Is this “The Better” LRC?

(Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared my the daily original piece for the SDWC Daily Digest for 1/14/2015. Although I missed last night’s edition due to illness, it’s delivered daily for those who don’t monitor the blogs on a constant basis. If you’re not subscribing, you should be. Original content, a daily review, items of note and more.)

Is this “the better” LRC?

If you hadn’t heard, the South Dakota Legislative Research Council has taken a few hits in the last couple of years.

In recent years it had employees accused of sharing confidential legislative drafts with other legislators. It saw long-time hands & managers retire and be replaced, and had a decade-long veteran executive director resign after a critical review commissioned by the National Conference of State Legislatures which recommended sweeping changes, some of which were implemented.

A new Executive Director, Jason Hancock, was brought in in late summer/early fall from the Idaho Department of Education, where Hancock served as Deputy Director, and many claimed that this would right the ship from the problems that the LRC had in recent years.

However, for a ship that is supposed to be on a corrected course, the LRC seems to be somewhat limping along as it finds it’s way. For the past decade of on-line bill filing, pre-filed measures were available beginning in mid-December on the LRC’s web site. This year? They finally appeared a day or so before session.

In previous years, as measures had been introduced and filed by members, they had been promptly filed and placed on-line for public review. But the new LRC? We’ve ended two days of the legislation session, and nearly no new  measures (besides those pre-filed) are yet to appear on the LRC’s web site.   One Legislator I spoke with today echoed the lament, and noted that their performance was slower than any other year they’d ever seen. (And that’s saying it in a far nicer manner than they did.)

When it had been brought up by this and other web sites earlier, Capitol news stringer Bob Mercer was quick to rush to their defense, and claimed the LRC was “proceeding with caution.”

The LRC’s cautious speed might work for Bob, but for Legislators and the public, we were told this was going to be a better LRC.

We’re still waiting to see it.

Release: Powder River Decision a Victory for Ellsworth and the Air Force, Says Noem

Powder River Decision a Victory for Ellsworth and the Air Force, Says Noem

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today applauded the U.S. Air Force’s final Record of Decision on the Powder River Training Complex as a positive step toward finalizing the proposed expansion of air space.

“Nothing can replace the value of air time for our airmen,” said Noem.  “Proper training and readiness are critical to our airmen’s safety and success in the field.  With the expansion of air space at Powder River, Ellsworth Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force will have critical access to one of the largest training complexes in the country.  I have worked with the Air Force and monitored the progress of the Powder River Training Complex expansion since coming to Congress.  The Record of Decision released today clears an important hurdle for the U.S. Air Force and moves us one step closer to finalizing this mission-critical project.”


Release: Following Thune Backing, Air Force Finalizes Critical Training Airspace Expansion

Following Thune Backing, Air Force Finalizes Critical Training Airspace Expansion

-Approval of PRTC increases national security while saving taxpayers money-

John_Thune_official_photoWASHINGTON, D.C.—Following nearly nine years of collaboration between U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and the Air Force to expand the military training airspace over South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming, known as the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC), Thune today applauded the Air Force’s announcement that it finalized its Record of Decision (ROD) to approve the PRTC. Now that the Air Force has completed its portion of the process, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will complete its review before the training airspace can be utilized.

“It is rare to have an opportunity to increase national security while saving taxpayer dollars, but that’s precisely what this project does,” said Thune. “After nearly nine years working with the Air Force on this important expansion project, I’m pleased we’ve entered the final step to ensuring our Air Force pilots and personnel have the adequate airspace to perform the critical training they need in conditions that more closely resemble combat missions. I’m proud of the vital role Ellsworth continues to play in protecting and preserving America’s freedom at home and abroad and look forward to the FAA finalizing the PRTC expansion.”

The PRTC expansion will provide Air Force pilots and personnel with expanded airspace to perform the critical training they need in conditions that more closely resemble combat missions. The expansion will also allow for large force exercises where multiple aircraft and crews can train together simulating a combat environment without live fire exercises.

The new Powder River Training Complex will be divided into four quadrants, with each of these quadrants divided into low-, medium-, and high-altitude sections. With the exception of Large Force Exercises, which will be for only 10 days per year, only a few quadrants will be in use during the week, and only for a few hours each day. The airspace will continue to be open for civilian and commercial use when it is not being used for training exercises.

The PRTC expansion not only marks the largest expansion of Special Use Airspace in America’s history, but also represents an important cost-saving initiative. The expanded airspace will save Ellsworth Air Force Base up to $23 million per year and is the first time the FAA and Air Force have worked jointly on such an effort, setting a precedent for further cost-saving cooperation down the road and addressing stakeholder concerns up front.

Ellsworth Air Force Base has a $350 million impact on South Dakota’s economy and is the state’s second largest employer.


