Chad Haber trying to raise 100k for Annette’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

If you haven’t reached your BS quota today, it soon will be overflowing after you’ve read the latest fundraising appeal from Chad Haber, who is apparently trying to raise $100,000 for Annette’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

Annette Bosworth Legal Defense Fund Letter 9/15

“The smell of danger lurked in the air from the first day of jury selection. The extremes to which the State went to collude against my wife left me speechless…. But the state had what they wanted– a jury trial in the backyard of the corrupt Attorney General, Marty Jackley as well as the home town for Senator Mike Rounds.”

The letter is so overly dramatic, I’ve seen less ham at a Catholic funeral!  Seriously. It’s such a ridiculous distortion as well as being full of complete and utter BS, I’m not sure how someone could actually put it on paper.

But, then again, I forget who we’re talking about.

Chad will soon have his own day in court.  And he’ll have an opportunity to figure out which version of the truth the jury will believe.

So, is the Marijuana legalization petition dead in the water, or not?

Over at the official facebook page for the South Dakotans Against Prohibition – the ballot measure being promoted to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana – there seem to be some mixed signals as to whether the ballot measure is throwing in the towel for this election.

As they seem to be communicating, the backers of the measure seem to have no more to give:

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Ballot measures are not for the faint of heart, and this might be the first indication that we may not have the full 13 measures on the ballot that have been or are currently circulating.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: In South Dakota, It’s “Native American Day”

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressIn South Dakota, It’s “Native American Day”
By Sen. John Thune

In 1990, South Dakota Governor George Mickelson sought to reconcile some of the challenges faced between the Native and non-Native American citizens in South Dakota. One of his first steps toward this reconciliation was to change the federally recognized Columbus Day holiday to Native American Day in South Dakota. In the 25 years since the change was made, South Dakota has recognized and celebrated Native American Day as a day of tribute to the discovery of this great land and also to reflect on the rich traditions and culture of our state’s Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people.

Celebrating Native American Day reminds us that Christopher Columbus not only encountered a new land, but also a new population of people living on this land – strong people with their own language and way of life. Our state and nation have learned and benefited much from our tribal citizens. For example, Native Americans introduced foods that we still enjoy today, like popcorn, corn, wild rice, pumpkins, jerky, and turnips, just to name a few.

Powwows, like the He Sapa Wacipi Na’Oskate, or Black Hills Powwow, in Rapid City, are one of the best ways people can learn about and experience the talents, crafts, and foods our nation’s first cultures have to offer. Being able to see traditions and values handed down from generation to generation is truly a humbling and enriching experience.

We need to continue our celebration of this important culture and ensure that citizens throughout South Dakota and the United States are able to experience and understand it firsthand, which is why I introduced the Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act in the Senate. The NATIVE Act will better integrate Native American tourism into federal tourism efforts to expand tourism opportunities for tribal communities to share their culture with travelers. I am pleased that the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs passed this legislation and look forward to its final passage in the Senate.

As South Dakotans recognize Native American Day, we are once again reminded that there is much to celebrate. This is a day to reflect on past, present, and future relationships and learn from those who have given so much to make this country great.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Support Our Troops

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateSupport Our Troops
By Senator Mike Rounds

As the United States continues to face grave threats at home and abroad, it is as important as ever to make sure our armed forces have our full support. Between the rise of ISIS and Hezbollah and the alliance between Russia and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the U.S. military must be prepared to address multiple threats throughout the world. I was pleased that the Senate, with strong bipartisan support, recently passed the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, commonly referred to as the NDAA. The NDAA will help our military to adequately address these growing threats.

The NDAA is an important reauthorization measure that contains policies to support our wounded warriors, our troops and their families. It sets priorities for national defense and provides our military with the tools needed to combat our enemies around the globe. Also included in this year’s NDAA are provisions to make certain our military maintains its technological edge. And we achieved all this while trimming the Pentagon’s budget and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy so we can focus defense dollars on our troops.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, providing our military and veterans with the tools they need and services they’ve been promised are top priorities of mine. I am pleased that four provisions I offered to the NDAA were included in the final package. These include amendments to help develop the Air Force’s new long-range strike bomber, improve the Pentagon workforce that develops new weapons and help states and local units of government if they are targets of cyber-attacks. The NDAA also included my provision to streamline Tricare services for members of our armed forces, military retirees and their families.

