Sioux Falls Black Lives Matter organizer claims we should feel guilt over “the system.” But, the system belongs to us all.

Did anyone read the interview this morning at Argus Leader.com from the organizer of the Sioux Falls Black Lives Matter vigil?  I can’t help but scratch my head at one of her statements:

Particularly, when you exist in a white body, you live in a system that has always told you that you are right. Being told you are wrong and feeling the guilt of that and not letting that guilt stop you from engaging in really important work is hard. It’s scary because we aren’t used to being wrong. It’s an important lesson to learn.

Read that here.

I guess I’m struck by how this woman lumps everyone into certain life experiences based on the color of their skin, aside from the choice of the phrase “exist in a white body.” And that somehow people of different racial backgrounds have different “systems.”

Martin Luther King marched, and died, in the 1960’s for a dream of an equal and color-blind nation. He spoke the words “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  I really don’t see how claiming that people who “exist in a white body” have one system that’s somehow “wrong,” by some unspoken and arbitrary measure honors that dream and unifies us.

MLK spoke about America as a promise, and under it’s framework, all men are created equal, and deserve equal access and opportunity under the promise. The American Dream is our only system, and it has nothing to do with race, except to remind people that it isn’t, and shouldn’t be a factor.

That’s what “the system” I was brought up in taught me. And I don’t think there’s anything that I was taught that is remotely “wrong.”

What do you think?

State of South Dakota Joins Lawsuit Against Bathroom Mandate

jackley-logo Marty JackleyState of South Dakota Joins Lawsuit Against Bathroom Mandate

PIERRE, S.D.- Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that South Dakota has joined a lawsuit filed today in Nebraska Federal District Court against the U.S, Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice over the bathroom mandate. There are a total of 23 states joining the Nebraska and Texas cases, 10 in Nebraska and 13 in Texas.

“As Attorney General it was and remains my hope that our country and state lawmakers can find a solution to the transgender bathroom concerns. However, the President’s mandate or directive that children of opposite sex must be required to share locker rooms and bathrooms under the threat of lawsuit and withholding of education funding is a solution that goes beyond his authority. I am therefore joining other Attorneys General in the Nebraska litigation to clarify that federal law cannot mandate that children of opposite sex be required to share locker rooms and bathrooms.”

States included in the Nebraska lawsuit are Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming.

A similar case was filed earlier in the 5th Circuit District Court by State of Texas joined by Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

There is no cost for South Dakota to join these proceedings.

Groups start banding together to oppose Weiland-promoted taxpayer funded campaign measure

Snake-oil salesman Rick Weiland can’t catch a break as he tries to wreck democracy in South Dakota, as three major groups have banded together to oppose his taxpayer-funded campaign measure being sold as “ethics reform.”

A national conservative organization is joining forces with two statewide business associations to defeat an initiated measure on November’s ballot.

Americans for Prosperity, the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the South Dakota Retailers Association will oppose Initiated Measure 22, which backers have dubbed as a set of good-government reforms aimed at preventing corruption in South Dakota government.

Ben Lee, the chairman of Defeat 22 and the state director for Americans for Prosperity, said the coalition planned to start an advertising blitz on Friday that included radio ads, mailers and door hangars to begin educating voters about the measure.

and..

Chamber president David Owen said his members worry publicly financed campaigns will divert millions of dollars from basic government services. If each of the more than 520,000 registered voters assigned their democracy credits, it would mean $52 million.

“Even if it’s $9 million, that’s money that’s not going to go to paving roads, schools and locking criminals up,” Owen said.

Read it all here.

Mary McClure Bibby, a trailblazer for the GOP and South Dakotans, has passed away.

I had heard she’d taken ill at a GOP meeting last month, but I didn’t know how ill she was. I saw on Facebook today that Mary McClure Bibby passed away.

