Gov. Noem and Gov. Gordon Tell Forest Service to Revise Assessments for Black Hills National Forest

Gov. Noem and Gov. Gordon Tell Forest Service to Revise Assessments for Black Hills National Forest

PIERRE, S.D. – This week, Governor Kristi Noem and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon urged the Supervisor of the Black Hills National Forest to produce another set of draft assessments for the Forest’s Plan Revision process. You can find their letter to Supervisor Tomac here.

“We request that the Forest Service produce another set of draft assessments with a public comment period, that those assessments include citations for factual statements, and that they contain discussion of why one authority was relied upon over another,” wrote Governor Noem. “We look forward to meaningful participation in the Black Hills National Forest’s Forest Plan Revision process.”

In recent years, timber mills in the Black Hills have struggled to keep the doors of their business. Under logging constraints, one mill has already closed in South Dakota.

“We are concerned about the apparent desire of the Forest Service to drastically reduce the timber program in the Black Hills National Forest,” continued Governors Noem.

The Governors pointed to flawed statements “not backed by scientific material” in the Black Hills National Forest Plan revision assessments. These flaws included errors in both the data analysis and assumptions in the Black Hills Timber Sustainability General Technical Report.

“If the inaccuracies are not addressed, it will be difficult for our states to have confidence in the outcome of the Forest Plan Revision,” wrote the Governors.


Gov. Noem Appoints Monae Johnson as Secretary of State

Gov. Noem Appoints Monae Johnson as Secretary of State

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem appointed Monae Johnson as Secretary of State, effective Monday, December 5, 2022. The current Secretary of State, Steve Barnett, is resigning from the role to pursue employment in the private sector.

“Monae Johnson has the confidence of the people of South Dakota,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “She was elected because of her promise to focus on election integrity, and I look forward to working with her on those efforts.”

Monae was elected Secretary of State in the November election, earning 64% of the vote. She will take office for her full term on January 2.

“I am truly grateful to Governor Noem for the opportunity to finish the current term as Secretary of State, and to the people of South Dakota for trusting me to serve in the role for the next four years,” said Monae Johnson. “Tom Deadrick, my new Deputy Secretary of State, and I will immediately get to work for the citizens of South Dakota to finish up the year-end duties. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”

You can learn more about the Secretary of State’s Office here.


Johnson Introduces Bill to Protect Tribal Members Second Amendment Rights

Johnson Introduces Bill to Protect Tribal Members Second Amendment Rights

“A tribal ID is just as valid as a driver’s license – tribal members deserve equal access to their Second Amendment rights – the Tribal Firearm Access Act ensures that.”

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the Tribal Firearm Access Act to clarify that tribal governments are eligible entities to issue identification documents for the purposes of obtaining a firearm.

“Under current law, foreign passports are acceptable identification documents for individuals to purchase firearms, but tribal IDs are not, Congress should right this wrong.” said Johnson. “A tribal ID is just as valid as a driver’s license – tribal members deserve equal access to their Second Amendment rights – theTribal Firearm Access Act ensures that.”

“The fundamental right to keep and bear arms is dependent on the ability to lawfully acquire firearms. TheTribal Firearms Access Act would ensure Native Americans can use identification issued by federally recognized tribal governments to transfer a firearm under federal law. On behalf of our millions of members and supporters across the country, we thank Rep. Dusty Johnson for defending the rights of law-abiding Native American gun owners and offering this important legislation,” said Jason Ouimet, Executive Director of NRA-ILA.

“The NAIV, Inc. supports what Rep. Johnson’s bill would do and that is to put Indian tribal governments on an equal footing with other governments when it comes to issuing identification papers for purposes of firearms transactions,” said Don Loudner, enrolled member of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and National Commander of the National American Indian Veterans, Inc.

 “NSSF supports this no-nonsense measure that will ensure fair and accurate background checks for the purchase of a firearm at the point-of-sale,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation. “The Firearm Industry Trade Association consistently advocates for improvements to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to confirm that only those who can be trusted to possess a firearm are able to purchase one from a firearm retailer. Our members rely on that system to be accurate and providing a means for tribal members to use their tribal identification cards will safeguard their ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights while ensuring firearms remain out of the hands of those that cannot be trusted to possess them.”

“The National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA) supports the commonsense approach to allow Photo Tribal Identification/Membership Cards to be utilized to purchase firearms. Many of Indian Country Tribal Members lack easy access to other forms of government approved identification. NNALEA realizes the importance of properly identifying purchasers of firearms. NNALEA believes the government approved Photo Tribal Identification/Membership Cards of Federally Recognized Tribes would be an important tool to achieve the lawful purchase of firearms. On behalf of our membership, we would like to thank you for your commitment to Indian Country issues,” said Gary L. Edwards, CEO, NNALEA.

U.S. Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Don Bacon (R-NE), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), and Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) are original cosponsors of the legislation.


The Tribal Firearms Access Act would declare that identification documents issued by tribal governments are generally accorded the same treatment under federal criminal law as identification documents issued by the Federal Government or by a state or local government.

