Release: A.G. Ravnsborg clarifies questions regarding industrial hemp and CBD Oil

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAVNSBORG CLARIFIES QUESTIONS
REGARDING INDUSTRIAL HEMP AND CBD (Cannabidiol) OIL

PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg today issued a clarifying statement regarding the legality of Industrial Hemp and CBD oils.

“We have had numerous informal inquiries as to the legal status of both hemp and CBD oils since the legislative session concluded,” said Ravnsborg. “It is important that the people of our state know and understand the status of the law so that they can obey it.”

Current South Dakota law makes industrial hemp illegal and all forms of CBD oil illegal.

The only exception is the prescription drug Epidiolex which was recognized by this year’s legislature as a controlled substance under SB 22. Governor Kristi Noem signed that bill into law on February 19, 2019, with an emergency clause, therefore having the law go into effect immediately.

This action leaves any other use or possession of CBD oil as a violation of state law.

“Some of the confusion is likely resulting from the fact that the federal government legalized the production and possession of hemp in the December 2018 Farm Bill,” continued Ravnsborg. “However, after a robust discussion of HB 1191 during the recent legislative session, the legal status under state law did not change, hemp and CBD oils remain illegal in South Dakota.”

The public is advised to contact their local state’s attorney, local law enforcement, or the Attorney General’s office with any further questions they may have at (605) 773-3215 or atghelp@state.sd.us

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Release: Attorney General Ravnsborg advises to be on the lookout for disaster related charity scams

ATTORNEY GENERAL RAVNSBORG ADVISES TO BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR DISASTER-RELATED CHARITY SCAMS

PIERRE, S.D. With the recent weather damage and flooding occurring in neighboring states, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg reminds South Dakotans to use care and caution in donating to relief efforts and to avoid charity scams.

“As South Dakotans we are proud to stand up and aid our neighbors in times of crisis,” said Ravnsborg. “Unfortunately not everyone sees this as a time to help, instead they see a chance to profit and it is my duty to help South Dakotans recognize and avoid these fundraising  scams aimed at playing off our natural empathy.”

Following a few simple steps can help ensure that your donations reach those in need:

  • It is best to donate to organizations whose reputations you are familiar with and those having a local presence.
  • Be cautious about fundraising efforts initiated on social media with no known ties to an established organization or local charity.
  • Evaluate the charity before making a donation. Resources such as Charity Navigator, GuideStar, IRS Select Check, the National Center for Charitable Statistics and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance all provide information about established charities.
  • Designate the disaster so you may ensure your funds are going to disaster relief, rather than a general fund.
  • Don’t fall for Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well- known organizations. Sometimes these sound-alike names are designed to confuse donors. If you receive an email, telephone call or text message asking for a donation, confirm that the request is from the charity, and not an imposter, by contacting the charity or visiting its website before making the donation.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by credit card or write a check directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals or send money via money transfer.
  • Be especially wary of unsolicited emails that contain attachments or links to websites, as they may download harmful malware onto your computer.
  • Be cautious when donating to a recently formed charity. These organizations have less experience handling donations, especially those intended to assist with a natural disaster.
  • Ask questions. Contact the charity to ask how your donation will be used for disaster relief. If they cannot give you answers, consider donating elsewhere.
  • Use peer-to-peer fundraising platforms carefully. Watch for hidden fees and make sure you know how your personal information may be used after you donate. When possible, make your donation payable to a charitable organization and not a specific person.
  • Get permission and all the details before raising money on behalf of a charity or individual. Contact the charity or individual beforehand to get permission and determine how and where donations should be sent. This also will provide you with an opportunity to confirm that any representations you’ll be making are truthful.

Those who suspect a charity scam should contact the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General at (605) 773-4400, or 1-800-300-1986 (in-state only), or by email at consumerhelp@state.sd.us

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Rep. Schoenfish taking aim at possible 2020 primary opponent?

In his latest column submitted to the newspapers as printed this morning in the Yankton Press and Dakotan, District 19 State Representative Kyle Schoenfish makes a none-too-subtle jab about those who claim they don’t understand the state budget because they don’t get enough time:

SB 191 is the bill that sets the budget for July 2019 to June 2020. The approved budget increased funding for education and state employees by 2.5 percent. Nursing homes were the top priority for many legislators, and that was reflected in the budget. Nursing homes received a 10 percent increase in ongoing funding, which will go a long way in narrowing the private pay/Medicaid gap. The extra increase will set the funding base for future years, so even typical inflationary increases (often around 2 percent) going forward will be based on this new dollar amount. While the budget takes effect July 1, the increase will begin April 1, providing a boost to nursing homes sooner.