Release: Maricela Diaz Convicted by Jury for First Degree Murder

Maricela Diaz Convicted by Jury for First Degree Murder

PIERRE, S.D – Attorney General Marty Jackley and Hanson County States Attorney Jim Davies announced today that a Minnehaha County jury returned a verdict finding Maricela N. Diaz, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, guilty of first degree murder, class A felony, maximum sentence up to life in prison; felony murder arson, class A felony, maximum sentence up to life in prison, first degree arson, class 2 felony, with maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison; felony murder kidnapping, class A felony, maximum sentence up to life in prison and second-degree aggravated kidnapping class 1 felony, with a maximum penalty of up to 50 years in prison.

“This jury verdict is the result of a very dedicated and hardworking investigation and prosecution team. Diaz and Salgado have been found guilty of the cold blooded murder of a 16 year-old innocent little girl. I struggle to believe that the family of Jasmine Guevara will ever find closure, but I hope that this conviction will allow them to begin to heal,” said Jackley. “As Attorney General, I will be reviewing Mr. Salgado’s testimony and case to determine whether he is in violation of his plea agreement and if so the appropriate remedy.”

Charges stem that on November 10, 2009, Maricela N. Diaz and Alexander Salgado murdered Jasmine Guevara. Diaz and then-boyfriend Salgado were both arrested in November of 2009 for luring Guevara to a remote location in rural Hanson County, where they stabbed her, cut her throat and then set her car on fired while she was in the trunk. Salgado plead guilty to second-degree murder in August of 2010 for his involvement in Guevara’s death. He is currently serving a life sentence at the State Penitentiary.

This case was investigated by the Hanson County’s Sheriff’s Office, Mitchell Police Department and the Division of Criminal Investigation and prosecuted by the Hanson County States Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office.


Release: AFP South Dakota Announces 2015 Legislative Priorities

From my mailbox:

AFP South Dakota Announces 2015 Legislative Priorities

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.— Today, Americans for Prosperity South Dakota unveiled its 2015 state and federal legislative priorities.  In 2015, AFP will continue expanding its field operations in order to hold lawmakers accountable and promote policies that further economic freedom and encourage fiscal responsibility.

“In 2014, we launched the South Dakota chapter of AFP to make sure our state maintains its commitment to free-market principles,” said AFP South Dakota State Director Ben Lee.  “We have had great success thus far and our 2015 priorities demonstrate our continued commitment to ensuring lawmakers enact pro-growth policy that will improve the lives of their constituents. Less government and more freedom is a great recipe for advancing the well-being of all South Dakotans.”

AFP South Dakota’s 2015 federal priorities include free-market reforms in the areas of taxes, and spending, healthcare, and energy. To view the complete federal agenda, visit

In South Dakota, AFP will be engaging on the Highway Funding Bill, opposing the expansion of Medicaid and fighting burdensome EPA regulations.

In the coming weeks, Americans for Prosperity South Dakota will be mobilizing its network of grassroots activists through letters, phone calls, and door-to-door canvassing to promote it’s Reform America 2015 legislative priorities.


I’ve seen this before. Weiland sends post-election plea for money.

Apparently, Rick Weiland sent a message out this morning via e-mail blast. And the message was “send him money, despite being crushed in the election several months ago.”

Haven’t we seen someone else do the desperate “send me money after the election letter” recently?  Because Rick’s appeal does seem very “Bosworthian.”

 ———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Rick Weiland <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, Jan 15, 2015 at 8:04 AM
Subject: We Sent a Message

The U.S. Senate advanced legislation on Monday night to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and begin debate on the bill, by a vote of 63 to 32. The House passed the bill last week by a vote of 266 to 153. The final vote on the bill is expected to come in the last of week of January, so time is running out.

Nearly 1,600 people, in a matter of a just a few hours, agreed that building the Keystone pipeline is more about “big oil” and their “big money” influence over our Congress and elected leaders than it is about jobs or energy security, and signed our petition. You can view the signatures by clicking the button below:

Because of your support, our petition has been sent to President Obama, Senators McConnell and Reid, Speaker Boehner and Congresswoman Pelosi urging them to consider all the facts and environmental impacts of the Keystone XL pipeline.

We are continuing to make South Dakota a demonstration project and a nationwide beacon for the fight against big money.  Thank you for your standing up and for your help at this critical time.

Rick Weiland

Paid for by People for Rick Weiland

People for Rick Weiland
PO Box 1488
Sioux Falls SD 57105 United States

Democrat Chairwoman: “It’s been worse.” Reality: No. It really hasn’t been.

From the Capitol Journal comes an almost bizarre line of propaganda out of Democrat Chairwoman Ann Tornberg to the coffee clutch size gathering of Democrats she was able to entice to listen:

Ann Tornberg, elected last month as chairwoman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, told the group of 17 that in this new year, when there are only 20 Democrats among the 105 legislators meeting in the Capitol in Pierre, it will take grassroots organizing by everyone to bring the party back to relevance.

It’s been worse, and the same things that worked for the party back then can again, said Tornberg, who is 59 and from Beresford.


Of the 17 who met at the Long Branch saloon downtown on Pierre Street on Monday evening to hold the regular meeting of the Hughes and Stanley counties’ Democrats and to hear Tornberg, two were men and four were college women working as interns in the Legislature.


