AFP SD Director Ben Lee Discusses Stealth Tax Increase on KELO Radio

AFP SD Director Ben Lee Discusses Stealth Tax Increase on KELO Radio

One Penny Sales Tax Proposal Would Result In More Than $150 Million In New Taxes

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Americans for Prosperity South Dakota Director Ben Lee appeared on KELO Radio to discuss a bill that could increase sales taxes in South Dakota by $150 million. AFP South Dakota has been engaging its network of activists, encouraging them to reach out to their legislatior and urge them to vote NO on this dangerous legislation.

Excerpt from the interview: “South Dakota’s economic advantage is our low tax structure…Any time we consider significant tax increases we’re threatening that and we’re threatening our economic advantage…If every city chose to take take advantage of the ability to add an additional 1 penny sales tax, that would result in more than $150 million in new taxes, which would be far and away the largest tax increase in South Dakota history… This bill has been under the radar and we don’t think enough folks have been talking about it. So we wanted to shine a light on it and talk about how we don’t believe this is good tax policy for South Dakota.”

You can listen to the full interview here.

Governor to Republicans – Get on the stick, and get recruiting

From the Rapid City Journal:

Gov. Dennis Daugaard told Republican county leaders at their statewide meeting Saturday that candidate recruiting can start immediately for 31 of the 105 seats in the Legislature. Those are seats that Democrats currently hold or have Republicans who can’t seek re-election to the seats in 2016 because they are term-limited. He also suggested that the 74 other Republicans should be asked whether they plan to run again in 2016 so there can be a head-start on finding new Republican candidates to run if they aren’t.

“We are so much more organized, and it makes us strong,” Daugaard said.

Read it here.

Good, solid advice. Time to get recruiting for offices, especially since we may be circulating petitions in 9 months.

That explains a lot. Rapid City CVB using mascots in campaign. Not Tourism

Coming on the heels of my post asking about why the Rushmore mascots are being used in a political campaign, I received a heads up about there being more than one set:

There are two sets of Rushmore mascot costumes.  One is owned by the SD Department of Tourism, and the other is owned by the Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau.  The Tourism mascots are not participating in this campaign, so I can only assume it is the Rapid City CVB mascots.

So, it’s not the state’s mascots who are inserting themselves into the convention center vote. It’s those owned by the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Press Release: United States Supreme Court Denies Rodney Berget’s Petition for Relief

United States Supreme Court Denies Rodney Berget’s Petition for Relief

PIERRE, S.D. – Attorney General Marty Jackley announces that the United States Supreme Court has denied Defendant Rodney Berget’s petition Writ of Certiorari.

“The United States Supreme Court has denied Rodney Berget’s request to overturn his conviction and capital sentence for the murder of Correctional Officer Ronald ‘RJ’ Johnson. I believe due process has been satisfied and that the interest of justice has been served,” said Jackley.

On February 6, 2012, Berget was sentenced to death for the 2011 killing of Senior Corrections Officer Ronald ‘RJ’ Johnson during a failed attempt to escape from the Sioux Falls Penitentiary. Berget was serving a life sentence for attempted murder and an additional life sentence for raping a convenience store clerk.

In January of 2013, The South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed 11 issues, including the appropriateness of the death sentence for Berget’s crime. However, the Court reversed the original sentence because the admission of statements Berget made to a psychiatrist violated Berget’s right against self-incrimination and remanded the case to the trial court for a limited re-sentencing and the opportunity for Berget to call the psychiatrist as a witness. At the re-sentencing, Berget did not call the psychiatrist as a witness but sought to introduce alleged new evidence regarding his family as mitigation against a new death sentence. The trial court again sentenced Berget to death by lethal injection.

Berget appealed from the trial court’s re-imposition of a death sentence claiming that the Court should have opened up the record to take his additional family evidence. The South Dakota Supreme Court rejected Berget’s appeal, citing the fact that Berget had a full opportunity to present all his desired mitigating evidence at his original sentencing. Berget petitioned the South Dakota Supreme Court to rehear his appeal, which the court denied in an order issued October 17, 2014.

