Argus Leader Reporter Dana Ferguson abandoning ship for Minnesota

Word is coming this hour from Minnesota that Argus Leader Dana Ferguson is abandoning ship for Minnesota:

Dana Ferguson, who has covered South Dakota politics for the Sioux Falls Argus Leader during the past three legislative sessions, will join Forum News Service beginning Nov. 1.

and..

“I’m thrilled to join the Forum News Service team and look forward to getting to know and work with our readers in Minnesota,” Ferguson said.

Read it all here.

USD Professor notes error in smoking ballot measure and explanation, won’t bring in anticipated revenue.

There’s an interesting story that just came out noting a USD Economic professor discovered errors in the fiscal note for the tobacco measure, as well as in the explanation itself, as he explains how its not going to bring in the kind of revenue that the promoters of the measure promise.

After attempting to solve the problem himself for three hours, Letellier and Mike Allgrunn, the dean of the economics department, determined the numbers were inaccurate.

The ballot measure will increase the tax on a pack of cigarettes from a $1.53 to $2.53. Taxes would also be increased on wholesale products, such as chewing tobacco and cigars, with an increase from a 35 percent rate to a 55 percent tax. With this increase in taxes, the state is hoping to bring in  25 million dollars in tax revenue.

and…

“Their assumptions will probably not bring in anywhere near $20 million because they are assuming people will not change their behavior by raising taxes,” Letellier said. “They are assuming they will still be getting all this revenue, the same amount of revenue that they got the last time they raised the taxes on cigarettes.”

and…

“It becomes really challenging when (voters) can’t be confident in the system if the person who is administrating can’t give the right numbers,” Hellwege said. “And what’s worse is that they may carry this negative attitude with them for the rest of their life. We know voting is a habit, and if you don’t develop that habit early on you may never become a regular voter.”

Read it all here.

And that’s not good. So… how exactly does one fix that kind of thing?

Release: Amendment W Overrides Constitution – Grows Government – Allows Unlimited Rules

Amendment W Overrides Constitution – Grows Government – Allows Unlimited Rules

A growing coalition opposing Constitutional Amendment W is warning that its passage would grow government and saddle citizens with a powerful, unrestrained ethics tribunal.

“Amendment W adds an entirely new Article to the South Dakota Constitution that claims to be superior to all other Articles of the existing Constitution.  It creates an unelected ethics tribunal that has the power to pass rules that cannot be altered by any other branch of government and that may not be referred to a vote of the people as are laws passed by the legislature,” said David Owen, chairman of the W is Wrong coalition.

“This new tribunal will have the power to adopt rules that deal with many subjects including “conflicts of interest” for elected officials and all public employees.  The tribunal could adopt rules that require all public employees, including teachers and law enforcement officers, to make public their federal tax returns.  Elected officials could be included as well.  And, businesses holding public contracts could be forced to disclose their financial statements, ownership structure and private details of family members who don’t even have a financial tie to the business – rules have been voted down in the past by South Dakota voters.  Once adopted by the tribunal, there is nothing that can be done to alter or stop that rule from going into effect,” Owen said.

Owen added that the ethics tribunal will only have to hold public hearings to adopt the rules. There is no review by elected representatives, the rule cannot be referred to the voters and a court challenge would have no basis because Amendment W claims to have control over every other provision of the Constitution.   The only way to change the actions of the non-elected ethics board is to return to the voters for a statewide vote.  Amendment W is too poorly written and confusing, overrides the entire Constitution and gives too much power to an unelected board.

Amendment W is Wrong – Vote NO on Amendment W

www.wiswrong.com

Reference sheet:

Below are citations from Amendment W that back up claims of the media release above.

Amendment W  Overrides Constitution – Amendment W proclaims superiority over all other provisions of the State Constitution with this language: “In any case of a conflict between any provision of this Article and any other provision contained in this Constitution, the provisions of this Article shall control. (Section 2; Subsection 17, second paragraph).