This bill amends Section 1028(d) of Title 18 to include tribal governments as eligible entities to issue an identification document, highlighted below:

(3) the term “identification document” means a document made or issued by or under the authority of the United States Government, a State, political subdivision of a State, a tribal government, a sponsoring entity of an event designated as a special event of national significance, a foreign government, political subdivision of a foreign government, an international governmental or an international quasi-governmental organization which, when completed with information concerning a particular individual, is of a type intended or commonly accepted for the purpose of identification of individuals;”


Thrice-warmed over leftovers are back – Joe Kirby and the Jungle Primary are going to try yet again.

I don’t think there’s anything more likely the week after Thanksgiving than re-heated leftovers that have been lurking around the fridge, but provide meals of diminishing quality. Which is why it’s not unexpected to see Joe Kirby of Sioux Falls is in the news, yet again. Pushing the concept of a jungle primary ballot measure. Yet again.

A campaign committee calling itself South Dakota Open Primaries filed paperwork with the South Dakota Legislative Research Council Wednesday that seeks to place a constitutional amendment on the 2024 ballot.


If successfully placed on the 2024 ballot and adopted by voters, all the candidates would compete in a single primary open to all South Dakota voters. The two candidates that receive the most votes would advance to the general election. Party affiliation of candidates, or lack thereof, would be indicated on the ballot, according to the organization.

Read about Joe’s reheated leftovers here.

Oh, for crying out loud. Can these guys not take a hint?

They tried it in 2016. It was defeated 55% – 45%

They tried it in 2018. They gathered signatures, but could not get enough valid signatures to put it on the ballot.

They tried it in 2022. They could not get enough signatures to even bother turning it in.

I sense a trend.

As I’ve noted before.. several times now.. this is a solution in search of a problem that no one has been asking for. Going back to when the measure was first proposed in South Dakota, while the proponents have all these noble goals, in practice, the solution ends up being worse than the problem:

We’ve seen this same phenomenon before, but this is the first single-party statewide election ever to take place in Washington. That’s just terrible for democracy. California also uses a top-two primary, and there, polls show that many Republican voters simply plan to sit out this year’s Senate race between Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. But at least we know that California, a very blue state, would likely have elected a Democrat to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer anyway. Washington, by contrast, almost certainly would have voted in another Democrat as treasurer, so the situation here is particularly perverse.

Supposed “good-government” reformers naïvely believed that eliminating partisan primaries would somehow crank down partisan gridlock by forcing office-seekers to moderate their views in order to win. Not only has that not happened, but voters have repeatedly been denied the opportunity to vote for the party of their choice thanks to debacles like these. It’s long past time for proponents to acknowledge their mistake and advocate for a return to proper primaries—and proper democracy.

Read that here.

And that’s coming from the Democrats.

Jungle primaries – providing diminished participation in elections, cutting candidate choice in the November election, and even more polarized candidates. That’s what Joe’s ballot measure would provide.

A menu choice that no one was looking for when it was fresh. And it has just gotten less appetizing as time goes by.

Release: Attorney General Mark Vargo announces hiring of a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator and a Human Trafficking Coordinator

Attorney General Mark Vargo announces hiring of a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator and a Human Trafficking Coordinator

PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Mark Vargo announced he has filled two new positions at the Attorney General’s Office: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator and Human Trafficking Coordinator.

Allison Morrisette assumed her duties as the state’s inaugural Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Coordinator on Monday, Nov. 28. An enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe, Morrisette last served as Adult Diversion Coordinator for the Pennington County State’s Attorney. “I am excited to begin this work,” said Morrisette. “A lot of my relatives feel they are overlooked. My job with the Attorney General’s Office is to ensure that is not true. In my culture we live by the words, Mitakuye Oyasin, which means ‘all my relations’ or ‘we are all related.’ I carry that belief with me into this new role.”

Mary Beth Holzwarth began her new job as South Dakota’s Human Trafficking Coordinator alongside Morrisette on Nov. 28. For the past 13 years she has served as the CEO of Endeavor 52, a grassroots organization dedicated to child sexual assault prevention. “Joining the Attorney General’s Office in this new role gives me the opportunity to carry on my work combatting childhood sexual abuse and widen my focus to address other manifestations of exploitation including sexual and labor trafficking,” said Holzwarth.

Vargo said he was looking forward to seeing the positive impact these two Coordinators can make for the citizens of South Dakota. “I am thrilled to welcome the breadth and depth of expertise Allison and Mary Beth bring to the Attorney General’s Office and am confident they will help the Office live up to its motto of ‘Equal Justice Under the Law,’” he said.

Attorney General-elect Marty Jackley agreed: “Allison Morrisette’s proven ability to work with different law enforcement agencies and Native communities will be a powerful asset furthering our commitment to serving all South Dakotans,” he said. “Mary Beth Holzwarth’s long track record of advocating for children will be a needed and powerful tool in our fight against human trafficking.”

Young Dems declare their Top Statewide Campaigns were those that lost. They don’t get the whole campaign thing, do they?

