Billie Sutton announcement coming on Wednesday

Now that the debacle of the 2017 McGovern Day Dinner has died down, Democrat State Senator Billie Sutton just announced that he will be making an announcement on his political future on Wednesday at his family’s ranch near Burke.

Sutton, who has been widely speculated to run for Governor, is obviously running for something or else he wouldn’t be dragging the state’s media to Burke. The possibility of running for Congress had been dropped in the past, but let’s not kid ourselves. He’s running for Governor.

I’m also guessing his website is going to be “,” considering it was just registered…

Stay tuned for Wednesday.

Big Graduation Weekend here at the Powers house.

It’s a big graduation weekend here in Brookings for us, as we have daughter #4, Sydney, graduating from Brookings High School today.

We had her Graduation Party Friday night where friends and family gathered around a rented bouncy house to send her off into adulthood…  which seems a bit incongruent… but it’s a probably a bit more tame of a graduation party than they were when I graduated, and many of them involved beer for the 18 year olds (with the 18 y.o. drinking age way back when.)

Sydney has always been my ultra-competitive, and self-assured over-achiever, who has always challenged herself academically in preparation for her next steps in the world. Right now, she has her eye set on Law School, and is set to be a political science major (or its equivalent) at Augustana University.

In a couple of hours, the actual graduation will be official, and she’ll immediately be off and down the road to be a counselor at Girls’ State. Between her working and having other activities, I suspect it will will seem to be an all too short summer, and then she’s out the door.

Sydney has been the child who has so far matched the fervor and love with which I’ve embraced Republican politics in South Dakota the most, so it will be especially fun to see if she continues her interest in college.  For her “Senior Trip” which we try to allow our kids, where they get to pick a destination, she selected Washington DC, where she’s going to visit the halls of Government, as well as see the founding documents of our country.

No matter what path her life takes after that, I know that she understands that people can change the world through their involvement in the political process. And that’s knowledge that everyone should hope their children understand.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Fighting for South Dakota’s Farmers and Ranchers

Fighting for South Dakota’s Farmers and Ranchers
By Sen. John Thune

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times: it’s never too early to start working on the next farm bill. That’s why earlier this year, I decided to get a head start on the 2018 farm bill by introducing several marker bills well before the current legislation expires. I’ve already written three farm bills during my time in Congress, and with the help of farmers and ranchers throughout South Dakota, I’m eager to hit the ground running on my fourth.

In March and April, I unveiled several modifications to the conservation title of the farm bill, including creating a new income protection program for farmers. The Soil Health and Income Protection Program – or SHIPP, for short – would provide farmers greater flexibility with their land by giving them the opportunity to enroll in this new short-term conserving use program. Another proposal I’ve introduced would increase the Conservation Reserve Program acreage cap by 25 percent to 30 million acres.

Most recently, I’ve proposed several updates to the commodity title of the farm bill, specifically the process by which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allocates commodity assistance for grain farmers. First, I codify a common-sense payment method for the Agriculture Risk Coverage-County (ARC-CO) program, which was designed to be a safety net for farmers and ranchers. Under my proposal, ARC-CO payments would be determined by the payment rate for the county in which the participating land is physically located, instead of USDA’s current inequitable payment process that for some farmers can result in higher and unearned payments than Congress intended.

I also included a provision that would update hundreds of millions of base acres in the United States – portions of land that have been planted or were considered planted at one time or another. Based on old rules, farmers could use base acres that were calculated as far back as 1991 to determine commodity payments they receive in 2017. Essentially, a farmer who hasn’t planted his or her land to a commodity crop in 26 years could still receive a payment for that land today. I think we need to update this payment process with more recent data, which would likely save taxpayers more money.

Fighting for farmers and ranchers doesn’t end with the farm bill. I also think we need to reform our tax code so it does a better job of working for, rather than against the hard-working people who make agriculture South Dakota’s top industry. I recently introduced a major tax reform proposal that would help farmers and ranchers recover investment costs – tractors, combines, or even the farm’s pickup truck, for example – more quickly. Accelerating cost recovery means farmers and ranchers have more money to keep the operation running, which helps them stay on their land and hopefully pass it from one generation to the next.