Ethics Board operates separately from other branches of government – This language clearly separates the Ethics Board from other branches of government:  “The State Government Accountability Board is as an independent entity, notwithstanding any other provision of the constitution of South Dakota, including Article II (that says the powers of the state are divided between Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches)  . . . (Section 2 subsection 15; paragraph 3).

Board Granted Rules Authority – The Board is granted authority to adopt rules dealing with the following subjects “Adopt ethics rules, subject to rulemaking procedures as defined by law*, including provisions on campaign finance, conflicts of interest, confidential information, use of position, contracts with government agencies, legislative recusal, and financial interest disclosure, to which any elected or appointed official, judge, or employee of state or local government shall be subject” (section 2; Subsection 15 (3).)

*The reference to “rule making procedures as defined by law” only deals with the use of public notice and public hearings.  It does not allow the legislature to review or potentially amend rules written by a new branch of Government.  In fact the provisions for review by the legislative rule committee to see if the rules fit the laws passed by the legislature will not apply to rules passed by the ethics board.

Judicial Review – the language in Amendment W that refers to the actions of the Ethics Tribunal as being subject to Judicial Review is meaningless – challenges would have to be for federal rights violations because of language in Amendment W give it complete control over the state constitution.  There is no meaningful legal review possible.

Amendment W is Wrong – Vote NO on Amendment W.

Paid for by the W is Wrong Committee – PO Box 190 Pierre, SD 57501

Noem, Peterson Lead Bipartisan Push for Year-Round E15

Noem, Peterson Lead Bipartisan Push for Year-Round E15

Washington, D.C. – Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) today led more than 20 House members in urging the EPA to approve year-round E15. The bipartisan letter to Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler strongly encourages the Administration to reduce federal regulations on ethanol instead of implementing policies that only work against farmers and slow the biofuels market down.

“Our ag economy has really suffered in recent years,” said Noem. “By ending unnecessary limitations on E15, we have a big opportunity to help farmers and our ag economy, save consumers money, and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.”

Noem has been a leading ethanol advocate in Congress, consistently pushing to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Obama administration repeatedly fell short of meeting the law’s targets, and former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt failed to make the adjustments needed in the new administration. While her work on that continues, Noem has put immense pressure on the Trump administration to lift E15 restrictions and allow its use year-round. She has met on numerous occasions with President Trump and top administration officials to advocate in support of year-round E15.

Reps. Noem and Peterson lead the bipartisan Biofuels Caucus.

LETTER TEXT:

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler,

As representatives of our country’s strongest farming communities, we are writing to share our comments regarding the 2019 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) proposal under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS).

The RFS promotes economic development and energy security for American farmers and families.  The proposed rule for the 2019 RVO demonstrates a strong commitment to ethanol production and future growth for cellulosic and advanced biofuels. Although the increase to 2.43 billion gallons in biomass-based biodiesel for 2020 is a positive step, the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged in its proposed rule (83 Fed. Reg. § 132 July 10, 2018) that biodiesel production can reach 2.8 billion gallons in 2019 and we ask that the final rule incorporate this conclusion. But these commitments and the integrity of the RFS are undermined if the EPA continues to abuse the hardship waiver authority for small refineries.

The EPA approved 48 retroactive RFS waivers for refineries for 2016 and 2017 obligations, effectively eliminating 2.25 billion gallons in the marketplace. The 2019 RVO targets and the success of the RFS will continue to be undermined if the EPA does not account for further waivers. We urge the EPA to put an end to these secret waivers until a process is established to make the name of the refinery, the gallons waived, and other relevant information publicly available. Additionally, accounting for any 2019 waived gallons in the final rule would help ensure biofuel production is not harmed by retroactive refinery exemptions.

Instead of advancing policies that would hurt farmers and prevent market growth of ethanol, we encourage you to also consider reducing regulations, like those that prohibit the year-round sale of E15.  This regulatory change would increase consumption of biofuels while also lowering RIN prices, which eases implementation of the RFS and provide consumers with another choice at the pump.

