Press Release: Thune Bill Provides Incentive to Hire Long-Term Unemployed Americans

Thune Bill Provides Incentive to Hire Long-Term Unemployed Americans

John_Thune_official_photoWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) today introduced S. 38, the Helping Individuals Regain Employment Act (HIRE Act), a bill that would provide an incentive for employers to hire long-term unemployed Americans by permanently exempting those employees from the government-mandated ObamaCare employee count.

“The HIRE Act is a win-win for employers and long-term unemployed Americans who continue to feel the pain from ObamaCare and six years of President Obama’s failed economic policies,” said Thune. “Congress should be doing all it can to enact policies that help unemployed Americans find good-paying jobs, and ObamaCare shouldn’t stand in the way.”

Under ObamaCare, any business with 100 or more full-time employees must provide government-approved insurance or pay a fine in 2015. Beginning in 2016, any business with 50 or more full-time employees must comply with the mandate.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are 9.1 million unemployed Americans, of which 2.8 million have been unemployed for 27 or more weeks. While the official unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, the “real” unemployment rate, which considers the number of people who have stopped looking for work, is 11.4 percent.

The HIRE Act was originally included in Thune’s “Good Jobs, Good Wages, Good Hours Act,” which he introduced last year as an alternative to the unemployment insurance extension bill.


Photo Release: New South Dakota Delegation

Photo Release: New South Dakota Delegation

114SDDelegationWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Representative Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) joined for the first photo in the 114th Congress of the new South Dakota delegation this morning in Washington, D.C. This Congress marks the first time since 1962 that South Dakota is represented by an all-Republican delegation.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem appointed to be first South Dakotan to serve on Powerful Ways & Means Committee

Noem Earns Seat on Powerful
Ways & Means Committee

Noem is first to represent South Dakota on the Committee

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem was confirmed today as a member of the powerful House Ways & Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax, trade, and economic growth policies.  Noem is the first South Dakota Member of Congress to serve on the Committee and will be one of only a few rural voices on Ways & Means this Congress.

“My family farm was impacted by the death tax, so I understand – in no uncertain terms – the heavy toll bad tax policies can take on hardworking South Dakotans,” said Noem.  “As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I look forward to working on solutions that save South Dakota families from the burdensome taxes that have made it more difficult for many to live the American Dream.”

The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to begin tackling a number of issues this Congress, including tax simplification, expanding trade, patient-centered reforms to the healthcare system, and IRS accountability measures.  Rep. Noem will serve on two of the Committee’s Subcommittees:  Human Resources and Oversight.

“I’m confident that I can have the greatest impact for South Dakota by serving on the Ways and Means Committee this Congress,” said Noem. “We have an aggressive Committee agenda slated for the next two years, which includes critical South Dakota priorities, such as simplifying the tax code, expanding trade opportunities, and holding the IRS accountable.  I’m optimistic that folks are ready to govern and prepared to take the tough votes necessary to move our country forward.”

The Committee on Ways and Means is the oldest committee of the U.S. Congress and serves as the chief tax-writing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.  The Committee also has jurisdiction over trade agreements and legislation, Social Security, Medicare, foster care programs, and unemployment compensation programs, among other things.  For more information on committee jurisdiction, please click here.

“The Ways and Means Committee will take on numerous challenges during the 114th Congress, and Kristi Noem will play an important role as the Committee addresses important issues like reforming our broken tax code, implementing patient-centered health care reforms, and strengthening safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee.  “Kristi does an exceptional job representing the people of South Dakota and I know she’ll be an outstanding addition to the Ways and Means Committee in the next session of Congress.”

Noem was first elected to Congress in 2010.  She previously served on the House Committees of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Education and Workforce, and Armed Services.


