US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Bigger Paychecks and More Opportunities on the Way

Bigger Paychecks and More Opportunities on the Way
By Sen. John Thune

Exactly two weeks after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, which represents the first major successful tax reform effort in a generation, business after business was lining up to announce they were awarding bonuses to more than 1 million workers around the country. More take-home pay for American workers means more opportunities for them and their families to succeed.

Now, just a few weeks later, less than two months after our pro-growth bill became law, more than 350 companies from all corners of the country, including South Dakota, have announced that more than 4.2 million American workers are receiving bonuses, higher wages, or expanded benefits thanks to tax reform.

The list of companies seems to grow by the day: Charter Communications, Inc., Walmart, Cigna Corporation, Capital One, Webster Financial Corporation, Humana, and of course, Great Western Bancorp and Aaladin Industries, Inc., right here in South Dakota, just to name a few.

And then there are all of the companies that are deciding to invest or reinvest in the United States as a result of tax reform becoming the law of the land.

For example, Apple announced it will bring home and invest nearly $250 billion – that’s billion with a “b” – in cash it has been keeping overseas because of our uncompetitive tax system. It also announced that it will create 20,000 new jobs, too. Fiat Chrysler announced that it will be adding 2,500 jobs in the United States to produce pickups that it has been making in Mexico. And JP Morgan Chase is adding 4,000 new jobs and opening 400 new branches.

In addition, companies are finding other ways to channel the benefits they are seeing from tax reform back into the economy. For instance, utility companies, like Black Hills Energy in South Dakota, are working with utility regulators to pass along tax savings to customers through rate reductions.

All of these examples, which only begin to scratch the surface of the positive tax reform stories that have been reported lately, are good news for the U.S. economy, but they’re even better news for the American workers and consumers who help support it.

One of my top priorities during the tax reform debate was to help create a system that made it easier for businesses to increase investments here in the United States, hire new workers, and increase wages and benefits. At least in the short term, as evidenced by the growing list of companies that are citing tax reform as their reason to boost worker compensation or expand their operation, it’s working.

It’s working because we lowered tax rates across the board for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches. We expanded business owners’ ability to recover investments they make in their businesses, which will free up cash that can be reinvested in their operations and their workers. We lowered our nation’s massive corporate tax rate, which up until January 1 was the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world. And we finally brought our international tax system into the 21st century.

Aside from the bonuses, higher wages, and expanded benefits, a majority of American workers will soon see an additional boost in their paycheck thanks to lower individual tax rates, too, which is why I’m confident the good news we’re hearing today is just the beginning.

At the end of the day, tax reform is really about giving the American taxpayer greater control over the money they work so hard to earn. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act returned a lot of that control to taxpayers, which means they are the real winners here, and that is exactly the way it should be.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: With Border Security, I’m Focused on Results

With Border Security, I’m Focused on Results
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

When I was elected to represent you, I focused on getting results. South Dakotans, like many Americans, are tired of the same-old Washington politics that is more focused on political grandstanding than making lives better for the citizens we represent. I’m proud of the successes we’ve had lately – enacting historic tax reform, rebalancing the court system, undoing over 1600 burdensome regulations and repealing some of Obamacare’s most egregious mandates, just to name a few. But we still have work to do.

Most recently, we’ve been working on bipartisan legislation to enhance border security and provide a permanent solution to DACA recipients, paving the way for broader reforms on a fairer immigration system that is merit-based. Recognizing that strong bipartisan support is needed to pass anything out of the Senate, I have spent the past month meeting with a broad, bipartisan group of senators to find a solution to adequately address these vital issues.  At times, upward of 30 members of the Senate– from all sides of the political spectrum – participated in these lively, spirited conversations. At the end of these discussions, after incorporating many ideas from a number of our colleagues, we introduced a bill with 16 original cosponsors, eight from each side of the aisle.

