Noem passes on signing Jackley campaign pledge.

From the Argus Leader, it sounds like Kristi Noem is taking a pass on signing the clean campaign pledge requested earlier today by GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Marty Jackley:

Noem said Tuesday that she’s not interested in “campaign PR stunts.” Noem says she’s pledging to residents to take on tough tasks in Pierre to improve South Dakota.

Read the entire story here.

Legislators led by Neal Tapio protesting sale of STAR Academy

A group of legislators, led by State Senator Neal Tapio, are apparently protesting the State’s sale of the now closed STAR Academy:

Lawmakers Ask Governor to Delay Public Auction of former Star Academy Property Near Custer

A group of South Dakota lawmakers is making a last minute call on Governor Dennis Dauggard to postpone the pending public auction of the former Star Academy property near Custer, scheduled for Wednesday at the Custer County Courthouse, saying they don’t believe enough time has been allowed to find the best use for a property that might still serve a valuable future purpose for the citizens of South Dakota.

The 180 acre facility was used as a youth boot camp and later a juvenile diversionary program until it closed in the Spring of 2016.  In March, state legislators voted to approve a public auction of the site.  After an appraisal, a public auction was set for October 18, 2017, at 11:00 am.

Senators Neal Tapio of Watertown, District 30 Representatives Tim Goodwin, Julie Frye-Mueller and Senator Lance Russell,  as well as Senator Phil Jensen of Rapid City are among 30 lawmakers expressing concern about the pending private sale of a property and structural facilities that would cost the state as much as $50-million to replace.  Tapio says he and others have repeatedly called for the facility to be repurposed in some way, possibly to deal with the state’s growing methamphetamine and opioid dependence problem, as a potential diversionary life skills training center.

“Privatization of unused state assets can be a good idea to exercise fiscal responsibility, but in dealing with this particular site, there may still be a number of functions and needs that might be served by repurposing it for something else.”

Tapio says the expense of dealing with methamphetamine addiction and the burden on the conventional justice system make a diversionary partnership with a private entity a very effective way to save South Dakota taxpayers substantially by giving first time meth convicts another choice. A life skills training center could be a valuable tool for drug courts judges as they confront the meth addiction issue where offenders need to be removed from a toxic home environment.

Citizens are also concerned that the condensed timeframe of the sale’s schedule left inadequate opportunity for public awareness and may even conceal an unarticulated agenda on the part of potential bidders better acquainted with the mechanics of the process from the outset.

Representative Tim Goodwin of Hill City says he is hearing from people taken completely by surprise about the scheduled public auction who are very concerned about what they see as a rushed process involving a very valuable public asset.

“A number of my constituents from district 30 have raised concerns that the details of a very short timeframe have allowed an unfair advantage on the part of political insiders in profiting from a glaring example of crony capitalism and incestuous ties between political insiders and business interests,”  Goodwin said.

Representative Julie Frye-Mueller, who has opposed the sale from the very beginning says the entire process reeks of strong arm tactics and insider profiteering.

“We killed this legislation the first time around voicing these same concerns, but in that process I heard from several lawmakers who told me that they were intimidated and coerced into changing their votes when the measure came up for reconsideration.”

House Bill 1209, the legislative bill structuring the pending public sale was originally defeated by a vote of 36-31, but was approved later on the same legislative day by a vote of 46-21.  Governor Dauggard signed the bill on March 13th.

“Legislators were bullied by the governor’s office into changing their votes, allowing this entire process to move forward over the strong objections of some very conscientious people.”  Frye-Mueller said.

Those favoring a delay of the pending auction say sales of properties of similar value normally require many months of marketing and even national searches to locate interested buyers and to establish best market price.

Senator Tapio agreed the marketing of the property seemed less than aggressive, “It seems odd that with millions of tourists visiting the Black Hills each summer, a for sale sign with a contact number would have at least been appropriate.”

Tapio added, “no one knows the proper way to address the meth addiction issue. There are numerous calls to build jails and prisons around the state and it would be a shame if at a later date South Dakota needs a property like this, or if there’s realization that this sale was a terrible idea a few years down the road, reconstructing a similar facility anywhere in the state would cost many multiple times even the appraised value of our existing investment.”  Tapio said.