Berget is scheduled to be executed between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., during the week of Sunday, May 3, 2015, through Saturday, May 9, 2015, inclusive, at a specific time and date to be selected by the Warden of the State Penitentiary. Berget may seek the right to file additional habeas proceedings in order to stay the sentencing date.

Stolen from Facebook: Can I get the state tourism mascots for my next campaign?

I was perusing facebook this morning, and noticed that Jordan Mason, a former Rapid City Councilman and Register of Deeds candidate had reposted the below pictures, and was commenting about electioneering, likely because it was a pro-civic center message in and around the in-person absentee polling place.


But, the thing that came to my mind was “aren’t these state tourism mascots?” and “What is 1/4 of the state tourism mascot doing promoting a particular position in an election?”

If they’re available for rent, let me know, as I’d love to have Teddy and Lincoln for a hospitality suite at the next GOP Convention.

(Update – Check out my latest post. Apparently, there are 2 sets of costumes. Kind of like a set of evil twins. One is owned by the state, which has noting to do with this, and one owned by the Rapid City CVB….. whom I’m guessing has a lot to do with this.)




Pierre, SD 3/02/2015 — The South Dakota Republican Party today announced its new officers for 2015-2016.

The officers are: State Party Chair – Pam Roberts, Pierre, Vice Chair – Drake Olson, Sioux Falls, Secretary – Kristi Wagner, Whitewood, Treasurer – Justin Bell, Pierre.   Regional Directors are: Hal Wick – Sioux Falls, Al Koistinen – Watertown, Van Pace – Yankton, David Wheeler – Huron, Mike Mehlhaff – Pierre, Marilyn Oakes – Custer.

Roberts recently retired from a career of leadership in state government, in which she served on the Cabinet of Governors Mickelson, Miller, Janklow, Rounds and Daugaard.  As a senior cabinet official and advisor, Pam has a strong reputation of leadership, sound management, a focus on achievement, and a firm commitment to conservative principles.

The South Dakota Republican Party currently controls all of the state’s executive offices and holds supermajorities in the House of Representatives and Senate.  Republicans also hold both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats and the state’s at-large congressional seat.



US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Don’t Break the Net

Don’t Break the Net
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressWhether it is to catch the scores of last night’s game, read the morning news, or stay connected with friends and family, like many South Dakotans, I depend on fast, reliable Internet service. The role of the Internet in our lives is only going to continue to grow. It will keep revolutionizing things like transportation, commerce, agriculture, and education. But heavy-handed government regulation could delay the next big transformation.

On February 26, three unelected officials of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve the most controversial agenda item in the agency’s modern history, a policy awkwardly known as Title II reclassification of broadband. The FCC voted 3-2 to impose heavy-handed regulations on the Internet that were designed and intended for monopoly phone companies in the 1930s. The regulations being imposed by the FCC are an attempted power-grab that will create new barriers for innovation and open the door to new taxes and fees on internet service for American households.

In the 317 page rule that has yet to be made public, the FCC gives itself broad power to decide how broadband services may be offered in the market. For example, mobile broadband plans that allow unlimited music streaming could be prohibited by the government. Additionally, the FCC action could make broadband more expensive because compliance with these regulations will increase operational costs for providers that will likely be passed along to customers in the form higher prices for broadband Internet service.

New investment in communications networks will also be threatened. Broadband networks are expensive to build, operate, and maintain, and nowhere is that more apparent than in South Dakota, with our relatively small population and large landmass.

Advocates for reclassification worry that future entities that control Internet access could abuse that position to affect what content users can access. I have generally not been in favor of instituting government regulations until we know there is a real and actual need. But, to prevent the FCC’s heavy-handed regulatory overreach, I believe it is time for Congress to act by updating our telecommunication laws.

As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC and policies relating to telecommunications and the Internet, I put forward a legislative solution earlier this year to create common-sense rules for the digital road. What I am proposing is very different from what the FCC has jammed through. The FCC regulations are 317 pages. My draft proposal is six pages that focuses on what consumers want – prohibiting practices like “blocking,” which is the process blocking legal content, and “paid prioritization,” which is demanding special payments for access to certain services, all without the legal uncertainty associated with the FCC’s plan.

