State Rep. Craig Tieszen Dies; Gov. Daugaard Requests Flags At Half-Staff

State Rep. Craig Tieszen Dies;
Gov. Daugaard Requests Flags At Half-Staff

PIERRE, S.D. – State Rep. Craig Tieszen of Rapid City passed away on Nov. 22, 2017, in a drowning accident in the Cook Islands, where Tieszen, 68, was attending a family wedding. The Cook Islands are located in the South Pacific, approximately 3,000 miles south of Hawaii. Tieszen’s brother-in-law, Brent Moline, 61, of Rapid City, also died in the accident.

Tieszen was in his first term representing District 34 in the State House of Representatives, after having served in the State Senate from 2009-16. Prior to his legislative service, Tieszen spent 32 years in law enforcement, retiring as Rapid City Chief of Police.

“Craig Tieszen was a good man and a dedicated public servant, and his loss is very sad,” said Gov. Dennis Daugaard. “Craig Tieszen spent his life serving the public. He was a thoughtful and conscientious legislator, and a leader on criminal justice issues. More importantly, he was a true gentleman who was respected by all who knew him. Linda and I offer our deepest sympathies to the Tieszen and Moline families during this difficult time.”

Gov. Daugaard will order flags to fly at half-staff statewide in honor of Rep. Tieszen on the day of his funeral, which has yet to be determined.


South Dakota politicos offer condolences on reports of Representative Tieszen’s passing

Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Wind Power Contributing To South Dakota’s Economy

Wind Power Contributing To South Dakota’s Economy
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard: 

As most people in rural South Dakota can tell you, the wind is almost always blowing. Living on the prairie, windy days are inevitable. It just comes with the territory – which is why it only makes sense for us to develop this fast resource and put it to good use.

Over the past decade South Dakota has been doing just that. Wind power has contributed more than $2 billion in capital investment to our state for the construction and maintenance of the 14 wind projects now in operation. These projects, along with the South Dakota businesses that supply goods and services to the wind industry, support nearly 2,000 good-paying jobs in our state. Better yet, there are numerous wind power projects being planned across our state and, if built, these wind farms will attract billions of dollars of new private investment, millions of dollars of new revenue for farmers and rural communities, and thousands of new jobs.

Today, I am proud to say that South Dakota is one of only two states where wind power provides over 30 percent of in-state power generation. That’s power that the whole region can count on. In fact, the regional operator of our energy system has noted they can reliably meet over 50 percent of the current demand for our 13-state region with wind power alone, and that’s not even the limit.

The growth in wind power in our state and region did not happen overnight or without careful planning and advances in technology. Wind works well with South Dakota’s other major power resources such as hydroelectric, coal-fired, and natural gas power plants, adding to our fuel diversity and reducing our reliance on imports. That diversity helps protect our businesses and homeowners from price and supply volatility, as well as changing national and global policies.

Beyond helping keep electricity prices stable, wind power can also benefit the families and communities who host the projects on their land. Wind farms now pay approximately $5 million each year in lease payments, creating a new, drought-resistant revenue stream that can help family farmers and ranchers expand their operations or withstand market fluctuations in crop prices.

We have seen success with wind power development to date, and the future remains bright with prospects for more economic opportunity for South Dakotans. South Dakota’s wide open spaces and high quality wind resource can potentially provide affordable and reliable electricity to those living beyond our borders. By continuing to expand and modernize our electricity grid, we can deliver more of South Dakota’s wind resource to high demand areas, just as we deliver other commodities like soybeans and corn to other parts of the nation.

Renewable power is proving its worth throughout the Great Plains, and South Dakota is committed to keeping our state open for more wind development. The renewable energy sector is one of the fastest growing in the nation, and renewable energy will continue to play a crucial role in creating new jobs and growing our state’s economy. As wind power has grown to be nearly a third of our energy production, our grid is as reliable as ever. With this experience in mind, I will continue to support the expansion of renewable energy in South Dakota. I hope you will too.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Tools for a Healthier Forest

Tools for a Healthier Forest
By Rep. Kristi Noem

Have you ever hiked the Black Hills during the winter? There’s something almost magical about it. It’s so quiet and yet surprisingly energizing. I absolutely love it.

But underneath the snow is a forest in repair. For more than two decades, the Mountain Pine Beetle has damaged more than 30 percent of the 1.2-million-acre forest. Earlier this year, the U.S. Forest Service announced the beetle had finally been beat, albeit significant work remains to repair the damage and make the forest more resilient against future outbreaks.

In November 2013, then-U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell came to the Black Hills with me to view the damage firsthand. While he felt good about the tools we had to combat the pine beetle, we couldn’t apply them on a large enough scale.

In the months that followed the visit, I helped write new reforms and fought to get them included in the 2014 Farm Bill. As a result, we cut through the red tape, got boots on the ground faster, and allowed the Forest Service to work on the scale this epidemic required. Around 1 million acres of the Black Hills National Forest benefited from the provisions, which have proven critical in curtailing the pine beetle’s spread – something U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recognized when I welcomed him to the Black Hills earlier this year.

