Noem asks incoming AG Sessions for meeting to address rising crime in SD

From the Associated Press, Congresswoman Kristi Noem has asked incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a sit down to take a hard look at the rising crime rate in South Dakota:

Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem is asking new Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss rising violent crime in South Dakota.

Noem sent a letter Tuesday to Sessions requesting a meeting and urging the Justice Department to redouble its efforts to fight drug trafficking, gang proliferation and the “violent crime that all too often follows.”

She writes that violent crime levels have grown steadily in South Dakota over at least the last decade.

Read it here.

Big Hughes County Lincoln Day Dinner tonight. Dusty Johnson keynote speaker.

If I hadn’t had just gotten back from several days’ vacation, I know where I’d be tonight.

In one of his first big public outings as a SDGOP candidate for Congress, Dusty Johnson is the featured speaker at the Hughes County Lincoln Day Dinner this evening at the Ramkota in Pierre. If you don’t have your tickets yet, here’s the 411 on how to get them, and when to show up:

Hughes County Lincoln Day Dinner
February 21, 2017 @ 5:30pm – 8:00pm
5:30 PM Social Hour, 6:30 PM Dinner
Ramkota Convention Center in Pierre, SD
Keynote Speaker Dusty Johnson with introduction by Governor Dennis Daugaard

Tickets available for $30 by contacting Mike Melhaff at (605) 988-4488 or available at the door

So, what is HB1196 trying to hide? I don’t think it has anything to do with memes.

House Bill 1196 is an odd little bill that came about as a hoghouse, ostensibly for the purpose of preventing teachers from becoming embarrassed by “memes.”  

Seriously.

Parents or others who photograph or take video in the classroom without a teacher’s permission could face misdemeanor charges under a bill making its way through the Legislature.

The House Education Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would make it a Class 2 misdemeanor for non-students to use electronic listening or recording devices in classrooms. That means they’d be subject to 30 days in jail, a $500 or both.

And..

Rob Monson, executive director of School Administrators of South Dakota, said he hoghoused Wismer’s bill to give school officials another venue to deter potentially unflattering posts parents or other visitors made of teachers without their consent.

Read it here.

Has anyone seen unflattering teacher memes out there? Anyone?

Sorry. “Unflattering posts?” That’s a red herring. And a ridiculous one at that. But what it seems to do is a bit darker – to criminalize parental attempts to document things without prior knowledge, such as this example:

When a 14-year-old special needs student in Ohio told her father she was being bullied at school, he figured it was something that many teenagers endure.

Then he realized it was his daughter’s teachers doing the bullying.

“We were shocked,’’ he tearfully said. “We couldn’t know. We didn’t know.’’

After being told repeatedly by school administrators that his daughter was lying about being harassed and bullied, he outfitted her with a hidden tape recorder under her clothes. For the next four days, she recorded a series of abusive and cutting remarks from a teacher and a teacher’s aide at Miami Trace Middle School in Washington Courthouse, Ohio.

Read that here

What’s a more realistic scenario of what House Bill 1196 is actually trying to do? Criminalize recording in schools because someone may be made fun of? Or criminalizing it in an attempt to limit liability?

I could be wrong. Maybe I’m overly cynical. But I’m not buying what ASBSD is selling. And what they’re selling seems like poor, and a very self-interested justification for creating a new crime.

Nelson crying to media about legislature using same rule he did.

From KCCR radio, State Senator Stace Nelson is apparently trying to mislead the state’s media over what happened when his dissent entry in the Journal was referred back for emendation:

Nelson and Russell both felt the parties in the lawsuit should have recused themselves from the vote as a matter of principle. Both men then entered a dissenting report into the Senate Journal which chronicled their opposition.

Nelson now says there is a proposal being considered to remove the entry from the Journal. Nelson personally was not a fan of IM22, but recognizes there were people that voted for it.

The request to strike the dissent from the Senate Journal is still under consideration. A ruling could be determined by the end of the 2017 session.

Read it here.

The problem with what Nelson is saying about his dissenting entry being removed? Either he doesn’t understand it, or he’s wilfully misleading the media.

I wrote about this a few days ago; As the rule that permits a dissent to be filed – the same one Nelson invoked – states:

1-10. Dissent against an act or resolution. Any two members of a house may dissent or protest in respectful language against any act or resolution which they think injurious to the public or to any individual and have the reason for their dissent or protest entered upon the journal. However, if an objection is made that the language of the dissent or protest is not respectful, a majority of the house may refer the dissent or protest back to the dissenting or protesting members for emendation.

