Rounds Leads Legislation to Increase Timber Sales in the Black Hills National Forest

Rounds Leads Legislation to Increase Timber Sales in the Black Hills National Forest

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today introduced the Timber Harvesting Restoration Act, legislation that would require the United States Forest Service (USFS) to improve timber sales numbers in the Black Hills National Forest.

In recent years, timber sales in the Black Hills National Forest have steadily decreased. This has put a significant strain on manufacturers of timber products that rely on these sales. These businesses then have to bring in timber harvested further away, paying additional shipping costs. In addition, USFS has been unable to justify the harvesting shortfalls in the Black Hills National Forest.

“A well-managed forest is a healthy forest,” said Rounds. “The reduction in timber production in the Black Hills not only harms our businesses, but our forest as well. I’m pleased to be introducing this legislation that takes steps toward getting our timber production back up to normal levels.”

Specifically, the Timber Harvesting Restoration Act would:

  • Require superintendents of National Forest System (NFS) units (individual national forests) to submit harvesting improvement reports to the Secretary if they have historically fallen well below annual Allowable Sale Quantity (ASQ) numbers laid out in forest plans.
  • Require superintendent reports to identify any of the following actions: 1) forest areas that could be used to help meet harvesting targets 2) any actionable steps that may help meet harvesting targets, including expediting environmental review processes and increasing the use of Good Neighbor Authority when applicable.
  • Require superintendents to consult with private industry, advisory committees, local, tribal and state governments and relevant stakeholder groups when drafting improvement reports.
  • Require superintendents to submit improvement reports to the Secretary within 180 days of enactment of the Act.
  • Require superintendents to demonstrate actionable steps towards improving timber sale numbers within one year of enactment. If a forest supervisor does not increase timber sales from the preceding year, they will be required to submit another improvement report within 180 days after the actionable step deadline.
  • Direct the Secretary to allocate any available resources to an individual NFS if a superintendent does not demonstrate harvesting improvements one year after submitting a harvesting improvement report. This may include providing additional personnel, expanding the use of Good Neighbor Authority and finding any feasible actions to expedite environmental review processes.

Click HERE for full bill text.


Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: China Creeps Closer

China Creeps Closer
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
March 1, 2024

BIG Update

The surge of migrants coming across the southern border certainly isn’t news to many people. But, as the crisis rages on, more and more Chinese nationals are crossing our southern border illegally. In 2023, Customs and Border Patrol reported 37,000 Chinese nationals were encountered while crossing the border illegally. That’s 50 times more than in 2021. And many of them are doing so through the help of Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. Viral videos share specific details and locations on where and how to cross the border, allowing thousands of unvetted people to enter our country with ease.

Other videos on TikTok solicit viewers in the U.S. to help smuggle drugs and migrants across the border. Sheriffs who work near the border encounter many situations like this and end up in dangerous, high-speed chases, some resulting in injury or death.

TikTok is a bad app, and many agree with me that it is malware from the Chinese Communist Party. It’s evident that TikTok and Douyin are only worsening the border security crisis and national security crisis.

BIG Idea

On Monday, I visited the PURIS pea processing facility in Harrold. PURIS handles 8,000 bushels of peas each day and has created 14 good jobs in the community. I got to go behind the scenes of their operation and learned about the anti-competitive behavior China has been using to manipulate the markets. We’re asking the International Trade Commission to intervene and hold China accountable.

Johnson meeting with PURIS

BIG News

Do you know the frustration of having debt sent to collections when it isn’t your bill to pay? For many Native Americans who receive purchased and referred care through the Indian Health Service, this is all too common. Many patients receive care through the IHS and are referred to a specialist or another care facility that isn’t an IHS provider. IHS is required to pay the bills for approved referrals, yet 82% of over 800,000 claims were not reviewed, approved, or paid in accordance with federal law. These unpaid bills may then be sent to the patients. If left unpaid, they can end up in the hands of debt collectors. These patients are forced to decide between paying bills they don’t owe or taking a hit to their credit.

This issue can lead to financial struggles that can be hard to recover from. Today, I introduced two bills to hold IHS accountable for not paying the health care bills they owe to providers and to protect Native Americans’ credit from these wrongfully charged bills IHS is liable for. My bills seek to rectify this unfair negligence by the IHS.


Chatter going around that Taffy Howard is going to run for State Senate. Is she going to skip 14% like her last legislative session?

Oh barf. Nobody is paying much attention to Taffy Howard anymore, so the word on-line is that – allegedly – she’s going to run for District 34 State Senate.