What became the Rounds-King bill included $25 billion in new funding for border security – a historic investment in our nation’s borders that would greatly strengthen our ability to keep bad actors out of the country and keep Americans safe. Additionally, we permanently and fairly addressed DACA recipients, so these young people – brought here through no fault of their own – can stop living in fear of being deported. These two issues have long enjoyed broad, bipartisan support from both sides of the aisle, the White House and the American people we represent.

We also for the first time began to undo what is known in D.C. as “chain migration,” in which citizens and legal residents can sponsor green cards for their families. Our bill breaks the chain by preventing DACA children from sponsoring their parents for legal status in the U.S. It also prohibits lawful permanent residents from sponsoring unmarried children over 21 years of age for family-sponsored immigrant visas. Another huge break in the chain.

Our proposal is a significant improvement from the status quo and likely the only framework capable of passing the Senate so that we can actually move the ball forward on comprehensive border security and immigration reform. Ultimately, our bill was not able to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. This is disappointing because opening debate on our bill would have allowed us to continue the dialogue as we seek to keep our borders safe and reform our immigration system to one that is merit-based.

But, that does not mean we give up in our efforts. The two issues of DACA and the president’s campaign promise to fund a border wall system still linger. When Congress returns to session toward the end of the month, I will continue to work with my colleagues to get results on pragmatic reforms to our border security and immigration systems, using our bill as the base, or another one if it can accomplish the same thing. Getting results is what you sent me here to do, and that’s what I intend to do.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: America’s Workhorses

America’s Workhorses
By Rep. Kristi Noem

Mission after mission, whether we need to respond to terrorists in the Middle East or deter a tyrannical North Korean dictator, America turns to Ellsworth Air Force Base. I’m awfully proud of that.

Still, when I began representing South Dakota in the U.S. House, there was widespread concern that Ellsworth was on the Obama administration’s list of potential base closures. With our national security at stake, I couldn’t allow that to happen. We fought back and were able to make sure the option was taken off the table.

In the years since, we’ve only enhanced Ellsworth’s value to the U.S. military. The South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority has done tremendous work building a community of support around the base, which is an important factor when the U.S. Defense Department looks at maintaining its bases.

We have also expanded the Powder River Training Complex, which is reserved air space near the base. Nothing can replace the value of air time for our airmen. Proper training and readiness are critical to our airmen’s safety and success in the field. With the expansion of air space at Powder River, Ellsworth and the U.S. Air Force now have critical access to one of the largest training ranges in the country. Moreover, by expanding the training facility near Ellsworth, taxpayers will save about $23 million in fuel costs every year.

Most recently, the U.S. Air Force announced existing bomber bases like Ellsworth will remain bomber bases when the new B-21 bomber comes online. For decades, Ellsworth has been home to the B-1 bomber, among other planes. The bomber helped us both win the Cold War in the 1980’s and keep North Korea at bay today. But with a bomber’s average age around 40 years old, the fleet must be modernized. That upgrade will come in the form of the B-21.

When I first arrived in Congress, a modernized bomber wasn’t a guarantee. Months into my first term, an amendment was made on the House floor to delay the B-21’s development by a decade. Once again, I fought back, and the amendment was defeated.

In the years since, I’ve continued to push for a 21st Century upgrade to the Air Force’s bomber fleets. Finally, that looks to be around the corner. We expect the B-21 to begin arriving on bases in the mid-2020’s and Ellsworth is on the list. Over time, the B-21 will fully replace the B-1 and B-2 bombers: a much-needed modernization.

Our men and women in uniform serve with bravery, courage and patriotism, so we have an indisputable responsibility to provide them with the skills, training and equipment needed to win on modern-day battlefields. Ellsworth has long played an important role in that mission. With the Air Force’s most recent announcement, I’m thrilled Ellsworth will continue to serve a mission-critical role as home to America’s next-generation workhorse: the B-21 bomber.

Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: The Perseverance Of Our Largest Industry

The Perseverance Of Our Largest Industry
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard: 

Last year was another tough year for agriculture. After seeing a lack of moisture in the spring, we declared a statewide emergency in June. The drought persisted throughout the summer, and even today, as I write this, over 90 percent of the ground in the state is abnormally dry with almost 60 percent of the state in moderate to severe drought.