The defense of our country should not be a partisan issue, but unfortunately President Obama has threatened to veto the NDAA when it arrives on his desk for reasons completely unrelated to national defense. Because the President wants to spend more money on agencies such as the IRS and EPA, agencies known to waste our tax dollars, the NDAA – which has passed annually with strong bipartisan support for more than 50 consecutive years – is in jeopardy.  The brave men and women in uniform put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedoms and keep us safe deserve better. Their mission shouldn’t be held hostage by political theater.

Throughout all the policy discussions and funding debates on Capitol Hill, we must remember and prioritize the men and women who volunteer to take on the great responsibility of defending our homeland. These service members are our family members, our friends and our neighbors. They bravely sacrifice everything so we can continue to go about our lives safely and freely. Adequate support from the federal government is the least we can do to repay them for their service. The NDAA does just that.

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Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce
By Rep. Kristi Noem

It is commonsense:  if someone at your workplace has been fired for falsifying documents or violating a client’s privacy, they probably won’t be rehired.  Unless they work at the IRS, that is.

According to a February 2015 report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the IRS has rehired “hundreds of former employees” who had prior performance or conduct issues at the agency.   Some of these individuals had falsified official forms.  Others had a documented misuse of IRS property.  Still others inappropriately accessed sensitive taxpayer information.  One individual even had a note attached to their personnel file that stated “Do Not Rehire,” and still, they were rehired.

Not surprisingly, about 20 percent of those brought back onboard after misconduct continued to have performance issues after being rehired.

It is a completely irresponsible way to run an agency – let alone an organization that manages sensitive taxpayer data.  But if IRS leadership won’t instill commonsense hiring practices within the agency, I will work to write it into law.

Earlier this month, I introduced the Ensuring Integrity in the IRS Workforce Act.  This legislation strictly prohibits the IRS from rehiring an employee that has been fired for certain forms of misconduct.  It’s as straightforward as that.

Unfortunately, the IRS’s rehiring practices are just one example of poor leadership within the IRS.

This spring, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed another set of findings:  many of the IRS employees who had violated tax law or engaged in misconduct at work were never even fired in the first place.  In fact, more than 60 percent of those who willfully violated tax law kept their jobs.

Moreover, many of these employees went on to receive awards and promotions within the year, including nearly $145,000 in performance bonuses, 900 hours of time-off awards, more than 30 promotions, and four permanent raises.  Taxpayers should never be responsible for giving a performance bonus to an IRS employee who has failed to pay their own taxes.  Period.

It doesn’t stop there, either.  In April of this year, the House Ways and Means Committee, of which I am a member, released a report showing the IRS deliberately diverted funding away from customer service, meaning 16 million fewer taxpayers received IRS assistance this tax filing season.  What’s more, the IRS continued to prioritize spending on employee bonuses and union activity during this time, using up resources that could have helped millions more taxpayers.

And all of this is occurring as the House investigates the agency’s blatant targeting of conservative groups.  It’s unacceptable and frankly, out of control.

Time and again, the IRS’s actions point to a fundamental disrespect of taxpayers and your hard-earned dollars.  The legislation I’ve introduced this month will not solve all the problems that riddle this agency, but it does take a step forward in providing the vigorous oversight the IRS clearly needs.

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Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Advocating For Reforms To The Endangered Species Act

daugaardheaderDaugaardAdvocating For Reforms To The Endangered Species Act
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a Western Governors Association trip to Washington, D.C. Along with the governors of Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and Utah, I visited with federal officials about issues impacting South Dakota and other western states. One of the topics we discussed was the Endangered Species Act.

A recent poll from the Morning Consult indicates that the majority of Americans believe the Endangered Species Act (ESA) needs to be reformed. The poll also found that less than one-third of Americans think the federal government should take the lead on endangered species.

Allowing states to play a more active role in the administration of the ESA just makes sense. In a state like South Dakota where 80 percent of the land is privately owned, it should be standard practice to gather input from landowners early in the process. They know the land better than anyone and endangered species decisions can directly impact their livelihoods. It’s also easier for states to work with landowners once an ESA decision has been made.

Unfortunately, state governments are routinely left out of the conversation when it comes to ESA decisions. Time and time again, we have been impacted by unfounded listings and a lack of implementation at the federal level.

Our state’s experience with the Topeka Shiner listing is a prime example. Habitat and population problems don’t exist in South Dakota for this type of fish; but because those problems persist in other states, the species is listed as endangered in our state. It has been 16 years since the Topeka Shiner was listed, and we are still waiting for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a complete recovery plan for the species. How can we aim for recovery, if we don’t know what is the goal?