Solely because the language in the dissent was not considered respectful, and a majority of the legislature agreed through voting on it, the dissent was sent back to the dissenting members for “emendation,”  or as President of the Senate Matt Michels noted, it’s a fancy word for amendment.  

So literally,  if a dissent isn’t filed, it’s all on Nelson. He can try to rewrite the tale all he wants and ignore simple fact as he misleads the press. But the record and the rules are clear: it has been returned to him to rewrite the language. Happens in the legislature all the time.

Quite a different tale from the one he’s telling to the media.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: A Week in the Life

A Week in the Life
By Sen. John Thune

Aside from being a dad, grandpa, and husband, serving the people of South Dakota as one of their U.S. senators has afforded me with some of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I’m constantly humbled by the opportunity and trust South Dakotans have placed in me, which is why I’ve never taken this job for granted – not for a single second.

My top priority when I show up to work each day, whether that’s in cities and towns throughout the state or in the Capitol in Washington, D.C., is listening to and fighting for what matters to South Dakotans. Hopping between South Dakota and Washington, I’ve been asked about my typical work week. While every week is a little different, some things never change.

It’s no secret that I try to spend as much time as possible wherever there’s a 605 area code. On most weekends, you can likely find me with family and friends. In the winter, I’m out shoveling snow, and in the summer, I’m out mowing the lawn. In the fall, I’m chasing pheasants in the prairie, and it doesn’t matter what month it is, you can always catch me at local sports or community events throughout the state.

Once the Senate is set to reconvene, I head back to Washington with the feedback I’ve received from friends, neighbors, and fellow South Dakotans, and my work in the Senate picks up right where it left off.

The next best thing to spending time with South Dakotans back home is when our paths cross in Washington. Whether people are in town for vacations or conferences, or even if they’re just passing through, I always appreciate when they stop by my office to say hello.

In between meeting with South Dakotans, my weeks are filled with the day-to-day action on the Senate floor and in the various committees on which I serve. January and February have largely been consumed by voting to confirm members of the president’s Cabinet. While this process is taking far longer than it should – due to unnecessary, politically driven hurdles created in the Senate – we’re making progress. The quicker we can get the president’s team in place, the quicker we can turn our attention to other important issues like repealing and replacing Obamacare, reforming our tax code, and confirming the next justice to the Supreme Court.

Once the Senate wraps up its legislative work for the week, I usually head back to South Dakota to recharge and get a fresh round of feedback – sometimes while I’m sitting in the bleachers during a Saturday night basketball game. From there, the cycle starts all over again. Every week is different, yes, but the one thing they all have in common is that they revolve around what’s most important to South Dakota, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ weekly column: Smart Banking Regulations Benefit South Dakota Families

Smart Banking Regulations Benefit South Dakota Families
By Senator Mike Rounds

The 115th Congress hasn’t taken an extended break since swearing-in day on January 3, and while much of our time these first six weeks have been focused on confirming President Trump’s Cabinet nominees, we have also been busy introducing legislation to provide regulatory relief for South Dakota families and businesses. Most recently I introduced two pieces of legislation that seek to ease the regulatory burden on banks and other financial institutions, so they can more easily provide loans and other services to South Dakotans.

Many of the regulations hindering our financial institutions today are a result of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. Dodd-Frank was an ill-advised attempt to correct the mistakes of the 2008 recession and collapse of the housing market. Unfortunately, the end result was more than 2,300 pages of new rules and regulations on our local banks and credit unions, despite having nothing to do with the housing collapse.

I recently reintroduced the Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk (TAILOR) Act to correct Dodd-Franks “one-size-fits-all” approach to regulating. The TAILOR Act would ease the regulatory burden on smaller financial institutions by requiring regulatory agencies to take into consideration the risk profile and business models of individual financial institutions and tailor those regulations accordingly. Additionally, it requires the regulatory agencies to provide an annual report to Congress outlining the steps they have taken to tailor their regulations. This will allow the local banks and credit unions to focus their resources on taking care of their customers, rather than spending time and money on compliance, the costs of which are ultimately passed onto the consumer in South Dakota.

I also recently introduced legislation that would dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB, a product of Dodd-Frank, is yet another regulatory agency with the power to promulgate sweeping new rules on financial institutions, the cost of which has been handed down to families looking to do business with their local banks and credit unions. Even more alarming, the CFPB is an unchecked, unaccountable regulatory agency with no oversight from Congress. My bill would bar the transfer of funds from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to the CFPB. The bill also requires the CFPB to turn over all penalty funding and other money it has received to the Treasury.

