Free! Free! Free from the Federal Government. Of course we all like free stuff. But when do we say no?

From Rasmussen Reports:

Voters tend to like President Obama’s idea of free community college for millions of students – as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 47% of Likely U.S. Voters favor a new government program that would make community college tuition-free. Thirty-nine percent (39%) are opposed. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Read it here.

From Constant Commoner:

When people in that “gap” group need healthcare, it’s usually received at local ERs and paid for by a combination of taxpayer dollars and insurance premiums adjusted to fit the cost of that care.  What Medicaid expansion will do is shift most of the cost of that care to the federal government.


Let’s expand Medicaid 

Read it here.

Free College. Free Health coverage. Free, Free, Free from the federal government!  It kind of sounds like Matthew Lesko on television telling people to buy his book because of all the free stuff we can get.  But of course, it isn’t free. We either pay from one pocket, or it gets squeezed out of another. The more government does for us, the more it’s going to cost us.

And the more the federal government does, the fewer decisions South Dakota Legislators can make.

Earlier this year, Northern Plains News service noted in a story how South Dakota is one of the most dependent states on federal funds. And that makes sense, given the national need for highways, our expansive geography, as well as hosting several federal Indian Reservations.  But with those funds come those strings.  And as we’ve experienced with Obamacare, it requires states to do a lot, and it dictates those things with great detail.

Back in 2008, The Heritage Foundation wrote a report about Federal Funds and State Fiscal Independence. In other words, what we have to give up for what we get:

Federal aid to states is not a new phenomenon. In 1929, federal aid to states accounted for 2 per­cent of state consumption expenditures. It spiked in the early 1930s, increasing to 12 percent, where it remained until the early 1960s.[4]

As Chart 1 shows, the state dependency rate has risen significantly over the past half-century, espe­cially since the introduction of Medicaid in 1965. The only period with a distinct decline is the Reagan years, when it fell from a peak of 33 percent during the Carter Administration to 25 percent by the end of the 1980s.

Chart 2 shows Medicaid spending as a percent­age of total state expenditures since 1970, further underscoring Medicaid’s role in driving the rise in state spending over the past decades.


Moreover, as states become more dependent on federal funding, they begin to lose their ability to set priorities and make policy decisions that are best-suited to their specific needs. Federal aid to states streamlines how states spend money and, consequently, how they collect their revenues. Fed­eral aid also makes it increasingly difficult for the states to pursue different fiscal policies based on the demographic, political, and other preferences of their residents.

On top of this, the spending on state–federal joint ventures blurs the lines of accountability between federal and state lawmakers. Voters find it increasingly difficult to determine whom to hold responsible.


Federal funds weaken incentives to restrain health care consumption. The public sees these services as “free,” which leads to an open-ended demand through programs such as Medicaid and SCHIP.

Federal aid to states also distorts incentives for state legislators. They are given a reason to expand their spending—usually unwisely—to meet Wash­ington’s priorities and to maximize federal aid. Together with blurred accountability and the dis­torted consumer incentives, this perpetuates and aggravates state and individual dependence on fed­eral funds.

Read that here.

From 2% to Federal Funding infusing nearly 45% into South Dakota’s budget in less than a century. People are calling for more and more. But at what cost?

There was a tremendous debate over South Dakota’s implementation of Obamacare, which we rejected as much as we could. The latest debate is over whether we should expand Medicaid, which we’ve resisted to date. The next one coming will likely be implementation for Obama’s college entitlement plan.

Where should the point be where we say “no?”

Inaugural buttons still available from Pierre Chamber of Commerce

inauguralI’ve got my Dennis Daugaard 2015 Inaugural pin in it’s place of honor on my bulletin board, nestled among other Inaugural pins, such as Bill Janklow, Nils Boe, and Governor Joe Foss. If you missed getting one this weekend, I’ve confirmed that the Pierre Chamber of Commerce still has them available.

All you need to to is to contact the Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce at 800.962.2034, and place your order. Don’t delay, as they won’t keep them around there forever.

Tens of millions for poverty alleviation missing from tribe. How should that affect what the state spends?

From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, it sounds as if a lot of money is inexplicably missing from the Lower Brule Tribe, which is generally viewed as one of the more stable reservations in SD, some of which is for poverty alleviation:

Between 2007 and 2013, an estimated $25 million that was intended for essential services, economic development and the alleviation of poverty was unaccounted. Millions of dollars meant for specific programs were instead diverted to the tribe’s general fund and spent on “unexplained expenditures.” At the same time, the education quality in the tribe’s schools collapsed.