Compare that to the Sage Grouse. In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed Sage Grouse as “warranted but precluded.” Western states joined with the Department of Interior to implement measures to prevent an endangered listing of the species. States developed their own conservation plans and local governments became involved in the efforts. Just last month, the Department of Interior announced it would not place the bird on the endangered species list.

In South Dakota, we value the goal of improving and maintaining habitat. Rather than viewing states as unnecessary hurdles, I hope the federal government will come to see the states as partners in accomplishing this goal.

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Delay Tactics by DRA and other liberal groups only seek to deny projects, Not protect environment.

Didn’t I read somewhere that the Keystone XL project application just turned seven or something like that? Well, here we go again with more stalling tactics designed to make energy production more expensive in the country. Except this time, it’s the Dakota Access pipeline.

It’s as if they want to drag energy production to a standstill in the United States.

As state utility agencies begin holding hearings to look at the application of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it seems we have the same types of opposing groups that ground Keystone to a standstill that have resorted to even more stalling and delaying the process of reviewing the application.

Not more than two hours before South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission began its hearing last week, our far left liberal friends at Dakota Rural Action and others filed a request for a third party environmental impact statement to be conducted before any decision was made.

Luckily in South Dakota, the timing of the request was described by PUC Chairman Chris Nelson as completely “out of line.” And a similar request filed by the Sierra Club was rejected by the Iowa Utilities Board days earlier this week with the Board stating that the “existing agency process has been sufficient to address environmental issues.” The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals recently dismissed another Sierra Club petition for a separate project on similar grounds.

There are good reasons to allow the review process to be conducted by state utility agencies rather than third parties. State agencies like the PUC already require environmental reviews with significant public input. Companies proposing to build projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline conduct environmental and civil surveys, identify sensitive areas to avoid, prepare mitigation and restoration plans (and so on and so on), in consultation with state and local officials.

Second, an additional third party review would only seek to delay vital energy projects, without resolving anything. Last minute requests designed to delay decisions is not in the spirit of environmental protection but rather a perfect example of tactics employed to deny projects that do not align with a group’s intended purpose.

It is hard to imagine that Dakota Rural Action, which started a campaign called No Access, or a coalition called Bakken Pipeline Resistance would accept any conclusion other than the one they have been advocating for. A report attesting to the safe operation of a project such as Dakota Access would no doubt be rejected by these groups.

The simple fact remains that the Dakota Access Pipeline has the potential to make American energy significantly more competitive. It’s the simple law of supply and demand. More supply means cheaper prices.

By shaving off anywhere between $5 and $10 per barrel off transport costs, American manufacturers will be better able to fight against foreign oil prices set by regimes that are not exactly friendly to the United States. Whether these opposition groups acknowledge it or not, pushing for duplicative environmental reviews, which they are sure to reject if they do not go their way, does nothing more than hurt the American economy, hobble our domestic energy sector, and encourage dependence on foreign oil.

What are they talking about? Are we living in the land of confusion now?

I was watching the KELOland news report last night on the SOS office, and allegedly missing documents, and I have to say that was one of the most confusing stories I’ve ever watched.

It seems there’s a bit of folderol and a lot of confusion about a few things.  A “hack,” “a server,” and some documents that were taken off-line.  I guess I’m confused about the hype, because at least for the parts I’m aware of, it seems there’s a lot of misinformation out there.

Speaking about the alleged “hack” that happened, if it’s the one I’m thinking of in April of 2012, if I recall, it was one of those annoying, but occasional things that happen from time to time.

Someone outside of state government was trying to grab copies of the business filings that resided on the state of SD’s Mainframe Server.  BIT – The Bureau of Information Technology – would have notified us that someone was eating up all our shared resources. And when I say they were eating up resources, they would have been trying to figure out how to download all the public documents placed on-line at once.

And that’s an important point. These were all public documents, just like campaign finance reports, lists of notaries, etc.  There’s no secret information stored there.  Same stuff any joe off the street could go in and ask for today. However, the system was designed to allow people to look up documents one at a time, as they are today. But try to take them all, which was not ever intended, and it creates a log jam.

So they (BIT) shut down that portion of our website until tech support could block them. That required us to put a notice on our web site that business filings were unavailable on-line, and people seeking it could call in for the information.  (And you still couldn’t get it all at once, either.)

