US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Don’t Break the Net

Don’t Break the Net
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressWhether it is to catch the scores of last night’s game, read the morning news, or stay connected with friends and family, like many South Dakotans, I depend on fast, reliable Internet service. The role of the Internet in our lives is only going to continue to grow. It will keep revolutionizing things like transportation, commerce, agriculture, and education. But heavy-handed government regulation could delay the next big transformation.

On February 26, three unelected officials of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve the most controversial agenda item in the agency’s modern history, a policy awkwardly known as Title II reclassification of broadband. The FCC voted 3-2 to impose heavy-handed regulations on the Internet that were designed and intended for monopoly phone companies in the 1930s. The regulations being imposed by the FCC are an attempted power-grab that will create new barriers for innovation and open the door to new taxes and fees on internet service for American households.

In the 317 page rule that has yet to be made public, the FCC gives itself broad power to decide how broadband services may be offered in the market. For example, mobile broadband plans that allow unlimited music streaming could be prohibited by the government. Additionally, the FCC action could make broadband more expensive because compliance with these regulations will increase operational costs for providers that will likely be passed along to customers in the form higher prices for broadband Internet service.

New investment in communications networks will also be threatened. Broadband networks are expensive to build, operate, and maintain, and nowhere is that more apparent than in South Dakota, with our relatively small population and large landmass.

Advocates for reclassification worry that future entities that control Internet access could abuse that position to affect what content users can access. I have generally not been in favor of instituting government regulations until we know there is a real and actual need. But, to prevent the FCC’s heavy-handed regulatory overreach, I believe it is time for Congress to act by updating our telecommunication laws.

As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC and policies relating to telecommunications and the Internet, I put forward a legislative solution earlier this year to create common-sense rules for the digital road. What I am proposing is very different from what the FCC has jammed through. The FCC regulations are 317 pages. My draft proposal is six pages that focuses on what consumers want – prohibiting practices like “blocking,” which is the process blocking legal content, and “paid prioritization,” which is demanding special payments for access to certain services, all without the legal uncertainty associated with the FCC’s plan.

Above all, I don’t want the debate about protecting the open Internet to be used as an excuse for the federal government to grab control of the Internet from innovators. I will continue to pursue a legislative solution with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the problems associated with the FCC overreach, and I will fight for policies that maintain the light-touch regulatory structure that has enabled the Internet to thrive.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Academy Nominations

Academy Nominations
By Senator Mike Rounds
February 27, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateServing in the United States Senate comes with a lot of responsibilities, but nominating South Dakota students to the military service academies is one that I am really looking forward to. My first opportunity to nominate students to the academies will be this fall.  Each member of the Congressional delegation will nominate students to the academies. The four service academies that require a Congressional Nomination are the Military Academy at West Point, New York; the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. The Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut does not require a nomination by a member of Congress. All academies offer great opportunity for young people to become leaders in our nation’s military.

Since only a small number of students are nominated to each class, being selected is very prestigious. It also isn’t easy. The service academies are looking for the best and the brightest. Interested students must meet eligibility requirements in leadership, physical fitness, character and scholarship. It is a rigorous program, but also highly rewarding. The service academies open a world of opportunity for their graduates. The young people joining the military directly from the academies are among the highest caliber our country has to offer—a result of the challenging training and education they received.

Admission is a two-part process. First, the student must apply to the academy of his or her choice directly. After the student meets the admissions requirements of the academy, he or she can contact my office requesting a nomination. I have put together a screening committee who will help me review applications and conduct extensive interviews before I make my final decisions on nominees. After the student has received my nomination, it is up to the admissions office at each academy to ultimately decide who gets accepted.

The process can be confusing, so to help students along the way, I plan to hold “Military Academy Day” events across South Dakota in the coming months. At these seminars, my staff will be joined by representatives from each academy to make presentations and answer questions from interested students and parents. Our first Military Academy Day will take place on March 28, 2015 at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls. The Sioux Falls Academy Day will be the first in a series across the state, including in Pierre and Rapid City. Others may be added, as well. I would encourage all high school students who are thinking about attending a military service academy to attend this informative event. More information about the Academy Day in Sioux Falls can be found on my website, www.rounds.senate.gov.