Taxpayers, meanwhile, are on the hook for an additional $22.5 million in the form of a loan guarantee that the Bureau of Indian Affairs extended to a tribal company. Money from the loan guarantee, which was sold to an insurance company, was used for a tribal-owned Wall Street brokerage firm that went bankrupt amid mismanagement and fraud, according to the report.

Read it here.

How does it, or how should it, affect efforts by state government to bolster economic development, and alleviate the symptoms of poverty in the area?  Should any federal expenditures be considered in determining what the state could or should be doing?

Are you ready for the campaigns to begin this year? And no, they shouldn’t get rid of registered mail remittance.

Senate Bill 69 has been introduced by the Senate Committee on State Affairs “to revise certain provisions regarding elections and election provisions.”

One of the biggest effects this bill will have if passed is that it will move the campaign season for everyone back to Late November/Early December of 2015. That’s 2015 as this year, as it pushes the petitioning start date into the year preceding the election year.  The proposed language states in part:

Section 5. That § 12-6-8 be amended to read as follows:
12-6-8. No person may sign the nominating petition of a candidate before January first in the year in which the election is to be held December first of the year preceding the election, nor for whom the person is not entitled to vote, nor for a political candidate of a party of which the person is not a member, nor of more than the number of candidates required to be nominated for the same office.

And the petitions have to be returned to the Secretary of State the last Tuesday in February (which would be 2/23/2016).

In actuality, it’s only a shift backwards of about thirty days. But psychologically, it’s a bit more striking.

It means that candidates are going to have to decide to run this year, before they prepare themselves to head back to Pierre for the legislative session.  It means that political parties are going to be recruiting candidates for office in the run up to, and through the 2015 Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season.

It means that statewide candidates are going to miss out on collecting many signatures during the traditional late winter/early spring political dinner season, when many of them got it done. Because the first Lincoln Day Dinner will now come late in the process.

In other words, candidates are going to have to be on the ball in getting things done.

This has been a move long in coming, given the tremendously tight deadlines largely driven by federal requirements of when to have ballots completed in time for military voting. According to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) act, the MOVE Act requires States to send absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters at least 45 days before Federal elections.

So, those ballots have to be set in stone 45 days out under federal law.

Current law didn’t really allow for any significant time for challenges or fighting over ballot qualification. Those ballots were literally required to go to the printer within a couple of weeks of being filed. The proposed changes in law would give significantly more time to allow for challenges, but the cost is pushing the active campaign 2016 season back into 2015.

Other portions of Senate Bill 69 are more debatable, such as removing the registered mail remittance and requiring that petitions be submitted in person. I’d noted earlier that removing that section in law discriminates against people in the state based on geography, and how efficient (or random) the mail is coming in from rural areas. Registered mail has a clear, and documented chain of custody. First class mail? Not so much.

I’ve been kicking around South Dakota elections since 1988. And I will tell you that the removal of the registered mail portion of the proposal needs to be absolutely stricken, because if they don’t, there will be a lawsuit.

A registered and documented manner of remittance to the Secretary of State is an absolute necessity in a state as geographically diverse (and big) as ours. Inevitably, someone is going to mail petitions in, and they’re going to get caught up in the mail, and delayed to the point where they’re not on the ballot. Why would we get rid of a requirement of a clear and documented chain of custody?

Even some pieces of registered mail were a little pokey in the last few cycles. And given cutbacks and consolidations in the US Post Office, getting rid of it is kind of a slap to the rural communities that dot our countryside. Not to mention foolhardy.

What are your thoughts?

Rounds expects strong support for Keystone XL

New US Senator Mike Rounds expects strong support for Keystone XL, and hints that an amendment may be coming to increase support even further:

U.S. Senator–Elect, Mike Rounds said, “The Republican leader has said we want open debate, we want to have honest discussion on these issues and we’re going to start with up to 30 hours of discussion and debate and then we’ll vote. I believe the Keystone XL pipeline bill will move forward, I think right now there’s about 63 supporters right now that we know of, but there may be an amendment which might bring other supporters on as well.”

Read it all here at KEVN.