If that’s actually true, seriously, after her performance the last time she was in Pierre, why would they send her?

Over the last 3 years of being in Pierre, she was 0-17 on her legislation. And when she was running for Congress, her performance was much worse:

I had a note from a legislator in the State Legislature who was noticing that when it came to voting on bills on the floor of the State House of Representatives, State Representative and Congressional wannabe Taffy Howard seemed to be more and more absent. As was noted to me “she is here today but seems to be nowhere to be found on occasion, specifically whenever we are voting on BOR issues.”

I’d also heard talk that she’d duck out to go do fundraising, etc. in connection with her Congressional campaign.

Reading that and having heard those rumors, I thought it would be an interesting research project to figure out if that was just a fleeting and possibly unfair impression from the other residents of the State Capitol. Or if she was just not there when she was supposed to be.

And here’s what I found. According to House Journals, out of about 377 recorded roll count votes in the State House of Representatives, there were 53 votes where Taffy was marked as “Excused.” Calculating it out, Taffy Howard missed 14% of the floor votes she was sent to Pierre to represent her District on.

Read it here.

And if you click on that link. you can review each and every bill she skipped voting on yourself. Not BS. Not Puffery. She skipped 14% of all floor votes in her last session to duck out for campaigning or to avoid challenging votes. And after session she also skipped casting a vote on impeachment.

Why on earth would ANYONE want to send someone with that kind of record to represent them in the State Senate in Pierre?

Flags at Half-Staff at State Capitol in Honor of Former State Legislator Burton “Burt” Elliot

Flags at Half-Staff at State Capitol in Honor of Former State Legislator Burton “Burt” Elliot

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem ordered that flags be flown at half-staff at the State Capitol from sunrise until sunset on Saturday, April 20th, 2024, in honor of former state legislator Burton “Burt” Elliot. He represented Brown County in the South Dakota State House of Representatives from 2001-2008.

A memorial service for former state legislator Burt Elliot will take place at 11:00 am on April 20th, 2024, at the Plymouth Congregational UCC (431 W Melgaard Rd, Aberdeen, SD, 57401).


Senator John Thune: Biden’s Inflation Crisis Hits Hardworking Americans

Thune: Biden’s Inflation Crisis Hits Hardworking Americans

 “[T]he Biden inflation crisis has made life harder for a lot of people. It’s harder to save. Harder to get ahead. Harder to make ends meet.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the harsh realities families are facing due to President Biden’s self-inflicted inflation crisis. Thune noted that President Biden’s misguided and costly economic policies have forced Americans to grapple with high prices, elevated interest rates, mounting debt, and shrinking savings.


District 30 House Primary continues adding people. Matt Smith of Hermosa filing campaign finance paperwork as candidate

The District 30 House Republican Primary just grew a little more this week, as Matthew Smith filed a Statement of Organization:

I believe this is the dude on KOTA Radio, or at least podcasting through them, who is always featuring Taffy Howard & Tonchi Weaver.

He joins several others in the race already. Right now, I have down:

  • Trish Ladner (R – Incumbent)
  • Matthew Monfore (R)
  • Patrick Baumann (R)
  • Stephen Saint (R)
  • Matthew J. Smith (R)
  • …and possibly Dennis Krull (R – Incumbent)

And I also heard there could be another one or two out there still coming making this a six or seven-way primary.

If Krull is in the race, he would be the most likely to hold his seat. We’ll see how the rest would tumble out as they progress in the campaign.

Toby “Dumpster Fire” Doeden attacks GOP, calls them corrupt.. and then tries to endorse his own candidates.

It looks like Toby “Dumpster Fire” Doeden and associates are back at it, despite Doeden quickly backing away from running for office himself. Instead of taking some time off to attack Taylor Swift he has now decided he is going to bless us with his pronouncements on which Republicans are good and which are bad.

First this morning, Doeden started out by declaring all republican elected officials bad, calling legislators and our federal delegation weak and compromised, claiming his new “conservative coalition” will change this.

How? He doesn’t really go into it because it would require supporting candidates or maybe even actually voting in the Republican Primary, something that has escaped Doeden to date, since previously he has been more content to spend his time applying for assistance from the federal government.

After throwing out his bomb, a short time later, Doeden went further and posted his first endorsement, supporting State Rep. Fred Deutsch in the D4 Senate primary:

Somehow, I see Fred looking at that going something along the lines Gee, thanks, but I’m good. Real good. I’m just going to keep doing my thing over here...

