Voters abandoning Democrat party in droves as Dems take a hard turn to the left.

Bob Mercer posted some interesting numbers this week regarding the migration of voters in South Dakota.   While numbers of Republican voters remain steady, voters seem to be abandoning the Democrat party by the thousands:

Turning back the calendar two years, Republicans are down by 400-some, Democrats are down by 12,000-plus (yes, that number is correct), and independents / others are up by more than 11,000 (and yes, that number too is correct).

Read that here.

Whenever I read statistics such as that, I’m reminded of the 2014 election where former House Democrat Minority Leader Dale Hargens abandoned the Democrat party to run as a Republican for the state legislature, and made no bones about what prompted the switch:

Hargens was an interesting entry into the Republican primary because he is a legislator that already served for a number of years as  Democrat; and he was a Democrat Minority Whip and Democrat Minority Leader during that time. Hargens said he felt the Democrat party moved away from him in its surge to the left. He said the Democrat Party had “Turned the lights out”.

Read that here (Via SDLiberty).

When one of the recent Democrat party leaders decides that there’s no place for his views among the party faithful, it’s not surprising at all that they’re shedding voters at a mind-shattering pace. But it’s not just Hargens.

Former Democrat legislator Ryan Maher who served in the South Dakota State Senate from 2007-2014 discovered a conservative point of view wasn’t welcome in the Democrat Caucus, and found himself going GOP when he changed political party from Democrat to Republican in November 2010. As he noted in his statement at the time “since Jim Peterson and Julie Bartling have moved on, they made up the conservative wing of the Democrat party, there was really no reason for me to stay behind. ”

Senator Eldon Nygaard found himself in a similar position when he returned to the State Senate after election, with leadership that he found wasn’t aligned with mainstream South Dakota.  One article described Nygaard as having “a pretty moderate to conservative voting record.” and as a business owner his “philosophy regarding government’s role in society is more in line with the Republican Party.”

What other examples are there regarding the Democratic Party’s hard left turn? Two words: Bernie Sanders:

Free college tuition.  Doubling the minimum wage.  A single-payer, universal health care system.  Those are just a few of the campaign promises by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who does not try to hide that he embraces a form of socialism.

and…

Despite his self-described socialist views, Sanders is experiencing an unexpected wave of popularity, and is drawing some of the largest, most electric crowds of any presidential candidate so far.

Read it here.

20 years ago…  possibly even 10 years ago, no one could have predicted that there was a real possibility a registered socialist could top the Democrat ticket for President.

When a self-described socialist is surging among Democrat voters, it’s a sure sign that business-owners and those with conservative views are going to continue to find the environment within the Democrat party less and less hospitable of a place to reside.

It’s evidenced by the continuing trend of impossibly strong Republican showings in elections, and it’s evidenced by the trend of people choosing to be independent, rather than put a D behind their names on that voter registration card.

 

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: A South Dakota Summer

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressA South Dakota Summer
By Senator John Thune

I spent the busy August work period crisscrossing South Dakota, meeting with South Dakotans and taking in the sights and sounds of everything that our great state has to offer in the summertime. I attended fairs from Butte-Lawrence County to Brown County to Turner County and this year’s state fair in Huron; held town hall meetings in Lemmon and Buffalo; wished Godspeed to the 155th Engineering Company; and summer wouldn’t be complete without spending a day on Lake Oahe and checking out the sunset over the Missouri River.

As I traveled the state, I shared news of the good work the Republican-led Senate has accomplished in Washington in just the first few months of the new Congress, and while much was accomplished, there is much more work yet to do. I also shared with South Dakotans the many challenges we face in Washington with a president who is determined to fight us nearly every step of the way. As the old adage goes, “it takes two to tango,” and as long as this president is in the White House, Republicans are going to be left to dance alone. That doesn’t mean we’re giving up the fight, though.

The Obama EPA, for example, is out of control. We will continue to work to stop the EPA’s burdensome overreach, like the so-called “Clean Power Plan” rule, which can be more accurately described as a backdoor national energy tax. This EPA rule will have a devastating impact on small businesses and American families – particularly those who can afford it the least. In fact, this national energy tax will make it harder for families to make ends meet and more costly for businesses to survive – exactly the opposite kind of policy we need from leaders in Washington.

Then there’s the Obama IRS. The American people have never held the IRS in high regard, and after D.C. bureaucrats used their power to target conservative groups for purely political reasons, what little respect remained was lost. The IRS has a long way to go in order to restore the trust and confidence the American people expect and deserve, and I’m glad that Congress will continue to use its oversight ability to investigate this agency and hold bureaucrats accountable.

