like yet another big steaming mess of a measure that even if it somehow manages to pass will end up in court.

Rounds working for solution to Obamacare, part of team assembling compromise.

Politico is reporting that South Dakota’s Senator Mike Rounds is part of a bi-partisan group that’s working to ease the transition between Obamacare and the needed reforms to our health care system without abrupt increases in costs to citizens:

A bipartisan deal in Congress offers a glimmer of stability for the Obamacare insurance markets. But for it to become law, each party will need to declare a victory — and President Donald Trump will have to agree to prop up a law he just spent months trying to repeal.

For Democrats, the deal negotiated by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) would restore key subsidies that Trump cut off just days ago. For Republicans, it would offer states flexibility to approve health insurance plans that would have the lower premiums they’ve promised voters.

and…

But Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), who has worked with Alexander to whip up support, expressed confidence that Trump could convince skeptical Republicans to fall in line. “The fact that the president has indicated a real interest in seeing a bipartisan fix like this move forward for a short-term fix is critical,” Rounds said. “If the White House said, ‘Look, we’re not interested in it,’ then I don’t think we’d be able to go anyplace with it.”

Read it here.

Senator Rounds also offered further comment on the plan to the Greg Belfrage show on KELO Radio:

“This would, for a period of two years, provide the states a chance to actually do some things to slow down premium increases, keep the cost sharing revenues in place long enough for us to get the actual repeal and replace completed.”

Read that here.

What do you think? Does this help get the repeal and replace job done in an atmosphere where every vote counts? Or is nothing better than something?

Rounds, Blunt Introduce Bill to Allow Community Banks to Better Serve Rural Areas

Rounds, Blunt Introduce Bill to Allow Community Banks to Better Serve Rural Areas

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) introduced legislation to support and strengthen lending in local communities. The Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2017 would roll back burdensome financial regulations to make it easier for community banks to serve their customers, who often reside in rural areas with fewer available lending options.

“Community banks are a vital resource for small businesses and families in rural areas like South Dakota,” said Rounds. “Relieving community banks from unnecessary regulatory burdens will increase credit access for South Dakota families across the state. Our legislation would roll back some of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ federal regulations so community banks are once again able to grow and support their communities.”

“Missouri’s community banks play a critical role in keeping our state’s small businesses thriving,” said Blunt. “This bill will rein in excessive red tape and allow these banks to expand access to credit for Missouri families and local business owners. I urge all of my colleagues to support this measure and help strengthen economic growth in our small and rural communities.”

The Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2017 would:

  • exempt community banks with $50 billion or less in assets from the Basel III capital rules;
  • exempt community banks with less than $1 billion in assets from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s internal control attestation requirements;
  • broaden the Securities and Exchange Commission Regulation D rule to make it easier for community banks to raise capital; and
  • make it easier for small banks to raise capital that can be used to help finance expansions.

A significant portion of this legislation was introduced by Rounds and Blunt during the previous session of Congress. It is supported by the Independent Community Bankers Association and the South Dakota Independent Community Bankers Association.

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