Every year, a few individuals seem to keep repeating that the budget is done too quickly and at the last minute, but these discussions occur all during session, starting with the previous governor’s budget address in December and the current governor’s address in January. Various appropriations bills are done throughout session and are included in the final budget. As long as legislators pay attention, they can make an informed decision on the budget. The budget passed, 31-2, in the Senate and 53-6 in the House, with every Democrat and almost every Republican voting in favor.

Read it all here.

“As long as legislators pay attention, they can make an informed decision on the budget.” Ouch.  Of course, this is a direct reference to District 19 State Senator Stace Nelson who nearly without fail votes against the budget, annually explaining his negative vote as lacking information, or having insufficient time to review it:

South Dakota lawmakers have passed a roughly $4.9 billion state budget, providing a funding boost for education and state employees and larger-than anticipated spending hikes for nursing homes and community support providers.

and…

Republican Sen. Stace Nelson, who voted against the budget, said lawmakers received it early in the morning and that he wanted more time to review it.

Read it here.

It’s interesting that Schoenfish is questioning Nelson’s excuse for voting against the budget, as after 4 elections to the State House of Representatives, Representative Schoenfish is among those who are no longer eligible to run for the same seat that they currently hold, setting him up for a potential primary election if he wishes to run for office again in 2020.

Considering how acerbic the Senate GOP Caucus finds Nelson, after his formation of a caucus to oppose Republicans last year, and his being put in time-out from the GOP Caucus this year, Schoenfish might find some support for his candidacy among those who are weary of Nelson’s attacks.

Looking at the chart above, 2020 already has the potential for several competitive primary elections.

Keep your eye on how things develop. At the least, it will be entertaining to watch.

Mueller Report indicates no collusion. That was a lot of nothingburger.

Breaking from The Hill comes the Attorney General’s report of the Mueller investigation’s findings:

“The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election,” Barr’s letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, which was made public shortly after it was submitted Sunday, states.

Read it all here.

That was an overly long serving of nothingburger.

US Senator John Thune: It Was Good to See You

It Was Good to See You
By Sen. John Thune

There are nearly 900,000 people who call South Dakota home, so when I’m not in Washington, either after the Senate wraps up its work for the week or during an extended state work period, like the one we just had, I do my best to crisscross the state to see and personally hear from as many people as possible.

Being a U.S. senator isn’t a typical nine-to-five, Monday through Friday, go to and from the office kind of gig. There are no time clocks. There are no sick days. But you will never hear me complain. I love representing South Dakota, which is why even when I’m home and have traded my suit and tie for sneakers and blue jeans, I’m always willing to stop and chat. Whether it’s at a basketball game on a Friday night or at a coffee shop on a Saturday morning, they are the perfect opportunities for me to hear what’s on your mind without you having to take extra time out of your day to do it.

After having just spent some extra time in South Dakota, I had a productive few days meeting new people and seeing old friends in places like Aberdeen, Sioux Falls, De Smet, Arlington, Sinai, Nunda, Corsica, Armour, Parkston, Sturgis, and Piedmont. I learned a lot, and we got a lot accomplished, and I want to thank everyone for their time, suggestions, and feedback. I couldn’t do my job without it.

One of the most humbling of these recent experiences was joining Gov. Kristi Noem and Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Ten Haken to tour some of the local flood damage. After seeing if firsthand, it’s no wonder that it’s even caught the attention of President Trump and his administration in Washington, D.C. I was struck by how many upbeat and confident people we encountered throughout the day. Even in the face of such tragedy, they saw hope. As the governor said, “the storms were strong, but South Dakotans are stronger.”

The same can be said for folks in other parts of the state. For example, the snow-packed roads didn’t keep people from coming out to discuss everything that’s happening in Aberdeen and northeastern South Dakota. The community and its local leaders never cease to amaze me, so it was great to touch base and learn more about all of the big things they’re working on these days. And a trip to Aberdeen during this time of year wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the annual State B High School Basketball Tournament. If I’m in town, it’s a must-do for me.

During a recent trip to Sturgis, I sat down with business owners and local leaders about broadband deployment in the United States. It’s no secret that closing the digital divide is one of my top priorities in the Senate, particularly in my role as chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, and I’m as confident as ever that South Dakota can be a leader in the next generation of wireless broadband technology. The opportunity is at our fingertips, and we must continue working toward this digital revolution.

