Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: A Better Road Ahead

A Better Road Ahead
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

DaugaardThis week, I delivered my State of the State address on the opening day of the South Dakota State Legislature. I used a major portion of that address to discuss South Dakota’s roads and bridges.

In a rural state like South Dakota, good quality roads are our lifeline. And right now, our roads are underfunded. In all corners of the state, we have road funding needs. State highways, municipal streets, county oil, township gravel, and hundreds of rural bridges are in need of additional maintenance.

Sixteen years ago, when I was a state senator and Bill Janklow was governor, the Legislature implemented the current 22-cent-a-gallon fuel tax.  Since then, construction costs have doubled, but our gas tax hasn’t.  It is still 22 cents per gallon.

We have 82,000 miles of roadway in South Dakota, many of which are in disrepair. Between local roads and state highways, we could easily spend another $150 million per year. We have nearly 1,400 bridges that are still safe, but structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. The replacement cost for those structures is about $240 million.

In 2003, $1 million would buy 7.8 miles of asphalt overlay, 1.5 miles of rural roadway reconstruction, and about 0.4 miles of urban concrete roadway reconstruction. In 2013, just 10 years later, that same $1 million could only overlay or reconstruct about half as many miles of roadway.

Our state highway system is South Dakota’s most valuable physical asset, and if we want to maintain it, we must act now. That is why I am proposing a road and bridge funding bill that meets the need at both state and local levels. My proposal generates about $50 million more this year, and in the long run it will permanently fix the current imbalance between road construction needs and funding.

When President Ronald Reagan proposed a gas tax increase in 1982, he said this: “America can’t afford throwaway roads or disposable transit systems. The bridges and highways we fail to repair today will have to be rebuilt tomorrow at many times the cost.”

President Reagan was exactly right. This year we need to fix this problem, for good.

Maintaining our roads and bridges is one of the most fundamental functions of government, and it is vital for this year and for decades to come. I don’t want to leave this problem to future generations.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Hitting the Ground Running

Hitting the Ground Running
By Rep. Kristi Noem
January 16, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Over the last few years, thousands of South Dakotans have reached out to me about the Affordable Care Act – or as most people refer to it, “Obamacare.”  Undoubtedly, there are a handful of people who have talked about the new access they’ve received, but the vast majority have contacted me about the problems they’ve faced – whether that’s significantly higher costs for their family, new restraints on their small business, or concerns about losing the healthcare coverage they trust, as it’s already gotten their family through some pretty serious medical situations.

By this time, most people reading this column understand that I want to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with a patient-centered plan that gives you more control over your healthcare while simultaneously targeting the elements of healthcare that are driving insurance costs up, such as frivolous lawsuits and a lack of competition.  I’ve voted numerous times to repeal the legislation and have put forward an alternate plan, but I remain convinced that repeal is not possible under this President.  To him, this is his legacy and so he will veto any full repeal.  And while we have hopes to overcome some presidential vetoes with the new Republican majority in the Senate, there is not enough support from Democrats to override a veto on the repeal of ACA.

While I remain committed to ultimately replacing the President’s healthcare law, I will do what I can today to lessen its impact on South Dakotans. With just two weeks under our belt in 2015, I’ve already helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass three reforms this year that specifically benefit veterans, volunteer firefighters, and small businesses.

The first, the Save American Workers Act, updates ACA’s definition of “full-time” – something I’ve talked to many South Dakota small businesses about in the last few years.  Under ACA, full-time was defined as 30 hours per week – rather than the traditional 40 hours per week.  The 30-hour definition is almost unheard of.  Even France defines full-time as 35 hours per week.

As a result, some hourly workers – including many in the services industry – saw their time being cut from 40 hours per week to 29.  Fewer hours means less pay.  Through the Save American Workers Act, we aim to save workers from having their hours cut.  This legislation passed with bipartisan support, 252-172.

We also passed the Hire More Heroes Act.  Under ACA, employers with more than 50 full-time workers must help employees pay for insurance through an employer-sponsored plan or face a penalty.  But many veterans receive healthcare through Tricare or the VA.  The Hire More Heroes Act says that veterans don’t count toward ACA’s 50-employee threshold.  I’m hopeful it will encourage folks to hire more of our heroes, while also allowing small businesses to grow without being held back by ACA’s red tape.  This legislation passed the House unanimously.

Finally, we made similar exceptions for volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel, as most receive healthcare through other means.  I’m hopeful this legislation, which also passed the House unanimously, will help preserve precious emergency response dollars.

These three reforms are expected to be considered in the Senate soon, but they continue to face an uphill climb in the White House.  Nonetheless, I remain hopeful that we’ll be able to get some reforms enacted.


