Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg involved in fatality accident; statement of cooperation issued

In a press conference this afternoon, Governor Noem and the South Dakota Highway Patrol announced that last night, Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was involved in a fatality accident on Highway 14, just west of Highmore.

The Attorney General’s office issued this statement immediately following the press conference:

A STATEMENT FROM ATTORNEY GENERAL JASON RAVNSBORG REGARDING THE EVENTS OF SEPTEMBER 12, 2020

“I am shocked and filled with sorrow following the events of last night. As Governor Noem stated, I am fully cooperating with the investigation and I fully intend to continue do so moving forward. At this time I offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family.”

Without knowing any facts at this time, I can say that knowing Jason, he’s as straightlaced as they come, so I’m guessing this is a horrible and unfortunate accident.

Please keep everyone involved in your prayers as the matter is investigated.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Never Forget

Never Forget
By Sen. John Thune

I was in Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001. I remember stepping out of the congressional office buildings and looking west down the National Mall toward the Pentagon. Black smoke was billowing from the horizon. Members and staff were fleeing from the Capitol building. A deep and heavy sense of fear blanketed the city. That’s when everything we had seen unfolding on television suddenly became real. America was under attack.

As we all tried to process what was happening in real time, I recall wondering, was the Capitol next? What about the White House? We didn’t know it at the time, but, as America would later learn, thanks to the heroic action of the everyday heroes on United Flight 93, both locations, and likely targets, were spared.

At one point in the day, I spoke to my youngest daughter, Larissa. She, like most Americans, had two seemingly simple, yet pointed questions: Are we safe? And are we going to get the bad guys? I was serving in the U.S. House of Representatives at the time, but in that moment, I knew I was answering her questions as a dad and as an American citizen: Yes, we’re safe. And yes, we’re definitely going to get the bad guys.

In the days and weeks that followed, America was united. We were united in our grief. We were united in our anger. And we were united in what it meant to be an American.

In one of the more symbolic moments in the wake of these attacks, I recall when former President George W. Bush threw the first pitch at Yankee Stadium ahead of game three of the World Series. He took to the mound, bullet-proof vest under his jacket, to chants of “USA! USA! USA!” He looked around the stadium, wound up, and threw a perfect strike, right down the middle of home plate.

As the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City since noted, “This moment preceded one of the most extraordinary and needed wins in the Yankees’ history. Although they would lose the series, winning each of the three contests at Yankee Stadium signaled to the city and to the world that life would go on.”

As America began to rebuild, there were many signals that life would go on – signals that America would never forget.

The world will never exist quite like it did on September 10, 2001. But if there’s a lesson we can carry with us about September 12, 2001, and beyond, it’s that there is far more that unites us than what divides us. We’re Americans. We celebrate the diversity that makes us unique. We don’t let adversity get the best of us. We learn, listen, and grow. We know that while we may disagree from time to time, we’re always stronger together than when we’re apart.

While nearly two decades have passed since the 9/11 attacks, we still have not forgotten. We never will. Let’s continue to honor the legacy set by the brave Americans who died that day and those who rose to the occasion when their nation needed them the most.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: #CancerSucks

#CancerSucks
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

I’m not savvy with social media by today’s standards. I’m pretty good with texting and emailing, but for the most part, I’m old fashioned and appreciate a face-to-face conversation or phone call. I’ll admit – some of the social media platforms make my head spin. But, I do like Twitter because you’re able to follow who you want and skip past most of the nonsense. This isn’t a Twitter endorsement, by any means, it’s just another place to find news in my opinion.

If you’re like me, the hashtag (#) deal is a little confusing. My grandkids tell me to put a hashtag on messages that’ll relate the story or issue to similar topics. “Ok, whatever that means,” I tell them. To which, they laugh at me and make fun of my relative tech-illiteracy. Laughing at grandpa…go figure.