We are incredibly fortunate to have so many dedicated foresters in the Black Hills, and their work is often pointed to as a model for the nation. In Rapid City, I had the opportunity to catch up with a number of Rangers and forestry officials just before Thanksgiving. We talked in depth about the forest’s health and how the new tools are working. It was encouraging to hear their optimism for the Black Hills’ future. But the reality remains that years of damage have left behind thousands of acres of dead and dying trees. There’s still more work to do.

This November, I helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass the Resilient Federal Forests Act on a bipartisan basis. Now being considered in the Senate, this legislation would pair a responsible budget fix with forest management reforms to dramatically improve the health and resiliency of our forests.

More specifically, with fires breaking out across the country in recent years, too much federal funding has been transferred from forest management to firefighting. The resource drain only perpetuates the problem and increases the risk of future wildfires. By allowing more flexibility in how funds flow between various agencies, this bill would fix the problem without authorizing any new spending.

This bill also eliminates duplicative paperwork and begins to address obstructionist litigation – or lawsuits set up to stop responsible forest management programs, like logging infested trees. Both of these reforms will help eliminate hurdles we’ve dealt with in the Black Hills.

The bill also increases tribal participation in forest health projects and strengthens Impact Aid to South Dakota schools that have a lot of Forest Service and other federally controlled lands in their districts. All around, it’s an important bill for South Dakota – one that can help make sure those magical winter hikes through the Black Hills’ snow-covered trees can be experienced by this generation and the next.

Early report – State Rep Craig Tieszen drowns in New Zealand while trying to save brother in law

New Zealand’s 1 News Now is reporting terribly sad news this Thanksgiving of State Representative/Former State Sen Craig Tieszen’s death while trying to rescue his brother in law:

He is Republican state senator from South Dakota Craig Tieszen, 68.

Sources from Rarotonga told 1 NEWS the senator’s brother in law Brent Moline, 61, had got into difficulties after capsizing a kayak outside the reef in Avana Harbour.

Senator Tieszen attempted to help him, but both men drowned.

Read it here.

Chiesman campaign which criticized legislature was pre-produced and provided to them.

Sioux Falls writer Michael Wyland had an interesting article out today about the Chiesman Foundation’s campaign criticizing the State Legislature (as we had noted earlier) and encouraging people to blindly sign petitions.

Interestingly, Wyland notes that we’ll probably never see what was spent on this effort on any campaign finance report, despite it consisting of a private company attempting to influence the political process:

The South Dakota blogosphere lit up recently with the release of a video and web site by the Rapid City-based Chiesman Center for Democracy,  associated with the Chiesman Foundation. There was little information available about the “Join the Conversation” campaign, including most importantly who was funding this effort to influence South Dakota voters to sign petitions to place various political issues on the state’s 2018 general election ballot.

Unraveling the story presents a case study of how transparency works far better than secrecy when becoming involved in public political dialogue, and how that secrecy can produce unintended and potentially harmful consequences. It also shows how one company or one individual can influence the political system without ever showing up on a campaign finance disclosure form.


Media One produced a short video themed “Join the Conversation,” featuring petition circulators in several South Dakota locations encouraging civic participation through signing their petitions. In addition, Media One build a website,, to host the video and provide a link to the list of petitions being circulated.

Media One contacted several foundations and other nonprofits through which it might disseminate the “Join the Conversation” message, and the Chiesman Center for Democracy agreed to promote the video and website.


Unfortunately, looking at publicly available Internet-based information leads to a far different conclusion than does a simple conversation with the two people most intimately involved with the effort. If Chiesman had publicly acknowledged and thanked Media One for its providing the web site and video, and if Media One had participated openly in the promotion effort for the campaign the firm created and financed, questions would have been far fewer and suspicions would have been all but eliminated.

Read the entire article here.

The article doesn’t delve into the reason for the tone of the advertising campaign which attacked the legislature by claiming “most South Dakotans disapprove of the job our state legislature is doing,“ based on a poll by PPP, a Democratic polling firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

As I’ve heard rumored, the end of result is that it may have affected how willing legislators are to support the organization.

Now, seeing that this material was produced and provided to them, I don’t know that I necessarily agree with Michael that “questions would have been far fewer and suspicions would have been all but eliminated.”

Your thoughts?

US Senator John Thune: Small Businesses are a Not-So-Small Part of South Dakota’s Economy

Small Businesses are a Not-So-Small Part of South Dakota’s Economy
By Sen. John Thune

Whether it’s Sioux Falls or Rapid City or any city in between, the communities dotting South Dakota’s landscape have far more in common than just a shared area code. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town or a multiple-exits-on-the-interstate city, you’re likely going to pass or visit a South Dakotan-owned small business along the way.

In fact, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if the only businesses in some communities were small family-owned operations. They help keep gas tanks, coffee mugs, and lunchboxes full, and they help keep cars, trucks, and farm equipment on the road and in the field. They’re the lifeblood for many South Dakota communities.

