Release: Thune, Rounds Request Extension of Comment Period on Proposed DOL Rule

Thune, Rounds Request Extension of Comment Period on Proposed DOL Rule

“The public and stakeholders must be given ample time to review new regulations promulgated by federal agencies, especially one of this magnitude.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez requesting a 60-day extension to the public comment period on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on overtime rules announced in July by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

“This massive regulation impacts millions of people, yet your department has only provided 60 days for public comment,” the senators wrote. “The public and stakeholders must be given ample time to review new regulations promulgated by federal agencies, especially one of this magnitude. In 2003, the Department of Labor introduced a proposal that was only 37 pages in length compared to this year’s 100-page proposal, yet it allowed for a more transparent 90-day public comment period.”

Full text of the letter can be found below:

The Honorable Tom Perez
Secretary
United States Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue Northwest
Washington, DC 20210

Dear Secretary Perez:

We are writing to request a 60-day extension to the public comment period on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on overtime rules announced by the U.S. Department of Labor on July 6, 2015. This rule would extend overtime to salaried employees and could significantly alter the labor market dynamics in industries across the country. The 60-day comment period, which expires on September 4, 2015, is simply not long enough.

Currently, salaried workers earning more than $455 per week are exempt from overtime. The proposed regulation would raise the exemption to $984 per week, meaning over 6 million new workers will be eligible for overtime wages. These proposed overtime rule changes will almost double the amount of people that qualify for overtime pay by increasing the individual salary threshold beyond $50,000, which may lead to unintended consequences on businesses in a variety of industries across the country.

This massive regulation impacts millions of people, yet your department has only provided 60 days for public comment. The public and stakeholders must be given ample time to review new regulations promulgated by federal agencies, especially one of this magnitude. In 2003, the Department of Labor introduced a proposal that was only 37 pages in length compared to this year’s 100-page proposal, yet it allowed for a more transparent 90-day public comment period.

Employers and others affected by this rule change deserve the opportunity to weigh this regulatory expansion of overtime pay and evaluate how it will affect their employees and weekly working hours, but this takes time. A 60-day extension would provide more time for responses to be included in the public record and allow for greater public involvement.

We appreciate your consideration on this matter and look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

###

 

Nelson kicking off 2016 PUC Campaign with fundraising letter to delegates

Public Utilities Commissioner Chris Nelson sent this plea for funds out this week to GOP Convention Delegates, kicking off his 2016 campaign to return to the Public Utilities Commission:

Chris Nelson Letter

Nelson ended last year with $14,612.25 in his campaign account. That comes after raising (roughly around) $113,500 and spending $99,802 in his 2012 campaign, leaving him only about 10-15% in his campaign account for seed money.

Which isn’t bad, considering the last person the Dems ran for PUC, David Allen, raised $970, spent $475, and walked away with $490 left over in his campaign account. (cha-ching!)

Should the rule of God overrule the rule of law?

From the New York Times, comes another rehashing of the gal who would rather go to jail, than issue a marriage license to a same sex couple:

A county clerk who, through her defiance of a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, became a national symbol of religious opposition to same-sex marriage was jailed Thursday after a federal judge here declared her in contempt of court.

The clerk, Kim Davis of Rowan County, Ky., was ordered detained and later rejected a proposal to allow her deputies to process same-sex marriage licenses that could have prompted her release.

Instead, on a day when Ms. Davis’s lawyer said she would not retreat from or modify her stand despite a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Judge David L. Bunning of United States District Court secured commitments from five of Ms. Davis’s deputies to begin providing the licenses.

Read it here.

Here in South Dakota, our Attorney General has weighed in on the issue himself:

Marty JackleyAttorney General Marty Jackley says if a county employee in South Dakota has religious objections to gay marriage they can have another employee issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

Jackley said Thursday that the constitutional right to marry that’s now guaranteed to same-sex couples must coexist with the constitutional right of freedom of religion for county employees.

Read it here.

So, here’s the conundrum. Like the gal who found god amidst her multiple divorces, if someone has a religious objection, should they be able to say “nah” to a same sex couple?

The phrase from the bible that comes to mind is “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” – which gives rise to a wide disparity of opinion as to how we should submit to earthly authority versus that of the good book.

Should the rule of God’s law supersede the laws of men?

Release of Additional Findings on Death Investigation of Sarah Circle Bear at the Brown County Jail

jackleyheader2 Marty JackleyRelease of Additional Findings on Death Investigation of Sarah Circle Bear at the Brown County Jail

PIERRE, S.D – Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today that the Division of Criminal Investigation has concluded their investigation into the death of Sarah Circle Bear at the Brown County Jail.

On August 13, 2015, final autopsy results were released and confirmed that Circle Bear had died as a result of acute methamphetamine/amphetamine toxicity. Toxicology analysis of blood obtained at autopsy was positive for a toxic and lethal concentration of methamphetamine. The autopsy further showed no further evidence of injury which would have caused or contributed to her death.

Circle Bear was booked in the Brown County Jail on July 3, 2015 at approximately 11:00 p.m. She spent time in both a holding cell and a jail cell throughout the early morning hours of July 4th, which included a mental health evaluation from a mental health professional and was cleared to remain in the custody of the jail. After the evaluation, Circle Bear was taken to the cell block where she remained until approximately 8:18 a.m. on July 5, when a cellmate called for medical attention for Circle Bear. She was removed from cell block and taken to a holding cell where she was more closely monitored by jail staff for the next two hours, including checking her vital signs and consulted medical staff via telephone. At 10:37 a.m. Circle Bear was then found unresponsive and EMT services were called immediately. Jail staff began to administer CPR until EMT services arrived at 10:41 a.m. Circle Bear was then transported to local hospital where she later died.

