He’s baaaaaack.. “Draft Stace Nelson for State Senate” effort springs up.

Is an effort to draft someone for State Senate like drafting someone for School Board or Electric Coop Board?  It kind of lacks the “oomph” of drafting someone for Governor or US Senate.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing about it if it wasn’t happening.

Apparently, tired of the relative peace and quiet of this legislative session, in the last week, someone started a “Draft Stace Nelson for District 19 State Senate” facebook page.


The facebook page, located at https://www.facebook.com/draftstacenelson doesn’t list the page’s creator, but noting the people who are supporting it, it would appear to be coming from within the close circle of Nelson campaign people.

The obvious point to bring up is that this effort would pit Nelson against current Republican State Senator Bill Van Gerpen, who anyone would agree is also quite conservative. And certainly wouldn’t be someone that anyone could accuse of “not following” the constitution.  Any plea to kick Bill out of office on that basis would seem to be …misplaced at the least.

We’ll continue to monitor the situation to see if this early draft effort is an indicator of Nelson’s intention to re-enter politics after his US Senate effort which ended in a third place defeat at the hands of current US Senator Mike Rounds.

And with that, I’ll ask  – what do you think about the possibility of Nelson getting back into the State Legislature? It it a good thing, because he has a lot to contribute to South Dakota? Or would it be a bad thing, remembering robocalls and divisiveness?


Is the GOP starting to be less dogmatic, and more pragmatic?

Upon starting up my iPad, this post from State Representative Mark Mickelson greeted me in my facebook feed this morning:


Obviously, this was Mickelson making a declaration as to his reasons why he was opposing a second amendment bill. The thing that struck me was that it’s not often that you see a prominent Republican voting against a gun bill.

And it wasn’t just this measure on permitless carry. Representative Mickelson cast a “No” vote on House Bill 1116; a similar bill which has the full backing of the National Rifle Association, and will likely be used in rankings for this next election.

It’s not just on guns that you see Republican legislators deviating from a strong conservative viewpoint. State Representative Steve Hickey has allied himself with Democrats on several measures related to eliminating the Death Penalty in South Dakota, one of which has other notable Republicans joining him on the measure with Democrats.  Hickey has also notably allied himself with former Obama campaign staffer Steve Hildebrand to take on payday lenders.

This past summer, we had a committee of mainly Republicans led by State Senator Mike Vehle propose a $100 Million dollar tax increase, arguably the largest tax increase in state history, Since then, it’s been considerably watered down from the “shoot for the sky” proposal, but the fact is that a package of tax increases ares moving forward.

All of this leads me to speculate – are we coming around full circle to when I first got into politics, and we regularly had moderate Republicans in office?

Over the past few cycles, We’ve had holy wars between candidates all the way up to the US Senate level over who was and was not adhering completely with the Republican platform to the letter, and faux scorecards painting some candidates more in adherence… and others would get robocalled.

Now that the dust is settling from last election, those who wanted to marginalize some Republicans find themselves marginalized themselves.

I have to wonder, are we moving away from burning down the Republican village to save it, and closer to a point of live and let live, and a time of more civility where people won’t worry about bringing their best ideas to the table?

What do you think?

Rounds Joins President as Clay Hunt SAV Act Signed Into Law

Rounds Joins President as Clay Hunt SAV Act Signed Into Law

clay hunt

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, today attended the President’s bill signing ceremony for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act at the White House.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join the President as he signed this very important bipartisan piece of legislation into law today,” said Rounds.  “Our men and women in uniform put everything on the line to protect this country. Many of them struggle with the invisible wounds of war long after they leave the battlefield. They deserve top-notch, accessible mental health care.”

The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act requires a new website to be built that offers veterans information on how to access mental health services. Additionally, it creates a medical school loan repayment program to recruit more VA psychiatrists.

The bill was named for Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who committed suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28. It passed the Senate and House unanimously.


Rounds Applauds Senate Confirmation of Dr. Ashton Carter

Rounds Applauds Senate Confirmation of Dr. Ashton Carter

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today applauded the Senate’s confirmation of Dr. Ashton Carter to be Secretary of Defense.

“Carter is the right person to lead our armed forces as we fight growing threats from ISIL and other terror groups,” said Rounds. “I voted to confirm Carter today, as I am confident he understands the needs of our service men and women and will seek to improve our long-term national security strategy. I had the opportunity to meet with him in person recently and firmly believe he will be an independent voice within the Administration. I look forward to working with him in the Armed Services Committee.”


Thune Reintroduces Bill to Offer ObamaCare Relief to Schools, Colleges, and Universities

Thune Reintroduces Bill to Offer ObamaCare Relief to Schools, Colleges, and Universities

-Bill would shield schools from employer mandate, help save jobs and cut costs for students-

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today introduced legislation to help America’s students by exempting schools, colleges, and universities from the ObamaCare employer mandate, which is already cutting education jobs and driving up tuition costs across the country.

“School budgets should enhance students’ educations—not pay for the president’s health care law,” said Thune. “ObamaCare’s employer mandate is not only destroying jobs in the education system, but it also continues to drive up tuition prices for students suffering in the sluggish Obama economy. I hope my colleagues will join me in putting teachers and students first by supporting my bill to prevent tuition increases and job loss due to ObamaCare and help our country’s K-12 schools and universities provide high quality education.”

According to reports, some schools across the country are eliminating teaching positions and others are reducing the number of hours teachers and staff can work in order to comply with the health care law’s 30-hour work week. In addition to jobs lost, the law includes higher prices for government-approved health care plans. These higher costs for colleges and universities are inevitability passed along to students in the form of higher tuition prices.