Agriculture policy is always important to farmers and ranchers, but particularly now in today’s weak agriculture economy. These farmers and ranchers know their stuff, and they aren’t afraid to share their opinions either. That’s why I was glad USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue recently joined me in South Dakota so he could hear directly from the folks who help feed South Dakota and the rest of the world. They had a lot of great ideas on how to improve agriculture policy, and I know the secretary left with a better understanding of what South Dakota farmers want and need.

The hard work and dedication that farmers and ranchers tirelessly invest in their operations is not entirely understood by folks who’ve never tilled the land, cared for livestock, harvested a crop, or prayed for a rainy forecast. We can all learn a thing or two from what they do for our country, and I will never tire in my mission to defend them in Congress.


Governor Rounds’ Weekly Column: Tax Cuts Work for South Dakotans

Tax Cuts Work for South Dakotans
By Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)


We don’t have a taxing problem in America – we have a spending problem.

First of all, the government doesn’t generate money, it is not a person or a business.  In South Dakota, if we don’t produce or earn money, whether in our home or business, we don’t spend money. The federal economic projection methods that Congressional appropriations are based upon are flawed.  Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the national debt has soared.  We need to focus on tax cuts and let people keep more of their own money instead of feeding citizens’ money into a government appropriations system that hasn’t worked in 42 years. Allowing American families to keep more of their hard-earned dollars so that they can spend, save or invest it as they see fit will result in a more prosperous American economy.

I recently introduced a proposal that would keep the ‘tax reform’ discussion very simple. Rather than dive into the 74,000 page tax code – while needed – I offered legislation that simply reduces the average South Dakota family’s tax burden by 16 percent. This is accomplished by a straight and simple 2 point rate cut in each tax bracket. For those on the lower end of the wage scale, that’s even higher – a 20 percent tax cut. That is money directly in your pocket, money that I believe will be used to create jobs, put your kids in college, save for retirement, purchase a car or buy a new home.

Throughout our history, when government regulations and taxes have been moderated – economic freedom and prosperity thrive. There is a direct correlation between government policies and the economy. In recent history, both President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, and President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, governed during very turbulent economic times. Both were forced to make bold decisions and resist the federal government’s norm. Both pursued a bold, new path.

President Kennedy inherited a stagnant U.S. economy. Initially, trying to stimulate the weak economy, Kennedy proposed a government spending plan that failed. Desperately needing a new solution, Kennedy eventually pushed a plan to slash income tax rates across the board, with the top marginal tax rate declining by 20 points. President Kennedy, through tax cuts, doubled the rate of economic growth that he inherited. And, even with the lower tax rates, more revenue was generated in 1964 and 1965. The tax cuts President Kennedy initiated were followed by four consecutive administrations that raised taxes and, as a consequence, the economy floundered.

Two decades later, President Reagan, a Republican, often gave credit to President Kennedy for cutting taxes. The tax cuts that President Reagan proposed passed both Houses of Congress by wide margins and launched the country into a long stretch of economic growth. Both of these men were bold leaders who defied the “Washington knows best” mentality that has plagued our country for far too long. They both pursued plans that stimulated the economy by letting individual citizens decide how to spend more of their own money.

Lowering the tax rate is but one step we can take to overhaul the tax code that will provide direct, immediate relief to hardworking families and jolt our economy. Cutting taxes, coupled with reducing regulations, will allow our economy to heal from eight years of stagnant growth and once again prosper and flourish. Two revered presidents, a Democrat and a Republican, have already proven that it works.

In the coming weeks, I’d like to share more about my concerns regarding the flawed appropriations process that Congress has been using for the past 42 years.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Human Trafficking and My Meeting with Ivanka Trump

Human Trafficking and My Meeting with Ivanka Trump
By Rep. Kristi Noem

There are certain issues where no matter how many times you read about them, hear about them, or talk to folks who have lived through them, you just don’t understand how they could happen – and in South Dakota of all places. Human trafficking is one of those issues for me.