Last week, Jean and I were at Mayo Clinic for her scheduled checkup. As you probably know, last year she battled an aggressive, malignant tissue cancer, known as sarcoma. So, this follow-up visit was all part of the regular game plan. The results from an unscheduled biopsy due to a newly found “hotspot” were not. Her “cancer team” notified us on Thursday that the biopsy revealed a malignant spot near the original tumor. The next morning, she had surgery to remove it. What a week…

Anyone or any family that has gone through cancer knows this disease doesn’t care about your plans. It has no empathy for timelines or votes or family functions. Cancer swoops in, unexpectedly, and wreaks havoc. It can be overwhelming.

While sitting in the waiting room at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, I searched #CancerSucks on Twitter. The stories were endless. Cancer hits indiscriminately. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an actor, doctor, plumber or farmer. It hits.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never said anything “sucks” publicly before. But, I do now. Cancer sucks.

For us, we rely on our faith and our great team of healthcare professionals. And, we rely on each other. Our family has always been close. And, in South Dakota, we’re one big family at the end of the day. We’ve appreciated your support and prayers.  If Jean and I could thank all of you in person, we would. Just know that we feel those prayers and we see your support. For that, we are eternally grateful.

Long before Jean had cancer, I advocated for improved access to healthcare and investing in research. But after watching Jean battle this vicious disease, my intensity of commitment has certainly increased. Some things really are bipartisan. Improving quality of care, accessibility and affordability are things we all agree on, even if we disagree sometimes on how to get there. These aren’t partisan issues and more than ever, I’m dedicated to this cause.

As a family, we will get through this with your support.

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Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: Guiding Principles

Guiding Principles
By Rep. Dusty Johnson

America is a young nation. Constitution Day is September 17th and it marks two hundred and thirty-three years since the ratification of our U.S. Constitution. Although our nation was founded in 1776, our guiding principles of freedom of the press and free speech were officially set in stone more than ten years later.

It’s important to remember that although our principles are woven into the fibers of our great nation, they aren’t invincible. We need to defend and protect them. In many ways, this year has pushed the boundaries of our founding document.

For years, the highest levels of government have moved the goal post on the limits of executive power. Each party seems to forget their appall for abuse of power – dependent only if the metaphorical flag planted outside of the big White House flies red or blue. I’ve done my best to oppose executive action that falls under the job description of Congress. Checks and balances are there for a reason.

When the Founders wrote the First Amendment – freedom of speech – it was intended to protect individual’s speech from government rule. I’m sure they never envisioned the contemporary challenge of restriction of free speech from online platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Censorship exists in many forms, most recently, it’s taken shape through public shaming and cancel culture.

The idea that anyone could be cancelled for their views – right or wrong – is unsettling. Americans have the right to support a candidate without fear of mob rule, burning of buildings, or the boycott of their business.

The Preamble of the Constitution reads as so: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…” Domestic tranquility literally means peace and quiet at home. I think that line is often glossed over, especially in recent months. Americans have a right to peace and social order, free of riots. Although well intentioned, many of 2020’s protests – which we have a constitutional right to – have turned violent.

This violence is unacceptable and we shouldn’t normalize it – just like we shouldn’t normalize the unjust killing of George Floyd. Americans are smart and innovative; we can achieve our greatest level of societal justice without physically threatening others and burning private property to the ground. We are better than that.

So what’s my point? We are the strongest and freest country in the world, but our nation isn’t unbreakable. We need to protect our founding principles before it’s too late.

Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Celebrating and Commemorating

Celebrating and Commemorating
By Governor Kristi Noem 

This past week started with a holiday celebrating America’s workers and ended with the commemoration of 9/11, one of the most tragic days in American history. During weeks like these, it’s important to look back at our history and cherish the things that make America special.

Labor Day is a celebration of all the workers, both in America’s past and present, who have made our country the best the world has ever known. But it shouldn’t go unsaid that our economic strength is only possible because of the respect for the freedoms that have driven our growth over these past 244 years.

Thanks to America’s free market, workers in this country are blessed with endless opportunity to find the right job to provide for themselves and their loved-ones. Businesses are free to grow and innovate, which creates more jobs and more opportunities for the workers that they employ. It’s a beautiful system, but it’s one that’s under attack today.