Back when I was an Intern in the Legislature, State Senator McClure was the President Pro Tempore of the State Senate. In fact, I believe she was the first woman in South Dakota to rise to that level.  While serving in the State Senate from 1975 through, 1989 when she resigned April 10, 1989, to become Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs for President Bush, she served in the following roles:

  • LRC Executive Board member 1977-1989
  • President Pro Tempore 1979-1989
  • LRC Executive Board Vice Chairman 1983-1984
  • LRC Executive Board Chairman 1985-1986

But, her Legislative resume is only a drop in the bucket.   She was Staff assistant for United States Senator Francis Case, Washington, 1959-1961. Secretary to lieutenant governor State of South Dakota, Pierre, 1963, with budget office, 1964. Executive secretary to president Frontier Airlines, Denver, 1963-1964.  Teacher Public High Schools, Pierre and Redfield, South Dakota, 1965-1966, 68-70. Vice chairman of the council of state governments, 1987, chairman council of state governments, 1988. Special assistant to President Bush for intergovernmental affairs, 1989-1992, and Executive Director South Dakota Bush-Quayle Campaign, 1992.

I had the pleasure of working with Mary when she was with the Bush Quayle campaign in 1992, and served with her on the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission here in Brookings a few years back.

As I’m writing this, I see the Governor sent out the following Press release:

Gov. Daugaard Orders State Capitol Flags At
Half-Staff For Former State Sen. Mary McClure Bibby

Image_20570PIERRE, S.D. – Former state legislator Mary McClure Bibby of Brookings passed away on July 2, 2016.

McClure, 77, was a native of Milbank and an alumna of the University of South Dakota, where she received the Fulbright Scholarship. She became a teacher and settled in Redfield. McClure served in the State Senate from 1975 – 1989, representing Redfield and the surrounding area.

McClure was the first woman in South Dakota history to hold a top leadership position in the State Legislature, serving from 1979 – 1989 as president pro tempore of the Senate. She also served as national chair of the Council of State Governments, and as chair of the Legislative Research Council Executive Board.

McClure resigned from the State Senate in 1989 to accept an appointment from President George H. W. Bush as special assistant to the president for intergovernmental affairs.

Following her legislative service, McClure married former state Sen. John Bibby, who had been a colleague in the State Legislature.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has ordered flags to fly half-staff at the State Capitol on Saturday, Aug. 6, the day of McClure Bibby’s funeral.

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It tells a bit about her, but as do many obituary notices, you can’t help but think about how much it has to leave out.  I know that Mary served as a mentor for at least a couple of names you might recognize who interned under her – United States Senator Mike Rounds, and State Treasurer Rich Sattgast.

I know she continued to be active and participating in Republican politics literally up until her passing. She was always warm, kind, and the kind of person it’s easy to admire.  I can’t help but be sad for the loss of Mary, while being richer for knowing her.  She was truly a special lady.

God bless, and God speed.

Rounds: VA’s Veteran Suicide Study Reinforces Need to Address Mental Health Care of Vets

Rounds Logo 2016 MikeRounds official SenateRounds: VA’s Veteran Suicide Study Reinforces Need to Address Mental Health Care of Vets

Introduces Bill to Improve Mental Health Care at the VA

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today introduced the Protection and Advocacy for Veterans Act. This legislation would establish a pilot program to improve the monitoring and oversight of mental health and substance abuse treatment programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by authorizing independent advocates for veterans receiving inadequate health care from the VA.

Earlier today, the VA released key findings of a comprehensive analysis of veteran suicide rates in the U.S., examining more than 55 million veteran records from 1979 to 2014 from every state in the nation. The analysis concluded that veteran suicide rates are higher than the national average; approximately 20 veterans commit suicide every day. While the data showed the suicide rate for veterans who receive care at VA facilities was lower than for those who did not, the overall suicide rate for veterans enrolled in the VA system continues to increase.

