Thune Statement on Federal Board’s Unilateral Decision to Rename Harney Peak 

Thune Statement on Federal Board’s Unilateral Decision to Rename Harney Peak 

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement after the U.S. Board on Geographic Names announced it had renamed South Dakota’s Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak. The South Dakota Department of Tourism, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, and the State Board on Geographic Names all recommended the name not be changed.

“I’m surprised and upset by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names’ unilateral decision to rename Harney Peak, one of South Dakota’s most well-known landmarks,” said Thune. “The national board’s choice to reject the state’s recommendation to leave the name as-is defies logic, since it was state officials who so carefully solicited public feedback and ultimately came to their decision. I’m also disappointed the board grossly misled my office with respect to the timeline of its decision, which wasn’t expected until next year.”  


IM21 Challenge turned away; 36% measure remains on ballot

An attorney friend who was in the court room watching the proceedings today gave me the inside scoop on the judges ruling in the IM21 challenge:

St & Ave are not required to be valid signatures; petition meets criteria under substantially compliance..enough valid signatures to be on the ballot…challenge denied IM 21 will be on the ballot according to the circuit court..writ of mandamus denied…excellent lawyering by both sides

So there you have it.

Sad news from facebook. Senator Jim Dunn has passed away.

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 12.58.28 PM

Terribly sad news that former Republican Senator jim Dunn has passed away.  Senator Dunn served a total of thirty years in the House and Senate – 2 in the House with the remainder in the Senate, where he was an institution.  He served in leadership as Assistant Majority Leader 1989-1992 and 1995-1998, he was Assistant Minority Leader in 1993 & 1994 when Republicans were in the Minority, and was back to Senior Assistant Majority Leader for the 1999-2000 term.

It’s hard to describe & quantify Senator Dunn, except to note that they broke the mold when they made him. He was an advocate for the mining industry he represented from his home district, he was a rock solid legislator, I found him hilarious in word and deed, and an all around gentleman.

Godspeed, Senator.

See you at the Journey Concert tonight!

If you haven’t bought your tickets yet, I believe there’s still some left for the Journey/Doobie Brothers concert tonight in Sioux Falls.  I’m going to be there, as part of my effort to see favorite bands before “they get too old to tour.”

Despite Steve Perry no longer being with the band, after undergoing a a rough patch with lead singers, they added Arnel Pineda, who does a tremendous job. In fact, if you haven’t seen it, there’s an excellent documentary on the band currently available via Netflix called “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey” which tells his story of going from singing Journey songs in Manila nightclubs to fronting the group.

I’ve got my nose buried in work at the moment, but who knows. I might run into you at the concert tonight.

Dem Legislative Candidate sentenced to jail last year because he didn’t honor his “Duty to Drive with Due Care?”

Dems were apparently looking for rough and tumble people to take over for placeholders this year. Because it sounds like they came up with a “bad boy” who was sentenced to hard time in the grey bar hotel last year because he wasn’t about to honor his “duty to drive with due care.”

Eric Bliss of Huron was named by Democrats this week to take over for Chuck Groth who withdrew from the Democrat’s State Senate Race in District 22.  Noted in local papers as a Cellist, this Democrat also has a record, and earned a rep as the bad boy of the strings while he was in the vicinity of Lakefield, Minnesota last year:

Bliss, Eric B., Huron, S.D., duty to drive with due care, $150, ten days local confinement, one year unsupervised probation.

Read that here.

Jeez. How do you get sentenced to jail* (the paper says he was sentenced to jail, but, he may have avoided it) in Minnesota for nearly 2 weeks, and put on probation for a year for failing to perform your “Duty to drive with Due Care?” According to Minnesota State Law..


Subdivision 1.Duty to drive with due care. No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions. Every driver is responsible for becoming and remaining aware of the actual and potential hazards then existing on the highway and must use due care in operating a vehicle. In every event speed shall be so restricted as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.

Read it here.

Bad to the bone.

Thune to Hold Hearing on Freight Rail System Tomorrow in Sioux Falls

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressThune to Hold Hearing on Freight Rail System Tomorrow in Sioux Falls

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, will convene a full committee field hearing titled “Freight Rail Reform: Implementation of the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015” tomorrow, August 11, at 1:30 p.m. CDT/2:30 p.m. EDT in Sioux Falls.  