In our country today, we’re seeing a return of the philosophies and ideas that not only destroyed so many nations’ economies worldwide over the past century, but also so many people’s lives. Many politicians campaign on the promises of “free” healthcare, “free” college, and other supposedly “free” handouts. The hardworking people of South Dakota know there is no such thing as a free lunch. And any attempt to get us there would inevitably destroy our most important ideal, freedom.

We must continue to educate the next generation about the American Dream and all the opportunity that is possible because of it. We also need to remind them of the countless brave men and women who have fought to defend our great nation. September 11th is a tremendous opportunity to do just that.

We all remember where we were when the first hijacked plane crashed into the World Trade Center nineteen years ago. I was on my farm in Hamlin County. That day, America came under attack because certain radical extremists despised the ideals our nation embodies and fights for.

That day is etched in America’s memory not just because of the horror but because of the actions of those who died to save so many more. Whether at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, or aboard Flight 93, men and women didn’t shy away from the call to be courageous. We must never forget their tremendous sacrifice.

My hope is that every American remembers the spectacular unity that linked every American, regardless of race, creed, or political persuasion, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack. America continues to face challenges, some even stemming from that fateful day. But America is better equipped to face these challenges if we work together, as one people, and if we remember the importance of the freedoms that make America so special.

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When crackpots are just too far gone to even mock

I think former Constitution Party Chair and Gubernatorial candidate Lora Hubbel might have hit a point where you just can’t make fun of her off the wall views anymore:

As Hubbel claimed in the wee hours of the morning, Rapid City receiving CARES Act funding is somehow an indication that Governor Noem is funding a “department” to commit “murders?”

There’s a point where the crazy facebook posts of crackpots end up being just too far gone to even mock for entertainment value.  I think we’ve found a point where Lora has hit it.

Delegation Applauds Progress Toward Keeping Hot Springs VA Medical Center Open

Delegation Applauds Progress Toward Keeping Hot Springs VA Medical Center Open

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) issued the following statements after Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie indicated the VA would begin the process to formally rescind its earlier record of decision to realign the VA Black Hills Health Care System, which would have significantly reduced services at the Hot Springs VA medical center.

“It is good to see that the VA is formally moving forward to deliver on Secretary Wilkie’s March 3, 2020, reassurances that the Hot Springs campus will remain open to serve our veterans,” said Thune. “The fight to keep ‘The Veteran’s Town’ open began nearly 10 years ago when President Obama first announced plans to ‘realign’ the facility – a technical way of saying they wanted to close it. Since that time, I’ve fought hard to keep pressure on the VA so the facility remained open, knowing how much it means not just to our veterans, but to the community as a whole. For years, we told VA officials that once they visited Hot Springs, they would realize its true value and potential, which is why I was proud to help lead the effort that brought Secretary Wilkie to ‘The Veterans Town’ in March – a visit that I believe ultimately helped move this process along. This is good news, and I could not be more proud of the Hot Springs community for continuing to fight this long and tough battle. There’s still more work to be done, but I remain committed to South Dakota’s veterans.”

“The Hot Springs VA facility provides top-notch care to rural veterans across the region,” said Rounds. “While we’re still reviewing the action, this announcement is a positive step toward securing the campus as a place for veterans to receive these vital healthcare services in the years ahead. We also recognize that there is more work to be done. We’ll continue working with the VA to make sure it follows through on finalizing this decision to keep the Hot Springs VA campus open.”

“South Dakotans have been fighting for Hot Springs for a long time,” said Johnson. “After years of effort by the Hot Springs community and the South Dakota delegation, Secretary Wilkie assured us in March the VA isn’t going anywhere. It’s encouraging to see the VA is rescinding any efforts to reduce services and I know our veterans will be relieved after years of uncertainty. This is a positive step and I’m willing and ready to work with the VA to ensure the Hot Springs facility remains intact.”

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Flags at Half-Staff on Friday, September 11th, in Honor of “Patriot Day”

Flags at Half-Staff on Friday, September 11th, in Honor of “Patriot Day”

PIERRE, S.D. – Governor Kristi Noem today ordered that flags be flown at half-staff statewide from sunrise until sundown on Friday, September 11, 2020 in honor of Patriot Day.