US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Agriculture Remains a Top Priority in the New Congress

Agriculture Remains a Top Priority in the New Congress
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune_official_photoLast year’s passage of the 2014 Farm Bill was a significant step forward for South Dakota farmers, ranchers, and agri-businesses, as it included critical livestock assistance and a secure crop insurance program. While not perfect, the bill provided important reforms to the previous Farm Bill to help move ag policy into the 21st century. As we move into the new session of Congress guided by a Republican majority in the House and Senate, ag policy remains a top priority for me.

As South Dakota’s senior senator, lone member of the delegation serving on a congressional agriculture committee, member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, and chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, my committee assignments provide unique opportunities to address key agriculture priorities.

My role as chairman of the Commerce Committee will help strengthen South Dakota’s rail, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructure, which is important to keeping our agriculture and business economy strong and healthy. This past harvest season, agriculture producers were hit particularly hard by the rail service backlogs. As chairman of the Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over transportation issues, I will continue working closely with the Surface Transportation Board, which has direct oversight over our railroads to prevent future backlogs from occurring.

As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax and trade issues, I am committed to working toward tax reform that will simplify the tax system. Comprehensive tax reform is particularly important for farmers who pay taxes at the individual rates. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, more than 96 percent of farms and 75 percent of farm sales are taxed at the individual tax rates. I will also be reintroducing my legislation to repeal the federal estate tax, better known as the death tax. Protecting South Dakota agriculture from the confiscatory and unfair death tax is critical if we want to allow family farms to pass to the next generation.

South Dakota’s agriculture industry is very dependent on exports, with more than 40 percent of its annual soybean crop sent overseas. As a Member of the Finance Committee, I will fight for Trade Promotion Authority and favorable trade agreements to open new markets abroad to South Dakota’s agricultural products.

Finally, as a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, I will continue to keep a watchful eye on the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill. Crop insurance is the most important safety net tool for our state’s farmers. Thanks to crop insurance and past federal Farm Bill programs, most farmers have been able to sustain their operations while providing the safest and most affordable food supply in the world. I will continue to advocate for South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers as the U.S. Department of Agriculture implements Farm Bill commodity programs, conservation programs, and other important agriculture programs.

Agriculture is the backbone of South Dakota’s economy. As your U.S. Senator I am eager to work on the pressing issues facing South Dakota, and I look forward to being a strong voice in Washington for the South Dakota agriculture industry.


US Senator Mike Rounds Weekly Column: Time to Pass Keystone XL Legislation

Time to Pass Keystone XL Legislation
By Senator Mike Rounds
Jan. 16, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateOne of the first items the 114th Congress is taking up is a bill that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. A long-time supporter of the project, it was the first bill I signed onto when I took office. The pipeline would bring new sources of energy, create tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. and free up rail space for South Dakota crops to be sold.

Unfortunately, this project has been politicized by this Administration. By refusing to approve the project – despite having studied it for seven years and undeniable evidence showing that it should be built – the President gives Congress little choice but to take matters into our own hands. With a new Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, we now have an opportunity to put a Keystone bill on the President’s desk. The House of Representatives wasted no time passing Keystone XL pipeline legislation, just as they have in past sessions of Congress. Shortly afterward, the Senate voted 63-32 to bring the legislation to the floor for an open amendment process. I expect the Senate to pass it soon and get it to the President’s desk within weeks.

Unfortunately, the President has already threatened to veto the bill, despite widespread bipartisan support in Congress and the overwhelming support of the American public. A recent CNN poll shows a majority of Americans— 57 percent —support the Keystone XL pipeline. But the President is more concerned with using the pipeline as a political football.

The proposed pipeline will run more than 1,000 miles and carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil to refineries on the gulf coast. It will enter the United States in Montana, then run through South Dakota to connect with an existing pipeline in Nebraska. Separate from Keystone, which has been politicized, thousands of miles of pipeline have already been built and are in use in South Dakota.  Over the past seven years, the federal government has run a number of environmental impact studies along the route, coming to the conclusion that construction of the pipeline would not cause any significant environmental risks. Yet the Administration continues to delay its approval, showing us that American jobs and energy independence are not their top priorities. Earlier this month, a lawsuit holding up approval of the route through Nebraska was overturned by the Nebraska Supreme Court, removing another excuse the President has used to delay the project.

Since the pipeline will pass through our state, this would bring job opportunities for South Dakotans. It would also play a significant role in an “all of the above” approach to our nation’s growing energy needs and free up rail space for South Dakota grains. I’m pleased my colleagues have agreed to take matters into our own hands on this important issue. I look forward to debating amendments on the Keystone bill in the Senate. Doing so brings us one step closer to finally building the pipeline, bringing along an economic boost to our country.

Kathy Tyler trying to claim bias in her firing. It’s not working.