“Making sure all veterans receive the quality health care they have been promised remains one of my top priorities,” said Rounds. “While there are many problems plaguing the VA, the agency’s study on veteran suicide is a sobering reminder that mental health care is among the most important. Even one veteran suicide is one too many. Our returning service men and women struggle with the invisible wounds of war long after they leave the battlefield and many suffer in silence. My legislation will give a voice to veterans who need mental health care or who are unhappy with the care they have been given by the VA by supplying them with independent advocates who will act on their behalf.”

The pilot program would be created under the Protection and Advocacy (P&A) program, which is in place in all states and territories of the United States. The purpose of the P&A system is to protect the rights of patients through legally-based advocacy. Under this legislation, highly-trained, independent patient advocates would be placed in a limited number of low-performing VA medical facilities to proactively intervene and monitor the mental health care and substance abuse treatment on behalf of patients. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.).

Key findings of the VA’s analysis includes:

  • 65 percent of all veterans who died from suicide in 2014 were 50 years of age or older.
  • Veterans accounted for 18 percent of all deaths from suicide among U.S. adults.
  • Since 2001, U.S. adult civilian suicides increased 23 percent, while veteran suicides increased 32 percent in the same time period. After controlling for age and gender, this makes the risk of suicide 21 percent greater for veterans.
  • Since 2001, the rate of suicide among U.S. veterans who use VA services increased by 8.8 percent.
    • In the same time period, the rate of suicide among male veterans who use VA services increased 11 percent.
    • In the same time period, the rate of suicide among female veterans who use VA services increased 4.6 percent.

The full report will be publicly released later this month.

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The Clinton Double Standard

thuneheadernewThe Clinton Double Standard

“The FBI concluded that President Obama’s secretary of state, our nation’s chief diplomat – the person who was fourth in line for the presidency – displayed gross carelessness when handling information related to our national security.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use during her time as secretary of state and the agency’s decision not to recommend charges be filed against her.

As a result of the FBI’s investigation, during which FBI Director James Comey concluded Clinton acted extremely careless with classified information, Thune cosponsored legislation that would revoke Clinton’s security clearance and block her from accessing classified information in her capacity as a presidential candidate.

Federal District Court Denies Rhines’ Motion for Relief in Capital Case

jackleyheader2 Marty JackleyFederal District Court Denies Rhines’ Motion for Relief in Capital Case

PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announces the United States District Court for the District of South Dakota has denied Charles Russell Rhines’ motion for habeas corpus relief and to amend the judgment. Rhines filed a federal petition for writ of habeas corpus seeking to overturn his conviction and death sentence for the murder of 22-year-old Donnivan Schaeffer in Rapid City on March 8, 1992.

“The Federal Court’s ruling affirms that Charles Russell Rhines’ murder conviction and capital sentence for the horrific murder of Donnivan Shaeffer are constitutional. My thoughts and prayers are with the Schaeffer family, who have waited 24 years for justice in this case,” said Jackley.

A Pennington County jury convicted Rhines of first degree murder in 1993 and returned a sentence of death. Rhines’ conviction and death sentence were affirmed on direct appeal by the South Dakota Supreme Court in 1996. Rhines’ conviction and sentence were also affirmed on state habeas proceedings by the state trial court and South Dakota Supreme Court.

With the conclusion of his federal trial court habeas corpus proceedings, Rhines can file a notice of appeal within 30 days to the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit and, ultimately, to the United States Supreme Court. Rhines must obtain permission from the federal court to pursue an appeal.

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Welcome SD Bankers Association to Advertiser’s Row!

2016surveyHere’s an exciting development for SDWC – I’m extremely pleased to announce the addition of the South Dakota Banker’s Association, which has been in South Dakota since 1884, to our roster of advertisers.

South Dakota Bankers have a very strong presence in our local communities (as you can tell from the report attached to their first ad) and as noted, “serve as stewards of their communities and the state in ways beyond routine banking services.”  As noted on one page of a recent survey of member banks:

Image 1

Local banks loaned and invested $254 Million in housing and community projects for low & moderate income residents; They donated $11 Million in charitable contributions and grants, which was exceeded by the $61 million that their employees put into it.  And they’ve volunteered over 150,000 hours with community organizations.