We look forward to working with you to help protect the RFS and urge you to address these issues so this important program continues to drive economic growth and investment in our rural communities.

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Multiple Thune-Authored Provisions Included in Crucial Legislation to Combat Opioid Crisis

Multiple Thune-Authored Provisions Included in Crucial Legislation to Combat Opioid Crisis

“Today this bill is one step closer to the president’s desk, and we are one step closer to providing much-needed assistance to those who need it the most.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, today issued the following statement after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the bipartisan Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018, which contains proposals from five Senate committees, including Thune-authored bills that were previously adopted by the Commerce Committee or Finance Committee. The Senate bill must now be reconciled with House-passed legislation before it can be sent to the president for his signature.

“The opioid crisis is a nationwide epidemic that needs to be fought on all fronts, which means Congress has a critical role to play in providing important tools to communities that are facing this issue head-on,” said Thune. “I’m proud of the collective effort that senators from both sides of the aisle have dedicated to finding common ground to expand both treatment and prevention activities. Today this bill is one step closer to the president’s desk, and we are one step closer to providing much-needed assistance to those who need it the most. I hope my colleagues in the House will consider this important piece of legislation without delay.”

Thune-Authored Provisions:

  • The Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment (e-TREAT) Act (S. 2901), bipartisan legislation that would increase access to substance use disorder treatment through telehealth technology under Medicare. Thune has long advocated for the use of telehealth as a means to increase access to health care services in rural communities, like those throughout South Dakota (approved by the Finance Committee).
  • The Fighting Opioid Abuse in Transportation Act (S. 2848), which would close a safety gap in railroad drug and alcohol testing regulations by expanding testing requirements to both rail mechanical employees and yardmasters. It also addresses a major on-going drug abuse issue by requiring that the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transportation include fentanyl in the drug-testing panel, subject to findings on available testing (approved by the Commerce Committee).

Thune-Supported Provision, Approved by Thune-Led Commerce Committee:

  • The Opioid Addiction Recovery Fraud Prevention Act of 2018 (S. 2842), which is sponsored by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), would clarify and reaffirm the power of the Federal Trade Commission to bring enforcement actions against opioid treatment scams, including deceptive treatment claims and bogus products. It would also protect individuals with opioid use disorder and their families from harmful and misleading addiction treatment programs or products.

For additional information, click here.

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Rounds Statement on Senate Passage of Comprehensive Legislation to Address Opioid Epidemic 

Rounds Statement on Senate Passage of Comprehensive Legislation to Address Opioid Epidemic 

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today made the following statement after the Senate voted to pass the Opioid Crisis Response Act, a comprehensive bill to address the growing opioid epidemic in the United States:

“The legislation we passed today takes an important step toward ending the heartbreaking issue of opioid addiction,” said Rounds. “Opioid addiction does not discriminate—it can affect men and women of all ages and of all races, in any town in the United States, including in South Dakota. Many times, addiction starts with a legal painkiller prescription from a doctor following surgery or to manage chronic pain. Because opioids are highly addictive, they can easily lead to abuse. When the prescription runs out, people attempt to buy them illegally on the street or turn to dangerous substances such as heroin or fentanyl. I’m pleased that we were able to pass the Opioid Crisis Response Act and I urge the president to sign it into law so those suffering from addiction can get the help they need as quickly as possible.”

The Opioid Crisis Response Act will:

o   Reduce use and supply by helping to stop drugs at the border and providing grants to states to better share monitoring program data;

o   It will encourage recovery by providing support to states and tribes, establishing recovery centers and improving access to health professionals, tele-health services and long-distance care, and recovery housing services;

o   It includes support for caregivers and families and promotes family-focused treatment and recovery; and

o   It seeks to drive innovation and long-term solutions by supporting advancements in cutting-edge research to spur discovery and development of new non-addictive painkillers and address economic and workforce impacts, among other things.

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