As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, one of my top priorities has been to provide regulatory relief to financial institutions so that South Dakota families can have better access to loans and capital – capital that can be used to purchase a home, buy a new car or invest in a new business that will bring economic activity to our state. I will continue to seek policies that allow our financial institutions to better serve their customers and strengthen our communities.

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Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Grain Bin Safety

Grain Bin Safety
By Rep. Kristi Noem

My dad was one of those people who just got things done. He worked hard and he worked fast. It’s a skill set many farmers share, but that day, I wish he would have slowed down a bit. He had gone into a grain bin and things went wrong. By the time I got there, neighbors were digging through piles of corn from the bin that was torn apart trying to find him. When they did, CPR started immediately. Despite the doctors working to save him for hours, we lost him that day and in that instant, my whole world changed.

In 2014, more than three dozen farmers were trapped in grain bins, resulting in at least 17 deaths. In most cases, it took only seconds for the producer to become engulfed – and getting out without assistance at this point is nearly impossible. Still, there are things that can be done to help prevent accidents like this and improve the chance of a successful recovery if something does go wrong.

Every year, the last week of February is reserved as Grain Bin Safety Week. It’s a good opportunity to take a look at some of your operation’s practices to see if there’s something more you could do to improve the safety of your farm.

A few years back, the South Dakota Corn Growers Association offered a few tips that I wanted to share today. First, farmers often work alone. They recommend that when cleaning out your grain bins, use a buddy system.

Additionally, especially after a wet harvest, don’t forget to wear a mask. This is going to help make sure you don’t breathe in harmful molds.

Be aware that the grain in the bin might not be as it appears. Crusting can deceive you and lead to dangerous falls, even entrapment.

As an added measure of precaution, I encourage you to touch base with your local first responders. They can seek out training on rescue techniques and specialized equipment.

Finally, I’d add, take the time to educate your kids about safe practices on the farm. Raising our kids on the ranch has been one of the best parenting decisions we’ve made. I’m proud of the work ethic they’ve earned – the commonsense problem solving skills they’ve developed – the understanding they’ve gotten about how our food is grown. But I’m also very much aware of how dangerous it can be.

Farming is risky enough. Please take time this week to evaluate your current grain bin safety procedures. It’s worth the attention.

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Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Steps Forward In Mental Health

Steps Forward In Mental Health
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

A significant number of Americans struggle with mental illness. For many the struggle is silent. Some experience short-term mental health problems; it’s not uncommon for individuals temporarily to face mild forms of mental illness at some point during their lives. For others though, it’s a lifelong battle that requires consistent treatment. No community is untouched by mental illness. It affects schools, work places and families.

Last year the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program released a study on mental health in South Dakota. The study found that our state has a high prevalence of undiagnosed and untreated depression as well as a very high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. While 87 percent of survey respondents reported receiving all needed medical care, only 64 percent reported receiving all needed mental health care, and just 54 percent received all needed substance use care.

Without proper treatment, individuals with mental health problems can land in the emergency room or in jail. When a person showing signs of mental illness behaves in a way that causes arrest, a court may order an evaluation of the person’s fitness to stand trial. In recent years, the increased number of these court-ordered evaluations has caused delays for the mentally ill. In some instances, mentally ill individuals had to wait in jail several months for competency evaluations to be completed.

Recognizing this problem, South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson convened a task force to address delays in court-ordered mental health evaluations and shortfalls in treatment for the mentally ill within the justice system.

Funded by a grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the task force released its report in November. Among its findings, it recognized that our system lacks procedures to identify mental illness quickly after an arrest, and in many cases jails are not equipped to deal with mental health needs. In some cases, diversion options that are already authorized by statute are not available in all areas of the state.

This legislative session, the Legislature is considering House Bill 1183, which would enact the task force’s recommendations.

The legislation will provide law enforcement with tools to better identify and respond to mental health crises, prevent unnecessary jail admissions, and assist communities in building capacity to offer intervention services. The bill will also expand the pool of providers who can provide competency evaluations, and will shift funding from the Human Services Center directly to counties to perform these evaluations. An oversight council will monitor implementation and recommend changes to future legislatures.

I thank the Chief Justice and task force members for undertaking this work and offering their recommendations, and I thank the Helmsley Charitable Trust for the funding they provided.

I support HB 1183 and I hope legislators will send the bill to my desk. These common sense proposals will be steps forward for our state.

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