United States Senator Mike Rounds Sworn Into Office

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) made the following statement after taking the oath of office as South Dakota’s 27th Senator:

“It’s an incredible privilege to continue serving the people of South Dakota, and I’m humbled by the trust you’ve placed in me to represent you in the United States Senate. Now that the pomp and circumstance is over, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I look forward to working closely with Sen. Thune and Rep. Noem to advance South Dakota priorities and values.”mike_and_joe

Press Release: Thune Calls on Obama EPA to Withdraw Backdoor National Energy Tax

Thune Calls on Obama EPA to Withdraw Backdoor National Energy Tax
-Power plant rule will slam South Dakota rate payers-

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the EPA to withdraw its proposed regulations on exiting power plants, citing the significant financial burdens it will impose on South Dakota consumers, as well as technical infeasibilities that will drive up energy costs and threaten grid reliability.

“The Obama administration’s proposed power plant regulation is yet another example of presidential executive action that Americans clearly rejected in November as it will hurt jobs and increase costs,” said Thune. “The president’s proposed regulation is a national, backdoor energy tax that will slam South Dakota rate payers—especially low-income families and seniors living on fixed incomes. Affordable and reliable energy provides essential comforts for families across the country this winter and powers American industries to build a stronger economy. Yet the EPA’s proposal will make electricity rates skyrocket and stifle economic growth. I continue to urge Administrator McCarthy to reconsider.”

On June 2, 2014, the EPA proposed the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, or Clean Power Plan, requiring a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 2030. Under the proposed rule, South Dakota power plants must reduce carbon dioxide emission rates 35 percent by 2030 based on emission levels from 2012. This reduction mandate is more stringent than the national average for the EPA’s proposed reductions. According to testimony provided to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission in July of 2014, South Dakota consumers could see their electricity bills increase by as much as 90 percent on account of this regulation.

Full text of the senator’s letter is available below:

January 6, 2015

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Headquarters – William J. Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

I am writing to strongly encourage additional review of the technical feasibility of South Dakota’s emissions reduction target under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, also known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP).  As you know, affordable and reliable energy helps grow the economy and helps low- and middle-income families make ends meet.  Unfortunately, the CPP will only increase electrical rates and hurt those who can afford it the least.

The CPP fails to recognize South Dakota’s unique energy profile, making compliance not only technically infeasible, but incredibly costly to consumers and damaging to South Dakota’s economic base.  For example, South Dakota is not fully credited for its robust renewable energy production, which totaled approximately 74 percent of all in-state electricity production in 2012.  Additionally, South Dakota has a single coal-fired steam electric generating unit (EGU) and only one natural gas combined-cycle plant (NGCC), which serve different Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs).  As I will detail below, each of these EGUs and the customers they serve fall victim to misguided assumptions under the CPP’s formula for calculating state emission targets.  The remaining building blocks of the CPP raise additional issues that will impose significant burdens to South Dakota rate payers.

Block I:  Coal Plant Efficiency

Improving heat-rate efficiency by six percent at South Dakota’s only large coal-fired EGU, the Big Stone Plant, is not feasible.  The facility, which provides affordable power to thousands in South Dakota and neighboring states, is in the midst of an approximately $400 million environmental upgrade project to meet the EPA’s Regional Haze regulations.  This investment actually decreases the heat-rate efficiency of the plant by approximately two percent when fully online, working against the six percent heat rate improvement for the plant required by Block I.  Because this major development cannot be factored into the CPP’s rubric for South Dakota, the Big Stone Plant will be required to effectively improve its heat-rate efficiency by eight percent.  Such a goal is technically unachievable because the Big Stone Plant is already implementing best practices and upgrades to achieve efficiency gains.  Additionally, the Big Stone Plant exports steam to an area ethanol producer, which it may stop doing on account of the target for heat rate improvement required by the CPP.

Block II suggests that coal-fired generation can be pared down with natural gas power re-dispatched in its place.  However, such a strategy runs contrary to the efficiency goals of Block I because the Big Stone Plant was designed to operate at a high capacity factor, and lower loads reduce efficiency.  In other words, the constant start-ups and shutdowns of the coal-fired EGU imposed by Block II will result in less efficient operations of the plant, increased stress to mechanical systems, and higher maintenance costs—all of which are in direct contradiction to the efficiency mandates of Block I.