The drought conditions have exacerbated the impact farmers and ranchers were already feeling from low prices over the last few years, making 2017 a near low in terms of farm income. Our economists anticipate some marginal improvement this year if normal production levels return, but this will depend on the weather and federal trade policy.

Even though we don’t know what this year will bring, there is still reason to be hopeful.

During the good times our farmers and ranchers invested in themselves. Farmers adopted new technologies and upgraded their equipment, added grain storage, and other new facilities while our ranchers also invested in new equipment, fencing and corrals, along with better genetics. Those investments have positioned them to seize opportunities when times are good again.

Even in times like these, young people are still finding a way to get back to the family farm. I recently heard a story about a young man named Greg who found a way to come back home to Hutchinson County and work with his dad on the farm. Greg knew he would need to supplement his income, so he built a hog finishing facility. The facility provides a guaranteed revenue stream and the manure has benefited the soil health and fertility of their land – which means increased yields and profit for the farm. Greg says he doesn’t always accept things as they are . He challenges the norm, but also knows his costs and where the biggest risks are.

We can be encouraged by Greg’s story and the stories of others like him. They’re a testament of the adaptiveness and determination of South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers, and a sign of the industry’s promising future.

Agriculture is our largest industry and it’s been that way since statehood.  It’s an industry peopled with generations of resilient individuals who gave their all working the land – combining until dark, checking for calves at two in the morning, getting up before dawn to milk the cows or feed the hogs, and moving livestock in subzero temperatures. Through hard work and determination, agriculture grew to what it is today.  And that’s how we’ll make it through the next year and the years to come.


Release: Lance Russell – Illegal Immigration costing State $32 Million


ABERDEEN, S.D. (Feb. 16, 2017) – “Illegal immigration according to estimates is costing South Dakota taxpayers over $32 million dollars annually, and people in affected areas are burdened by the dramatically increasing violent crime” said South Dakota Senator and Attorney General candidate Lance Russell.

At a press conference today in Aberdeen, Russell announced his Immigration Enforcement Bill, Senate Bill 193, which has been set for hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee this coming Thursday, Feb. 22.

Aberdeen has seen an influx of immigration and a significant increase in their crime rate over the past few years, which today outpaces the state in property and violent crimes, with a crime rate that is 12% higher than the state’s average. In 2009, South Dakota saw one of its largest increases in its’ immigrant and refugee population, totaling 1,811 people settling in the state, with a number being relocated to Aberdeen. During the same time period, from 2009 to 2010, Aberdeen saw a spike in crime, with a 39% increase in the crimes investigated year-over-year.

“We welcome all who legally come to this country to find a better life.  This is the American Dream,” said Senator Russell.  “We should not be inviting law-breakers into our state, with over 5,000 estimated illegal immigrants here today who are statistically proven more likely to commit serious crimes.”

This is an issue Senator Russell says he dealt with in his years as the Fall River and Shannon County State’s Attorney, where he says he prosecuted a number of illegal aliens for serious crimes, but found it difficult to do so at times without the tools to enforce the laws in place, something he plans to address as Attorney General.

“It’s right at our door-step,” said Senator Russell, noting that the announcement of the Immigration Enforcement Bill’s hearing comes at the one-year anniversary of the passage of a sanctuary campus resolution by the University of South Dakota’s Student Government Association.  Passed on Feb. 14, 2017, it was an open invitation to those who would enter illegally, and who have a track record of further lawless behavior.  Senator Russell’s Immigration Enforcement Bill would curb such actions by any authorities of South Dakota’s institutions of higher education or local governments.

Senator Russell is one of four candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the position of Attorney General. Candidates will be nominated during the Republican Party’s State Convention this year in June.