“In no world will that be responsible fiscal management of tight budgets and state resources in the face of growing potential needs on a number of fronts.”

The Governor’s office has responded in the media:

In an emailed press release late Monday night, a group of South Dakota lawmakers asked Gov. Dennis Daugaard to postpone the public auction of a former-juvenile detention center near Custer that is set for 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

The press release sent by Sen. Neal Tapio, R-Watertown, said there are 30 lawmakers expressing concern about the pending sale of the former STAR Academy property because of “a very short timeframe,” for the auction.

Tony Venhuizen, Chief of Staff for Gov. Dennis Daugaard, disagreed that the there was a short timeline and said in an email that the state first solicited proposals in Dec. 2016 and the state legislature approved the sale in March. He also noted that the auction date was advertised in the newspaper for the first time on Sept. 11 in accordance with state law.

Read it here.

If you look at the legislation which was brought this past session, it’s not as if the vote in the legislature came without some controversy, as it failed in it’s first attempt to come through the State House of Representatives…

… and had to try again with a second pass…

.. flipping Bartling, Brunner, Chase, Clark, Dennert, Duvall, Glanzer, Goodwin, Gosch, Latterell, Herman Otten, Rasmussen, Schaefer, Wiese and Zikmund.

In the Senate, it fared better on the first run, but still, it only won on a vote of 20-15:

I don’t anticipate that the request from legislators are going to sway Governor Daugaard from completing the sale. Despite protests, it’s not like this should come as a shock. It has certainly been known it this was going to happen, having been signed into law on March 27th.

The allegations from legislators opposing the sale seem to be coming a bit late, given the fact that this all a done deal seven months ago when the legislation was signed. Where has all the moral outrage been in the meantime?

Maybe it’s just me, but why would we be protesting the land being returned to the tax rolls? Wouldn’t it be a good thing for someone to develop it into something that pays taxes and reduces the county tax burden?

What are your thoughts?

Now that wasn’t so bad, even though I look like a baked potato.

I thought I’d share a rare picture of me while preparing for my planned medical tests this morning looking a bit like a baked potato in my stylish hospital gown.

It was worth the picture, as my daughter at Augie returned a photo of me with sour cream and chives. I sense a future SDWC author in the making.

Just keep those forks away….

Governor Requests Flags At Half-Staff On Thursday To Honor Fallen Firefighter

Governor Requests Flags At Half-Staff On Thursday To Honor Fallen Firefighter

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard asks that all flags in the state be flown at half-staff on Thursday, Oct. 19, from 8 a.m. until sunset, in honor of Presho Fire Chief Donald F. “Donny” Manger.

Manger died Saturday, Oct. 14, while responding to a structure fire in rural Lyman County.

“Linda and I offer our condolences to the Manger family. Donny’s service to the Presho community will not be forgotten,” Gov. Daugaard said.

Manger’s funeral service will be held Thursday at the Lyman Gardens in Presho. Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday at 5 p.m. at the Presho United Methodist Church.


Release: Jackley Challenges Noem to Sign Clean Campaign Pledge

Jackley Challenges Noem to Sign Clean Campaign Pledge

Attorney General Marty Jackley called on Congresswoman Kristi Noem Tuesday to agree to a Clean Campaign Pledge for South Dakota.

The Clean Campaign Pledge commits both candidates to conducting their campaigns for governor in a positive and factual manner that focuses on records, accomplishments, opportunities and the significant issues important to South Dakotans, rather than attacking each other.

“As I travel across our state and listen to voters, South Dakotans tell me they want a clean campaign that focuses on issues and creating opportunities to make the lives of South Dakotans even better,” Jackley said. “The congresswoman and I both love South Dakota, and I believe this campaign for governor should be about our experience and vision to move our state forward instead of mudslinging and name-calling.”

South Dakotans have endured long and negative primary campaigns in the past. The South Dakota Clean Campaign Pledge is an attempt to give voters the positive, future-focused campaign they deserve.

“I urge South Dakotans to join me and request that Congresswoman Noem sign this pledge so we can have an honest campaign for South Dakota that focuses on ideas, policy and substance,” Jackley said.