So much for the state constitution.

In a press release this AM, Kathy Tyler is trying to politicize the state constitution this morning by claiming it’s biased against Democrats because of EB-5., despite the federal program being younger by about 140-150 years than the state’s founding document.


PIERRE, SD — Republican leaders have fired a legislative secretary in the State House of Representatives, leaving Democrats wondering whether the incident is related to the EB-5 inquiry.

Republican and Democrat leaders are allowed to employ staff secretaries during the legislative session. Both Republicans and Democrats have Caucus secretaries. Because of their minority status the Democrats only have two — a secretary to the House Minority Leader and a secretary to the Senate Minority Leader.

House Minority Leader Spencer Hawley interviewed applicants and selected former legislator Kathy Tyler as the House secretary, but she received notice that she was terminated on Friday (Jan. 16). Republican leaders pointed to a constitutional provision (Article 3, Sec. 12) that says legislators may not have an interest in a state contract while in office or for a year after leaving office. The provision has proved controversial in the past because of its vagueness.

Read it here.

Controversial? Apparently Tyler doesn’t know her state constitution. Or bothered to look at the issue other than having her written hissy fit.

Because last I checked, it’s been far more Republicans who have been stung by this. Such as in the last time this came up in Pitts v. Larson.

[¶ 5.] On February 9, 2001, the Attorney General of South Dakota learned from the media that Pitts was a state employee. The Attorney General advised Pitts that her employment with SDSU CES and her position as a member of the House of Representatives presented a conflict of interest. Pitts, her attorney and the Attorney General’s Office entered into discussions on the matter. At the conclusion of the discussions, Pitts was advised that if she continued her employment with the State after July 1, 2001, the date on which the General Appropriation Bill was to take effect, her employment contract would be voided and she would not receive any compensation for her services.

It was pretty cut and dried the last time the issue came up. If Kathy Tyler had bothered to look at the history of this constitutional provision she would have quickly found that it was neither controversial nor should it have come as a surprise.

For something she should have clearly realized, pouting about it in the manner she is just diminishes Tyler’s prior service and makes her look silly.

And that’s not shocking given her tenure.

Senate Candidate Howie supported by liberal Democrat PAC cash, including Soros money.

League of Conservation voters. International Brotherhood of Teamsters. MoveOn. The Democrat’s House Majority PAC. AFSCME.   Sounds like a list of the people who were donating money to support RIck Weiland’s campaign, doesn’t it?  And they did. But they also spent over $100,000 to support another person running. The self-anointed ‘most conservative’ candidate in South Dakota’s race for US Senate, Gordon Howie.

This past year, a PAC was formed to support the candidacy of Gordon Howie, ran by Howie confederate Gary Coe, called “Many True Conservatives.” And if you look at their expenditures, in the FEC Report below, Many True Conservatives spent nearly every dime to promote the candidacy of Gordon Kenneth Howie.

Many True Conservatives 2014 4q FEC

Where did this PAC get their money? Well, if you look at the report, they took in nearly all of their money (Over $108,000 total) from a single source – Every Voice Action.

Don’t remember them? They came in late in the game, and were reported on briefly by David Montgomery at the Argus Leader. In reference to their support of Rick Weiland:

Every Voice Action received $1.58 million through Sept. 30. It’s received another $665,000 in the past two weeks.

Who are these donors? The biggest ones are other groups.

For example, the better-funded Mayday PAC gave $458,000 to its comrade in the fight against Mike Rounds.

Another group, “Friends of Democracy IE,” was even more generous. It gave $1.15 million to Every Voice. Donnelly is the treasurer of Friends of Democracy, another Super PAC founded “to end Super PACs.” Hopping over to Friends of Democracy’s FEC page, we can see it’s been primarily funded by a famous name: Soros.

In particular, it’s been given most of its money by Jonathan Soros, son of the famous financier (and liberal donor) George Soros. This election cycle, Jonathan Soros gave Friends of Democracy $1.5 million. George Soros gave it another $250,000; other George Soros children Andrea Soros and Alex Soros gave $250,000 and $375,000. It also got a lot of money from Napster founder and Facebook investor Sean Parker ($245,000), Google engineer Matt Cutts ($285,000), Kathleen McGrath of Encino, Calif. ($100,000), and John Pritzker of the Pritzker family.

Back to Every Voice Action. It’s also received $100,000 from CWA Working Voices, the independent expenditure arm of the Communication Workers of America; $100,000 from former Stride Rite president Arnold Hiatt; $50,000 from Cutts; $50,000 from private equity billionaire Jerome Kohlberg; and $50,000 from early Google employee David DesJardins. Other donors gave it less than $50,000; I’ll list them all at the bottom.