Additionally, operating the Big Stone Plant on a limited or seasonal basis will result in a stranded asset because the $400 million upgrade required by the EPA, which is more than the original cost of the plant, will not have fully depreciated by the time the CPP requires the plant to shutter for most of the year.  The EPA rightfully states that the CPP should not result in stranded assets, which equate to higher utility costs for consumers, less grid reliability, fewer jobs, and in the case of the Big Stone Plant, limited ability to recoup the investment in a manner that isn’t punitive to South Dakota ratepayers.

Block II:  Natural Gas and Multiple RTOs

Block II dictates that NGCC EGUs operate up to a 70 percent capacity factor to meet energy demands as coal-fired generation is retired or limited.  This is a blanket provision that fails to account for unique circumstances in each state.  For example, in determining the amount of energy South Dakota’s singular NGCC EGU produced in 2012, the CPP should recognize that Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Deer Creek Station was largely under construction in 2012 and only operated approximately 90 hours for testing and other start-up procedures.  The CPP uses Deer Creek Station’s actual 2012 capacity factor of a mere one percent in calculating South Dakota’s required carbon emission rate reduction.  I believe a fair assessment would recognize the Deer Creek station as “under construction” and reassign an assumed capacity factor of 55 percent in 2012.  Such a recalculation would be consistent with reality and the EPA’s vow to make the CPP flexible.

One of the most glaring issues of the CPP is that it fails to recognize the composition of America’s electric grid.  Electricity is not produced and consumed solely within state lines, but sold, dispatched, and consumed across state lines through RTOs.  Big Stone Plant is dispatched primarily by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., serving customers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.  Deer Creek Station is presently dispatched by the Western-Integrated System, but recent agreements will dispatch it to the Southwest Power Pool in the future.  Because the electric generation at one EGU cannot simply be reduced at one location and re-dispatched from another across RTOs, Block II again proves technically infeasible for South Dakota.  While the CPP provides that states can work in multi-state agreements, the EPA has not demonstrated it has the legal authority to require EGUs to coordinate generation, let alone proven the feasibility of multi-state partnerships involving multiple RTOs.

Block III:  Renewable Power Sources

It is also concerning that hydroelectric generation is not included in baseline calculations for Block III of the CPP.  Failure to include hydroelectric generation denies a comprehensive consideration of South Dakota’s diverse energy portfolio and unfairly skews South Dakota’s emission reduction target.  In the CPP’s baseline year of 2012, South Dakota produced

74 percent of its energy from renewable sources, and only three states produced fewer carbon emissions.  As of August 2014, my state generates 546 GWh from hydroelectric and 121 GWh from wind sources.[1]  All renewable energy deserves inclusion in the EPA’s calculations for establishing our emission reduction target.

Additionally, much of South Dakota’s hydro and wind power is exported to other states.  It was discouraging to learn that South Dakota will not get credit for its existing renewable resources and future renewable resources on account that this power is sold to consumers out of state.  Renewable power produced in South Dakota should count toward meeting the emission reduction goal for South Dakota.

Block IV:  Consumer Energy Efficiency

The CPP will also interfere with and potentially discourage demand-side electricity consumption programs.  For example, as many as 250 electric cooperatives in 34 states, including South Dakota, have implemented voluntary demand response initiatives for electric resistance water heaters that reduce energy demand during peak hours.  On account of efforts like this, electric cooperatives account for 20 percent of national peak reduction, even though they manage only 10 percent of retail electricity sales.  Under the CPP, many of South Dakota’s utilities would not receive credit for demand-side management programs that have been in place for years, and it is unclear which states will receive credit for demand-side management programs that result in emissions from out-of-state power plants.  If South Dakota ratepayers take the initiative to participate in these programs, South Dakota’s emission target under the CPP should reflect their participation.

Moreover, the EPA has signaled that the CPP will credit Renewable Energy Certificates to states that receive electricity, rather than those that generate it.  Such unfavorable treatment of utility-scale renewable energy projects will remove incentives for investment.  Consumers should receive credit for their investments that reduce emissions.