By attending an academy, not only will students have the opportunity to serve our nation and help lead the best military in the world, but they will receive an excellent education at a top-notch institution. I encourage young South Dakotans interested in service to consider our military academies.

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Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Resiliency, Strength, Sacrifice

Resiliency, Strength, Sacrifice
By Rep. Kristi Noem
February 27, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014When a service member joins the military, their spouse and family serves beside them. And just as our military stand ready to respond to crisis here and abroad, their families must be prepared for their loved ones to be sent into harm’s way.

Last week, the Sioux Falls-based 1742nd Transportation Company of the Army National Guard received the 2014 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award. The Pentagon honors just one Army National Guard Company with this award each year. South Dakota has taken top honors each of the last three years. In 2013, the 235th Military Police Company in Rapid City was recognized, and in 2012, the 842nd Engineer Company in Spearfish was honored. Each of these awards is an incredible tribute that speaks to the integrity and value-system of the South Dakota National Guard and their leadership.
Demands over the last decade have demonstrated the critical role families play in mission success. More so than in previous military engagements, the War on Terror has required our men and women in uniform to be deployed multiple times, meaning far too many American troops have missed not only one Christmas, birthday or anniversary, but two, three or more. Family readiness for deployment, then, is essential. As one Naval Commander put it, deployment is “so much easier when you know that your spouse and your kids are all taken care of.”

For any of us, if there are financial or family problems at home, it can be next to impossible to concentrate on the work that must be done at the office. For men and women in uniform, that distraction could be a matter of life and death. As an Air Force Major wrote, “Without the support of the military family, I find it would be nearly impossible to be in a right state of mind to allow an individual to focus on mission accomplishment when the call comes.”

The most successful family readiness programs don’t start when the family finds out a loved one is going to be deployed. The most successful programs begin long before that and continue throughout the deployment and long after the service member returns home. That is something the 1742nd Transportation Company was recognized for last week.

I had the opportunity to help welcome the 1742nd Transportation Company home from their last tour in the Middle East. Seeing husbands, wives and children rush to their loved ones in uniform sent chills down my spine and tears to my eyes. The families in the auditorium that afternoon are resilient, strong, and courageous. I deeply respect each of them and admire their sense of duty. Each family there has made tremendous sacrifices so our guardsmen and women can defeat evil and protect the freedoms you and I exercise every day.

I will be forever grateful to our service members and their families for the sacrifices they’ve made.

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Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: The Future Of The Sanford Underground Research Lab

The Future Of The Sanford Underground Research Lab
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

DaugaardIn 2001, when the Homestake Mine in Lead closed, South Dakota lost one of its iconic businesses. Over the past 14 years, however, that setback has evolved into a unique opportunity, as the Sanford Underground Research Facility has been created within the former mine, nearly a mile underground.

Last week, I met in Pierre with Dr. Nigel Lockyer, the director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. This facility, also known as Fermilab, is just outside Chicago, and is one of our nation’s key national laboratories, focusing on high energy particle physics.

Fermilab and the Sanford Lab are joining together to support the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF). This new experiment will aim a beam of neutrinos through the curvature of the earth, from Fermilab in suburban Chicago to a large underground detector at Sanford Lab in Lead.

I have never felt more optimistic about the future of Sanford Lab than I do today. If approved, this LBNF experiment will be a massive “anchor tenant” for the Sanford Lab, and it will secure the lab for decades, with the LBNF experiment expected to last until at least 2040.

In Washington, D.C., elected leaders and government officials are moving in support of LBNF. The President’s budget includes funds to operate the Sanford Lab and discusses the prospects for future experiments. Officials from the Department of Energy are working closely on the proposal.

The experiment is also receiving international support. A coalition of European nations, as well as nations in Asia and South America, are expressing support for the project.  They have also expressed interest in providing financial contributions. Rather than competing with the United States in this area, these nations are pooling their resources with us to support our research.

