Attorney General Jackley to Address U.S. Chamber as National Attorney General President

jackleyheader2 Marty JackleyAttorney General Jackley to Address U.S. Chamber
as National Attorney General President

PIERRE, S.D – South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley as President of the National Association of Attorneys General will deliver the Wednesday morning keynote address to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform at their annual meeting on January 13, 2016 in Florida.
“The National Association of Attorneys General understands that businesses are critical components to building healthy economies and strong communities. This is an excellent opportunity to address workforce development, consumer protection, data privacy and our Presidential Initiative, ‘To Serve and Protect with 21st Century Policing’. I also intend to discuss the significance of South Dakota’s balanced budget without a state income tax,” said Jackley.

This annual meeting includes general counsel and directors of governmental affairs from U.S. Chamber members and businesses throughout the United States.


“You can lead a bureaucrat to water, but you can’t make him think.” (Ric Keller)

Unless the world moves to total anarchy, there will always be a government upon which the people depend. And day-in-and-day-out, there will be bureaucrats who make that government run. They labor in bland offices, they are the subject of jokes and called dumb and lazy (e.g. the title of this post), they seldom get a thank you from those they serve and do so at wages less than they could get in the private sector, especially those who rise up in the ranks, never to move on to greener pastures because they are called to serve the public.

Paul Kinsman was a bureaucrat for almost 30 years and he didn’t need anyone to lead him to think.  He thought, did and served.

When I was in Pierre, I don’t remember his title nor his official duties. You always found him at his desk in the Bureau of Administration. If you needed advice, Paul was always generous with his time and expertise. But, if you needed something that was going to cost money, Paul’s first inclination was it was a “want” and he treated every dollar of taxpayer money as if it was his own last dollar. But, if you came to him with a real problem or opportunity, he could figure out how to solve it and then he would make sure you had the resources to do so.

In the late ‘80’s, state government was getting new desktops, beginning to use email, getting wired, replacing secretarial pools with technology. It was a time when it looked like technology increased inefficiency, not decreased it. Somebody needed to understand the “big picture” lest money was wasted. Paul was that guy making him the “oil” for the bureaucratic machine that is state government. He messed up and things screeched to a halt. He did good and things moved forward at lower cost.

If I were to detail one simple solution, you’d all say “duh” but back then it was innovative. Our Division budget was getting killed with travel back and forth while separation was also killing our ability to get things done at the office. I had an idea my boss wasn’t buying (rightly so it turned out) so I was sent to Paul for a reason I didn’t understand at the time. After I detailed the issues, he authorized giving our Division a laptop (which was a luxury needing the signature of his boss and his boss’s boss). That first laptop was “free” in that it didn’t come out of my budget but was loaned from the BofA. Shortly thereafter, the value of laptops was clear and I was re-configuring my budget for more laptops.

The point is Paul knew travel was slowing the comprehensive move to reliance on technology. He knew laptops were a necessity and not a luxury but he needed a “test case” to prove his theory to his superiors and figured our division staff of people in our 20’s would embrace laptop use.  To this day, I credit Paul Kinsman as the person most responsible for the State of South Dakota being known as a national leader in adopting technology to increase efficiency and reducing costs.

This all said, I would be remiss if I reduced Paul to just a public servant. Paul was at his core a personally kind human being. When his friend Labor Secretary Peter deHueck was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I’m sure Paul was suffering and in need of consolation but he was the one giving everyone else consolation.  When the plane crashed in Iowa and everything seemed turned upside down, Paul stayed right side up.  Too often kindness is seen as weakness. Paul Kinsman showed it is actually strength.  Somehow, I’m pretty sure him watching Peter fade from life prepared him for his own journey to Eternity.

As a former colleague, I’m not sure I really expressed my appreciation for all his help beyond a short “thanks.” I’m not sure I ever really expressed my affection or gratitude for his kindness, especially when I lost people most dear to me in the plane crash (as did Paul). As a “bureaucrat” who served our state with integrity, a selfless spirit, and competence, I know I never thanked him. It is a shame I am doing so upon hearing of his death. But, as much as Paul deserved to hear gratitude for what he did and who he was, he knew he was doing good work and making a difference in the lives of the people of South Dakota and I suspect that was enough for him.

Paul Kinsman, you are the epitome of a public servant and give bureaucrats a good name. We were blessed by your service. Thank you.

Paul Kinsman, Bureaucrat. Rest In Peace.

