So, COVID decided to come for a visit..

Last week after purposely avoiding as much contact as I could with the outside world over the last several months, my household got an unexpected visitor when COVID showed up on my doorstep, banishing my youngest son and I to the basement, separating us from my wife and youngest daughter on the upper side of the stairwell. My oldest son abandoned the house entirely and pushed across the town avoiding all of us.

I think I have a comparatively mild case, strictly body aches and low grade fever. I did pick up some chest issues yesterday where I went in, so I could be checked out. I think it was mainly the cheap oxygen monitor that I had gotten, but better safe than sorry. They said I look good on paper and sent me home with some preventative medicine.

Although as a result, I do find myself back in the ER again today.. but not for a bad thing. My doctor called this morning and said that she thought I was a good candidate for the experimental infusion treatment.

Apparently you cannot have received oxygen or been hospitalized or vaccinated yet. It’s meant to try to prevent hospitalization. Supposedly it pumps you full of antibodies.

They did mention that there’s no charge for the medicine itself because it’s experimental.  Free experimental medicine? Sure…I’m go for a little medical experimentation.. why is my foot tingling?

Seriously, I did talk to one person who had a family member who received infusion who was miserably ill, and less than two days later this 90-year-old person was up baking cookies and feeling better than they had in years. So I’m hopeful this has me on the mend and maybe un-banished to “the home hot zone” a little sooner.

Can’t post without mentioning that I’ve received great care & service from the medical community at Avera Clinic & Brookings Health System. They have truly been outstanding.

Delegation Urges President-elect Biden not to Cancel Keystone XL Pipeline

Delegation Urges President-elect Biden not to Cancel Keystone XL Pipeline

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) today urged President-elect Biden not to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline and the regional economic investment it will drive to South Dakota.

“As you begin your term, we know you will face many calls to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which for too many has become a symbol of America’s energy past,” the delegation wrote. “We implore you to recognize the potential for this modern infrastructure project to serve as a model for how America can rebuild and update our energy sector. We hope you will take this opportunity to set the tone for your term by defending American jobs and infrastructure.”

Full text of the letter below:

Dear President-elect Biden:

We write to you in the spirit of collaboration you espoused in your election campaign.  While we will undoubtedly have policy disagreements, we hope to work constructively toward mutually shared goals, including economic growth and energy security.  It is for this reason that we write to urge you reconsider your reported plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Keystone XL pipeline of today is not the same project first reviewed by the Obama administration.  In fact, pipeline operator TC Energy has, like much of America’s energy sector, adapted to address the associated environmental, social, and governmental (ESG) considerations of the project.  We believe these significant changes in the project merit due consideration by your administration and should not be dismissed out of hand.  Rather, the updated proposal for the Keystone XL pipeline should be upheld as an example of how American industry, especially in the context of revitalizing critical infrastructure, may approach ESG efforts to build a more reliable and resilient energy future.

Specifically, TC Energy has committed to operate Keystone XL with net-zero emissions, pledging to invest $1.7 billion to produce 1.6 gigawatts of renewable energy.  This would rank TC Energy among the highest corporate backers of renewable energy purchases, directly supporting your agenda to bolster green energy investments in the U.S.  We should encourage such private investment, which is driven by the market, not mandate, and will otherwise reserve federal funds for other necessary investments.

Additionally, the Keystone XL pipeline will support approximately 10,000 jobs over the course of its construction.  Approximately 2,000 workers are already on the job.  As America works to rebuild its economy after nearly one year of battling the COVID-19 pandemic, we can ill-afford to cancel such stable employment, nor overlook the $2.2 billion in wages it will provide.  Notably, the project would be constructed with U.S. steel and support over $3 billion in contracts with suppliers and contractors through 2021, underscoring the broader economic benefit of its construction.

The completion of the Keystone XL pipeline would also yield a significant economic impact in South Dakota, especially through a portion of the $100 million in property taxes the project will generate annually.  These revenues will be reinvested in our schools, rural communities, and local infrastructure.