President Donald J. Trump has proclaimed that September 11 is to be recognized as Patriot Day and that flags be lowered to half-staff nationwide. He has also asked for the observance of a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 am ET (7:46 am CT/6:46 am MT) in honor of the brave victims who perished during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

WHAT: Gov. Noem orders flags flown at half-staff statewide in honor of Patriot Day.

WHEN: Friday, September 11, 2020, from sunrise until sundown.

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With Delegation Support, Department of Transportation Awards South Dakota Critical Highway Funding

With Delegation Support, Department of Transportation Awards South Dakota Critical Highway Funding

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT’s) decision to award a $22 million Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant to reconstruct 30 miles of Highway 46 between US-81 and I-29 near Beresford and Irene, a critical route for agriculture producers in southeast South Dakota and for those driving between Yankton and Sioux Falls.

“Today’s announcement is exciting news for the state and builds on several infrastructure improvements made with the help of the Department of Transportation over the past three years,” said Thune. “This project is a priority for the region, and I am glad that those traveling along this corridor will soon benefit from this infrastructure investment.”

“South Dakota’s highways connect our cities and towns, allowing for the transportation of goods and commodities,”said Rounds. “As our highways age, it’s important we perform necessary maintenance to keep them in safe working condition for years to come. I thank Secretary Chao for approving a BUILD Grant to help reconstruct and widen a 70-year-old section of SD HWY 46 in southeastern South Dakota.”

“This BUILD Grant has been a priority of the delegation and the South Dakota Department of Transportation,” said Johnson. “The expansion of SD 46 roadway will ensure South Dakota stays connected from Yankton to Sioux Falls, and I’m grateful Secretary Chao recognizes the importance of this key infrastructure project.”

Bad Postcards from the edge – Here’s what’s hitting mailboxes this week

I’ve had a couple people forward me what’s hitting mailboxes across the state this week. And among our first entries in the general election are a couple of non-Republican candidates.

What else do they have in common? Both of their cards leave a lot to be desired.

First off is a card from District 13 Candidate Norman Bliss. Can you tell what’s wrong with it?

As I’m known to remark to my designer and others “Words words words words…”  Good gosh. As it travels between the mailbox and the trash, no one is going to read all of that.  The mail panel side isn’t bad, but we go from 7 bullets on that side to huge blocks of text on the other.  I know I’m accused at times of being verbose, but this was too much.  When it comes to mail pieces like this, less is sometimes more.

On the front we pair a fair head and shoulders shot with a long distance picture of the dude holding a notebook.. because people want to know he can read from a notebook.  But let’s make it weirder, and just shove it off to the side.   I mean, it has elements that could be ok if they arranged them a little better, but they’re trying to jam too much in, and then shoving the logo, one of the important parts (because it’s the basis for the candidate’s branding) off to the corner.

Speaking of branding.. We have 2 logos going, and one of them (in the address block) is inserted as a logo within a logo in the top corner. I can only ask.. Why?

This card went to a Republican from the Democrat candidate, so he spent some money to hit far and wide with this badly done piece.

From District 13 in Sioux Falls, we zip out west to District 35 Independent Brian Gentry as he blasts this mail piece from Ohio to Rapid City:

First off, coming from the same minds that brought us Kevin Quick’s awful material in the primary, once you see it – you can never unsee it.  With that weirdly non-centered lettering up top, and the slash in front of South Dakota, what does that logo resemble?

 

It’s a frowny face logo. His entire campaign branding is based on an emoticon.

But that’s only the start.  Most aren’t going to catch that spelling error in stepfather (unlike others we’ve seen), and I probably would have missed it if this next error didn’t just jump out and grab me….

He knows “the importance of keeping our family’s safe..”  Um.. Because that’s where we put important papers?  That misuse of “family’s” versus “families” kind of changes the meaning a bit.

Then we go to the frowny logo on the front, paired with a darkly lit head and shoulders shot, and a word soup of pretending to be more Republican than anyone.. except omitting the part about not being the Republican in the race.

It’s basically yet another cookie cutter piece like we saw used in the primary, and hardly worth the money that Gentry paid for it.

And the campaign keep rolling on!

(Get a card in the mail? Send me a copy and keep those cards rolling in!)