Above all, I don’t want the debate about protecting the open Internet to be used as an excuse for the federal government to grab control of the Internet from innovators. I will continue to pursue a legislative solution with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address the problems associated with the FCC overreach, and I will fight for policies that maintain the light-touch regulatory structure that has enabled the Internet to thrive.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Academy Nominations

Academy Nominations
By Senator Mike Rounds
February 27, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateServing in the United States Senate comes with a lot of responsibilities, but nominating South Dakota students to the military service academies is one that I am really looking forward to. My first opportunity to nominate students to the academies will be this fall.  Each member of the Congressional delegation will nominate students to the academies. The four service academies that require a Congressional Nomination are 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. The Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut does not require a nomination by a member of Congress. All academies offer great opportunity for young people to become leaders in our nation’s military.

Since only a small number of students are nominated to each class, being selected is very prestigious. It also isn’t easy. The service academies are looking for the best and the brightest. Interested students must meet eligibility requirements in leadership, physical fitness, character and scholarship. It is a rigorous program, but also highly rewarding. The service academies open a world of opportunity for their graduates. The young people joining the military directly from the academies are among the highest caliber our country has to offer—a result of the challenging training and education they received.

Admission is a two-part process. First, the student must apply to the academy of his or her choice directly. After the student meets the admissions requirements of the academy, he or she can contact my office requesting a nomination. I have put together a screening committee who will help me review applications and conduct extensive interviews before I make my final decisions on nominees. After the student has received my nomination, it is up to the admissions office at each academy to ultimately decide who gets accepted.

The process can be confusing, so to help students along the way, I plan to hold “Military Academy Day” events across South Dakota in the coming months. At these seminars, my staff will be joined by representatives from each academy to make presentations and answer questions from interested students and parents. Our first Military Academy Day will take place on March 28, 2015 at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls. The Sioux Falls Academy Day will be the first in a series across the state, including in Pierre and Rapid City. Others may be added, as well. I would encourage all high school students who are thinking about attending a military service academy to attend this informative event. More information about the Academy Day in Sioux Falls can be found on my website,

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. I encourage young South Dakotans interested in service to consider our military academies.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Resiliency, Strength, Sacrifice

Resiliency, Strength, Sacrifice
By Rep. Kristi Noem
February 27, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014When a service member joins the military, their spouse and family serves beside them. And just as our military stand ready to respond to crisis here and abroad, their families must be prepared for their loved ones to be sent into harm’s way.

Last week, the Sioux Falls-based 1742nd Transportation Company of the Army National Guard received the 2014 Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award. The Pentagon honors just one Army National Guard Company with this award each year. South Dakota has taken top honors each of the last three years. In 2013, the 235th Military Police Company in Rapid City was recognized, and in 2012, the 842nd Engineer Company in Spearfish was honored. Each of these awards is an incredible tribute that speaks to the integrity and value-system of the South Dakota National Guard and their leadership.
Demands over the last decade have demonstrated the critical role families play in mission success. More so than in previous military engagements, the War on Terror has required our men and women in uniform to be deployed multiple times, meaning far too many American troops have missed not only one Christmas, birthday or anniversary, but two, three or more. Family readiness for deployment, then, is essential. As one Naval Commander put it, deployment is “so much easier when you know that your spouse and your kids are all taken care of.”

For any of us, if there are financial or family problems at home, it can be next to impossible to concentrate on the work that must be done at the office. For men and women in uniform, that distraction could be a matter of life and death. As an Air Force Major wrote, “Without the support of the military family, I find it would be nearly impossible to be in a right state of mind to allow an individual to focus on mission accomplishment when the call comes.”

The most successful family readiness programs don’t start when the family finds out a loved one is going to be deployed. The most successful programs begin long before that and continue throughout the deployment and long after the service member returns home. That is something the 1742nd Transportation Company was recognized for last week.

I had the opportunity to help welcome the 1742nd Transportation Company home from their last tour in the Middle East. Seeing husbands, wives and children rush to their loved ones in uniform sent chills down my spine and tears to my eyes. The families in the auditorium that afternoon are resilient, strong, and courageous. I deeply respect each of them and admire their sense of duty. Each family there has made tremendous sacrifices so our guardsmen and women can defeat evil and protect the freedoms you and I exercise every day.

I will be forever grateful to our service members and their families for the sacrifices they’ve made.