Incline, O Lord, Your ear to my prayer, in which I humbly beseech Your mercy, that You would place the soul of Your servant, Paul Kinsman, which You have allowed to depart from this world, into the region of peace and light; and unite in the fellowship of Your Saints. Through Christ our Lord,


You can call the Congressional race now. Although, you can wager on how big the margin of victory will be. 50k versus 90.

I was chatting with a politico this morning who was remarking on the dismal voter registration numbers for Democrats, when he pointed out that right now, Republicans in South Dakota outnumber Democrats by around 70k votes. And he used Stephanie Herseth as a benchmark of how Democrat fortunes in the state have risen and fallen.

If you look at 2004, when Herseth won over Larry Diedrich in the fall, the DEM/GOP gap was around 47,000 fewer Democrats than Republicans. In 2010, when Congresswoman Noem won, the gap was actually narrower….

Republican Democrat GOP v. DEM IND, Etc. Total
2004 238,530 191,523 -47,007 72,158 502,261 * Herseth Won
2010 237,809 194,204 -43,605 85,932 519,361 * Noem Defeated Herseth
1/5/2016 237,636 167,272 -70,364 108,766 513,674 * Present Day
Difference between 2004 & Today -894 -24,251 -23,357 36,608 11,413

The 2010 race was a hard fought contest, which flies in the face of thinking it’s based on just a simple numeric supremacy.  Incumbency can play a significant factor, as I think we’d all agree. But you have to give the “strength in numbers” theory as affecting the race some credence as well.

Looking at Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s dominance between 2010 and now…

2010 Candidate Vote % Votes Noem>Opponent
Republican Kristi Noem 48% 153703 -7114
Democratic Stephanie Herseth Sandlin 46% 146589
2012 Candidate Vote % Votes
Republican Kristi Noem 57% 207640 -53851
Democratic Matt Varilek 43% 153789
 2014 Candidate Vote % Votes
Republican Kristi Noem 67% 183834 -91349
Democratic Corinna Robinson 34% 92485

The numbers that Congresswoman Kristi Noem continues to post in her election margins continues to be more and more impressive. As the GOP registration numbers have accelerated past those of Democrats, look at Noem’s margin of victory.

In fact, if you overlay the raw numbers, her margins of victory are climbing even faster than that of GOP registration:

Republican Democrat GOP v DEM Noem>Opponent
10/18/2010 237,809 194,204 -43,605 -7,114
11/5/2012 243,113 189,493 -53,620 -53,851
11/3/2014 240,545 176,169 -64,376 -91,349
1/5/2016 237,636 167,272 -70,364 We shall see….

In 2010, when facing an incumbent, she managed a 7114 vote margin when we had a 43,605 advantage. In 2012, her margin and the party registration advantage was almost identical.  In 2014, not only did she beat the party registration advantage, she left it in the dirt with numbers that were fully 141% of that party registration advantage.

I think we’d all agree there’s factor of incumbency to take into account, which explains why Noem’s advantage over Herseth’s in the face of stronger GOP numbers was what it was. But ever since, Noem has taken full advantage of that widening voter registration, and added to it with ever widening electoral performance.

What does this mean for Paula Hawks in the 2016 race for South Dakota’s Congressional seat?  Nothing but bad, bad news.

Democrat numbers dwindling ever further, and Congresswoman Noem’s ever increasing electoral dominance represents an effective combination that we can say with confidence means that Hawks stands no chance to win, place, or show.

The only question is how big the margin of victory is going to be.  Will Noem be able to win by a 90,000 vote margin again?  Or will Hawks keep her at a 50,000 vote margin?

Neither answer bodes well for Democrats.

Thune and Noem petitions are out and in your community

Both Congresswoman Kristi Noem and US Senator John Thune have their petitions distributed to the GOP faithful, with many of them receiving them this past week via the US Postal service. In case you’re interested, except for the petitions themselves, here’s what went out:

Circulation Instructions From John Thune and Kristi Noem

The most interesting part? Both of them highlight the need for the bottom of the petition to be signed in the presence of a notary public.  And I suspect that’s not going to change at any time in the near future, given the heightened atmosphere of petition scrutiny courtesy of Annette Bosworth.

I haven’t heard hide nor hair of petitions being circulated for signature for Paula Hawks yet. One of my correspondents thinks there’s an even chance that the congressional run may not actually happen. But, we’ll know more about that when we see some fundraising figures for the last quarter in the next few coming weeks.