I am very hopeful that LBNF will continue to move forward and that, within a year or two, we will secure the Sanford Lab well into the future.

We are at this position today because many South Dakotans had the vision to begin this project and the resolve to push it forward. Gov. Bill Janklow began the discussion when the mine closed. Gov. Mike Rounds made the lab’s development a major priority, and during his tenure state legislators put $42 million into its development. Philanthropist T. Denny Sanford donated another $70 million to move it forward. These funds have led to $160 million in federal funding.

Those investments are already paying off. Sanford Lab has spent $112 million on contractors and vendors, 70 percent of which was spent with South Dakota companies. The lab employs 163 full-time staff and has a payroll of $12.4 million. The lab has brought many researchers to Lead, and it has created new educational opportunities for South Dakota students, including doctoral programs in physics at the School of Mines and USD.

And once LBNF is finalized, it will represent a $300 million construction project in Lead, and will bring even more jobs and activity to the lab.

We can be very proud of the vision South Dakotans have shown in moving this project forward.  The future of the Sanford Underground Research Facility has never been brighter.

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For crying out loud, please stop damaging the Republican brand. (And maybe sleep on it before you say it. )

For the second time this legislative session, the headlines have blared nationally over stupid things that Republican legislators have come up with off of the top of their heads. First, we were treated to Representative Isaac Latterell bringing decapitations and terrorists into the pro-life/pro-choice debate: isaac And this week, we got to enjoy how Representative Elizabeth May brought terminal test anxiety as the last straw in tipping crime and poverty stricken teenagers on Pine Ridge to take their own lives: common_core Does anyone bounce these things off of anyone before they put them out there for public consumption, and ask “Does this make me look stupid” before they make these wild-eyed pronouncements? At this point, I’m kind of wondering if they do.

How does saying test anxiety is contributing to a disturbing suicide rate encourage a young professional businessperson to run as a Republican candidate for office when asked? When going door to door, how does saying “Planned Parenthood is beheading children people like ISIS terrorists” convince people that helping Republicans get elected is a worthwhile cause? The answer is that they don’t. They’re just incendiary bombs being lobbed for the sole purpose of getting personal attention.

And of course they’re going to get attention. They’re over the top, offensive and just plain stupid. And all that attention comes at the expense of all the other Republicans who are trying to do the difficult job of governing, and are now at risk of being painted with the same broad crazy brush by Democrats and the media who look for these opportunities. Every time I read that kind of thing, I find myself asking “For crying out loud, please stop damaging the Republican brand.”

If you feel the need to say something offensive and incendiary, sleep on it first. Bounce it off of a colleague for a read on how it sounds. Sometimes it’s inadvertent, accidental, or it can’t be helped.  But, when you look at the people who have been around for a while – those who have risen to the top, and have longevity – They’re are known for their thoughtfulness and intelligence.

Not for lobbing bombs.

New GOP Leadership List

In case you were wondering, here’s the new list of who the elected officers are for the SDGOP:

Elected officers are:

Pam Roberts – Chair
Drake Olson – Vice Chair
Justin Bell – Treasurer
Kristi Wagner – Secretary

Regional Directors who are part of the Executive Committee:
Region 1 – State Committeeman Hal Wick, Minnehaha county
Region 2 – State Committeewoman Van Pace, Yankton county
Region 3 – State Committeeman Al Koistinen, Codington county
Region 4 – State Committeeman David Wheeler, Beadle county
Region 5 – Chairman Mike Mehlhaff, Hughes county
Region 6 – State Committeewoman Marilyn Oakes, Custer county

The Executive Committee includes all officers, Regional Directors, and the National Committeeman and Committeewoman.

National Committeeman Dana Randall and National Committeewoman Sandye Kading were elected by the 2012 State Convention.

Because of national GOP rule changes, SDGOP forced to adopt “winner take all” delegate selection process.

Someone sent me the report of the State Republican Central Committee this morning on how the selection of presidential delegates would now be taking place, as a result of the party being in violation of national bylaws, and needing to change the rules to conform.

The result after studying the issue?