The work doesn’t end there either. We will continue to vote to repeal Obamacare, fight President Obama’s illegal amnesty, secure our borders, work to redirect federal funding from Planned Parenthood, and make sure the American people’s voices are heard on the president’s flawed Iran nuclear agreement. Where President Obama opposes us, we’ll continue to fight until we have a new president who is willing to work with Republicans to meet the challenges we face.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Responsible Spending Starts with a Budget Process

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateResponsible Spending Starts with a Budget Process
By Senator Mike Rounds
September 4, 2015

With the elections far behind us and so many pressing issues before us – the Iran deal, the rise of ISIS and “lone wolf” terrorists, a national highway bill and cyber security – the need to address our budgetary crisis has fallen out of the limelight recently. But failing to make front-page news doesn’t change the fact that our national debt has more than doubled in the last decade and irresponsible, reckless spending continues to threaten our economy and national security. When you elected me to the United States Senate last fall, I pledged to work to rein in federal spending, address the massive national debt and make government more effective and efficient for the American people. I believe this can best be achieved through enacting a normal budget process.  After all, that’s how it works in South Dakota.

The regular budget process begins when the President submits his budget request to Congress, outlining his ideas for spending priorities for the following fiscal year. Congress then crafts its own budget, a comprehensive road map to be used in the appropriations process. I applaud my colleagues in the Senate for debating and passing a budget for fiscal year 2016 – a rarity under previous Democrat leadership. The budget we passed in the spring sets forth a fiscal path that will rein in spending, grow the economy, repeal Obamacare and protect Americans from new tax burdens. It is the first step that under normal circumstances allows Congress to get to work on the appropriations process and enact meaningful changes to spending and policy.

The process then moves to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. These committees use the budget blueprint – which sets overall spending caps – to consider and vote on 12 appropriations bills which write the specific funding levels for individual programs within the federal government. Once the appropriations bills are passed by both houses of Congress, they then head to the President’s desk and the federal government is funded until the next budget cycle. Until recently, this was the norm in Washington. The perpetual threat of a government shutdown and the uncertainty that temporary funding patches brought were not annual threats.  Unfortunately, this continual threat of a “government shutdown” is simply the newest byproduct of the dysfunction in Washington.

Reviving and staying committed to this process is important for a number of reasons. Enacting a budget through regular order allows elected representatives to affect policy and make certain Congress is being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. It is also the most effective way to rein in spending and tackle our out-of-control debt that recently surpassed $18 trillion.

Finally, a regular budget process prevents us from having to rely on a series of temporary funding patches known as “continuing resolutions” that have plagued our system for too long. For the most part, a continuing resolution continues the status quo and fails to bring about any meaningful discussions about how to best spend your hard-earned taxpayer dollars. It fails to provide long-term certainty and stability to government and by extension the American people it is meant to benefit.

Unfortunately so far this year, Senate Democrats have refused to allow a single appropriations bill to come to the Senate floor for debate. Because it takes a supermajority of 60 senators to proceed to a bill and Republicans currently hold 54 seats, it would require a minimum of 6 Democrats to vote with Republicans in order to consider any appropriations bills on the full Senate floor. Democrats would prefer to filibuster these bills and maintain the status quo on spending and policy – hence discussions of a continuing resolution for fiscal year 2016.  I wholeheartedly disagree with the idea of kicking the can down the road through continuing resolutions – especially when the important policy matters that we face go unaddressed.

I know this common sense approach may not be shared by many in Washington – but for too long, runaway spending has been the norm. We owe it to every American to be responsible stewards of their hard-earned dollars. I believe this is best achieved through a regular budgetary process that brings about serious, thoughtful debate to how and where that money is spent.

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Congresswoman Noem’s Weekly Column: Opening Hearts and Homes

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Opening Hearts and Homes
By Rep. Kristi Noem
September 4, 2015

Bryon and I have always tried to teach our kids that family is more about what is in your heart than in your bloodstream.  Over five years ago, we came to realize just how true that was when my brother Rob and his wife opened their hearts and their home to Ruby, who was just an infant when they adopted her from Ethiopia.  I know the process wasn’t easy and it came with so much stress, but I couldn’t imagine our family without this sweet and spunky little girl and her sister, who they adopted a few years later.

It truly warms my heart to know that this is a story shared by many families in South Dakota and I’m honored each year to be able to nominate one special South Dakota family as “Angels in Adoption.”  This year’s “Angels” nominee and award recipient is a very inspiring family from Rapid City.

Paul and Dotty Enos have 14 children, four of which are adopted.  In 2007, they chose to extend their family by adopting twins, an infant boy and girl. As if that didn’t make their family busy enough, they opened their home to foster children the following year.  In 2009, they took in their first foster child, who they adopted two years later.  Over the next six years, they fostered more than a dozen children.

A few years after they first became foster parents, a close friend of their daughter’s lost both her parents.  Once again, they opened their home and invited this young woman into their family where she was welcomed with love.  Without a doubt, the Enos family has earned the distinction of being called “Angels in Adoption.”  Of course, if you ask them, they’ll tell you the true angels are the children out there looking for a home.

There are, of course, financial challenges that come any time a family is expanded – whether through adoption, foster care, or otherwise.  And while the Enos family has said that when you do the right thing, the finances take care of themselves, I want to do all I can to make adoption more affordable for good families like this.