According to one witness who testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce last Congress, his university was contemplating tuition increases of nearly 20 percent due to the increased costs and mandates associated with ObamaCare. In K-12 education systems, these costs cannot be passed along to students in the form of higher tuition, but will be absorbed by eliminating teacher positions or cutting funding for extracurricular activities.

Thune’s bill is cosponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Thune’s bill is endorsed by the South Dakota Associated Schools Boards and the School Administrators of South Dakota


Do you think it helps Democrats win elections in small town South Dakota?

Over the past decade or so, Democrats in South Dakota have and continue to be reduced in numbers in the state.  Some attribute it to the Democratic party moving away from issues that resonate with voters who might find sympathy with their messages of social justice, and putting their energies into areas of pure liberalism which don’t resonate in conservative, small-town South Dakota.

If you recall, for some of these “true-believer Liberal Democrats,” Stephanie Herseth was too conservative to be their candidate in the last 2 elections, preferring instead to go with members of the Weiland family as their champions of South Dakota Democratic liberalism. (Which didn’t really work that well in either case.)

The latest example of that in in an on-line petition that Democrats are touting that takes on something that a lot of small towns in South Dakota take pretty seriously – their local high school sports teams. And Democrats are howling loudly about a legislative measure introduced by Representative Jim Bolin and Senator Ernie Otten that rescinds a rule passed by the High School Activities Association:

South Dakota GOP legislators obviously didn’t get the message last year with SB 128 and are back to spreading hate across our state.


HB 1195 and HB 1161 are aimed at preventing the SD High School Activities Association from allowing transgender students to participate in activities because of the legislators own insecurities.

These bills all work differently, but have one common theme: they amount to bullying the LGBT community, and we need you to stand up again and say enough is enough!

Read it here

You could sign their petition if you agree with them… but it doesn’t work because the links are all dead.

The South Dakota High School Activities Association passed the controversial rule this year, and it obviously didn’t pass unnoticed, with those legislators sponsoring the measure, and it passing the State House overwhelmingly 51-16, and moving on to the State Senate.

Obviously, people have strong opinions on the issue one way or the other. Some think the SDHSAA is ok to pass it, to preempt any lawsuits that could come their way. Some think their decision was good in the interest of equality, and some think it’s social engineering.

Regardless, it affects those sports teams in small-town South Dakota, which typically trends quite conservative. So I ask the question – What do you think about the SDHSAA rule-nullification Bill?  And with the Democrats drawing battle lines on the issue, does taking up arms on the issue help Democrats win elections in small town South Dakota, or does it hurt them?

Noem Votes to Put Keystone XL on the President’s Desk

Noem Votes to Put Keystone XL on the President’s Desk

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today joined the U.S. House of Representatives in putting the Keystone XL Pipeline on the President’s desk.  H.R.3, the Keystone XL Pipeline Act, which would authorize the long-awaited pipeline’s construction and operation.  With passage in both the House and the Senate, H.R.3 will now go to the President for his signature.

“On energy policy, the President has said that we need to aim higher than a single pipeline, but I believe this pipeline is a good place to start,” said Rep. Noem.  “Further delaying Keystone XL would deprive South Dakota of good jobs, millions of dollars in revenue for cash-strapped counties, and relief for the roads and rails that are currently crowded with oil transit.  I am committed to doing all I can to see this pipeline through – no matter the legislative hurdles we have to cross to accomplish that.”


Thune Statement on House Passage of Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

Thune Statement on House Passage of Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

“A bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate have spoken.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement on the House’s bipartisan passage of the Senate bill to approve the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline:

“For more than six years, President Obama has made one excuse after another for blocking this common-sense jobs and infrastructure project. A bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate have spoken. The time to approve the job-creating Keystone XL pipeline is now. I hope the president chooses American jobs and opportunity over political appeasement, and signs this bill into law.”


Thune Bill to Stimulate Agricultural Research Passes Finance Committee

Thune Bill to Stimulate Agricultural Research Passes Finance Committee

“…Congress needs to enact innovative legislation, such as this bill, which will encourage private donors to help bolster agricultural research funding.”

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, today ushered three provisions through the committee, including his bipartisan bill to stimulate new agricultural research by leveraging private dollars to create charitable partnerships between universities and private entities. Thune’s bill, which he introduced last Congress with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), would amend the tax code to allow for the creation of new tax-exempt agricultural research organizations, which are similar to medical research organizations that have been successfully supporting innovation in medical sciences since the 1950s.

“As we seek to stimulate ag research to better equip our producers with the tools needed to meet the demands of a growing global market, Congress needs to enact innovative legislation, such as this bill, which will encourage private donors to help bolster agricultural research funding,” said Thune. “I am pleased the Finance Committee has moved swiftly on this common-sense legislation to provide a new tool for those wishing to dedicate their own resources to agriculture research. Production agriculture’s current economic strength is a direct result of research that, among other things, has increased crop yields, made livestock healthier, and made food safer. My bill will facilitate the transfer of much-needed private investment to agricultural research.”

Over the last 60 years, agricultural research has expanded food production significantly. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, farm productivity has risen 158 percent since 1948. This increase is attributed to research, by implementing new changes in the efficiency of farming practices and the use of agricultural technology.

However, agricultural scientists warn that failing to invest in agricultural research could jeopardize the future of American food security and safety. The Charitable Agricultural Research Act seeks to address these challenges by creating agricultural research organizations (AROs) that work in conjunction with agricultural and land-grant colleges and universities to conduct research in the field of agriculture.

The Senate Finance Committee also approved Thune’s bipartisan Philanthropic Enterprise Act, which he introduced last year with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). Thune’s bill would recognize and encourage a new type of philanthropy that combines private sector entrepreneurship with charitable giving. Finally, the committee passed a Thune provision to tax propane used as transportation fuel on an energy content basis, rather than a volumetric basis, thus ensuring propane is taxed in a more equitable manner.