US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Nominating South Dakota Students to Our Nation’s Service Academies

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateNominating South Dakota Students to Our Nation’s Service Academies
By Senator Mike Rounds

This year, I had the opportunity to nominate 24 exceptional South Dakota students to our nation’s military service academies for the fall 2016 semester. Each year, I can nominate a certain number of students to the four service academies that require a nomination. They include the Military Academy at West Point, New York; the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. All academies offer a great opportunity for young people to become leaders in our nation’s military.

It is truly an honor for me to nominate young South Dakota students to become the next generation of military leaders. The United States service academies are looking for the best and brightest to join their ranks. Each of the students nominated this year exemplify the leadership qualities and academic excellence that our country’s service academies are looking for in their recruits.

Being admitted to the service academies isn’t easy. Only a small number of students are selected each year, and those who do get accepted are the best of the best. They must meet difficult eligibility requirements in leadership, physical fitness, character and scholarship. That being said, those who graduate from the academies can go on to do great things. They are among the highest caliber our country has to offer, and that is a direct result of the training and education they received at whichever academy they attended.

The multi-part process of applying to the service academies can be difficult and oftentimes confusing. I have staff members in my South Dakota offices who are experienced in the process. They can assist with the application and answer any questions students or their parents may have. Additionally, I have implemented “Military Academy Day” events throughout the state. We held a series of these events in 2015 and will do so again in 2016. At these seminars, my staff is joined by representatives from the academies to give presentations and answer any questions from interested students and parents. They are a good way for students who are thinking of attending a military service academy to learn more about the application process and see what life is like at an academy. Dates and locations for 2016 Military Academy Day events will be released in the coming months.

To learn more about academy nominations, visit my website at www.rounds.senate.gov or call any of my state offices. You can also email [email protected]. By attending an academy, not only will students have the opportunity to serve our nation and help lead the best military in the world, but they will receive an excellent education at a top-notch institution. It is an honor for me to be able to nominate South Dakota students to the U.S. military service academies.

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Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Back to Work

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Back to Work
By Rep. Kristi Noem

There’s something so energizing about flipping the calendar from December to January.  It’s a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate.  I’m heading back to Congress this year with a renewed optimism as well.  We have a lot of work to do, but I’m hopeful we have momentum moving in our direction.

Truth be told, we’re going to need every bit of that momentum we can get.  2015 concluded with a heightened sense of unease about our national security – and rightfully so.  As we return, this is an issue that will need to be addressed.  I firmly believe the President, as Commander in Chief, has a responsibility to put forth a comprehensive plan to defeat and destroy ISIL.  Doing so is the most effective way to keep terrorism off U.S. soil.  Congress also must continue to ensure our military has the tools and resources it needs to be successful, while closing any security loopholes that may exist in federal law.  That is going to be at the top of my agenda in 2016.

Addressing the President’s health care law will be another area of focus during the first part of 2016.  Speaker Paul Ryan has already announced that the House, in coordination with the Senate, plans to place legislation on the President’s desk in the coming weeks that repeals the core tenants of Obamacare, including the individual and employer mandates.  This last December, thousands of South Dakotans saw their health care costs skyrocket.  I have supported and will continue to support the repeal of Obamacare, but until we can achieve a full repeal, I will do what I can to incrementally lift the burden for South Dakota families.

We are also working very hard on efforts to keep the Hot Springs VA Hospital open and fully staffed and operational.  In late-2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released an Environmental Impact Statement on a plan to close the VA facility in Hot Springs. From now until February 5, the VA will be accepting public comments.  I encourage everyone impacted by this proposal to let their voice be heard.  For my part, I have reached out to the VA Secretary directly, urging him not only to settle on a solution that will work for all involved – especially our veterans – but also to visit Hot Springs before making a determination about the hospital’s future.  Those who have served deserve nothing less.

The reality is that these topics are just the tip of the iceberg.  We have a lot of work to do because our country is facing a lot of big issues today.  I’m determined to find real solutions and produce the milestones that you seek and deserve.

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Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Hugh Glass and New Beginnings

daugaardheader DaugaardHugh Glass and New Beginnings
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

As we turn the page on 2015 and welcome the New Year, it’s a great time look to the future. Many of us will establish resolutions for 2016. Whether it’s to spend more time with family, get the household budget under control, lose a few pounds or visit a special place, the New Year brings an opportunity for new beginnings.