Release: Tapio Moves to End Refugee Resettlement in South Dakota; Brings Experts to Testify

Tapio Moves to End Refugee Resettlement in South Dakota; Brings Experts to Testify

South Dakota Congressional Candidate and Watertown State Senator, Neal Tapio announced today he is bringing some of the nation’s leading experts on the refugee resettlement program to South Dakota to educate lawmakers about Islamic radicalization and the social and budgetary costs and community hazards of Islamic refugee resettlement in American cities.  It’s a move he says will spotlight troubling connections between South Dakota elected leaders, former state officials, lobbyists, multinational corporations and religious service organizations, all of which are financially benefitting on the backs of South Dakota taxpayers at the expense of community safety and quality of life.

“The end results are lucrative federal social contracts for Lutheran Social Services and a steady stream of tax incentives for a meatpacking industry that profits by paying their workers a slave wage,”  Tapio said.  “And without any care about how it’s impacting quality of life in towns big and small across the midwest.”

“It’s a business model that takes advantage of a low-skilled refugee workforce, the social services provided by state and local communities and South Dakota taxpayers who have absolutely no say in where these people come from, or how many can safely assimilate,” Tapio said.  “While Lutheran Social Services, Community Development Corporations and the globalist meatpacking industry win, our daughters and granddaughters no longer walk safely to the local mall, and the taxpayer picks up the giant tab. This needs to stop.”

In early February, South Dakota Senators voted 19-16 to reject a resolution by Tapio connecting Islam and terrorism by a vote of 19-16.  Media and political opponents rushed quickly to paint the vote as a defeat for Tapio, who called the move a dimensional object lesson with multiple moving parts.

There are times in a game of chess when the opposition can’t understand what’s being done in front of them because they’re so certain they’re about to win,” Tapio said.  “Now, the people of South Dakota are about to witness in vivid detail why it is that their elected leaders were so reluctant to even acknowledge a connection between terrorism and radical Islam.  It’s because leaders at multiple levels have struck a very lucrative unholy alliance with a Federal program that is one of the dirtiest secrets of paid influence in the halls of power in Pierre.  And we intend to make sure that the connections and the players are laid bare down to the smallest detail,” Tapio said.

Tapio’s legislation, SB 200, which calls for an immediate end to refugee resettlement in South Dakota from any nation on President Trump’s five nation travel ban, is up for committee consideration Wednesday morning at the state capitol, in Pierre.

Tapio adds the refugee resettlement debacle to the recent examples of EB-5 and most notably, the Gear Up corruption scandal as examples where political access to streams of federal money under state direction resulted in extraordinarily lucrative returns for organizations connected to the right power brokers in Pierre, but with no regard to the impacts on citizens, small communities, or even the people purportedly being ‘helped,’ by the programs themselves, in this case large numbers of refugees fleeing the scourge of Islamic violence in their home nations.

“Lutheran Social Services and organizations like them use federal, state and local contracts and the hard luck stories of these impoverished people, to amass huge donation support for work they cloak in the guise of compassion,” Tapio said.

“I think South Dakotans would be very interested to know that in a very short time, refugee resettlement and associated service contracts with both business and government have become the bread and butter of the LSS business model, accounting for the vast majority of a nearly $1-billion dollar enterprise, on the backs of workers who come here and earn $9 an hour at a meatpacking plant for a company that receives a $10,000 per year tax credit for every refugee they employ, while offloading the benefit costs of healthcare and low wages onto federal programs, requiring tens of thousands of dollars of welfare and social entitlement dollars apiece just to help them survive,”  Tapio said.  “That isn’t compassion.  It’s profiteerism and exploitation that would make Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman roll over in their graves,” Tapio said.

Susan Tully, an immigration policy advocate with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is just one of several national experts invited to testify Wednesday in support of Tapio’s bill.  Tully says FAIR research reveals that because of entitlement demands and healthcare needs, each refugee costs taxpayers $80,000 over their first five years in the United States and a family of four more than $650,000 over the same time period.

Another invited guest and Tapio friend, investigative reporter and activist, Leo Hohmann of Atlanta, Georgia, has researched hundreds of incidents involving violent crime by Islamic refugees on American soil and says local and federal law enforcement agencies have been caught repeatedly covering up crime statistics and court proceedings to mask the impact of refugee crime on communities.