I’m not sure I know of a lot of candidates who are actually looking for an endorsement of a clown who has never voted in a Republican primary, and whose own electoral ambitions collapsed after a few stones were thrown at his “Dumpster Fire” of a campaign effort.

But, who knows. It’s one of those years where nobody can guess what will be on the bingo card.

Dusty Johnson Leads Bill to Secure Supply Chains in Emergencies

Johnson Leads Bill to Secure Supply Chains in Emergencies 

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-CA) introduced the Modernizing Operations for Vehicles in Emergencies (MOVE) Act to provide flexibility and certainty to our supply chains in times of emergency.

“It’s more important than ever to ensure goods are moving in an emergency,” said Johnson. “The MOVE Act is another way to remove unnecessary roadblocks and red tape in our supply chain to prevent another crisis like we saw during and in the aftermath of the pandemic.”

“During times of emergency and the pandemic, struggling communities in my district were hit hardest by roadblocks to our supply chain,” said Costa. “This bipartisan legislation will remove barriers that prevent us from delivering vital relief when communities need it most.”

“When hospitals and nursing homes are low on medicine, families are running out of food and water, and electricity is nonexistent, the last thing communities responding to natural disasters should have to worry about is bureaucratic red tape delaying truck drivers from moving relief supplies as quickly as possible,” said American Trucking Association President & CEO Chris Spear. “We commend Congressman Johnson on introducing this commonsense measure that will allow trucks to expedite the delivery of relief wherever and whenever it is needed.”

“The MOVE Act is a necessary step forward in ensuring that Shippers Coalition’s members are able to promptly and efficiently respond in times of crisis,” said Sean Joyce, Executive Director of the Shippers Coalition. “We commend Congressman Johnson for taking this common-sense step forward in modernizing our supply chain. By expanding the definition of an emergency, the legislation guarantees that Americans across the country will continue to have access to essential goods in their times of need.”


In times of emergency or disaster, states have the authority to waive federal weight limits on the interstate system. These waivers allow shippers to expeditiously deliver relief supplies during times of disaster. Many companies used waivers during the pandemic to secure the supply chain and help American families access food, water, and products important to COVID-19 prevention, like cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products. Waivers are similarly used during natural disasters to provide much-needed relief supplies to impacted communities.

Under current law, special permits may be issued if the President has declared the emergency to be a major disaster under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Many emergencies that require shipper flexibility do not meet that standard, including COVID-19, which didn’t meet that test and legislation was needed to grant flexibility.

The MOVE Act modernizes the authority for vehicle weight waivers in cases of natural disasters, disease, and other emergencies that negatively impact commerce and supply chains.

The Modernizing Operations for Vehicles in Emergencies (MOVE) Act:

  • Expands the circumstances under which the Federal Government would allow a state to waive Federal weight limits on the Interstate System to include declarations by Governors, including declarations regarding disease and declarations regarding challenging supply chain conditions.
  • Allows declarations to remain in effect for 270 days to allow for time needed to respond to emergencies and challenging conditions, compared to the 120-day maximum under current law.

Read full bill text here.


Gov. Noem Signs Bills into Law

Gov. Noem Signs Bills into Law 

PIERRE, S.D. – Yesterday, Governor Kristi Noem signed the following seven bills into law:

  • SB 188 modifies the time before which rural access infrastructure grant moneys must be expended or obligated;
  • HB 1085 specifies the venue of appeal to circuit court for persons committed to a mental health facility;
  • HB 1088 removes the option for a court services officer to prepare documentation in an adoption proceeding;
  • HB 1117 repeals a requirement for the filing of an annual report regarding prearranged funeral trust contracts;
  • HB 1126 permits an alternative delivery method for issuance of a policy by an insurer;
  • HB 1129 repeals the session law authorizing the Board of Regents to contract for the design and construction of a new dairy research and extension farm on the campus of South Dakota State University, and to declare an emergency; and,
  • HB 1135 expands definitions pertaining to the purchasing of grain.

Governor Noem has signed 108 bills into law this legislative session.


It’s maroon cardigan day in the Senate in honor of Senate President Pro Temp Lee Schoenbeck

Pull over! No, it’s a cardigan. But thanks for noticing.

Today is maroon cardigan day in the South Dakota State Senate in honor of the traditional garb of South Dakota President Pro Tempore and long time legislative leader Lee Schoenbeck of Watertown who is in his last days of what he says is his final legislative session.

And one of the legislators was nice enough to send me video to share.

The session isn’t going to be the same without Lee. Love him or hate him, Senator Lee Schoenbeck has been a driving force behind the Senate and how they’ve led the conversation over the last 4 years.