On Jan. 8, Twentieth Century Fox will release a Leonardo DiCaprio movie entitled The Revenant. If you’re wondering, a revenant is “one who has returned, as if from the dead.” The film is based on the story of Hugh Glass, a trapper and adventurer whose tale of renewal has South Dakota roots.

In August of 1823, Glass and a party of fur trappers were scouting for game near the fork of the Grand River in what is today Perkins County, S.D. When he stumbled upon a grizzly bear and her two cubs, Glass was severely mauled, leaving him unconscious and near death.

Two of Glass’ companions volunteered to stay until he died, to bury him properly. Before he passed away, the two men placed him in a shallow grave and left. After they had abandoned him, Glass regained consciousness. Soon after, he began crawling toward the nearest settlement: Fort Kiowa, nearly 200 miles away at the Big Bend of the Missouri River.

Glass managed to survive the harrowing trip, eventually catching up with the young men and forgiving them. His tremendous ordeal has been retold several times, most notably by the Frederick Manfred novel Lord Grizzly.

Last August, 192 years after Glass’ ordeal, the community of Lemmon hosted the first annual Hugh Glass Rendezvous, a celebration of “mountain man” lifestyle and culture. It took place near the Shadehill Reservoir in northern Perkins County, not far from the location where Glass was mauled.

Event co-host and artist John Lopez, well-known for his unique metal sculptures, unveiled an extraordinary piece depicting Glass defending himself from the grizzly. A historic marker, located nearby, is dedicated to Glass and his epic journey. The final line reads, “Whatever the details, it was a marvelous show of stamina and courage.”

The opportunity to start fresh often comes in an unexpected way. I am excited for the possibilities in 2016 and I hope you have a great year! Whatever may be your New Year’s resolution, I wish you the stamina and courage of Hugh Glass. You can do it!

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Is Noem helping to pick our next president?

Congresswoman Kristi Noem had endorsed Marco Rubio for president several weeks back. But, how important is that endorsement to his winning the presidency?

One theory is that it could make all the difference in the world.

Sen. Marco Rubio has occupied an odd place in the GOP race all year: Never the front-runner, but always — in theory, on paper, hypothetically — on the verge of breaking out.

On Tuesday, Rubio once again showed signs of imminent liftoff after snagging one of the biggest endorsements in the race so far in Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.

Gowdy, the high-profile chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, is the increasingly rare politician who’s popular in both conservative and establishment circles. He easily could have succeeded John Boehner as House speaker had he chose to run.

and..

Rubio has good reason to think his plan might work. The most prominent political science theory today is that party elites tend to pick the eventual nominee over the course of an “invisible primary” that takes place in the months and years before voters head to the polls, at which point rank-and-file partisans usually fall in line behind their choice.

and..

So how’s Rubio been doing on that front? Sure enough, he’s made gains as rivals like Bush and Scott Walker have fallen. Bush took an early lead in endorsements from top donors and federal lawmakers that he still holds, but Rubio has racked up more support from both in the last three months than anyone else in the race. Among the big names: Rising stars Cory Gardner and Steve Daines in the Senate, well-known figures like Kristi Noem, Darrell Issa, and Mia Love in the House, and major party funders like billionaire Paul Singer.

All this is good news for Rubio, who surely has more names ready to roll out before voting begins, but it’s still a long way off from a tipping point.

Read it all here.

Could Kristi be helping to coalesce the party around the man who might be our nation’s next president?

Senate Bill 5 – Putting School Districts’ focus back on educating students. Not lawsuits.

2016_session_logo

If you’ve been following any of the pre-filed legislation coming out from Pierre so far this year, you noticed Senate Bill 5, as introduced by the School District Boundary Task Force, and primed in the Senate by State Senator Deb Peters.

I asked Deb to give us some background on the measure, and why it’s specifically needed. Specifically, unbeknownst to many in South Dakota, in several instances school districts have taken to suing each other, as they fight over their tax base.  According to Senator Peters:

It’s about boundaries: it’s to put the focus back on educating students.Deb Peters

The Sioux Falls School District has been gobbling up high value land away from surrounding districts and making them insolvent.  For example, the Tea area school district has spent over $100,000 on lawsuits to defend their tax base.  West Central gave up $380,000 of taxable land just last year in order to avoid a lawsuit and Tri-Valley has spent considerable amount of money defending their tax base.  If we aren’t going to talk about consolidation of schools and we are going to keep the school districts intact; then we need to protect the tax bases to ensure the school districts stay solvent.