And still no petitions……  or fundraising……  or hints of anything regarding a candidate from Democrats for the US Senate seat.    I’m kind of thinking you can stick a fork in that potato. It’s done.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: New Year, Same Priorities

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressNew Year, Same Priorities  
By Sen. John Thune

I hope the holiday season was as joyful for your family as it was for mine. My son-in-law Luke joined me and my daughter Brittany on our annual father/daughter Christmas morning run, I was fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it) able to sharpen my snow shoveling skills, and we were able to help celebrate my dad’s 96th birthday the best way we know how: a successful pheasant hunt. Now that the gifts have been opened and the occasions have been celebrated, a new year is in front of us.

Each and every day, I am humbled and honored to be one of your elected representatives in the Senate, and I thank you for that opportunity. I take the responsibility of being your voice in Washington seriously and am always appreciative of your ideas and feedback. While a new year presents new challenges and opportunities for South Dakota and our nation, I intend to continue making your priorities my priorities. Fighting to make our economy stronger, our government more efficient and accountable, and our nation and our world safer and more secure have been my goals since the first day I took office, and that won’t change as long as I am your U.S. senator.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. The first year of the new Republican-led Senate was a productive one. We accomplished a lot of important things for South Dakotans and the American people. I helped author the first long-term highway bill in a decade that finally ends the need for the dozens of short-term patches that kept the industry in a perpetual state of uncertainty. As the leader of the Senate Commerce Committee, I spearheaded important reforms to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) – the first of their kind – that will be welcome news for anyone who deals with the federal agency responsible for economic oversight of our nation’s freight rail system.

There is more work that lies ahead in 2016. There are still too many Americans who are struggling to make ends meet. We must make it our mission to enact pro-growth policies that continue to help our economy grow. It’s critical that the long arm of the federal government and the costly red tape it creates be reined in, and we will continue to fight overreaching federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency. We also must work toward ensuring the American people and our allies are safe and secure by providing our men and women in uniform with the tools and training they need to accomplish their mission.

I’m excited about the new year and what’s in store for our state and country. Please continue to contact my office to share your stories, concerns, or thoughts about what we’re working on in Washington. Like me, my talented and dedicated staff’s top priority is working for you, and we all stand ready to assist. Thank you for helping to make South Dakota the greatest state in the country, and here’s to a happy and prosperous 2016.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: A Five-Year Fight

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014A Five-Year Fight
By Rep. Kristi Noem

For five years, I have fought for the day that we could put a bill on the President’s desk that would repeal Obamacare.  January 7, 2016, turned out to be that day.

From my first day on the job to now, I have spoken to thousands of South Dakotans about the President’s health care law.  The mandates.  The costs.  The plans that have been lost.  Year after year, the problems seem to become more pronounced – and more expensive.  It’s hard to believe, but this year, every single health care plan on the exchange in South Dakota saw a double-digit rate increase, according to analysis from Agile Health Insurance.  It’s too expensive and there seems to be no end to these increases in sight.

The President’s health care law fundamentally failed to do anything that actually drives down the cost of health care in this country.  Instead, Obamacare issued top-down mandates to ensure more people would foot an even larger bill.  It isn’t working.

Nonetheless, President Obama was quick to threaten a veto on our legislation.  That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t owe it to the American people to take our best shot at repealing a piece of legislation that the majority of Americans oppose.  Moreover, we’ve been able to get some smaller wins by making big pushes in this way.  In fact, we’ve had more than a dozen repeals or delays of Obamacare provisions become law because of our efforts.

We’ve been working toward this for a long time.  I’ve joined the House in passing a number of full and partial repeals, but our efforts have repeatedly been blocked by Senate Democrats.  This time, however, we were able to use a process called “budget reconciliation,” which allows Congress – once a year – to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass legislation with a simple majority in the Senate.  There are strings attached to that process, so we weren’t able to do a full and complete repeal, but we did successfully target major portions of the President’s health care law, including the individual and employer mandates.

We also found significant savings for hardworking taxpayers. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates our legislation would reduce the deficit by $516 billion over 10 years.

I understand it’s not enough just to repeal Obamacare.  Our health care system is broken.  But there is a better way.  We could create competition by letting people purchase insurance across state lines.  Small businesses could be allowed to pool together to purchase more affordable coverage.  You could get a tax break for purchasing insurance, rather than a tax penalty if you didn’t.  There is an alternative – a conservative, patient-centered alternative.

This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me on this, I’m sure.  Even if we can’t replace Obamacare under this administration, I will do everything I can to provide relief where possible until we have a new President.  And in the meantime, I’m grateful that we got a bill through Democrat gridlock and to the President, a small victory.


Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: A Big Week For Veterans

daugaardheader daugaard2A Big Week For Veterans
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

As I write this, the 2016 Legislative Session is just four days away. It will be a busy week at the Capitol as lawmakers return to Pierre to start filing their bills and considering proposals. It’s also going to be a big week for South Dakota veterans.