Recently, I sat down with Ivanka Trump at the White House on this very issue, alongside leaders from both sides of the aisle. Many understood the challenges from an international perspective, but when the conversation turned to what was happening inside our country, few realized that rural areas were as affected as major cities.

Whether I’m speaking on the House floor or in a meeting with trafficking advocates in South Dakota, when I start talking about how local law enforcement conducted a sting operation near Watertown that attracted more than 100 solicitations in just two days, people are shocked. Most just don’t realize this can happen in small towns too.  But it does.

Beyond rural versus urban, we had a thorough discussion about survivors’ needs.  In 2015, existing grants were opened to those who provide housing to trafficking survivors, as a result of legislation I wrote. While experts estimate between 100,000 and 300,000 children are trafficked in the U.S. each year, there are only a few hundred beds available to survivors nationwide. I’m hopeful this additional support will help create more safe spaces for survivors.

But more must be done.  Once survivors escape, new challenges arise. Where do they find permanent housing? Or a job? Or a support system? Because traffickers often use drugs and alcohol as a means to control their victims, many survivors have criminal records that limit access to employment, housing, and support.

In 2016, for instance, 80 percent of survivors surveyed by the National Survivor Network had lost or not received employment because of their criminal convictions.  To support survivors in getting back on their feet, I helped introduce new legislation that creates a pathway for them to expunge non-violent convictions and arrests from their records, so long as the crimes were a direct result of being trafficked. I’m hopeful this legislation will help relieve survivors of the past, open doors for them, and offer a path forward where healing can begin.

Still, one of the biggest pieces of feedback I get from South Dakota advocates is that we need to build awareness.  Shortly after my meeting with Ivanka Trump, the House passed legislation I cosponsored to enhance the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign.  This is an effort to equip the general public and specific groups (such as hospitality workers, who may encounter trafficking more often than others) with better tools to identify and intervene when trafficking occurs.

The fight against this inhumane crime requires action from each of us, so I encourage you to take a minute to learn more about the issue and spread the word. The more eyes we have out there looking for signs of distress, the faster we can move toward ending human trafficking altogether.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: By Knowing and Telling Their Stories

By Knowing and Telling Their Stories
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Bill Bianchi may not have been born in South Dakota, but he became like an adopted son when in 1936 he began attending SDSU to earn an animal science degree. Bianchi kept busy in school playing football and participating in ROTC, and not long after graduating, Bianchi, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was sent to the Philippines to train new soldiers.

Today, Bianchi is known as a compassionate patriot who played a critical role in weakening the Japanese in the Battle of Toul Pocket.

On Feb. 3, 1942, Bianchi voluntarily led a group of soldiers with the mission of taking out two enemy machine gun nests. Early in the mission, he was shot twice in his left hand, forcing use of his handgun instead of his rifle. After he silenced one of the machine gun nests with grenades, Bianchi was wounded again by two more bullets to his chest. He somehow kept moving and managed to climb to the top of an American tank to man the gun. He fired at enemy strongholds until he was knocked off by a blast from a grenade.

Two months later, Bianchi was taken prisoner. He and other men being held were forced to make a brutal 65-mile trip on foot – a journey which became infamous as the Bataan Death March. They went from camp to camp – each one progressively worse than the last. Sleeping on the soaked floors of mud huts, many weakened, exhausted prisoners grew ill.

Throughout his imprisonment, Bianchi cared for other prisoners by bartering with their captors for food and medicine. He was put in charge of allocating the food portions, and he ensured everyone shared equally. He never gave himself a greater portion. When they were forced to march, Bianchi would walk up and down the line to encourage the other men and help with their burdens.

Bianchi never made it back to South Dakota or to his boyhood home in New Mexico. In January, when he had been held prisoner for nine months, he was placed in an unmarked prison ship. Tragically, the vessel was destroyed by Allied troops, unaware Americans were onboard. Bianchi was 29 years old.