Since 1997, the federal government has offered a tax credit to help offset adoption fees, attorney fees, court costs, travel expenses, and re-adoption expenses for intercountry adoptions.  This is a great credit that has helped many families, but I’d like to improve it further.  Currently, families can only apply the benefit if they have an income tax liability, meaning they owe the federal government money at the end of the year.  That doesn’t benefit many middle-class families.  That’s why I’d like to see the tax credit fully refundable, meaning they’ll receive the benefit regardless of how much they owe on Tax Day.

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy, I have helped sponsor legislation to accomplish this and am committed to moving it through the legislative process.  After all, adoption fees should never stand in the way of finding a child a home.

Hanging in the Enos’ home is a sign that reads: “A hundred years from now… it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove … but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”  What a testament to their family’s values.

Thank you to all of those who have opened your hearts, your homes, and even your families to a child.  The love that is shown to them can and will change our world.

The Enos Family

Enos Family picture

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Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Preserving A Century-Long Tradition

daugaardheader DaugaardPreserving A Century-Long Tradition
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Next month, tens of thousands of hunters will take to the fields and grasslands of South Dakota to seek a colorful upland game bird – the rooster pheasant.

Over the last century, pheasant hunting has become one of South Dakota’s most beloved traditions. This will be the 96th year that South Dakotans have pursued ring-necks in our state. According to our South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Agency, it should be a good year. In their annual pheasant brood survey, the pheasant count is up by 42 percent.

The news wasn’t as good a couple of years ago when the pheasant count was down 64 percent from the previous year. The pheasant population was the lowest it had been in a dozen years.

In response to the low numbers that year, I hosted the Pheasant Habitat Summit and appointed a work group to evaluate hundreds of comments, suggestions and letters that resulted from the summit.

The work group made eight recommendations, and some have already been accomplished.  The Federal Duck Stamp was raised to $25, and crop insurance is now available for winter wheat in South Dakota.

The work group also found that lack of adequate habitat is a problem. Pheasant numbers are higher where quality habitat still exists – areas like grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and in growing winter wheat fields. With the decline in CRP acres, conserving habitat areas in our state is a challenge.

One of the work group’s recommendations was to establish the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Fund. The Fund provides a permanent funding source for wildlife habitat work. So far, private donors have contributed a total of $425,000 to the Fund and state government has dedicated $350,000.

Even with the increase in pheasant numbers this year, we still need to be proactive about improving habitat. Not surprisingly, in addition to habitat, pheasant numbers have a lot to do with the weather. South Dakota has experienced a couple of good years for pheasant nesting thanks to favorable weather conditions; but we can’t risk our pheasant hunting future by counting on that weather pattern to continue.

That is why I’m challenging the Habitat Conservation Board to raise an additional $1 million in private money for habitat conservation. I’m pledging to match that amount with $1 million in state funds, if the group can meet that goal.

Pheasant hunting is a treasured century-long tradition in our state. If you’re interested in helping us preserve this tradition for future generations, I hope you’ll consider giving a donation to the South Dakota Habitat Conservation Fund. To donate, go to the South Dakota Community Foundation website and search “South Dakota Conservation Fund.” Help our S.D. pheasants find more nesting homes.

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Attorney General Explanations Released for Initiated Measure to Give Certain Organizations the Right to Charge Fees

jackleyheader2Attorney General Explanations Released for Initiated Measure to
Give Certain Organizations the Right to Charge Fees

Marty JackleyPIERRE, S.D.- South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley announced today an Attorney General Explanation for an initiated measure has been filed with the Secretary of State. This statement will appear on petitions that will be circulated by the sponsor of the measure. If the sponsor obtains a sufficient number of signatures (13,871) on the petitions by November 9, 2015, as certified by the Secretary of State, the measure will be placed on the ballot for the November 2016 general election.

1. An initiated measure to give certain organizations the right to charge fees

Under South Dakota law, the Attorney General is responsible for preparing explanations for proposed initiated measures, referred laws, and South Dakota Constitutional Amendments. Specifically, the explanation includes a title, an objective, clear and simple summary of the purpose and effect of the proposed measure and a description of the legal consequences. The Attorney General Explanation is not a statement either for or against the proposed measure.

To view the Attorney General Explanation for the measure, as well as the final form of the measure submitted to this office, please click on the link:

http://atg.sd.gov/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=DnOTHPCC4bA%3d&tabid=442

Initiated Measure to Allow the Charging of Fees

To date the Attorney General has released Attorney General Explanations for the following:

1. An initiated measure to set a maximum finance charge for certain licensed money lenders
2. An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to allow referral of state and municipal laws affecting public peace, health, safety and the support of government and also to limit the ability to amend or repeal initiated laws
3. An initiated measure to legalize marijuana for medical use
4. An initiated measure to decriminalize the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia
5. An initiated measure to criminalize the transfer of alcoholic beverages
6. An initiated measure to criminalize the transfer of tobacco and tobacco paraphernalia
7. An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to provide for state legislative redistricting by a commission

8. An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to expand rights for crime victims
9. An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution limiting the ability to set statutory interest rates for loans
10. An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution establishing nonpartisan elections
11. An initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution establishing nonpartisan elections and requiring secret ballot elections for certain legislative officers
12. An initiated measure to give certain organizations the right to charge fees

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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,

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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?