There are more than 83,000 small businesses across South Dakota, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. These businesses, of which nearly one-third are owned by hard-working South Dakota women, employ nearly 60 percent of South Dakota’s private workforce and account for more than 96 percent of all the businesses in the entire state. Of all the South Dakota companies that exported goods in 2013, more than 75 percent of them were small businesses, according to the U.S. International Trade Administration.

In addition to being a large part of South Dakota’s economy, small businesses play an important role in the American Dream, too.

After my grandfather and his brother immigrated to the United States, they laced-up their boots, looked for work, and found jobs as railroad workers as the transcontinental railroads made their way across the country. They worked hard, saved up, and opened a hardware store in Mitchell. My grandfather then moved to Murdo, my hometown, to run another hardware store. My mom and dad worked there for years, too, and although the ownership has changed over the years, the Mitchell store still bears the Thune family name.

All that to say, small businesses are a big deal here in South Dakota, and they have a long history here, too.

There’s a lot to be thankful for this time of year, including the contributions small business owners make to the communities in which they operate. That’s a large part of why Small Business Saturday – the Saturday after Thanksgiving – has become such a popular event in communities around the country.

Being a small business owner means far more than flipping the sign on the front door from “open” to “closed” and earning a paycheck. It means more than just working in a community. It means being part of a community. These are the same folks who support the local booster club, help organize the local Fourth of July parade, and greet hometown heroes when they return home from war.

There are already plenty of good reasons to show small businesses that this kind of local support is mutual, but by shopping small on Small Business Saturday, we can collectively send that message loud and clear.


US Senator Mike Rounds: Regulatory Relief for Community Banks and Credit Unions

Regulatory Relief for Community Banks and Credit Unions
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

In South Dakota, our local banks and credit unions play an important role in helping our businesses thrive and our communities grow. Local financial institutions help families buy a home, start a new business or save for the future. As a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, one of my priorities has been to relieve community banks and credit unions from the unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed on them.

I recently joined a bipartisan group of Banking Committee members to introduce a bill that would improve our nation’s financial regulatory framework and promote a healthy economy. Since the enactment of the Dodd-Frank act, which was an overreaction to the 2008 financial crisis, our financial institutions and our economy have suffered. Our proposal begins to roll back some of Dodd-Frank’s one-size-fits-all regulations, which have been disproportionally hurting small-and-medium sized institutions who had nothing to do with the financial crisis. While there is still work to be done, our proposal is a good step toward allowing community banks and credit unions to expand, and I’m happy that it includes a number of provisions that I introduced.

Included in our bipartisan bill is the Home Mortgage Disclosure Adjustment Act, which provides small banks and credit unions with data reporting relief. It also includes relief from Dodd-Frank capital rules that allows banks to count high-quality municipal bonds toward capital requirements. This will be helpful to both banks and local governments that issue debt.

Our legislation also contains provisions of my Community Bank Access to Capital Act that would free small banks from having to go through arduous and expensive tests mandated under Dodd-Frank and make it easier for banks with less than $3 billion in assets to raise capital and grow. It also includes language that protects the credit of our military veterans who are awaiting delayed payments from the VA Choice program. Lastly, it provides rural appraisal relief for situations when borrowers apply for a loan of less than $400,000 and have trouble finding a qualified appraiser.

In addition to our most-recent bipartisan proposal, I have also introduced a number of different stand-alone bills this year to help improve access to credit for South Dakotans and reduce the regulatory burden of Dodd-Frank on local financial institutions so they can better provide loans and other services to their customers. I continue working to move my TAILOR Act forward in the Senate—this bill would require regulatory agencies to take into account the risk profile and business models of individual financial institutions and tailor their regulations accordingly. This will help put a stop to the one-size-fits-all approach to rulemaking we’ve seen out of Washington during the previous administration.

Making sure South Dakota families and businesses have access to credit when they need it is critical as we work to grow a healthy American economy. Every step we can take to provide relief to our lenders is a win for South Dakota families and businesses who rely on them for credit. I look forward to continue working on legislation that will provide smart, targeted regulatory relief to our community banks and credit unions so they can better serve their customers and boost South Dakota’s economic activity.


Senator John Thune at Americans for Prosperity SD luncheon on tax reform

South Dakota’s senior United States’ Senator and Top 3 Republican Senator John Thune was hosted today by South Dakota’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity for a discussion on the Senate’s version of Tax Reform.

Senator Thune addressed a packed room of nearly 200 people including several legislators from across Eastern South Dakota about the Senate’s version of the tax reform plan, which he noted as reducing the average family’s tax burden by an estimated $2200 yearly…

As well as providing fuel for our nation’s economic engine…

In terms of the why the package addresses the individual mandate of health care, Thune noted that as part of the package, doing away with the Obamacare tax mandate frees up additional funds for tax relief, which they were able to direct into middle income families.

Senator Thune also took questions from the audience, and noted at the Luncheon that one of his signature issues he’s been fighting for over the course of the years he’s been in the public eye is a balanced budget requirement. In fact, Thune noted that as many states have, our nation should have included the requirement for a balanced budget in the US Constitution.

All in all, a great event from the South Dakota Chapter of Americans for Prosperity. Thanks!