As soon as the offending party was identified and blocked, or the solution found, click, they flip the switch back on.

And that leads me to the other point. The “server.”  At that point in 2012, any and all business filings would have still been in an old format, and residing on the state’s mainframe server, inside the state’s firewall. 

In fact, I’m not sure contracts had been signed yet on a project that was in it’s infancy – to move state election night reporting onto the Microsoft Azure cloud and off of state servers because BIT was screaming about the resources needed to serve up the results.

(And for those asking, that Microsoft Azure cloud server, as far as security went, it was backed by a global incident response and monitoring team 24/7.)

For the rest of it, it happened after I left, so I can’t speak to it with any authority. That, and business filings weren’t my area. I managed the staff who handled notaries, pistol permits, the office computer guy, and I wrote the blue book.

When you’ve got a story that talks about “hacks” and “servers,” most people’s eyes glaze over, and if someone wants to make something of it, it’s pretty easy to gin people up because most people don’t understand. And a “hacked system with thousands of documents being taken off-line” is much more exciting than blocking someone trying to download too much at once.

In about 36 24 hours, I’ll be in Boston. In 48 36, I should be in an Irish Pub in Boston.

My vacation is almost upon me, and the itinerary is set.  In about 36 hours I should be in Boston, or very close to landing at the Boston airport.

I’ve been looking forward to this vacation for weeks, so I’m pretty pumped up. I believe we’re planning on walking the freedom trail as soon as we get our things to the hotel.

In the past couple of weeks, anticipation for walking the Freedom Trail has taken on more meaning after having spent some time working on my genealogy. I discovered I had an ancestor or two on my mother’s side who participated in the American Revolution. Peter Waltz served as a private in the Maryland Continental Troops from April 1775 to September 1780, and participated in 14 battles of the Revolution.

Unfortunately, I’m going to Massachusetts, not Maryland. But I did get in contact with a 2nd cousin on my father’s side who teaches at MIT, and who has also done extensive genealogical work on the other side of the family, where they all trace back to Ireland in the early 1800’s.

Otherwise, most of them lived in Rhode Island. I’m really going to have to take a better planned trip next time. But I digress.

Boston is full of American History, and I’m looking forward to soaking it all in as much as I can in the time allotted.  From there, we go to Salem, Massachusets.  Portland, Maine., and back to Boston for a final day in bean town.

My wife wants to hit the oyster place, (that’s her thing). Me? I’d really love to find the Irish pub I visited the last time when I was there. It was authentic as they come.

If I find something interesting along the way, I’ll be sure to share.

Thune Receives Important Update on Sanford Underground Research Facility

 thuneheadernewThune Receives Important Update on Sanford Underground Research Facility

LBNF/DUNE Will Bring Scientists, Researchers, Educators, and Nearly $150 Million in Regional Economic Activity to South Dakota

thunescience

Sen. Thune is pictured with Dr. Nigel Lockyer

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today received an update from Dr. Nigel Lockyer, director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), based in Batavia, Illinois, on the progress of the Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) that will facilitate the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE). The project will include facilities at Fermilab and the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota, and will advance our understanding of neutrinos and particle physics. LBNF/DUNE will bring leading scientists, researchers, educators, and during construction from 2017-2023, an estimated $150 million in regional economic activity to the Black Hills.

Today’s meeting follows a separate meeting Thune held recently with Dr. France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, which provides research funding for the DUNE collaboration. Dr. Córdova also highlighted the importance of the project and the research opportunity it presents for the United States.

“LBNF/DUNE is a cutting-edge scientific research project that puts South Dakota in a leading role in neutrino science,” said Thune. “It’s good to hear that this project, which will bring jobs and an estimated $150 million in economic activity to South Dakota, is on track and ready to proceed as planned. The advancement of this type of research will have a worldwide impact, and it’s exciting that South Dakota can be a part of that.”

As part of LBNF/DUNE, Fermilab will send an intense beam of neutrinos 800 miles through the Earth’s mantle to a detector at SURF. The U.S. particle physics community identified the project as the highest priority domestic construction project, which will help ensure U.S. dominance in neutrino physics over the next 20 to 30 years. SURF is an ideal detector site for the project, as its underground depth will shield the experiment from the influence of cosmic radiation.

Earlier today, the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to Dr. Takaaki Kajita of Japan and Dr. Arthur McDonald of Canada for their work with neutrinos, specifically a breakthrough discovery that neutrinos contain mass.

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