While getting the latest news and updates from today’s local leaders is an important part of my job, visiting schools and meeting tomorrow’s leaders is among the things I most enjoy about being an elected official. I recently caught up with students from De Smet, Arlington, Dakota Christian, Sturgis, and Parkston. I’m constantly inspired by how smart and talented these young South Dakotans are, and it makes me even more optimistic about what the future holds for the United States.

It was good to see so many of you throughout the state, and I mean what I said. I’m always willing to hear what’s on your mind. Please, stop and chat. Call. Email. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out. And if you’re interested in following my travels in the state or my work in the Senate, be sure to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, too (@SenJohnThune).

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Obamacare Costs Continue to Put Financial Strain on South Dakota Families

Obamacare Costs Continue to Put Financial Strain on South Dakota Families
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

This month marks the 9th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, being signed into law. Nine years is a long time for the millions of Americans who have been adversely affected by this failed law through higher premiums, fewer options and loss of health care all together. South Dakotans continue to contact me to share their stories about how Obamacare is just too expensive. For some of them, their health insurance premiums cost more than their mortgage payments. The American people deserve better.

In 2017, the Senate voted on legislation that would repeal and replace Obamacare. I supported the measure, but unfortunately it failed by a close vote of 49-51. Since that time, we have worked to dismantle Obamacare piece by piece by focusing on the law’s unpopular provisions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was signed into law last year repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate that imposed an unfair tax primarily on the backs of families making less than $50,000 per year. We were also able to get rid of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was often referred to as a “death panel.”

I recently joined my colleague Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) to introduce legislation that would repeal the “Cadillac Tax” provision in the Affordable Care Act. If implemented, the Cadillac Tax would impose a 40 percent tax on certain employer-sponsored health care plans. This would dramatically increase the costs of healthcare for South Dakota families. The Cadillac Tax is currently scheduled to go into effect in 2022, and unless we’re able to repeal it, millions of middle-class families across the country will be impacted. Our legislation currently has more than 20 cosponsors—both Republicans and Democrats—and we’re working hard to advance it in the Senate.

Obamacare has been a disaster for the millions of people who were forced off the health care plans they liked and who are now paying higher and higher premiums every year, while having fewer plans to choose from as providers leave the marketplace. I have always said that we need patient-centered, market-based health care reform that will reduce costs for patients by giving them more options for health care coverage. Competition within the marketplace will result in more choices for consumers, so they can find a plan that best fits their needs and their budget.

“Medicare-for-all” is an idea that has been discussed recently by some as a solution to the failed Obamacare law. Medicare is a government-run health insurance program for Americans aged 65 and older. Right now, the biggest driver of our debt is the rapid, unchecked growth of mandatory payments including Medicare. If we were to open up Medicare for Americans of all ages, our debt would skyrocket (even more than it already has) and future generations would be on the hook to pay for it.

We have seen firsthand how government-run healthcare fails those who it has a responsibility to care for, with examples at the Indian Health Service (IHS) and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. South Dakotans have heard the stories of babies being born on bathroom floors at IHS facilities, dirty or broken medical equipment, long wait times, excessive red tape and worst of all, patients being sent home from the doctor and dying because they failed to receive proper care. These are prime examples of what happens when the government is in charge of providing health care.

Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care coverage, but Obamacare and Medicare-for-all are not the answers. I’ll continue working in the Senate to support patient-centered, market-based reforms that are truly affordable.

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Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: The Path to Success

The Path to Success
By Rep. Dusty Johnson

I’ve believed for a long time that technical and career education are the backbone of a strong national workforce. It’s one thing to hear about successful programs at the state and local level, but it’s a totally different experience to witness them firsthand and see the impact programs have on local communities.

This past week, I spent several hours touring various programs at the Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown. With more than thirty programs, ranging from energy technology to nursing, LATI is ranked the number one two-year college in the nation. There aren’t many programs in the entire country that can compete with the technology and innovation coursing through LATI’s educational veins. It’s truly impressive, and if you, your kid, or your neighbor are even thinking about a trade education, it’s an institution you’ll want to take a second look at.

Many of the students enrolled at LATI work part-time and go on to earn forty percent more than other new hires in the area. While in Watertown, I also sat down with Prairie Lakes Healthcare System. Many of their nurses and other medical professionals graduated from LATI. That’s a direct investment back into the community and it’s certainly inspiring to see firsthand.

