Senate State Affairs Committee shoots down solution in search of a problem

From US News and World Report/Associated Press, apparently Stace Nelson is still going to be refused “vote for me” shirts at the polling place:

South Dakota legislative panel on Monday rejected a bill that would have let voters wear political attire while casting their ballots.

The Senate State Affairs Committee voted unanimously against the measure, which would have allowed voters to wear political clothing and buttons while retaining a prohibition on campaign posters and signs inside polling places or near their entrances.


The bill came after a Supreme Court ruling last year striking down Minnesota‘s broad restrictions on voters wearing political hats, T-shirts and pins to the polls.

Read the entire story here.

This measure, which no one asked for, really didn’t attempt to solve any problems pervasive in South Dakota.

Moving on…

State Auditor Candidate rumored to be among those vying to challenge Ann Tornburg for SDDP Chair

From Sioux Falls Drinking Liberally, South Dakota Democrat Chairwoman Ann Tornburg may be facing a challenge for her seat from this past elections’ Democrat Candidate for State Auditor, Tom Cool:

In South Dakota: Ann Tornberg, the current Chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party (SDDP) continues to run for a second four year term as Chair despite the dismal performance of the SDDP under her tutelage. We pray someone will challenge her.

Rumor has it that Tom Cool, long-time head of the Sioux Empire Democratic Forum, and John Claussen, current Vice-Chair of the Minnehaha County Democratic Party, have an interest.

The election of the SDDP Chair and other party officers has been postponed until March 26th so there is plenty of time for other candidates to arise. One thing is certain, Democrats in South Dakota do not need four more years of the same party leadership. It is time to clean house and try another approach. It may not be better, but it couldn’t be any worse.

Read it here.

Having ran and lost by wide margins in every election since 2010, Cool has the kind of experience in a Democrat State Chairman that Republicans can get behind!

Thank you for all your thoughts and kind words this past week.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone who reached out this past week with regards to my father’s passing in the early hours of this past Thursday morning.

My dad Dave passed away peacefully in his sleep after entering hospice care a couple of months ago. It was unexpected in that it happened very suddenly with no obvious illness to hasten his end, but not unexpected, as we’ve known it was inevitable.  There is sadness, but there is also comfort knowing he is at peace and reunited with my mother who passed away from breast cancer over 18 years ago.

Again, thank you for all your kind thoughts and comments.

Thank you for all your thoughts and kind words this past week.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank everyone who reached out this past week with regards to my father’s passing in the early hours of this past Thursday morning.

My dad Dave passed away peacefully in his sleep after entering hospice care a couple of months ago. It was unexpected in that it happened very suddenly with no obvious illness to hasten his end, but not unexpected, as we’ve known it was inevitable.  There is sadness, but there is also comfort knowing he is at peace and reunited with my mother who passed away from breast cancer over 18 years ago.

Again, thank you for all your kind thoughts and comments.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Ready to Hit the Ground Running

Ready to Hit the Ground Running
By Sen. John Thune

While the Senate floor is often the epicenter of big legislative debates, most of the bills or nominations that receive a final up-or-down vote by all 100 senators have been carefully reviewed by smaller groups of senators at each of the various committees, which, collectively, have jurisdiction over nearly every policy issue in the United States.

Traditionally, if an individual member of Congress has an idea for a bill, they start by putting pen to paper. For me, a significant number of the bills I draft each year are inspired by ideas or suggestions I receive from fellow South Dakotans, because, frankly, the best ideas almost always come from outside of the Capital Beltway.

After a bill is drafted and introduced, it’s typically sent to the Senate committee that has jurisdiction over the area the bill covers. It’s here, in the committees, where most of the groundwork is laid. Each of the committees are able to convene hearings so their members can evaluate legislation, hear from policy experts, or determine whether or not an executive branch or judicial branch nominee is qualified to move forward to the full Senate.

At the beginning of each Congress, every senator is able to request which of the more than a dozen standing committees he or she wants to serve on for the next two years. Committee seats are assigned based on seniority and areas of expertise, among other things, and not everyone gets to serve on all of the committees they request.

Fortunately for me, though, I was once again assigned to three powerful committees, all of which cover issues that are important to South Dakota, and I’m eager to hit the ground running.

I will again serve as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which puts me in a prime position to continue advocating for South Dakota’s top industry. The ink is barely dry on the 2018 farm bill – the fourth farm bill I’ve helped write – but there are plenty of wins to which we can already point. Thanks to the advice and suggestions I received from the South Dakota agriculture community, I authored roughly 40 legislative proposals, of which a dozen were included in the new law.

I will also spend this Congress, as I have in past Congresses, serving on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees a wide variety of issues, including our nation’s transportation system, technology, telecommunications, and everything from the depths of the ocean to the heights of outer space.