Dems reconfirm they’re in the doldrums. GOP’s responsibility is to lead, and remember how far we’ve come

The Associated Press has an article today about how far South Dakota Democrats are in the hole. And includes a few thoughts from Republican party leaders on maintaining the mandate the voters have given us:

daugaard2Gov. Dennis Daugaard, who was sworn in along with state legislators Saturday, advised Republicans to “act with courage and to do things that may be risky politically” because South Dakota residents respect politicians who vote in keeping with their values. 


“The things that we’ve done in the past did not work in this election, and I don’t think they’re going to,” Barth said. “The party is so, so feeble that now we fight harder than ever with each other as opposed to fighting to win together.”


John-Thune-at-State-Fair“Sometimes you catch the wind, and sometimes the wind is in your face,” Thune said, remembering his 524-vote defeat in 2002 and the tough race that brought him to the Senate in 2004. “It feels good to be part of a movement.”

He said if Republican candidates listen to their constituents and, at least at the federal level, remember their roots, the eye-popping margins could be sustained.

Read it here.

“Act with courage” and “Listen to constituents.”  Pretty good advice.

Town Hall Columnist writing about poor Annette Bosworth. And citing flawed sources.

I’m finally back at my home base after a fun day in Pierre yesterday. (Yes, you can have fun in Pierre).   I was taking some time to go through my Google Alerts, and noted the column written by the former US Term Limits guy defending poor Annette Bosworth from the harsh government action being taken by the state of South Dakota:

Now, for her trouble, she faces jail, fines, and the destruction of her career.

“This is not Jacklanistan,” Mr. Stranahan fumes about AG Jackley’s persecution of Bosworth. “This is South Dakota. This is America. And what’s going on up here is simply wrong.”

“The reasonable thing to do in the Bosworth case would seem to be a misdemeanor charge with a penalty and no felony charges,” Howie reasonably suggests. “That would be a win-win situation. Bosworth accepts a reasonable consequence and the integrity of the election process is preserved.”

Howie also notes that Marty Jackley wants to run for governor, and that his bizarre prosecution of Dr. Bosworth might not make much sense to future voters.

Read it here.

I’m not sure whether this article citing former S&M porn guy Lee Stranahan and indy Senate candidate Gordon Howie was to be taken in a humorous vein, or if it was serious. Unfortunately for the Town Hall column, the Howie piece illustrated Howie’s own ignorance by claiming that the Attorney General collects petition signatures. Which he doesn’t – it’s chosen by convention.

But even worse, the column ignores the corruption that Howie’s column is not only suggesting, but flat out requesting  – The article heavily relied on Gordon Howie’s hit piece against Jackley where Howie bizarrely suggests Jackley selectively not prosecute to curry favor with voters.

So, according to the the original Howie article and the Town Hall article it cites, prosecuting based on a indictment handed down by a grand jury is bad. Selectively refusing to prosecute to curry favor with voters is good.

If that’s the type of America that Paul Jacobs is seeking, we’re all in a lot of trouble.

Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Launch of the Boards and Commissions Portal

Launch of the Boards and Commissions Portal
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

daugaard2State government should be open and accessible to the people of South Dakota. Throughout my time in office, I have made government transparency a priority. The Governor’s Office has released invitation lists, opened both the Governor’s Mansion and Valhalla to tours, and has made more information available online.

Open government is about more than availability; it is about accessibility. For example, in 2013, we launched the administrative rules website,, making it easier for South Dakotans to read and give input on proposed rules. The success of the site taught us that there is a lot of value in putting information in one location.

As Governor, I have the privilege of making appointments to our state boards and commissions. Through serving on more than 100 boards and commissions, over 1,000 South Dakotans generously lend their time and expertise to aid our state. One day as I was having difficulty finding minutes from a state board meeting, I was reminded of the administrative rules website we launched last year. While most of the boards and commissions post their information online, having to visit a number of different agency websites to find those things could be time consuming and inconvenient.

That is why we created a boards and commissions portal at to serve as a central hub for this information. At this website South Dakotans will be able to more easily find minutes, public documents, information on members and dates, and agendas for scheduled meetings.

In our state constitution, the South Dakota Bill of Rights states, “All political power is inherent in the people, and all free government is founded on their authority, and is instituted for their equal protection and benefit.”

As South Dakota citizens, you deserve the opportunity to know about and participate in your government.


