State Auditor Barnett Named to National Committee

State Auditor Barnett Named to National Committee

PIERRE, SD – South Dakota State Auditor Steve Barnett was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Comptrollers (NASC). Representing states across the nation, NASC members include elected or appointed officials tasked with the financial management of state government. The eight Executive Committee positions are selected by the membership yearly at the association’s annual conference.

“It is a great honor to have been named to this committee by my peers and colleagues,” stated Barnett. “I look forward to continue using the relationships developed in NASC as a valuable tool and asset as we strive to provide maximum efficiency in the State Auditor’s office.”

The following list provides the NASC Executive Committee slate for 2015-2016:

• President: John Reidhead, Director-Division of Finance, Utah
• Vice-President: Anna Marie Kiehl, State Comptroller/Chief Acct. Officer, Pennsylvania
• Secretary/Treasurer: Tom White, State Comptroller, Alabama
• Immediate Past President: David Von Moll, State Comptroller, Virginia
• Cynthia Cloud, State Auditor, Wyoming
• Diane Langham, Fiscal Management Director, Mississippi
• Alan Skelton, State Accounting Officer, Georgia
• Steve Barnett, State Auditor, South Dakota

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Tone deaf Obama administration canceling White House FOIA on National Freedom of Information Day.

From USA Today:

The White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office.

and….

But the timing of the move raised eyebrows among transparency advocates, coming on National Freedom of Information Day and during a national debate over the preservation of Obama administration records. It’s also Sunshine Week, an effort by news organizations and watchdog groups to highlight issues of government transparency.

Read it here.

Former Senate Appropriations Chair Jerry Apa attacking GOP Leadership.

Former Republican Legislator and Senate Appropriations Chair Jerry Apa has some harsh words for Republican Legislators, calling them greedy, lacking leadership, etc., and so on in a letter to the Editor in the Argus Leader:

The leadership, or lack thereof, of the House and Senate chambers of the state legislature has to be one of the most arrogant, tone deaf, greedy not needy groups to populate Pierre in a long time. Beginning with the majority leader in the Senate trying to subvert the initiative process to disregarding the voter’s directive on the minimum wage, the Republicans have said damn the voters full speed ahead.

Don’t forget the attempt to raise the legislative salary by 40 percent, while ignoring the plight of the average South Dakota teacher. This misbegotten bill was sponsored by the same senator who can’t eat lunch in an hour and expects the taxpayer to pay for a $23 catered lunch.

and..

The Republican super majority has shown that a majority corrupts and an absolute majority absolutely corrupts. The Republicans need to rebrand their party as the Taxandspendican Party.

Read it here.

“Taxandspendican Party?”  Well, that’s kind of harsh.  Especially since if memory serves, Jerry wasn’t immune to the temptations of proposing tax measures himself. From time to time. To time.

Thune, others concerned NASA spending time on earth studies instead of space exploration

From the Hill, it sounds as if the environmentalists have taken over everything, including making NASA about earth science instead of space exploration:

About $4.5 billion is requested for exploration, meanwhile, including development of rockets to be launched into deep space. Another $4 billion is slated for space operations, including support of the International Space Station.

According to Cruz, that represents a 41 percent increase in earth science funding since 2009, compared to a 7 percent decrease in funding for exploration and operations.

“Are we focusing on the heavens in NASA or are we focusing on dirt in Texas?” asked Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.).

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the head of the Commerce Committee and the Senate’s No. 3 Republican, is similarly concerned that some research may be “redundant with activities being undertaken at other federal agencies and may actually reduce the availability of funds for research related to the traditional sciences, aeronautics and space exploration,” his spokesman said.

Read it all here.

Thune continuing efforts to keep EPA from regulating ditches

According to today’s Argus Leader, US Senator John Thune is continuing his pursuit of legislation to prevent the EPA from regulating water in rural ditches as being a navigable body of water subject to the strictures of the Clean Water Act:

Despite assurances from the EPA, agricultural groups contend the Waters of the U.S. rule would expand the scope of “navigable waters” protected by the Clean Water Act to include not only rivers and lakes but ditches, stream beds and self-made ponds that carry water only when it rains.

Farmers say they would face higher costs for environmental assessments and need to apply for permits to allow them to till soil, apply fertilizer or engage in some conservation practices.

A bill last year to ban the EPA from enacting the rule garnered support from almost three dozen Senate Republicans, a number that bodes well for similar legislation in the GOP-led Congress this year.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said there remains strong, bipartisan opposition to the proposal.

“Any federal regulation that could make farmers and ranchers legally liable for fines and penalties for conducting normal farming practices would be an overstep of authority and an infringement on their rights,” Thune said.

Read it all here.

You are more likely to be eaten by dogs than struck by lightning in South Dakota.

In case you missed the story today, a second person has been killed by a pack of wild dogs on an Indian Reservation within months of another horrific incident:

A 49-year-old woman on the Rosebud Indian Reservation has died following an attack from a pack of wild dogs.

Mellette County Sheriff Mike Blom tells KELO-TV he found 49-year-old Julie Charging Whirlwind surrounded by dogs around 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. He says he shot and killed two of the dogs so emergency responders could reach the woman.

Read it here.

As you likely recall, the first attack involved an 8-year old girl on the Pine Ridge reservation in November.

Just out of curiosity, I looked up how many had been killed by lightning strikes in South Dakota in the last year in comparison. What I came up with was a somewhat shocking ten-year statistic.

lightning_strikes

Two people in the last decade have been killed by lightning. Two people within 4 months have been killed by packs of dogs.  You are more likely to be eaten by dogs than killed by lightning in South Dakota.

Not a statistic to take pride in.

Open Forum: What did YOU think of session?

Having been more involved on a couple of issues that I had been in a few years, I joked to a few as I darkened out halls of government that “Every time I spend time in Pierre, I tend to get my butt kicked, so I want to get out of here as soon as possible.”  Basically, I was more interested in winning on my issue than going to war with anyone, as I might have been tempted from time to time. So I was glad to be successful, and on my way out the door late last week.

And that might sum up much of session. People were more interested in getting work done than posturing. On the surface this session seemed pretty low key. Not a lot of conflict between individual legislators. And there wasn’t any open warfare I noticed between political parties.

But there was the fact that we had more conference committees than ever before.  Where what little conflict came up was more between the House and Senate than anyone else.

That’s my 2 cents worth.  As a broad open topic – What did YOU think of the 2015 State Legislative session?