And let’s not forget the fact that the payroll of the 43 banks taking part in the survey put nearly $775 million into South Dakota’s economy through payroll.

As we move into political season where some politicians are declaring open season on lending institutions and making credit available to consumers, banking faces an uncertain future.  I’ve worked for a lending institution in the past, and as a REALTOR, I can tell you the availability and cost of credit and our system of banking should be a major concern for consumers.  We need to keep those things in mind when electing our leaders. And we need to be vigilant against attacks on them.

But, off of my soapbox…  Please check out their website, and take a moment to read how they positively affect our state!

And don’t forget our other advertisers, and check out their websites, such as United States Senator John ThuneAmericans for Prosperity SD Chapter, Congresswoman Kristi Noem,the fine barristers at Redstone Law Firm, Vote Yes on S – Marsy’s Law, as well as my own Dakota Campaign Store, one of the State’s largest suppliers of campaign materials.

Rounds Requests Audit of Indian Health Service

Rounds Logo 2016 MikeRounds official SenateRounds Requests Audit of Indian Health Service

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today formally requested an audit of the financial aspects of hospital and health care, medical services and overall financial management at Indian Health Service (IHS). In a letter sent to the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Rounds outlined specific areas of focus for the audit based on an in-depth profile analysis conducted by Rounds and his staff.

“Despite the agency’s well-documented history of failing to meet trust obligations by not providing quality health care, there has never been a systemic review of IHS to address and ultimately reform these issues in attempt to improve health outcomes for tribal members. Furthermore, there has been a continuing lack of consultation with the tribes,” wrote Rounds.

“Based on our review, our office has identified primary areas of concern with IHS’s administrative management, financial management and the quality of care delivered at IHS facilities. We are attempting to address many of the administrative concerns through legislation in the House and Senate. We believe an audit, similar to what was recently conducted at the Veterans Health Administration, which identified shortfalls and recommended solutions, is a potential model for addressing these critical financial and quality issues within IHS.”

During a Senate Indian Affairs Committee field hearing in Rapid City on June 17, 2016, HHS Acting Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield stated that she ‘would welcome’ such an audit. Similarly, on April 15, 2016, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association passed a resolution urging Congress to demand an audit of IHS.

The full text of the letter is available below:

July 6, 2016

The Honorable Daniel R. Levinson
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Office of Inspector General
330 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Inspector General Levinson:

Pursuant to the United States trust obligations to Native American tribes, the federal government established Indian Health Service (IHS) to provide health care for federally recognized tribal members. However, for decades IHS has been criticized by tribes and federal officials for their shortcomings outlined in numerous Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports. Despite the agency’s well-documented history of failing to meet trust obligations by not providing quality health care, there has never been a systemic review of IHS to address and ultimately reform these issues in attempt to improve health outcomes for tribal members. Furthermore, there has been a continuing lack of consultation with the tribes.

Most recently, a Great Plains Area hospital diverted emergency services because the hospital has been unable to meet basic requirements set by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). It now faces potential termination of its CMS certification. Additionally, a second hospital within the Great Plains Area lost its CMS certification and two other Great Plains Area hospitals are in jeopardy of losing this necessary requirement. We believe these CMS issues plaguing the Great Plains Area IHS facilities appear to be symptoms of a larger problem.

Therefore, our office has been researching IHS’s history, funding, systems management and organizational structure. During our review, we have evaluated GAO reports, Congressional Research Service (CRS) publications and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fiscal year budget books. Further, we have had discussions with IHS officials and continue to have frequent communication with tribal leadership. Our analysis strongly suggests there are indeed systemic management and quality concerns. In the Great Plains Area, particularly in South Dakota, this issue has reached a crisis stage.  People are literally dying waiting for a solution.