I’m taking on new responsibilities this year as the Republican whip, the Senate’s chief vote counter, so I’ve had to relinquish the chairman’s gavel at the Commerce Committee, but the work goes on. Leading the full committee for the last four years has been highly rewarding, and through our committee work, we’ve been able to deliver on issues large and small that matter to South Dakota – and nothing about that will change going forward.

While I won’t be serving as the full committee chairman this Congress, I’m humbled to have been selected as the committee’s new chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, which will allow me to stay focused on issues like 5G mobile broadband deployment in South Dakota – one of my top priorities.

Finally, I’ll rejoin my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee, the same committee that drafted and helped shepherd through Congress landmark reforms to our nation’s tax code. Tax reform is already helping American families and businesses, and since this is the first time Americans will file their taxes under the new law, I’m confident many people will begin to notice even more relief in their family budgets this year.

I say it as often as possible, but I always want my priorities in the Senate to reflect the priorities of South Dakota, and serving on these committees will help me continue to advance them each and every day.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Cybersecurity Remains Top Priority in 116th Congress

Cybersecurity Remains Top Priority in 116th Congress
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

As we get to work in the 116th Congress, increasing our nation’s ability to defend against cyberattacks remains a top priority in the Senate. During the last congress, I had the privilege to serve as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, first established in 2017 by the late Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). The creation of this subcommittee marked the first time in our nation’s history that a congressional committee or subcommittee was formed that is completely dedicated to cybersecurity.

The Subcommittee on Cybersecurity has primary jurisdiction over all cyber-related oversight and legislation for the Department of Defense. As malicious cyber threats continue to grow exponentially in both size and scope, the subcommittee’s oversight and legislative roles are critically important. For the past two years, the subcommittee’s oversight role has focused on developing a robust combat-ready Cyber Mission Force, as well as a strategy and policies that enable that force to respond rapidly and effectively. Now, more than ever, the U.S. defense strategy must include protecting our military and civilian infrastructure from cyberattacks.

While the U.S. military’s dominance in the air, land and sea domains is undeniable, the cyber domain has afforded bad actors — with much fewer resources and expertise than ours — the opportunity to inflict significant damage to American interests from thousands of miles away, with computers as their weapon. Adversaries with much less military power could damage the superior weapons systems we possess, potentially rendering them useless in conventional warfare.

A cyberattack on our civilian critical infrastructure – such as our electric grid, transportation system or financial system – could lead to devastating, irreversible economic damage as well as threaten the lives of Americans.

The importance of this infrastructure — nearly all in the private sector — highlights the need for the federal government to work closely with the private sector in coordinating its defense. Failing to coordinate efforts between the government and private sector creates significant cyber vulnerabilities.

The subcommittee’s work has resulted in legislation that has improved the Defense Department’s cyber efforts, both offensively and defensively. Most recently, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 included a provision that confirms cyber operations as a traditional military activity even if the operation is conducted outside an active combat zone.

Prior to this important provision being signed into law, the Defense Department faced significant obstacles to conducting necessary cyber operations — the types of operations that our adversaries, and even our closest allies, have undertaken for years.

The Trump administration recently announced a major policy change that significantly boosted our nation’s cyber capabilities. President Trump rescinded Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 20, an overly risk-averse policy from the last administration that virtually paralyzed the Defense Department’s ability to conduct major cyber operations, replacing it with the new, more agile policy directive, National Security Presidential Memorandum 13.

The 115th Congress’ oversight and legislative efforts, coupled with the Trump administration’s work in revising outdated policies, has greatly empowered U.S. Cyber Command to operate more efficiently and effectively in the cyber domain. We hope to continue making progress on cybersecurity over the next two years.


Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: Dusty Goes to Washington

Dusty Goes to Washington
By Representative Dusty Johnson

Back in November, I was first struck by the unabashed enthusiasm my colleagues expressed during the office lottery – a relatively mundane process where future members of Congress select their office space in an order depending on a number picked at random.

I have never been a big pomp-and-circumstance guy, nor am I formal. Now, I find myself in a building where strangers call me sir. There are elevators reserved for members of Congress to get to the House floor as quickly as possible. Turns out, there are also hidden staircases and tunnels to take so you can avoid the D.C. “winter” outside.

So you could imagine it was quite overwhelming and humbling for me to walk on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives with my three boys – Max, Ben and Owen – last Thursday to be sworn in as South Dakota’s lone congressman. For kids that have a hard time sitting still in church, I was particularly impressed my six year old sat for more than three hours as the Clerk went through floor proceedings. (Also thankful they didn’t land me on C-SPAN’s version of the Not Top Ten.) Seeing my kids raise their right hands, together, as I took my oath of office is a memory that will last a lifetime. I imagine it will be a lasting memory for them as well.