Lastly, the Keystone XL pipeline fits into a broader discussion about how we can modernize our energy sector.  As you know, we cannot transition away from oil and gasoline overnight, regardless of the ambitions of some to do so.  Thus, it is incumbent on policy makers to engage in a realistic discussions about energy security and how to seize opportunities to cut emissions in a sensible way.  The construction of the Keystone XL pipeline is such an opportunity, as modern pipelines are inherently cleaner—and safer—with the added benefit of deepening our economic ties to Canada.  As you know, Prime Minister Trudeau supports the pipeline, including it in Canada’s clean energy roadmap.  While America has made great strides toward energy independence, we should be hesitant to dismiss opportunities to strengthen bilateral opportunities with our close trading partner and ally.  It bears noting that emissions from Canadian oil production have been cut by approximately one third in the last two decades, again reflecting that Keystone XL and the energy sector at-large have changed significantly since this project was first contemplated.

As you begin your term, we know you will face many calls to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline, which for too many has become a symbol of America’s energy past.  We implore you to recognize the potential for this modern infrastructure project to serve as a model for how America can rebuild and update our energy sector.  We hope you will take this opportunity to set the tone for your term by defending American jobs and infrastructure.



Release: SD Treasurer Josh Haeder Elected to serve on National Association of State Treasurers Leadership Team

SD Treasurer Josh Haeder Elected to serve on National Association of State Treasurers Leadership Team

Haeder Unanimously Elected Treasurer of NAST

PIERRE– The National Association of State Treasurers announced its 2021 leadership election results at last week’s virtual Annual Business & Membership Meeting. South Dakota State Treasurer Josh Haeder will serve as the organizations Treasurer starting January 1, 2021.

Haeder said, “It is an honor to work with such and exceptional and diverse group of Treasurers on both sides of the aisle. Through this opportunity, I will work to share our states vision of returning unclaimed funds to rightful owners, promote sound fiscal management and build lasting relationships that benefit our mission of government that serves the people.”

State Treasurer Josh Haeder was unanimously elected by State Treasurer’s across the country to serve as the Treasurer of the National Association of State Treasurer’s (NAST)

The roster of 2021 NAST elected leaders includes:

  • President: Indiana State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell
  • Senior Vice President: Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden
  • Secretary-Treasurer: South Dakota State Treasurer Josh Haeder

Greg Neitzert raising funds after political smears against him in Sioux Falls City Council race

After being cleared by the Sioux Falls City Council Ethics panel and the Sioux Falls Council as a whole, Sioux Falls City Councilman Greg Neitzert is on facebook today, pointing out some of the carnage left in the wake of the purely political attacks, including an enormous legal bill, which is coming out of his own pocket.

After a lengthy 6+ month legal battle, I finally cleared my name and hopefully put an end to this unfortunate episode. …

Posted by City Councilor Greg Neitzert on Sunday, September 20, 2020

You can click on the link for information on supporting Councilor Neitzert.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Thank You to South Dakota’s Frontline Heroes

Thank You to South Dakota’s Frontline Heroes
By Sen. John Thune

As the coronavirus pandemic spread from city to city and state to state throughout the country, heroes emerged in some unlikely forms. Delivery drivers helped keep our economy moving, literally. Grocery store workers risked their own health and safety to ensure shelves were stocked and home necessities were available. Sanitation and utility workers helped keep our lights on, our internet connected, and trash off of our streets. And, of course, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals stepped up in a big way and have been fighting on the frontline since this crisis first began.

From the early days of the pandemic, when Congress was grappling with how to respond, members of South Dakota’s health care community were some of the first and most consistent calls I made. I can recall sitting in my office in Washington in between meetings about what would eventually become the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – bipartisan legislation that was unanimously approved by Congress in March – and getting real-time updates from medical professionals on the ground in South Dakota.

Congress knew that the virus wouldn’t affect every state the same way, so it was critical to hear what folks were seeing and hearing throughout the country. The feedback I received from South Dakota’s health care providers helped shape my approach to coronavirus relief discussions in Congress. I wanted to ensure our health care community had the tools it needed to prepare for what was coming and to act when necessary. Since the CARES Act’s passage, I’m proud to say that nearly $520 million in federal relief funds have been allocated to South Dakota’s health care community to help fight this battle.

Just because Congress acted, it doesn’t mean my reliance on these frontline workers’ advice and feedback has ended. This is an unprecedented crisis, and I want to be sure the federal investment in the response is working effectively and efficiently. I also want to be sure there aren’t additional needs that aren’t being met.

As I said, I’ve been in constant contact with South Dakota’s health care community – through phone calls, virtual meetings, and other correspondence. Seeing things firsthand can’t be replicated, though, which is why I recently made several stops to hear directly from providers in our state.