The EPA’s CPP will pass significant costs onto hard-working South Dakota families.  In my home state alone, families earning less than $50,000 per year already spend one-fifth of their after tax income on energy costs, which is double the national average.  The CPP is a regressive national energy tax that will disproportionately fall on the elderly, the poor, and those on fixed incomes.  According to testimony at a roundtable hosted by the South Dakota Public Utility Commission in July, some South Dakotans will see their electricity rates almost double as a result of the CPP disproportionately impacting the Midwest.  Additionally, the CPP will impose increased costs to U.S. manufacturers, impeding economy growth and investment, all in return for virtually no impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration or global temperatures.

For these reasons, I urge the EPA to withdraw the CPP due to the serious economic burden it will impose on South Dakota consumers.  At a minimum, the EPA should reconsider South Dakota’s emission reduction target to more accurately reflect our existing energy portfolio and the investments of utilities and ratepayers have already made in efficiency upgrades, renewable energy production, and demand-side energy management programs.  I appreciate your consideration of this important matter and look forward to your timely response.

Kindest Regards,




US Senator John Thune on what the Republican Majority will do

Nice opinion piece at from South Dakota US Senator John Thune on what the new Republican Majority in the Senate will bring to Washington. Mainly forward momentum for the first time in years:

The new Republican majority will get right to work on job-creating legislation, starting with legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which the President’s own State Department has admitted will support more than 42,000 jobs during construction. Keystone XL enjoys bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, and I hope the President will finally sign off on this job-creating project.

Republicans will also take up two other bipartisan jobs measures that were stuck in the Democrat-led Senate for far too long. We are committed to repealing the job-killing Obamacare medical device tax, a tax on life-saving medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps. This tax has already eliminated thousands of jobs in the medical device industry, and it’s on track to eliminate thousands more if it isn’t repealed. Given the economic stagnation of the past six years, the last thing our economy needs is a tax that is eliminating thousands of jobs.

Republicans will also work to repeal the Obamacare provision that changed the definition of full-time employment from 40 hours a week to 30 hours. This provision has forced countless businesses to cut back on hiring or reduce workers’ hours and wages, which has meant fewer jobs and opportunities for American workers. Eliminating this provision has bipartisan support, and Republicans look forward to taking it up this year.

Read it all here.

Congresswoman Noem should take note – She got the bad guys’ attention.

The Mitchell newspaper had an interesting story on prostitution in the Bakken Oil Fields today, and specifically noted how many of these people were finding their short term companionship on, an on-line website similar to craigslist, where people buy and sell things, and apparently each other.

In doing a google search about backpage, One of the first links was a web site devoted to ways to beat the law while using, and it specifically cited the work that Congresswoman Noem is doing to combat “websites that knowingly run ads for sex with minors or coerced subjects to be charged with a federal crime.”

This info is to help you beat the police, not to scare you from using Backpage or escorts. Beating a police sting is easy, don’t believe the hype. I’ve added this update to show you how easy it is. Number 1 rule: once you find the girl that interest you, simply scroll back a few days… If she has an ad up for more than three days, she’s a real escort.


A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives which the Senate still must approve — allows websites that knowingly run ads for sex with minors or coerced subjects to be charged with a federal crime punishable by a fine and/or 5 years in prison.

The legislation is specifically intended to target the major classifieds website, a press release from South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem, a co-sponsor, said.

Read it here (Warning: It’s not something you want to open at work, and there’s a lot here you don’t want your kids reading. I did remove most of the links in the story excerpt.)

Congresswoman Noem’s legislation holding the websites hosting prostitution activity responsible for the ads certainly got the attention of the web site devoted to ‘beating prostitution police stings.’

And that’s a good thing.

Because when you’re getting the bad guys’ attention, you must be doing something right.

Rounds to be Sworn into United States Senate Tomorrow at 11am CT

From my e-mail box:

Rounds to be Sworn into United States Senate Tomorrow at 11am CT

Senator-elect Mike Rounds (R-SD) will be sworn into the United States Senate tomorrow, January 6th, 2015, at 11 a.m. CT/10:00 a.m. MT. The ceremony will be broadcast live on C-SPAN2, and a video link and hi-resolution photographs will be sent to media following the ceremony.

A swearing-in reception, hosted by the Rounds family, will be held tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. CT in the Capitol Visitor Center, room SVC 214. The media is invited to attend.