Based on our review, our office has identified primary areas of concern with IHS’s administrative management, financial management and the quality of care delivered at IHS facilities. We are attempting to address many of the administrative concerns through legislation in the House and Senate. We believe an audit, similar to what was recently conducted at the Veterans Health Administration, which identified shortfalls and recommended solutions, is a potential model for addressing these critical financial and quality issues within IHS. Such action is supported by the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, which recently passed a resolution calling upon Congress to demand an audit of IHS (enclosed).

I specifically mentioned the idea of an IHS financial audit to HHS Acting Deputy Secretary Mary Wakefield during the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs field hearing on June 17, 2016. Dr. Wakefield responded that HHS “would welcome” such an audit. With your support and understanding of the need to identify issues of concern with IHS, I am respectfully asking you to pursue this important investigation. My request is as follows:

AUDIT OF THE HEALTH CARE DELIVERY SYSTEMS AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT PROCESSES OF THE INDIAN HEALTH SERVICE.

I am respectfully requesting that you conduct an audit of the financial aspects of hospital and health care, medical services and overall financial management of Indian Health Service (IHS) within the Department of Health and Human Services. I request the audit address each of the following:

Budget Allocation and Distribution: There is no funding formula to determine how the budget is distributed between regions; just historical distribution.

  1. How is IHS able to appropriately operate without an overall funding formula? How does IHS arrive at their distribution decisions without a formula? Are there specific reasons for not having such a formula?
  2. How are area directors informed of their budget allocation and how are they instructed to distribute their allocation amongst the area’s facilities?
  3. Are local facilities able to manage their own budget or do they wait to receive allocation from the area office?
  4. IHS has previously estimated that, in FY2015, it would have needed an additional $645 million to provide additional services for Purchased and Referred Care (PRC) eligible IHS beneficiaries. What is a realistic analysis of PRC shortages?
  5. How does each area employ their PRC program and medical priority levels?
  6. Why do different areas have different medical priority levels?
  7. Is the amount spent on administration compared with direct health care comparable to private health care standards?
  8. What is the allocation of budget spent on administration compared with the allocation of budget spent on direct health care?
  9. Does this vary between IHS-operated and Tribally-operated facilities?
  10. Tribal members report that a facility may have a number of vacant positions, yet the facility is not actively advertising employment opportunities. There is speculation that some full-time equivalent (FTE) positions are created with no intent to fill, but to support a high salary classification for a supervisor. Are there FTE employees that IHS has no intention to fill/has not filled for over 36 months?
  11. Since the vacancy rate is so high, what happens with the budgeted personnel money that is not spent because FTE’s are open?  Is this money redeployed?
  12. If so, how is the redeployment of funds determined?
  13. According to IHS’ annual budget book, there are 3700 “Medicaid reimbursable FTE.”
  14. How many are certified coders?
  15. Is this amount necessary?
  16. Are there consistent tracking of “dual eligible” patients (e.g. Patients eligible for Medicaid, IHS and/or other federal healthcare programs)?
  17. How are “dual eligible” patients managed?
  18. We noticed extreme discrepancies in the HHS Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Budget Book for IHS. The FY2017 annual budget book showed that IHS intended to spend $40 million more on tribally-operated facilities compared to federally-operated facilities in the Great Plains Area, even with the area being highly IHS-operated. IHS/HHS officials analyzed this discrepancy and recently posted revised documents showcasing almost an $80 million change in funding distribution in the Great Plains Area alone. Were these errors only documented incorrectly, or was this funding inappropriately distributed too?  What was the budget justification for suddenly correcting the error?  How many years has this error gone unnoticed?
  19. Were area directors made aware of this error? If so, when?
  20. If the funding was correctly distributed, how were area directors correctly distributing this funding while not noticing the budget book error?

Facilities and Asset Management: Management structure and process for construction and maintenance projects, the facilities leasing process, the purchasing, distribution and use of pharmaceuticals, medical and surgical supplies, medical devices and equipment.