NDS Committee Report

“The committee determined that if we elect the actual delegates and alternates at the State National Delegate Selection meeting held in March, instead of nominating slates of delegates, then those delegates and alternates will have been “elected or selected” at least 45 days prior to the national convention. This would bring us into compliance. The national rules allow for the binding of delegates separately from the election of those delegates. So our national delegates could still be bound to support the winner of the Primary Election, which can be held at its normal date.

Accordingly, the committee has concluded that the best resolution is to elect our delegates and alternates at the statewide meeting provided for in our current system and then bind those delegates and alternates to support the presidential candidate who receives the most votes at the Primary Election.”

As I’m reading this, it appears that there will be no more “slates of delegates” based on each presidential candidate. There will be just “the slate of SDGOP delegates.”   And they will be “bound to support the winner of the primary election.”

So, if I’m reading this correctly, it doesn’t matter if you support Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie or Rand Paul. Every delegate is thrown into the same big pot, and whoever comes up with the most votes at the State National Delegate Selection meeting held in March wins a delegate or alternate position, and they’re bound to vote for the sole winner of the South Dakota primary, even if the vote is split 30-25-25-20.

What are your thoughts on it?

I’d expressly note that we shouldn’t be critical of those who tried to make the best of a bad situation. This was a process change forced upon the SDGOP by the National Republican Party.

But, personally, I think we’ve lost something because of the change. I always liked to see who supported each presidential candidate on the primary ballot, even those who were uncommitted. Not that we’ll be allowed uncommitted delegates anymore.

And seeing people like my daughter Meredith, who was an 18 year old Santorum delegate 4 years ago, will become a relic of the past. Because now there will be far greater competition for far fewer National Convention positions.

SDGOP elects leaders; big changes afoot in how convention delegates are selected.

I’m told a release should be coming on it shortly, but Pam Roberts was selected as State Republican Party chair yesterday at the Central Committee Meeting, with Drake Olson of Sioux Falls chosen as vice chair.

I wasn’t able to attend, as I was driving back to South Dakota after my father in law’s funeral. But now that I’m back in state, where the weather is better than it was down south, I’m also hearing of other big changes.

One of the people there noted that there was a complete overhaul on how the SDGOP operates in picking National Delegates. This attendee tells me we had to in order to conform with the earlier Nat Convention. If not we ran the risk of not being allowed any at all. They also cited that David Wheeler of Huron did the lions share of work on it.

I’ll update you as I hear more. Stay tuned.

Lora Hubbel forms “truth group,” provides veterinary advice.

From an unwanted e-mail, suicide re-enactor Lora Hubbel provides some goofiness on this Friday afternoon:

This will be my last issue so I wanted to update everyone on 1) legislation 2) What now? and 3) my puppy Abner

And…

2) What now?

We have formed a group called the GANGBUSTERS and it is just what it sounds like. Out goal will be to network South Dakota so activities of the corrupt political “gang” will be broadcast all over the state as we uncover further corruption. First meeting will be 2 pm, Saturday, March 14 at the Main Library in Sioux Falls.

3) Puppy is till alive, but….

My Abner is 7 months old and is not on any treatment, due to “his many problems”. However he is doing well with coconut oil, Metagenics Renegen DTX, Standard Process Canine Renal Support, and Zypam (for digestion), Krill oil and NuVet Plus.

However last night he had a grand mal seizure out of nowhere. He came in from playing with the neighbor’s dog, ate his low-protein prescription diet with bone broth and about an hour later I heard a commotion. He was foaming at the mouth, he lost bowel and bladder control, his eyes rolled upward, and was rigid and spastic at the same time. I scared me to tears. He seems fine about 20 minutes later and still is today. I called the Vet just so Doc could note it on the case against Nestle/Purina….but like he said….there is nothing Veterinary medicine can do. He is such a nice dog….

Lora Hubbel

“Out goal will be to network South Dakota so activities of the corrupt political “gang” will be broadcast all over the state as we uncover further corruption”

So does that mean Lora is going to delve farther into why Democrats were spending Soros money to bolster Gordon Howie’s campaign?