I was fortunate to meet with officials from Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell and Prairie Lakes Healthcare System in Watertown. These folks are the real heroes, and I was humbled to thank them in person (socially distanced, of course) for their continued service. We covered a variety of topics, including progress on a COVID vaccine, the importance of testing and contact tracing, and telehealth services, just to name a few. Their insight continues to prove to be invaluable.

On telehealth, in particular, I think we’ve all learned just how important this vital service is to rural communities. It’s something I’ve been fighting to strengthen for years – both on the health delivery side and the rural broadband side. Both are critically important to telehealth’s success, and we’ve seen just how well it can work during the pandemic. It’s an issue that I will continue to advocate for and find permanent solutions to some of the obstacles that still exist.

Again, I can’t say it enough, but on behalf of a grateful state, I want to extend a hearty “thank you” to everyone, especially our health care heroes, who have stepped up over the last few months. That list also includes the people of South Dakota who have continued to show that personal responsibility is also a big factor in fighting this virus. I’ve been saying it from the beginning, but we’re all in this together, and South Dakotans have proven that’s true.

Click here and here for photos from Sen. Thune’s recent visits to Mitchell and Watertown.


US Senator Mike Rounds: Backing the Blue

Backing the Blue
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Jacob Chestnut. John Gibson. They’re not household names instantly recognizable. They were sons, husbands and fathers. They were two regular people, just like the rest of us, except they possessed a little bit more courage. Their stories weren’t known until July 24, 1998. On that fateful day, a lone gunman walked into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. He shot and killed the first person he encountered, Officer Chestnut, operating the X-Ray machine at an entrance. Quickly, the gunman then found Detective Gibson who heard the previous gunshots and was helping others find safety. Even after being mortally wounded, Detective Gibson was still able to return fire and wound the gunman just enough to stop him from inflicting any more harm.

Our nation mourned this senseless loss of life. Congress saluted these two officers by making them the first people to ever ‘lie in honor’ in our nation’s Capitol. Prior to this, Presidents and Members of Congress were recognized after death by ‘lying in state’ at the Capitol Rotunda. This new distinction, lying in honor, bestowed upon the officers has only since been granted to Rosa Parks and the Rev. Billy Graham. The officers were buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Our country honored these two fallen officers and remembered them exactly as they were: heroes who risked their lives to protect others.

Right now, there’s a growing hostility toward law enforcement in this country. This past week, we watched videos showing two officers sitting parked in their squad car being ambushed at pointblank range in California. The hatred needs to stop. It’s simply un-American.

This aggression was seeded in the Defund the Police movement. Following the death of George Floyd, riots broke out in Minneapolis. Peaceful well-meaning protests turned violent and chaos has spread across the country from Kenosha to Portland. Law-abiding citizens feel unsafe and are fleeing to new communities and states that understand the link between liberty and security.

It goes without saying that here in South Dakota, we’ve got it pretty good. We are patriots who love our country and want to see it succeed. And we don’t understand how local leaders could stand by and watch their communities burn.

Our law enforcement community is not perfect. Like all professions, we’ve witnessed examples of bad apples in police departments. But let’s be clear, those bad apples have not spoiled the entire bunch. Police forces in South Dakota and across our country are filled with brave men and women who put their lives on the line, day in and day out, to make sure our communities stay safe. Police officers are public servants. Police officers are not public enemies; they fight the enemies.

That’s why, in June, when many spewed hatred toward our law enforcement community, Senate Republicans joined together and proposed commonsense legislation, called the Justice Act, which made significant, meaningful reforms to police departments. Unfortunately, National Democrats saw the chaos unfolding in our country as a winning issue heading into the November election, suggesting that our proposal did not go far enough to penalize police officers. They put partisan politics ahead of protecting people and blocked our bill from moving forward.

While our efforts may have stalled, there’s still significant work to be done. This week, in light of the recent surge of attacks on officers, my colleagues and I introduced legislation making it a federal crime to knowingly cause, or attempt to cause, serious bodily injury to a law enforcement officer. If convicted, the criminals could face up to 10 years imprisonment, or a life sentence if the offense includes attempted murder, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping or if a death results. Last week, we also sent a letter to Attorney General Barr asking him to consider whether the Department of Justice needs additional authorities, resources or tools to protect our officers. If so, we stand ready and willing to assist.

Having a legitimate discussion about improving policing policies is one thing. Attempting to defund the police is entirely different. Defunding the police can only lead to one thing and that’s anarchy – just look at Portland, Kenosha or Minneapolis. These cities should learn a lesson from South Dakota and back the blue.