  1. How are long-term growth facility construction plans determined? Is there a priority based upon population trends, history and care demands?  What analysis is considered? Are buildings depreciated at a 30-year lifecycle?  What happens at the end of the lifecycle, are they remodeled or replaced?
  2. Is the maintenance budget updated/increased to reflect increase maintenance expense with the addition of new facilities? Is the increase enough to support the growth of facilities?
  3. How is equipment purchased and deployed? Is there a comprehensive plan for maintaining basic necessary equipment? How do facilities request equipment maintenance and upgrades? What resources are available to satisfy these requests?
  4. How many procurement contracts/awards were authorized by IHS utilizing the Buy Indian Act (48 C.F.R. 370.501) authority? How does this compare to all awards/contracts made through IHS in the last five years?
  5. What process do IHS facilities use to ensure compliance with 48 C.F.R. 370.501?

Transparency: There has been a lack in transparency in the culture of IHS for many years. Tribal leadership has consistently requested for increased transparency and more open communication between the IHS and the people they serve.

  1. How are tribal/residual shares determined for each tribe? What are those share amounts?
  2. How are funds distributed from area office budgets to local service units?  Are there set formulas or budgets for this?
  3. How does IHS audit or evaluate that funds were distributed appropriately?
  4. Are there periodic or end-of-year records to document how the budget is actually distributed?
  5. Are these records audited following generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)?
  6. Are there checks and balances to assess potential fraud or misuse of funds?

 

We look forward to working with you to address the issues we have already identified and to learn more about other issues that your investigation uncovers. My office would be happy to provide any resources available to us to assist in your efforts. We would also be available to meet to discuss any questions or refinements to this request.  Please contact Gregg Rickman of Senator Rounds, at 202-224-5842 if you or your staff have any questions concerning this request.

Sincerely,
M .Michael Rounds
United States Senator

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Thune Announces Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement on Aviation Bill

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressThune Announces Bipartisan, Bicameral Agreement on Aviation Bill
“As we face ongoing terrorist threats, this legislation will make significant improvements to airport security and help keep South Dakota families safe while traveling.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced that House and Senate leaders have reached a bipartisan agreement on an aviation bill that would reauthorize Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs through September 30, 2017, and make several key reforms to security, safety, consumer protection, regulation of unmanned aircraft, and general aviation.

“The bipartisan, bicameral agreement reached today makes important investments in the future and includes numerous consumer protections,” said Thune. “As we face ongoing terrorist threats, this legislation will make significant improvements to airport security and help keep South Dakota families safe while traveling. The sooner we get this bill to the president’s desk, the sooner the FAA can get to work implementing these reforms.”

Thune served as the Senate’s lead negotiator during discussions between the House and Senate.

Highlights of the House-Senate agreement:

1. Aviation Security:

 Tightens the access controls and employee vetting standards for aviation workers with access to secure and sterile areas of airports, in order to mitigate the insider threat to aviation security.

 Strengthens security for foreign airports by requiring comprehensive security assessments for all overseas airports serving the United States and considers the level of information sharing and security capabilities of foreign airports.

 Expands the TSA PreCheck program by directing TSA to partner with the private sector to develop enhanced enrollment and vetting methods. By developing and marketing this program, TSA can strengthen security by identifying trusted travelers, while also increasing operational efficiency of checkpoints by providing expedited screening to more passengers.

2. Aviation Safety:

 Streamlines processes for approval and interagency cooperation to deploy unmanned aircraft during emergencies, such as disaster responses and wildfires.

 Requires the marking of certain towers to improve their visibility to low-flying aircraft and help prevent accidents.

 Directs the FAA to establish a comprehensive and strategic framework to identify and address cybersecurity risks to the aviation system.

3. Additional Provisions:

 Directs the Department of Transportation to create a working group on air service to small communities, including consideration of how to improve pilot training.

 Reforms and streamlines the third-class medical certification process.

 Requires air carriers to provide a refund of paid baggage fees when items are lost or unreasonably delayed.

 Requires airlines to generally ensure that children 13 years of age or under are seated adjacent to an adult or older child traveling with them.

Click here for a full summary of the agreement.

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