US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: New South Dakota Delegation Will Hit the Ground Running

New South Dakota Delegation Will Hit the Ground Running
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune_official_photoThings have changed in our state since 1962. South Dakota’s commerce and tourism industries have flourished under the construction of the interstate highway system. Sioux Falls has nearly tripled in size; two state universities moved to division one, competing in the highest levels of academics and athletics; corn yields have doubled and no-till farming has made the plow and cultivator obsolete. South Dakota is represented by three members in Congress instead of four, and our lone member of the House is a female. Indeed, things have changed.

But not since 1962 has South Dakota sent an all-Republican delegation to Congress. This is a pretty historic occurrence; especially considering the last time Republicans held the majority in both chambers of Congress and South Dakota had an all-Republican delegation was 1953. While divided delegations can provide opportunities to work together, South Dakotans stand to benefit from a strong leadership team in Congress that will promote Republican policies that create jobs, reduce federal regulatory overreach, stimulate the economy, and get Washington’s legislative process working again for them.

Over the past few years of Democrat control in the Senate, too often the minority party was shut out of the legislative process, leading to dysfunction and gridlock. Under Republican control, the Senate will get back to work, returning to regular order, which means bills will be considered out in the open in committees before coming to the Senate floor, and all senators, regardless of party, will have a chance to propose and debate amendments.

As the new senior senator, I’m looking forward to working with both Senator Rounds and Representative Noem to advance a number of important South Dakota priorities during this session of Congress. From reining in burdensome EPA regulations and preventing backdoor energy taxes and fines on ranchers and farmers, to passing the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline and repealing the most onerous parts of ObamaCare, I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with them on the major issues facing this country.

Our new South Dakota delegation is ready to hit the ground running. I look forward to new opportunities to serve South Dakota in the coming year with a strong South Dakota leadership team ready to promote policies in Congress that will create jobs and stimulate the economy.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: A New Year Brings New Responsibilities

A New Year Brings New Responsibilities
By Rep. Kristi Noem

January 9, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Legislative business in Congress is divided between just over two dozen committees, each of which specializes in a specific policy area.  At the beginning of each Congress, members are assigned to the committee – or committees – on which they will serve.

Last Congress, I served on the House Agriculture and Armed Services Committees.  Within those committees, I was able to help write and pass the Farm Bill and two annual National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA).  With farm policy largely set for the next five years and a number of reforms made to defense policy through the last two NDAA’s, I felt I could have a greater impact for South Dakota on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, trade, Social Security, Medicare and much more.  During the first week of January, I was officially welcomed as a member of the Committee and I’m already looking forward to the work that must be done.

The Ways and Means Committee is considered to be one of the most powerful committees in Congress and I will be the first representative from South Dakota to serve on it.  It is also the oldest congressional committee, first gathering in 1789.  Eight Presidents and eight Vice Presidents have served on this committee, as have four Supreme Court Justices.

The congressional agenda this year is jam-packed with efforts that fall under Ways and Means jurisdiction.  One of the first places we’ll focus is expanding trade.  Currently, South Dakota exports billions of dollars in goods and services annually, which supports nearly 125,000 jobs in the state.  My goal is to grow these numbers even further by expanding our access to foreign markets.

Over the last few years, we’ve been looking at finalizing two new free-trade deals – the Trans Pacific Partnership with countries in the Asia-Pacific and the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership with the European Union.  While Congress doesn’t negotiate the deals, we can help guide the discussion and we have the final say on whether to accept the agreement.  All of this will go through Ways and Means.

In addition to trade, both Ways and Means leadership and the White House have shown a willingness to work together to simplify the tax code.  Farmers and ranchers in South Dakota are often disproportionately impacted by bad tax policy, especially when it comes to Section 179 or the death tax.

After my dad passed away, my own family was impacted by the death tax.  Like most farmers, everything we had was wrapped up in the land and machinery that was necessary for the business to continue.  As a result, we took out a loan that impacted every decision we made for a decade.  I understand the impact of these taxes and as one of the only voices from rural America on the Committee, I will do all I can to protect South Dakota families from the burdensome taxes that jeopardize the American Dream.

Tax simplification and trade expansion are two of Congress’s top agenda items this year.  Beyond these two issue areas, I will play a big role in holding the IRS accountable, ensuring children within our foster care system are properly cared for, taking a look at unemployment compensation, and much more as a member of Ways and Means.

As South Dakota’s only voice in the 435-member House, I want to make sure our voice is heard and I’m confident we’re in the best position possible for that to happen.