On three separate occasions Circle Bear was asked if she had taken or was under the influence of any illegal drugs, including the time of her arrest, booking into Brown County Jail and during the mental health evaluation and each time she denied.

After the review of jail surveillance video and numerous interviews, investigators found no evidence to indicate Circle Bear obtained methamphetamine while in custody at the Brown County Jail and the totality of evidence demonstrates she brought the controlled substance into the Brown County Jail in a way that was not detectable from regular and acceptable jail procedures. The investigation results were found to be consistent with the forensic autopsy findings. The source of the methamphetamine is part of the criminal investigation associated with the initial traffic stop in Roberts County and may be further disclosed through normal course of those proceedings.

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What’s with all the talk where the press is cultivating and recruiting Thune opponents?

Towards the end of today’s edition of the “Political Junkies” show on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, the people on the show mention how it seems KELO reporter Kevin Woster is trying to stir up recruiting a candidate against US Senator John Thune.

At the same time, KSOO reporter Todd Epp has been floating KSFY Republican hater weather man Phil Schrek as a candidate against our state’s senior US Senator.

At the same time, you don’t see Democrats putting that kind of emphasis on candidate recruitment against Thune. So, Democrats don’t care, or they’re unable to recruit, oddly leaving members of the mainstream media who are sending people and names up the flagpole to see if something catches the wind.

That seems to leave the question – “What gives?”

It is almost as if there are those in the media who are nervous there’s not going to be the kind of advertising dollars that get thrown around as they would in a competitive year.

Or more likely, it’s as if they’re trying to gin up someone to run, because without a Thune opponent, they’re left with an already hopelessly lopsided Congressional race (where Hawks is a sure loser), and a Public Utilities Commission contest that’s also a non-starter for the other side.  It’s as if they desperately want something else besides the Republican margin of victory in the legislative races to report on.

I’ve heard of press bias before, but when it seems they’re out recruiting for the Democrats – that takes the cake.

Not many Statewide elected officials can rock a speedo… Except for one.

I’m 30 years (and at least 30 beers) past my days wearing a speedo as part of the Pierre Swim Team. But if my eyes don’t deceive me, there’s someone on the SD Prairie Masters Swim Team who looks an awful lot like someone who just stood for election on a statewide basis.

stateauditorinaspeedo

Yes, I do believe that’s State Auditor Steve Barnett in the back row. Good for you buddy!  He shares the sport with former Governor Frank Farrar, who is dominating the 85-89 age group. I also think I saw a picture of Pam (Janklow) Derheim who I used to swim with on the PST on the website.

It’s great exercise, and if you’re a former swimmer, a great opportunity to take it up again, if but just to see Steve compete in a skimpy swimsuit. (I kid, I kid).  Maybe I’ll start a Brookings group myself, so I can dust off my flip-turn, and be the “B” swimmer I always strove to be.

Here’s the link for SD Masters swimming.

(Update…. okay, now he’s just showing off. I think I need to start a new blog – the incredible State Auditor!)

RCJ: Accused beer spiller acquitted in racially tinged incident in Rapid City.

From the Rapid City Journal:

Trace O’Connell, the Philip man accused of spilling bear on Native American children at a local hockey game in January, has been acquitted of the disorderly conduct charge against him.

The verdict, issued in the racially charged trial, was filed Tuesday morning by Magistrate Judge Eric Strawn.

Read it here.

How do you think that one is going to go over?

And do you think something really happened, or was it a social medial lynch mob ginning things up until it tool on a life of it’s own?

College out of reach? Rein in the 4th branch of government.

From the Argus Leader, the Board of Regents is telling the legislative planning commission that College is becoming out of reach because of it’s expense:

While the Board has worked to make college more affordable and more accessible for lower income students, there is still work to be done, Michael Rush, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents said.

Rush said there is a perception among South Dakota students that college carries too high a price tag. He said though the number of students enrolling in post-secondary institutions has increased over several years, the numbers aren’t as high as he’d like.

and…

Partly to blame for that shying away from postsecondary education is the price tag. South Dakota public colleges have the second highest tuition rates in the region for residents. Of South Dakota’s neighboring states, the only state with a higher tuition price tag is Minnesota.

Read that her.

College is getting expensive? Well, it’s not cheap to build a fiefdom. Maybe it’s just me, but personally, I’m of the opinion that the BOR has done much of this to themselves.

I recall several years ago, instead of having everything processed in Pierre like the rest of state government, they formed their own accounting & payment system to the tune of several million dollars. We have how many universities in how many locations at this point?

The Board of Regents has long been considered the 4th Branch of government, and has managed to get by with little oversight in comparison to the rest of state government. If their mission is to provide a college education to those who qualify academically, coming back and saying they need more money for scholarships so people can afford it is putting the cart before the horse.

Before they come to the taxpayer’s well, what they need to do is to look how they can internally cut costs, and make decisions as to what are needs and what are wants.

I hold out the example in looking at colleges over the past few years with my kids. SDSU built a rock wall for student use. Next thing you know, USD built one, and boasted how theirs was a foot higher than SDSU’s. Yes, really.

Yes, I’m sure much of that is paid by student fees, as coming from my kids and my wife as she finishes up her doctorate. But, that example is a general pervasive attitude. There is no thought on “how can we college more affordable by reducing expenses?” It’s a question of “how much can we get away with raising student fees?”

Why is it inconceivable to go to a single university system? Or perhaps a study on how can we can consolidate some of the smaller ones into the larger ones? Or perhaps shift the accounting system back under State Government.

If they want to make college more affordable, that’s where the Board of Regents needs to start. Long before they work on ways where they can continue to charge students more.