Jackley’s campaign issued the South Dakota Clean Campaign Pledge to the Noem campaign digitally and via U.S. mail on Tuesday morning.

A copy of the pledge is attached.


Erickson: Lyft Takes First Step to Operate in Sioux Falls

Lyft Takes First Step to Operate in Sioux Falls

Sioux Falls, South Dakota: The ride-hailing company Lyft is taking the necessary steps to operate in Sioux Falls! The company recently was issued a state sales tax license and is working with the City’s licensing office on a transportation network company license.

Lyft is a transportation networking company (TNC) that operates in more than 300 cities nationwide, completing more than 28 million rides per month. Riders must download the Lyft mobile app to their smartphone to connect with Lyft drivers.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Lyft has taken the first necessary steps to operate in our city,” says City Council Vice Chair Christine Erickson. “Having a nationally recognized ride-sharing company such as Lyft will not only benefit our citizens, but also enhance our economic development efforts.”

A team of City and State officials, as well as resident Greg LaFollette, have been working for months to attract Lyft to the city. Lyft is expected to launch operations in Sioux Falls as soon as they can recruit enough drivers. It’s possible that could be as early as spring 2018.

“This benefits Sioux Falls in so many ways. Whether it be a ride home after a concert, a trip to the doctor’s office, or a business meeting that you need to get to after flying into Sioux Falls, travel just got easier, cheaper, and safer with this quality-of-life and economic development win,” says Mayor Mike Huether.

In 2015, the Sioux Falls City Council passed an ordinance that changed licensing requirements to allow transportation network companies to operate in Sioux Falls. In 2016, the South Dakota State Legislature approved a measure that changed insurance laws to allow companies like Lyft to operate in the state.

For more information about Lyft, go to

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Consumer Finance Protection Bureau released rules regarding short term loans. There’s a lot of people who don’t like them.

Recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released their latest attempt to stifle lending in the United States via rules governing short-term loans. And it has prompted widespread opposition.

One of the voices has been former GOP Presidential candidate, and Editor in Chief of Forbes Media, Steve Forbes. He noted:

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been the source and driver of the most aggressive, unchecked assault on American commerce in modern times. Since its inception, the CFPB has issued a mountain of rules that have done nothing but restricted consumers’ access to credit and other basic financial services, while imposing billions of dollars in unnecessary costs and creating millions of hours of compliance paperwork for small businesses.

It is no wonder that a federal appeals court last year ruled that the CFPB’s unaccountable governing structure was unconstitutional. In an ironic twist, the CFPB just released a survey which found that nearly half of U.S. adults struggle with their finances. This is all the more reason why we need to eliminate the CFPB, once and for all, so that the American people will be freed from the agency’s regulatory chokehold and be allowed to take control of their financial futures again.”

Read that here.

Were people clamoring for more government regulation on how they access credit in the United States? Not really.

What are your thoughts?


Rounds Statement on EPA Decision to End “Sue & Settle” Practices

Rounds Statement on EPA Decision to End “Sue & Settle” Practices

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight, today made the following statement on the decision of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to end the controversial “sue and settle” practices at the EPA.

“During the previous administration, ‘sue and settle’ practices resulted in new environmental regulations drafted by special interest groups behind closed doors,” said Rounds. “I’m pleased with EPA Administrator Pruitt’s decision to end this practice and shed more transparency on the processes that federal agencies use to draft new regulations.”

Last Congress, Rounds held a subcommittee hearing on EPA’s “sue and settle” practices. In that hearing, he found that the “sue and settle” process utilized by special interest groups leads to a rushed and reckless rulemaking process that does not follow the proper regulatory process or allow for adequate public participation. He has also introduced an amendment to end “sue and settle” practices.

Both the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act contain clauses that allow citizens to file citizen suits against a regulatory agency to prompt the agency’s compliance with federal statutes. Often, these citizen suits are used to perpetuate the “sue and settle” process, which overwhelms regulatory agencies and results in rushed settlement agreements and consent decrees requiring agencies to promulgate major regulations behind closed doors within an arbitrarily imposed timeline.