It also got an in-kind donation of $11,427.42 from the House Majority PAC, a PAC devoted to helping House Democrats. That was listed as being shared polling costs in districts where Every Voice Action is backing Democratic congressional candidates.

Read that here.

And if you’re interested in seeing where this liberal Democratic PAC spent their money, you can read at least one of the Every Voice Action FEC reports here. And I’d draw your particular attention to pages 24, 25, etc., where it says “Many True Conservatives:”

Every Voice Action FEC

What makes this even more bizarre is the rhetoric that came from Coe in his support of Howie:

South Dakota is a pivotal state in the US Senate race due to a need to defeat the liberal agenda. We must topple the Harry Reid empire before he totally destroys all our Judeo-Christian values and assists President Obama in plunging our nation into total financial ruin.

There is only one true conservative in the South Dakota Senate race. Gordon Howie, running as an independent, a man of no compromise, is that man. Gordon has continued to work for smaller government, fiscal responsibility, high moral values and has been a leader for many years in the fight to stop killing the unborn.


The Democrat Rick Weiland is very liberal and totally aligned with the Obama-Reid ideology. Larry Pressler, a one time liberal republican, based on his record and press releases, is now an Obama/Obamacare endorsing socialist.

Read that note from Gary Coe here at the Gordon Howie for Senate web site.

So, Gordon Howie and Gary Coe were deathly concerned about Liberals. Yet Coe’s “Many True Conservatives” were all about sucking up as much cash as they could collect from the liberal left. Somehow Gary Coe had no problem soliciting and spending Soros family money. And Union Money. And money from a PAC devoted to elect House Democrats.

All to get Gordon Howie elected.

Kind of makes you wonder who the true conservatives are. Because we sure know who they aren’t.

New SDWC Advertisers! Welcome Rushmore PAC & Americans for Prosperity SD

300x200-SD-Obama-google-adsHuge welcome today to our newest advertiser, Americans for Prosperity – South Dakota!

You’ll note that their current effort being advertised here is to communicate to President Obama that it’s time to pass the Keystone XL pipeline.

Please take a moment to click on their link, and find out what they have to say.rushmorepac_ad

And in case you hadn’t noticed it, we’re also joined in the advertising rolls by long-time SDWC friend Rushmore PAC.

Rushmore PAC has been going for the last 2-3 election cycles, and has done quite a bit in working to get Republicans elected to office at the state and federal level.

Give them a click, read what they have to say, and drop them a little coin if you want to continue their mission of getting Republicans elected to office.

They join US Senator John Thune and Congresswoman Kristi Noem in supporting South Dakota’s #1 political web site, and helping us to keep the lights on.

Have you thought about putting your message in front of state legislators and opinion leaders? is the place to do it.

Entering it’s 10th year of being on the Internet, has consistently delivered on insightful discussion and South Dakota political news delivered to state residents and a national audience from a South Dakota based website. For several years, we’ve also been recognized as one of the state’s top political blogs by the Washington Post. SDWC authors have been quoted by CSpan, NPR’s All Things Considered, the New York Times, and other nationally recognized publications. We strive to bring coverage from Pierre to Washington, and from the floor of the state GOP Convention to the floor of the national GOP Convention.

We consistently generate well over 1.5 million page views yearly and we’re engaged with South Dakota’s political and opinion leaders.

Are you thinking of advertising? We have a few select spots left through the 2016 election. Contact the webmaster today for more information on advertising.

Tyler fired because she was Democrats’ illegal hire

I don’t think I can relate it better than Bob Mercer does this afternoon. But today, Kathy Tyler was fired as an illegal hire by the Democrats. Unless, she wants to work for free.

Why? Because she approved the budget she’s attempting to draw a paycheck from:

Now former Rep. Kathy Tyler also has been shown the door, or at least refused a state paycheck, as the House Democrats’ caucus secretary. The Republican leadership had strong grounds for that decision, however, because there is a ban in the state constitution against state contracts for legislators while they are in office and for one year after.


Tyler’s hiring by the Democrats appears clearly illegal if she was to be paid with state funds.

Read it here.

You would have thought Tyler should have known about the legal prohibition as to the fact it is a conflict to draw a paycheck from the state within a year of departing office as a legislator.

Jackley: United States Supreme Court to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases

United States Supreme Court to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases

PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the same-sex marriage cases. “I am pleased that the Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue. There needs to be a national resolution. The question before the Court goes to the heart of the States and their citizens’ traditional role in defining marriage.”

In September of 2014, South Dakota joined with 19 other bi-partisan States requesting that the United States Supreme Court determine whether the U.S. Constitution requires States to adopt and recognize same-sex marriages.

It is anticipated that the Court will hear arguments in April with a final ruling being entered next summer, probably late June.