Rounds new West River Director coming into job with strong education, military experience.

From the Rapid City Journal, Senator-Elect Mike Rounds is bringing in a long time educator and military man to run his West River office:

Jeff Marlette will begin a job as West River Director for incoming U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, who will be sworn in Tuesday. Sandy has spent more than a decade working in Sen. John Thune’s Rapid City office and will continue in that job.

If there’s something important to the people of this region, their offices are probably working on it. Jeff Marlette said that’s a big part of his new job: Keeping Sen. Rounds connected to the people and issues in the West River region, so that the new senator “never loses touch with what’s going on out here.”

“He believes in government from this end up and not from the top end down, and I like that about his approach,” Marlette said.

The 53-year-old Marlette, of Rapid City, is not a stereotypical political operative. Working for Rounds will be a new chapter in a career that was previously spent in the military and education.

Marlette served 32 years in the National Guard, in both part- and full-time roles, before retiring in 2012 as a brigadier general. He also worked 15 years in education, including stints as a superintendent in Gettysburg and most recently as superintendent and elementary principal for the New Underwood School District. He’s leaving that job to work for Rounds, who will be sworn in for a six-year term this week.

Read it here.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: A Typical Day

A Typical Day
By Rep. Kristi Noem
January 2, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014One of the questions I get most often is: “What does a typical day look like for you?”  It’s a good question, but one that I sometimes struggle to answer concisely, as every day is a little different.

When Congress is in session, I stay out in Washington, D.C.  Like a handful of other Members of Congress, I have a pullout bed in my office so I don’t have to waste time getting through city traffic every day.

Throughout each day in session, we vote on a series of bills.  Sometimes those bills will impact millions of people; other times, they impact only certain communities. Either way, I cast my vote in the way I believe best represents South Dakota’s values and interests.  At the end of each vote, the vote tally will be displayed in the House chamber on equipment manufactured by Daktronics in Brookings, South Dakota, to let Members of Congress know if the bill passed or failed.

Placing votes only accounts for a small portion of my day, however.  Most of my time is spent preparing for such decisions, educating myself on the issues I’ll be weighing in on, and helping write the legislation that we vote on.

During the early morning hours, I usually try to catch up on any news that happened overnight and prepare for the meetings I’ll have that day.  Some mornings, I’ll join my colleagues to meet with House leadership so we can weigh in on what policy areas we believe should be pursued in the weeks to come.  We’ll also discuss reservations folks have about pending legislation and how those concerns can be addressed.

Throughout the week, congressional hearings or briefings are scheduled where I can collect information to help inform future legislative action or oversee the implementation of previously passed bills.  We will bring in witnesses – who may be members of the administration, private stakeholders, or experts in the area – to give testimony and answer any questions Members of Congress may have.  This is always a good time for me to hold the administration accountable for their actions and assess what changes should be made to ensure government programs work better for hardworking Americans.

For me, the best part of every day is the meetings I hold with South Dakotans.  Most weeks, I meet one-on-one with dozens of constituents to listen to their concerns and calls to action.  These meetings – along with the perspectives shared with my office over the phone and in writing – play a tremendous role in the decisions I make.

About once a week, I spend time with reporters, offering them updates on my work and allowing them to question me on the actions I’ve taken.  I firmly believe it’s my responsibility to share with you what I work on from week-to-week and this is one way that I accomplish that.

In the evenings, I finish up letters and emails to South Dakotans who write in with questions or feedback.  It’s also my time to reflect on what ideas I can bring to the table and the kind of fixes needed to address the problems our nation faces.

When Congress isn’t in session, I head back to South Dakota where I hold meetings with constituents, visit local businesses and schools, and try to make it to at least a few of my kids’ basketball games.

I understand that I’ve been placed in this position to serve the people of South Dakota and I have never forgotten that.  This week, I will take an oath of office to launch a third term as South Dakota’s representative in the House.  It’s a responsibility I do not take lightly and one that I spend every day trying to fulfill.

It’s been an honor and privilege serving you the last four years and I wholeheartedly look forward to serving you again this year.