This Memorial Day week, we will commemorate Bianchi and the other South Dakotans who received the Medal of Honor by dedicating a new Hall of Honor in the Capitol Building in Pierre. Along with Bianchi, we will honor Patrick Brady, Michael Fitzmaurice, Joe Foss, Isaac Fry, Woodrow Keeble, Herbert Littleton, Arlo Olson, Charles Roberts and Leo Thorsness.

I invite you to visit the Hall of Honor when you are in Pierre. Originally located in the Soldiers and Sailors World War Memorial building, the display has been redesigned and relocated to the first floor of the State Capitol. Come see it for yourself. Read the incredible stories of each of these men and take a moment to reflect on the cost of freedom.

For it is by knowing and telling their stories that we can best honor their sacrifices.


So do they Love Republicans, Hate Democrats, or Hate Reporters that much in Montana?

From the Washington Examiner:

Republicans held onto Montana’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday night, even after GOP nominee Greg Gianforte was cited for misdemeanor assault against a reporter hours before the polls opened.

Rob Quist, a Democrat from the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, proved a prodigious fundraiser by collecting nearly $7 million from the left-wing grassroots. But it wasn’t enough for the cowboy hat-wearing folksinger to prevail in a state President Trump won handily last year.

The race was called shortly after midnight. By Friday morning, with nearly 100 percent of the vote in, Gianforte had 50.2 percent of the vote, Quist, had 44.1 percent, and Libertarian Mark Wicks has 5.7 percent.

Read that here.

Not a bad win at all, especially considering he’s alleged to have assaulted a reporter.

So do they Love Republicans, Hate Democrats, or Hate Reporters that much in Montana?

State Rep. Tom Holmes endorses Cynthia Mickelson in Sioux Falls School Board Race

State Representative Tom Holmes, a retired long-time educator in the Sioux Falls School District has a letter to the editor in the Argus Leader (and on-line) endorsing Cynthia Mickelson in the Sioux Falls School Board race:

As a retired teacher and parent of a public school graduate, I can’t think of a better candidate to serve the students, teachers, employees and taxpayers of the Sioux Falls Public School System on the school board than Cynthia Mickelson.


Teaching social studies at Washington and Roosevelt High Schools for 40 years brought students from all different backgrounds into my classroom. Each and every one of them deserved and received the best education and opportunities I could provide them. After retiring from teaching, I continue to advocate for children by substitute teaching and through my work in the legislature.

Read the entire letter here.


Pierre Mayoral candidate having a lot of trouble with the “little lady” vote.

Darn it! Who told those women they could have an opinion? 

At one point he referred to an encounter he had with a young couple in their yard while he was campaigning recently, an exchange that the woman has posted about on social media and she contacted the Capital Journal about it.

Robinson brought it up Thursday during the forum, saying when the two told him they were getting married soon, he said “she’s not even pregnant and she got really offended over this thing,” and “it’s all over the internet.”

At other points, after referring several times to “girls,” and “little ladies,” who worked for the city, a woman got up from the audience and walked out. After the meeting she said she was angered at Robinson’s referring to adult women as “girls,” and “little ladies.”

Robinson himself referred to his manner of speaking and said he would try to use the term “ladies,” rather than “girls.”


After several other statements, including that if he gets elected mayor,”I have to have some help,” and “I kicked the sleeping pooch and woke it up,” and wanting to be part of the team, Robinson said: “I don’t know. . . I’m rambling. I’m passionate. I need adult supervision.”

After a few more minutes of closing statements, Robinson quickly left the building without talking to anyone.

Read it here.

Reading the reference to the post that was getting a lot of attention over the Internet, I had to go find it.

“Cringe worthy” is putting it kindly. Horrifying might be more accurate.

Well… Pierre is close to Ft. Pierre. And this “little lady” just made sure Mr. Robinson will probably never be elected to anything, ever.

Update – My wife noted, “When you write about this, and you will, don’t forget the Gordon Howie cow comment, where he compared women to cows.

Darn, those little ladies have a long memory…