The hearing will focus on implementation of the recently enacted Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act, the first reauthorization of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) since its creation two decades ago. Sen. Thune introduced this legislation to make the STB more efficient and effective. The hearing continues the committee’s oversight work to help ensure a competitive, efficient, and reliable national rail system.


First Panel 

·         Mr. Michael Skuodas, Vice President of Distribution and Business Development, POET
·         Mr. Troy Knecht, Vice President, South Dakota Corn Growers Association
·         Mr. Tom Heller, Chief Executive Officer, Missouri River Energy Services
·         Mr. Dan Mack, Vice President of Transportation and Terminal Operations, CHS, Inc.

Second Panel 

·         The Honorable Daniel R. Elliott III, Chairman, Surface Transportation Board
·         The Honorable Deb Miller, Vice Chairman, Surface Transportation Board
·         The Honorable Ann D. Begeman, Board Member, Surface Transportation Board

* Witness list subject to change

Hearing Details:
Thursday, August 11, 2016
1:30 p.m. CDT / 2:30 p.m. EDT
Full Committee Hearing
Carnegie Town Hall
235 West 10th Street
Sioux Falls, S.D. 

Witness testimony and Sen. Thune’s opening statement will be available on


Release: South Dakota State Senator Deb Peters Elected President-Elect of NCSL

South Dakota State Senator Elected President-Elect of NCSL

Deb PetersChicago – South Dakota Senator Deb Peters (R) has become the president-elect of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a bipartisan organization serving the nation’s 7,383 state lawmakers and more than 20,000 legislative staff.

Peters, a Republican, will become NCSL’s president next year at the 2017 NCSL Legislative Summit in Boston, succeeding Iowa Senator Mike Gronstal (D).  NCSL alternates leadership between the two parties each year. Over the past year, Peters has served as NCSL’s vice president.

“Having been an active member in NCSL, I look forward to this year, working as president-elect of an organization that values states’ issues as much as I do,” said Peters. “NCSL is a place for bipartisan dialogue and a source of state power, which has been exemplified at this years’ Summit.”

Peters has been representing District 9 in the South Dakota Senate since 2011. In the preceding years, she served consecutively in the South Dakota House of Representatives beginning in 2005.

During her time as a senator, she has focused on health and safety issues as well as e-fairness, becoming the Appropriations Chair and a member on the Government Operations and Audit Committee. Peters most recently worked on the Main Street Fairness Act and the Remote Transactions Parity Act to limit burdens on retailers and encourage remote sellers to collect taxes, leveling the playing field. While involved with NCSL, Peters has been especially active in the Executive Committee’s Task Force on State and Local Taxation.

Peters lives in Hartford, S.D., with her husband Chris and two sons, Derick and Braden.


Vote Yes on V – “Beltway residents for hiding party labels.”

I had an observant correspondent catch this, and send it to me.

The Yes on Amendment V people, who call themselves “South Dakotans for non-partisan elections” have been accused of actually being hidden big-money out of state interests who are trying to use South Dakota to launch their effort elsewhere.

I’ve always felt that nothing tells a story like a picture:

DC car 1 copy Here’s the official Vote yes on V car that’s being used by the people staffing their booth at the Sioux Empire fair. Check out their license plate:

DC car 2 copy

Nothing says “South Dakota” like Washington DC.


Another attendee let me know he was at the Sioux Empire fair, and stopped by the Yes on V booth. It was staffed by three Nebraskans who were all specifically being paid to be there.

Vote No on V group protests free advertising on KSOO – @townsquaremedia. KSOO says they’ll give time. Sort of.

The Vote No on V group, which is working to defeat the anti-transparency measure Amendment V, (which would hide party labels on the ballot, and disenfranchise independent and third party candidates from appearing on the general election ballot) sent a letter yesterday to KSOO Radio and Townsquare Media over all the free advertising that Amendment V spokesman & radio announcer Rick Knobe has been giving himself:

Amendment V Rick Knobe KSOO

Now, Will tells me that he was e-mailed in response that they would accommodate the formal request. But that also begs the question HOW they’re going to accommodate it.

Are they going to give him a minute for minute opportunity for rebuttal/promotion? That might add up to a lot of time. Are they going to have Knobe, the spokesman for his opponents, interview him?  That wouldn’t really be anything resembling equal time.

There’s a lot up in the air with KSOO’s begrudging “yeah, ok” response.