Young Democrats are out patting themselves on the back today, and clucking about their top races.

They don’t get the whole campaign thing, do they? That’s kind of a funny way of looking at the world.

When you’re calling the race for Auditor one of your “Top Statewide Campaigns”.. a race where the candidate didn’t go to the convention to run.. or anywhere else as far as that goes..  you’re setting a pretty low bar.

In that Universe, your top campaigns will probably include Jamie Smith and Erin Royer, who both lost badly.

Sure, go ahead and declare “Democrats” to be the top party.  The rest of us will console ourselves with winning elections.

Thune: We Must Hold the IRS Accountable and Protect Taxpayer Dollars  

Thune: We Must Hold the IRS Accountable and Protect Taxpayer Dollars  

“Since Democrats are flooding the IRS with a lot of additional money, Americans deserve to know that that money is being spent wisely and efficiently – and that it isn’t going to make taxpayers’ experiences with the IRS even worse.”


Click here or on the picture above to watch the video.

 WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Taxation and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Oversight, today discussed how the Democrats’ attempt to supersize the IRS without holding the agency accountable to American taxpayers is dangerous and irresponsible. Thune also spoke about a series of bills he has introduced that would protect taxpayers and improve the IRS through increased transparency, oversight, and accountability.

Thune previously introduced a bill that would protect taxpayers who are earning less than $400,000 from increased audits, as well as a separate bill, the Increase Reliable Services Now Act, that would prevent the IRS from hiring new enforcement employees until customer service has reached a more acceptable standard. Most recently, Thune introduced the IRS Funding Accountability Act, legislation that would give Congress a direct say in how the unprecedented $80 billion in new funding for the IRS could be spent.

Gov. Noem and Colleagues Urge Congress to Remove COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Military

Gov. Noem and Colleagues Urge Congress to Remove COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Military

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem and 20 other governors urged congressional leadership to remove and prohibit the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate on members of the U.S. Armed Forces. You can find the letter here.

“The Biden vaccine mandate on our military creates a national security risk that severely impacts our defense capabilities abroad and our state readiness here at home,” wrote Governor Noem and her colleagues.

The letter points to the fact that current servicemembers are leaving the ranks of the U.S. Armed Forces, and that new recruits are not signing up to join:

  • On October 8, 2022, U.S. Army National Guard Chief of Staff Major General Rich Baldwin explained that the National Guard missed its recruiting target by 10% and announced that 7,500 members left service.
  • On September 21, 2022, Deputy Chief of the Army National Guard Strength Maintenance Division Anson Smith revealed that the National Guard was preparing to discharge approximately 14,000 soldiers in the next two years for refusing the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • On October 10, 2022, U.S. Army Secretary Christine Wormuth revealed that the Army failed its recruitment goal by 25% falling 15,000 recruits short of the target.
  • As of November 15, 2022, the Armed Forces discharged 8,000 Active Duty members since the implementation of the Biden vaccine mandate.

“As President Biden, himself, stated on September 18, 2022, ‘The pandemic is over,’” conclude Governor Noem and her colleagues.

The letter is cosigned by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Idaho Governor Brad Little, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.


SD Dems finally send in judicial recommendation, after a year and a half. Guess no one was that engaged with the Dem Party?

Remember way back when, in March of 2021, when there was chatter about how Democrats were going to make a judicial recommendation based on “how engaged candidates have been with the Democratic Party?”

Seiler said he and the party discussed potential recommendations with former South Dakota members of Congress, current state Democratic leaders and federal judges.

“The political aspects of this matter” in addition to how qualified and experienced they are for the job, Seiler said. He said he considered how engaged candidates have been with the Democratic Party and if they’ve ran for office.

Read that here (via the RCJ).

That was back on March of 2021.  About 19-20 months ago.  So imagine the surprise when it came out just yesterday that they have finally submitted a name to fill the appointment:

The South Dakota Democratic Party has recommended a judge for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench in Rapid City.

Veronica Duffy, 58, has served as a U.S. magistrate judge since 2007, initially in the Western Division of the U.S. District Court of South Dakota.


Duffy’s recommendation is not an assurance of success, but Seiler said the party is confident in her credentials and qualifications.

Read the entire story here.

Interestingly, while Randy Seiler had said the benchmark was going to be “how engaged candidates have been with the Democratic Party and if they’ve ran for office,” the outgoing judge, Jeffrey Viken, had originally saidThe next federal judge serving western South Dakota should be culturally competent in Lakota culture and history.”

But in their nomination, I can’t say that I’ve ever really noticed Veronica Duffy running as a Democrat for office. Nor in a prior bio does it note any particular tribal affiliation.  In fact, two tribal members who had expressed interest seem to be taking a pass on commenting.

So if they weren’t going to pick someone who was strongly engaged with the state Democrat Party as they said they were, and they passed on someone with a strong tribal affiliation as the outgoing judge had requested, why exactly did it take 20 months for Democrats to move someone forward?

It’s almost as if they are running the nomination process for the federal posts as well as they run their elections for office.