Shahram Hadian, a former muslim-turned-Christian pastor travels the country speaking about the dangers of Islamic infiltration and the inability of Sharia compliant Islamic populations to assimilate into western culture or to pledge loyalty to any nation, or code of law above Allah.  Hadian speaks to dozens of gatherings a year about the Muslim diaspora and how it is being exploited politically by the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliated groups who have promised openly that they will one day dominate the United States and replace traditional American culture with Sharia law.

Meanwhile, Phillip Haney of Centers for Security Policy in Washington D.C., says concentrated muslim populations, have shown repeatedly to contribute to a likelihood of multigenerational radicalization resulting in domestic terrorist events, or even the export of homegrown ISIS and Al Qaeda fighters to foreign battlefields of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

As a former member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Global Terrorism Task Force, Haney cites the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, the San Bernardino workplace shooting involving a husband and wife who had radicalized to ISIS, and the recent discovery of more than 50 Somali refugees in Minnesota who signed up to join ISIS, as proof of how Muslim populations eventually produce radicalized members dedicated to advancing the overarching goal of societal domination by the global jihadist movement.

“The thing that is driving the whole jihadis movement, the whole globalist movement, is the global implementation of Sharia Law.  That is the macro-strategic goal of the global jihadist movement,” Haney said.  “Terrorism is a necessary tactic that is being used to reach that overall goal of global implementation of Sharia.”

Tapio says it’s a despicable case of cronyism and advantaged policy access exploited by political insiders at the expense of the pockets and peace of mind of midwesterners.

“And what does the average person get out of all of this?” Tapio asked.  “They get a higher tax bill.  They get an increase in violent crime in their communities.  They get the specter of potential Islamic radicalization and violence in their communities and the documented possibility that these imported, implanted populations of Islamic resettlements become eventual hotbeds of radicalization that have already resulted in exports of terrorist fighters back to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq and in some cases, to terrorist targets both in the United States or western Europe,” Tapio said.

“What’s worse is that enemies of American freedom, both within the power structures of our government and among those afflicted by the hateful blindness of radical Islam are using our own compassion and tolerance against us to gain strategic advantage in weakening our defenses to their schemes,” Tapio said.

“We need to be smart enough, educated enough and proactive enough to call truth where we see it, regardless of what it costs in temporary pain or inconvenience.  We owe it to future generations not to be fooled by what’s happening before our very eyes.”

SB 200 is set for debate in the Senate State Affairs Committee at 10:00 a.m.  (CST) Wednesday in room 414 at the state capitol in Pierre.

Sean McPherson Pancake Fundraiser for his battle against cancer

A fundraising event is going to be held for Republican State Representative Sean McPherson at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Rapid City on March 4th, but it’s not a political event. It’s an event to help offset some of the expenses his family is experiencing as Sean fights cancer:

This fundraiser is for Sean McPherson, husband, father, grandfather, a former navy submariner, the pastor of a Nazarene church, and an elected Representative in the South Dakota legislature. Sean has dedicated his life to service of others always leading with a servant’s heart. The battle of his life started last February upon the original diagnosis of cancer. Through the battle Sean has maintained his strong faith and positive attitude, inspiring many along the way. This past December it was discovered that the cancer had metastasized and now the battle continues as he fights the cancer growing in his lung. Sean always trusts in God’s plan for his life and believes this too will be redeemed.

Read that here.

If you’re in Rapid City on that date, make a point to stop by the event and support the McPherson family.

Third Ballot Question Petition Validated for 2018 General Election Ballot

Third Ballot Question Petition Validated for 2018 General Election Ballot

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs announced that the petition submitted for an initiated measure to increase the State tobacco tax and create a postsecondary technical institute fund for the purposes of lowering student tuition and providing financial support to the State postsecondary technical institutes was validated and filed by her office. It is the third ballot question to be placed on the November 6, 2018 General Election Ballot. It will be titled Initiated Measure 25.

An Initiated Measure requires 13,871 valid signatures to be placed on the ballot. This initiated measure petition included 19,025 signatures.