The past week has been a bit of a whirlwind but throughout every moment, I have kept South Dakota’s interests at the forefront. We must re-open the government. However, I am not interested in voting for legislation that has zero chance of becoming law. South Dakotans deserve better. We must remain steadfast in seeking common ground that not only re-opens the government, but improves the security of our nation.

I was proud to oppose legislation that would allow the House to increase taxes without approval from three-fifths of the representatives. We should be working on how the federal government can more effectively use taxpayer dollars, not find a way to take even more of Americans’ hard-earned money.

While Washington has its quirks, and certainly pales in comparison to South Dakota, I could not be more honored to serve you and our great state. I am eager to get to work on your behalf and look forward to your feedback in the weeks and months to come.

And please, call me Dusty.


Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Battling the Meth Epidemic

Battling the Meth Epidemic
By Rep. Kristi Noem

Earlier this month, I placed my hand on my dad’s worn Bible and made a promise to South Dakota to govern in a way that respects and benefits every person in our state. I promised to serve in a way that improved things for the next generation. My dream? To grow our state into a place where our kids can thrive. We’re going to produce a stronger tomorrow for the next generation.

But my parents taught me to do more than dream, they taught me to do. So 73 hours after I took that Oath of Office, I stood in front of the legislature and outlined my plan to create a stronger South Dakota for the next generation. One of those plans is to aggressively battle the meth epidemic.

As I’ve talked with first responders about our meth problem, they’ve told me of situations where they walked into homes of meth users and found kids starving in their bedrooms, their parents drugged out of their minds. Stories like this are frequent. In Iowa, a four-month-old baby was killed just over a month ago after his meth-addict dad forgot him in a swing. He died of malnutrition and infection. The police found his little body covered in maggots and sores – his parents too strung out on meth to remember his existence.

This is what our law enforcement has to deal with every day. Meth is filling our jails and prisons, clogging our court systems, and stretching our drug treatment capacity. But meth is rarely made in South Dakota anymore. The vast majority of this meth is coming from Mexico. Our meth epidemic is the price we are paying for our nation’s failure to adequately secure our southern border.

Meth destroys people, but it does much more.  It destroys families. It hurts our kids, and we see that in our schools, in our foster families, and in our health care providers. This breaks my heart. Not because I’m the governor. Because I’m a mom.

In the coming months and years, we’ll work to expand prevention and treatment programs. We need to do more to educate our young people about the effects of meth and give them strategies to avoid it. We’ll also help every South Dakotan learn to identify the early signs of meth use to increase early referrals to treatment. I want to reach meth users before they enter the criminal justice system and commit other crimes. Our objective isn’t to imprison people – that hurts families too. We need additional mental health services. We must help people beat their meth addiction and return to their jobs and families.

Furthermore, we’re going to get more aggressive in enforcing our laws against meth. We need to stop the traffic of meth into our state and crack down on those who deal drugs.

And while we crack down on enforcement, we must pave avenues for rehabilitation. Earlier this year, I visited Teen Challenge in Brookings – an incredible program that helps people struggling with life-controlling substance abuse and equips them to become productive members of their community. We need more options like this for people trapped in addiction, recognizing that second chances are available to people willing to walk the road to recovery.

I recognize this is a big problem to tackle, but I’m committed to confronting it, and I’m confident I have the plan to make an impact. We must continue having these conversations and addressing these problems to create a stronger South Dakota for the next generation.


Sioux Falls group has a new billboard up accusing males of being “brutes,” and driving young women out of the country.

The odd “Sioux Falls Free Thinkers” group has a new billboard up in Sioux Falls this week.

The self-styled pagan, leftwing group is claiming that 40% of females under the age of 30 want to leave America.  The billboard claims that the reason is that females are threatened by “male brutes.” 

An article cites that a similar percentage of people in several countries express a desire to live elsewhere, however the study the free thinkers group appear to be taking their numbers from says nothing about “male brutes” driving them out.

But why would this group let facts stand in the way of blaming men?

The brutes.

Noem to Appoint Secretary of Social Services

Noem to Appoint Secretary of Social Services

PIERRE, S.D. – Governor Kristi Noem today announced that M. Gregory DeSautel, MD will join her cabinet as Secretary of Social Services. He will officially be appointed February 1.

“Greg is full of new perspectives,” said Governor Noem. “His deep care for people and willingness to serve, work hard, and produce results will be valuable to my team as we work to educate the state about the need for foster families, adoptive families, and safe homes for every child.”

“I’m deeply honored to serve with Governor Noem,” said DeSautel. “As we strive to increase awareness about the issues affecting families in our state, I’m committed to working relentlessly to make sure our families are stronger tomorrow than they were yesterday.”

DeSautel currently works at Sanford Hospital in Sioux Falls where he serves patients from all walks of life. Additionally, he has taught as an assistant clinical professor at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine since 1997.

DeSautel and his wife, Susan, live in Sioux Falls with their four children.