School Districts’ priority should be educating students – not protecting tax bases to stay solvent in order to educate our students.

This may not be the end of legislation on this topic, but it’s a significant start.

Governor Appoints Russ Olson To Game, Fish And Parks Commission

daugaardheaderGovernor Appoints Olson To Game, Fish And Parks Commission

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced today that he will appoint Russell Olson of Madison to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

“Russ will be a great addition to the Game, Fish and Parks Commission. He is an avid outdoorsman who is committed to conservation,” said Gov. Daugaard. “I appreciate Russ’ willingness to serve in this important role.”

Olson is the chief executive officer of Heartland Consumers Power District, based in Madison. He served in the State House of Representatives from 2007-09 and the State Senate from 2009-13, serving for three years as senate majority leader.

russolson“As a lifelong resident, with generations of hunting and fishing traditions on both sides of my family, I want to do my part to make sure that the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts are able to enjoy the outdoors as I have,” said Olson. “It is vital that we continue to build better relationships with landowners as they hold the key to access and stewardship of one of South Dakota’s most precious resources.”

Olson will replace Duane Sather of Sioux Falls, who is retiring after four years on the commission. Olson’s term ends January of 2020.

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SDWC Poll – Do you support an increase in the Sales Tax?

I was just speaking with a member of the appropriations committee today, discussing legislation and the state budget, when they brought up a point on trying to formulate the budget, and how a monkey wrench could be coming coming up with the cash to pay for K-12 Education, etcetera.

Governor Daugaard has noted that any Medicaid expansion is going to have to come from existing funds, but that’s going to put a lot of pressure on appropriators to come up with “existing funds.” But what about those other areas? Some legislators are talking about raising the sales tax for education, and Representative May has her name as prime sponsor on a committee bill that has been introduced to allow counties to add to their coffers through sales tax.

You can introduce anything, but the question is going to be whether it will pass. And will your constituents burn you in effigy for it? So, to informally put our finger in the air, you can vote in this years’ last SDWC poll, and let us know – Do you support an increase in the Sales Tax?


Three days until petitions can be circulated for office. Here’s some information to help you on the way.

We’re giddily counting down the hours until the 2016 election season officially kicks off in the new year. According to state law, January 1 marks the first day that petitions can be circulated in South Dakota.

While petitions are not required for running for President, the rest of you don’t get off so easily.

Currently, signature requirements under state law are based on the amount of the vote the political parties received in the previous Gubernatorial election. A law was passed last session to change that, and base it on registration numbers, but a bunch of liberal activists didn’t like it, so we’re going to be voting on that as a referred law this coming November.

For those wondering how many signatures you will need, as retrieved from the Secretary of State’s web site:

U.S. Senate, U.S Representative

  • Republican: 1,955 (1% of the vote for the 2014 Republican Gubernatorial candidate: 195,477) (SDCL 12-6-7)
  • Democrat: 706 (1% of the vote for the 2014 Democrat Gubernatorial candidate: 70,549) (SDCL 12-6-7)
  • Independent: 2,774 (1% of the total vote for Governor in 2014: 277,403) (SDCL 12-7-1)
  • Newly Recognized Political Party: 250 (SDCL 12-5-1.4)

To Form A New Political Party

  • 6,936 (2.5% of total vote for Governor in 2014: 277,403) (SDCL 12-5-1)

State Legislators

  • Republican and Democrat: 50 signatures or 1% of the vote for their party’s Gubernatorial candidate in the 2014 election, whichever is less (SDCL 12-6-7.1)
  • Independent candidate: signatures equal to 1% of the total vote for Governor in 2014 in their district (SDCL 12-7-1)
  • New Political Party: Five (5) signatures (SDCL 12-5-1.4)
Legislative District
Democrat
Republican
Independent
New Political Party

1

50
50
195
5
2
50
50
181
5
3
39
50
121
5
4
45
50
152
5
5
19
50
78
5
6
20
50
93
5
7
28
50
93
5
8
23
50
91
5
9
18
45
65
5
10
18
50
71
5
11
22
50
92
5
12
22
50
79
5
13
26
50
91
5
14
26
50
92
5
15
16
23
41
5
16
18
50
81
5
17
21
45
71
5
18
21
50
78
5
19
18
50
90
5
20
18
50
81
5
21
19
50
81
5
22
21
50
78
5
23
17
50
92
5
24
16
50
96
5
25
19
50
88
5
26
26
39
68
5
26A
16
11
29
5
26B
11
28
40
5
27
25
29
57
5
28
19
50
74
5
28A
13
16
30
5
28B
7
36
44
5
29
13
50
76
5
30
21
50
105
5
31
20
50
89
5
32
22
50
89
5
33
18
50
82
5
34
22
50
92
5
35
14
42
58
5

County Officials and Party Delegates (filed with county auditor)

  • Partisan Candidates: whichever is less, 50 signatures or 1% of the total vote for your political party’s candidate for governor at the last gubernatorial election in the county or commissioner district (SDCL 12-6-7.1).  May only gather signatures from the political party the candidate is registered to vote with.