“We reviewed the random sample of signatures, and 82.88 percent were found to be valid,” stated Secretary Krebs.

Any citizen may challenge the Secretary of State’s approval of a ballot measure and must submit an original, signed affidavit to the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office within 30 days of validation. Electronic submission of affidavits will not be accepted. The deadline for a challenge to Initiated Measure 25 would be Monday, March 19, 2018 by 5 p.m. central time.

The remaining five petitions will be reviewed by the Secretary of State’s office in the order in which they were received. The South Dakota Legislature also has the ability to include constitutional amendments on the 2018 ballot and South Dakota citizens have the ability to submit a referendum petition concerning laws passed during the 2018 Legislative session.

For more detailed information on potential 2018 Ballot Questions, click here.


2-1-17.1.   Submission of affidavit challenging petition to secretary of state–Appeal. Within thirty days after a statewide petition for an initiated constitutional amendment, initiated measure, or referendum has been validated and filed, any interested person who has researched the signatures contained on the petition may submit an affidavit to the Office of Secretary of State to challenge the petition. The affidavit shall include an itemized listing of each specific deficiency in question. Any challenge to the following items is prohibited under this challenge process:

(1)      Signer does not live at address listed on the petition;
(2)      Circulator does not live at address listed on the petition;
(3)      Circulator listed a residence address in South Dakota but is not a South Dakota resident;
(4)      Circulator did not witness the signers;
(5)      Signatures not included in the random sample; and
(6)      Petition that was originally rejected.

Any challenge by the same person or party in interest shall be included in one affidavit.

The original signed affidavit shall be received by the Office of Secretary of State by 5:00 p.m. central time on the deadline date. If the affidavit challenges any item that is prohibited by this section, only that line item shall summarily be rejected. A challenge to a line item is not a challenge to the petition as a whole.

The secretary of state’s decision regarding a challenge may not be challenged a second time with the secretary of state, but may be appealed to the circuit court of Hughes County. If a person fails to challenge a petition pursuant to this section, it does not deny that person any other legal remedy to challenge the filing of an initiative or referendum petition in circuit court. A challenge to a petition in circuit court may include items prohibited in this section.

Marty Jackley Releases Pheasant Hunting Initiative


SIOUX FALLS, SD: As thousands from around the nation gather in South Dakota for the Pheasant Fest convention, Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor Marty Jackley announced his comprehensive plan to revitalize the population of the state bird.

“South Dakota is the pheasant hunting capital of the world, and I will do everything in my power to keep it that way,” Jackley said Thursday. “It is a rich part of our heritage that connects people with the beautiful lands God gave us, and we’re excited to announce our five-point plan to restore the ringneck population.”

According to a South Dakota Game Fish and Parks study, pheasant hunting has a $200 million annual impact on the state’s GDP. It contributes 4,130 jobs, $125 million in wages and salaries and $50 million in tax revenue. The Jackley Pheasant Hunting Initiative aims to support that economic development through five planks:

  1. Create a Pheasant Restoration Blue Ribbon Commission. The group will gather landowners, sportsmen, the hospitality industry, hunting groups, conservation groups, the airline industry, the Department of Tourism, regional convention and visitor bureaus, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, local chambers, economic development groups, local governments, experts from our university system, and more.
  2. Build Public-Private Partnerships for Habitat. Jackley will lead an unprecedented effort to raise private capital that will provide the funding to create critical habitat.
  3. Implement Pheasant Release Program. The effort will begin releasing new generations of pheasants by the 2020 hunting season.
  4. Offer Volunteer Habitat Stamp and Sportsmen License Plate. These will generate hundreds of thousands in new revenue every year for habitat that will benefit all wildlife and improve hunting access.
  5. Promote Next Generation Youth Hunting. Passing on the pheasant hunting tradition to our children and grandchildren is yet another critical step in maintaining South Dakota’s status as pheasant hunting capital of the world.

The policy can be read in its entirety here:

Jackley will be available for media interviews at Pheasant Fest beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.