I’ve found it extremely beneficial to visit the state’s various educational programs to see what’s working well and what we could do better. Last month, I spent time at Mitchell Tech and Southeastern Tech, and I will be visiting Western Tech next month. South Dakota’s exceptional programs are examples I can bring back to D.C. and only amplify my work on the Education and Labor Committee. These tours, engaging with the faculty, and visiting with the students who have benefited from programs offered at schools like LATI allow me to learn lessons I would never learn from a brochure.

As a country, we need to ensure that curriculum opportunities are a good fit for what the industry needs. We should be doing a better job recruiting students to programs in high demand fields and then make sure they have the tools to succeed after graduation. Lake Area has done that.

What is being done in Watertown needs to be done across the country. This is our nation’s path to success.

Congressman Johnson with LATI President Cartney (left)

Med/Fire Rescue Students practice finding veins

Heavy Equipment Sim Lab

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Governor Noem’s Weekly Column: South Dakota Grit In The Face of Storms

South Dakota Grit In The Face of Storms
By Governor Kristi Noem

Earlier this month, our state was hit by a bomb cyclone – an unusual name to match unusual circumstances. The middle of our state got buried in snow, while the southeast corner was devastated by four inches of rain fallen on frozen ground, sending it into the river and causing major flooding throughout the region.

As soon as it was safe to leave Pierre, I headed to the southeast to visit Yankton, Dakota Dunes, Sioux Falls, and other communities impacted by the storms. I saw flooded basements, destroyed fields, collapsed foundations, and city parks with brand new equipment – all completely underwater. I was thankful for the conversations I had with local leaders and the ways we’re working together on recovery efforts.

On March 15, I issued an emergency declaration that will allow us to use special dollars for rebuilding our communities in the coming weeks. We lost a lot of bridges, culverts, trails, and infrastructure that will need attention. It will also help us qualify for federal programs and FEMA funds.

I’ve been in constant communication with Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and other community leaders in the southeast. I’ve also positioned one of my senior staff members in the Sioux Falls Emergency Operations Center so our local and state teams can seamlessly coordinate on recovery efforts and execute quickly when situations arise, especially as we’re preparing for additional flooding along the Big Sioux River.

Furthermore, I have been in close contact with the White House and other federal officials to ensure we’re utilizing all available resources to address storm damage. As a result of these conversations, FEMA representatives have frequented storm sites and the Corps of Engineers has agreed to an operational training mission to assist with levees. Recovery from these floods requires an all-hands-on-deck approach, so it’s important we use appropriate local, state, and federal resources to minimize damage and enhance communication in communities.

Storms often bring out the worst in people, but in South Dakota, we see the opposite. I heard the story of a Highway Patrol officer who went on a rescue mission, got stuck in the weather, and ended up staying at a farmhouse for several days while the storm passed. They took him in like family. I know of people who used snowmobiles to help their neighbors get to work at our hospitals. Plow drivers who pulled double and triple shifts to keep roads safe. Law enforcement officials who didn’t hesitate to face dangerous situations to ensure order and peace in communities. It’s pretty incredible.

It’s part of that South Dakota grit. The storms were strong, but South Dakota is stronger. We’re resilient. We’re tough. Working together, we will get through this.

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New SD Dem Party vice-chair Randy Seiler disavows party beliefs, says just ran as Independent?

Interesting item in the election for South Dakota Democrat party officers that I came across this AM

The new vice chair for the Democrat party, Randy Seiler, promised in his campaign speech that he would not promise to believe in ideals of the Democrat Party, as he considered his recent unsuccessful bid to be Attorney General as not a campaign as a Democrat nominee.. but actually as an independent campaign.

From Cory Heidelberger on Twitter, who was apparently live tweeting this yesterday:

So, the new Dem chair Paula Hawks campaigns by pretending to be other than Democrat, and in his speech to be VC, the new vice chair claims he ran ‘independent campaign’ for AG just short months ago.

Is the Democrat party’s new slogan going to be “Not the Democrats?”

Paula Hawks new Dem Chair, prepare for Dems pretending to be other than Dem.

Sounds like Paula Hawks has been elected to be the new chair of the South Dakota Democrat Party, completing the slow-moving coup that she attempted a couple of years back after losing in the Congressional Race.  As noted in the title of the post, Hawks best effort at electoral success when she pretended to be something other than a Democrat in 2012:

Because it sure wasn’t her train wreck of a Congressional Campaign.

During her tenure, I think we can prepare for Democrats to spend a lot of time hiding from pejorative labels. Like Democrat.