  • Independent Candidates: signatures equal to 1% of the total vote for all candidates for governor at the last gubernatorial election in the county or commissioner district (SDCL 12-7-1).  May gather signatures from any registered voter.

  • Newly Recognized Political Party: Five (5) signatures (SDCL 12-5-1.4)

Independents might seem to have a much heavier burden, but in actuality, not so much. Whereas members of organized parties have to go to the extra step of determining who is a member of their party, Independent candidates can obtain petition signatures from everyone, regardless of party.

The minimum number of signatures that a candidate for the legislature has to obtain is 50 signatures or 1% of the vote for their party’s Gubernatorial candidate in the 2014 election. For Democrats, they are only required to hit that high bar of 50 signatures in only two legislative districts. Republicans are required to obtain that number in 29 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.

On the low end of the spectrum, Democrats are only required to pick up 7 signatures to run for office in District 28B, and 14 in District 35.

Republicans have a low mark of 11 and 16 signatures in the split house legislative districts of 26A and 28A, and a minimum of 23 in the Sioux Falls Cathedral area comprising District 15.  (We don’t run a lot of candidates in those areas, BTW).

Obtaining signatures to run for office is actually not that terribly difficult.  What’s probably more challenging is doing it correctly, as Annette Bosworth might attest.   What can’t be stressed enough is “DON’T FUDGE YOUR PROCEDURES, AND TURN THEM IN EARLY.”  Seriously.

As Annette can attest, courtesy of her felony convictions, is that the circulator is required to witness each and every signature, and to attest to the fact they did on the back of the petition in front of a notary. You cannot fudge this procedure. There’s a good chance you could get stung for it.

I also admonish you to turn them in early. You have until March 29, 2016 for Primary Election candidates (meaning partisan political candidates) to turn them in. Those who turn them in early get a sucker. Actually, no. They don’t get anything – but if the petitions are screwed up, you still have time to go back and fix them, or to obtain more signatures.

There are always 3 or 4 candidates who screw up something, whether it’s they, or someone else filling out the header of the petition. I’ve even seen it coming from County Auditor’s offices, where an employee of the County Auditor screwed it up. If you turn them in early, you have plenty of time to go back, and fix it with new signatures.  If you turn them in on March 29th…  Well, not so much.

You could write a book about the information you should be aware of when you circulate petitions for office. And actually, someone has.

How to Circulate No m Petition State Leg County Candidates

The above guide provides some basic information about circulating and turning in your petition, as posted on the Secretary of State’s web site. Everyone taking out a petition from the state or county generally receives one of these, as well as a guide on reporting your campaign finances to the appropriate entity.

It’s not rocket science. It’s just an election, and it comes with an instruction book.   So read up, start early, circulate it correctly, and don’t fudge your signatures.

What else do you need to know?  🙂

Press Release: Secretary of State Shantel Krebs Certifies Third Ballot Measure

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs Certifies Third Ballot Measure

Pierre, SD – Today, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs announced that an Initiated Measure To Set A Maximum Finance Charge for Certain Lenders (36% rate cap) was validated and certified to be on the November 2016 general election ballot as a ballot measure the citizens will vote on. The sponsor turned in 19,936 signatures to the Secretary of state’s office. An initiated measure requires a minimum of 13,871 signatures from South Dakota registered voters. Once the signatures were delivered to the Secretary of State’s office, a 5% random sampling was conducted. It was determined that 86.4% or 17,222 of 19,936 signatures were in good standing. This will be Initiated Measure 21.

This is the third initiated measure to be approved by Secretary of State. A total of 8 measures were submitted for review. This office will continue the signature validation process of the remaining 5 measures in the order they were submitted to the Secretary of State. A total of 275,000 signatures were submitted among all petitions.

Those looking to challenge the Secretary of State’s certification of a ballot measure have 30 days from the date they are certified, which would be January 27, 2016.