US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Thank you for your Hospitality

Thank you for your Hospitality
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

August is an important month for me. It is the traditional time in which members of Congress spend extended time back home, and this year was no exception. During the shortened in-state work period, I had the opportunity to travel across the state for various events. We held open coffees in Chamberlain and Deadwood, as well as other ceremonies, roundtables and meetings in Sioux Falls, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Huron and elsewhere. I thank those of you who took the time out of your day to meet with me and share your thoughts.

Throughout our visits, people brought up many topics, including national security, ag policy, veterans, banking and overregulation, just to name a few. However, health care continues to be a top concern for many. While I was disappointed in the result of this summer’s vote to repeal and replace Obamacare, the fight to relieve South Dakotans from our failing health care system is far from over. Our premiums have gone up 124 percent in the last four years under Obamacare and are expected to rise another 20 percent in 2018. This is simply unsustainable, and why I have continued to work with my colleagues on ways to stabilize the market and prevent premiums from continuing to skyrocket.

During veterans’ events in Huron and Sioux Falls, I had the opportunity to thank our men and women in uniform for the sacrifices they and their families have made to keep us safe. Working with other members on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, we have begun the process of making major reforms, including passing three significant pieces of legislation that will improve the lives of our nation’s veterans.

At the annual ag forum during Dakotafest, we heard from farmers about their priorities for the upcoming farm bill, particularly the importance of maintaining and strengthening safety net provisions such as the crop insurance program. We also heard concerns about perpetual easements, access to capital and burdensome regulations that are hurting producers’ ability to operate.

We also had the opportunity to hold a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) subcommittee field hearing on the Army Corps’ management of the Missouri River. The purpose of the hearing is to make certain the Army Corps is working in a responsible manner to properly manage the Missouri River. During the hearing, we heard from both Army Corps officials and local leaders about their experiences along the river. The hearing gave us important insight to the practices of the Corps, such as their ability to increase and decrease water flows that result in drastic fluctuations in short periods of time. We will now be following up to make sure the Corps is acting appropriately.

I’m always grateful for the hospitality I receive when visiting communities across the state. Even when we disagree politically, I appreciate the opportunity to engage in healthy, respectful discussions about the issues you care about. Washington can learn a lot from what I call ‘South Dakota common sense’.  I look forward to bringing your thoughts and opinions with me to Washington when we return.

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