Three years ago, the Legislature passed a bill to build a new State Veterans Home. We had some challenges, and establishing the new home in Hot Springs has not been easy. Our first request for a federal grant was rejected. Then the federal government changed standards midway through our design process, forcing us to redesign the building. Then the bids came in too high.

Lt. Gov. Matt Michels and the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs spent many months reviewing our costs and working with the VA. Ultimately, the federal VA agreed to extend our grant, which gave us time to redesign and simplify the building, to reduce the cost of the project without sacrificing quality.

Though we’ve encountered many hurdles along the way, the State Veterans Home is finally finished. It has been completed on time, under budget, and it’s debt-free. Move-in day is Wednesday, Jan. 13, and staff will be holding a grand opening event in the spring.

On another front, for the past two years, the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs has been on a mission to contact all veterans in South Dakota. With over 70,000 veterans, this has been a challenging undertaking.

Operation Reaching All Veterans garnered national recognition and was awarded the National Abraham Lincoln Pillars of Excellence Award. Then in 2015 Operation Ketchup was launched, with hopes of locating still more of South Dakota’s veterans.  More recently, the Department has been working on a new effort – Operation Korea – with the Republic of Korea.

Over 60 years have passed since an armistice was signed to allow United States troops to come home from the Korean War. Wedged between World War II and Vietnam, the Korean War is many times referred to as the “Forgotten War.”

In an effort to thank our heroes and to let them know they are NOT forgotten, the Republic of Korea began dedicating Ambassador of Peace medals to all U.S. Veterans who sacrificed for South Korea’s democracy. After I conclude my State of the State Address on Tuesday, the state Department of Veterans Affairs will be holding a Korean Peace Medal ceremony where hundreds of South Dakota veterans will be receiving the “Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal.”

With the first week of session coinciding with these two big events, I am reminded it is because of the men and women who have served that we are a government of the people. Although there’s no way to fully compensate for the service these individuals have given, we must always remember those who have fought for our freedom.


Mark Mickelson features in Argus article, discussing the possibility of his getting into the 2018 Gubernatorial contest.

From the Argus Leader, Mark Mickelson is profiled, with discussions surrounding his potential entrance into the contest for Governor in 2018:

Mickelson-at-batThe stars are aligning for a gubernatorial run in 2018, with Mickelson already building his war chest through a political action committee for a possible Republican primary showdown with attorney general Marty Jackley and perhaps U.S. Representative Kristi Noem.

“There are things you need to prepare for if you feel like that’s something you would be good at and find rewarding,” says Mickelson carefully, mindful of his 2016 House re-election bid. “I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t have an interest in running (for governor), but it’s premature to talk about it.”

And just as Mickelson stresses that he must make his way politically as more than just a famous name, legislative colleagues agree that any future laurels will be merit-based.

“His name recognition is good, but I still don’t think a lot of people truly know who he is,” says Dean Wink, a West River rancher and current House speaker. “He’ll have a chance to win them over.”

Lee Schoenbeck, a Watertown lawyer and longtime state legislator, agreed that Mickelson still has work to do to prove that he’s more about leadership than legacy.

“With the populist nature of South Dakota, nobody gets to inherit anything in politics,” said Schoenbeck. “He may have found some early opportunities in the legislature because of who he is, but the governor’s race is going to be won by somebody who earns it.”

None of this is news to Mickelson, whose passion for economic development, technical schools and agricultural modernization has him excited about becoming more than the grandson or son of a famous governor and simply someone who can make South Dakota better.

Read it all here.

What are your opinions on Mickelson’s chances if he gets into the race? If there a favorite among he, Marty Jackley, Congresswoman Kristi Noem, or anyone else who might enter the race?

Who is in the hunt? Candidates starting to file petitions for 2016

If you go to the Secretary of State’s web site, you can see some of the petitions are starting to be turned in, with more certain to come to Pierre with legislators in the next few weeks:

State Senator Ernie Otten REP 01/06/2016 District 06 46787 273rd St   Tea SD 57064
State Senator Bob Ewing REP 01/05/2016 District 31 120 W Dakota Street   Spearfish SD 57783
State Representative Oren Lesmeister DEM 01/06/2016 District 28A HC 76 Box 23   Parade SD 57625

And it’s only going to get wilder.

Word on the street is that State Rep. Justin Cronin is going to run for the Senate in District 23.

And unfortunately, word is out that Lora Hubbel is sharpening her knives to run for one of the open House seats in District 9. (God help us all.)