Tornberg ran for the state Senate from District 16 near Sioux Falls, losing to Republican incumbent Dan Lederman, despite touting herself as pro-life, pro-family, pro-agriculture and pro-education.

She got nearly 45 percent of the vote and forced Lederman to spend $75,000, Tornberg said. And she can relate to many Democrats in the state in knowing the bad feeling of losing an election, she said.

Read it here.

Where do I start?   Tornberg tries to turn the Democrat frowns upside down by telling them “It’s been worse.”  Reality to Anne: No, it hasn’t. It really hasn’t been worse.  If it has been worse, it hasn’t been in our lifetimes.

obamas_allyThe even funnier part was the line where she claimed “She…. forced Lederman to spend $75,000.”  Another dose of reality to Tornberg: How did she force him to do this? With psychic ability?

Dan didn’t spend it out of his own pocket. He didn’t write the check from personal funds. Lederman was able to raise $75,000 to beat Tornberg because people didn’t want a hyper-political Obama sycophant in office.

The voters in District 16 had rejected Tornberg for office several times already, and made the 2014 election an exclamation point after she’d wrapped her arms around Obama in the previous cycle, hosting events for his re-election.

And serving as the Democrats’ convention chairwoman didn’t help much either.

So, as Tornberg spouts this message of Democrat hope across the State, she should keep those things in mind, lest her nose start growing like Pinocchio’s . This IS the low point for Democrats, and whatever she did in the last election, as far as Republicans are concerned, she can keep doing it.

Press Release: Thune Calls on FWS to Continue Normal Forest Management if Long-Eared Bat is Listed Under ESA

Thune Calls on FWS to Continue Normal Forest Management
if Long-Eared Bat is Listed Under ESA

-Potential bat listing and FWS forest management recommendations
endanger forest health, Black Hills jobs-

John_Thune_official_photoWASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today sent a bipartisan letter with U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and 11 of his senate colleagues to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe expressing concern over the potential listing of the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The letter calls on the FWS to revise the misguided and harmful forest management restrictions accompanying the endangered species listing released last year, and instead issue a regulation to allow normal forest management practices and minimize economic impact on states.

“If FWS is serious about protecting both the northern long-eared bat and the Black Hills National Forest—it will drop its proposed listing, focus on the real threat to the bat by addressing white-nose syndrome, and allow normal forest management to continue,” said Thune. “The proposed listing doesn’t address the real problem—death loss due to white nose syndrome. The FWS needs to focus on the real issue instead of putting forest health and 1,500 jobs in the Black Hills area at risk.”

Listing the long-eared bat as endangered and implementation of the “Northern Long-eared Bat Interim Conference and Planning Guidance” released last year could effectively end timber management in the Black Hills National Forest, which will cause declining forest health, increase the likelihood of large scale wildfires, and severely impact the timber industry in the Black Hills. Thune sent a letter on October 14, 2014, along with Representative Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) calling on the FWS to withdraw its proposed listing of the NLEB under the ESA due to insufficient supporting data to warrant the listing.

Joining Thune and Klobuchar in their letter are Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.).

Text of the senators’ letter is below:

January 14, 2015

The Honorable Dan Ashe
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Director Ashe:

We write to express our concern about the impact of white-nose syndrome on the northern long-eared bat (NLEB) and the potential listing of the bat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

With white-nose syndrome (WNS) occurring in only 17 of the 39 states that constitute the NLEB’s range, the U.S. forest products industry, along with other stakeholders, have called into question actions taken and proposals offered thus far by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to preserve the bat. If during the final review process the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determines it necessary to list the northern long-eared bat as threatened, we urge you to issue a rule under Section 4(d) of the ESA concurrently in order to allow normal forest management practices and minimize economic impacts in our states.

In January 2014, the USFWS released Northern Long-eared Bat Interim Conference and Planning Guidance designed to answer questions it received from various federal agencies on how best to reduce harmful impacts to the bat and its habitat through certain conservation measures and activities. Since the release of this guidance, we have heard numerous concerns about the potential negative impacts these recommendations would have on forest economies if implemented, including the prohibition on harvesting timber from April 1 to September 30 each year.

The challenges that affected industries in our states would face should a threatened listing be issued could be minimized through practical and flexible solutions provided in a special rule under Section 4(d) of the ESA. By issuing a special 4(d) rule concurrently with a threatened listing, the USFWS could reduce harm to bat populations, while at the same time allowing certain typical forest and land management activities to continue. Additionally, we urge you to revise the Interim Conference and Planning Guidance to reflect the conservation benefits from normal forest management activities to northern long-eared bats concurrent with your listing decision.

Protecting the bat from extinction is a goal that we all share. By working together we can ensure the health of our forests, and maintain forest communities and local economies, while preserving the northern long-eared bat for generations to come.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Cc: The Honorable Sally Jewell, Secretary, U.S. Department of Interior
Cc: Chairman Michael Boots, White House Council on Environmental Quality