Senator Rounds’ Weekly Column: Standing with our French Allies

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateStanding with our French Allies
by Senator Mike Rounds

South Dakotans – and all Americans – stand united with France after last week’s terror attacks in Paris. With 129 murdered and more than 350 wounded, they were the deadliest terror attacks in Europe in more than a decade. We continue to pray for those we lost and stand united with our friends in France as they recover from this terrible tragedy.

The attacks in Paris are a sobering reminder that we are at war with radical jihadists who seek to harm Americans and invoke terror throughout the world. These extremists, who propagate brutal violence and reject peace, must be destroyed. This starts with a coherent plan to completely defeat ISIS, the vicious terrorist group behind the November 13 Paris attacks.

The administration has been lackluster in its response to ISIS, with the President and Secretary of State downplaying its growing influence in the Middle East and our need to fully counter them, placing tight constraints on our military’s campaign against them. Meanwhile, ISIS has spread from Iraq and Syria to Northern Africa and Afghanistan and now to the restaurants and concert halls of Paris. It is clear that ISIS is not “contained,” as President Obama claimed just hours before the Paris attacks, nor is it merely a regional threat in the Middle East. We must act now to defeat them or risk a Paris-like attack on U.S. soil in the near future. I believe the best way to achieve this is to direct our military, the Department of Homeland Security and our nation’s intelligence leaders to put forth a clear and coherent plan to completely obliterate ISIS.

Because of ongoing war in Syria, as well as ISIS’s continued terror in the region, millions of Syrians are fleeing their homeland seeking refuge elsewhere in the world. While most are being relocated in Europe, many South Dakotans, including myself, are concerned about the prospect of a terrorist slipping into the United States, taking advantage of the refugee program. Refugees have been coming to America for generations seeking safety from war-torn regions of the world. I support efforts to help others seek shelter from persecution. However, we must not do so at the expense of our own national security.

I have joined a growing number of my colleagues – on both sides of the aisle – calling for the administration to put a pause on those coming to the U.S. from Syria until we are able to take a second look at the security of our current vetting processes. We need to remember that it only took 8 people to commit the carnage in Paris. While we continue to press the administration for answers as to our ability to protect Americans from these threats, we must not accelerate the Syrian refugee program as the President has requested.

As we continue to seek answers regarding last week’s horrific attacks in Paris, we must remember that we are at war with Islamic jihadists. Clearly defining a plan to defeat ISIS and keep Americans safe must be our primary goal. We have the best armed forces and intelligence agencies in the world. With resolve and determination, we can and will defeat ISIS and Islamic extremists, but this still requires leadership and a plan.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: A Thankful Nation

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014A Thankful Nation
By Rep. Kristi Noem

I am finding it tough to get into the right mindset to write this column.  In recent days, we’ve had to have some difficult conversations about how we’re going to keep the American people safe and away from terrorism’s deadly fist.  I’ve traveled to Pine Ridge to talk to young people and tribal leaders about a tragic suicide epidemic afflicting Indian Country.  My team and I have received hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls from South Dakotans who are concerned about how the federal government is caring for veterans, supporting our seniors, and digging out of debt.

Our world can be such an ugly place.  But in the midst of it all, most of us will sit down with family or friends on Thursday and give thanks for our many blessings.  What an incredible national tradition that is.

Especially when times are tough, we need to take the time to reset – to step back and take an account of what we do have.  For me, I’m grateful for my family, for the partner I have in my husband Bryon, for the time I get to spend hunting with my oldest daughter Kassidy, for the laughter that seems to follow our second oldest daughter Kennedy wherever she goes, and for the tender heart of our son Booker.

I’m grateful for my mom and the incredible grandma she is to my kids and their cousins.  I’m grateful for the time I had with my dad and all the lessons he taught me.  I’m grateful for my mother-in-law and father-in-law who have been there to support us at so many turns along the way.  I’m grateful for my siblings and their spouses and my nieces and nephews; they have made our family of five so much bigger (and so much louder!)

I’m so incredibly grateful to live in South Dakota.  I’ve always loved our state and after spending a week or so in Washington, D.C., I become even more appreciative.  I call coming home my detox.

I’m grateful for the people of our state – for those who offer words of encouragement, those who challenge me, those who pray for me, and those who ask questions and offer solutions.

I’m grateful to live in a nation that has made freedom the first tenant of our Bill of Rights; a nation that promises opportunity and strives to better itself and the world around us; a nation that takes the time every year to give thanks.

From my family to yours, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.


Apparently cities want another penny too.

From the a Rapid City Journal comes notice that it’s not just education who wants a penny sales tax. Cities are going to push to make it two, because they want one for themselves:

Other ideas included raising the sales tax to boost pay and retention of quality instructors at vocational and technical colleges; more freedom for local governments to find innovative ways to create economic incentives to foster growth; generating new revenue streams to improve municipal infrastructure; finding money to pay for proposed Medicaid expansion; and even finding more money for the South Dakota aeronautics fund.

• Yvonne Taylor, director of the South Dakota Municipal League. Taylor said her group may propose a one-cent jump in the state sales tax to pay for local roads, sewers, workforce housing and other projects that she said create a platform for growth and development. Taylor also wants to change the trigger point for when rural land bought for development is re-assessed. Now, it is assessed at a new rate when platting is done, even if the development isn’t planned until long into the future. That can stifle long-range plans for growth, she said.

Read it all here.

So, a portion of the property tax, and 2% of the sales tax isn’t enough for cities?

Increasing the sales tax for schools is going to be difficult enough. I think a further increase for municipalities is completely D.O.A., and woe be to the legislator who sponsors it, as they shall see it in campaign ads.

What do you think?

Noem working to address teen suicide rate on Pine Ridge

From KELOland comes a story on how Congreswoman Kristi Noem is working to address the teen suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation:

Representative Kristi Noem returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation Friday to talk about the area’s suicide problem, and this time she brought along a key member of Congress on youth mental health issues.

It’s an ongoing tragedy that won’t leave Rep. Kristi Noem alone.

Five weeks after she heard first-hand accounts of suicides and near misses, Noem returned to Pine Ridge with Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy.  Murphy is a child psychologist who’s now pushing a sweeping mental-health reform bill.

He was moved, too.


“That’s a program that’s used to give hope to students and youth and turn their lives around,” Noem said. “The fact that it’s ending in December means we’ve got to figure out ways to extend that program and keep their funds flowing.”

Murphy’s presence in Pine Ridge and the mental health law overhaul he is guiding through Congress could matter there.

Read it all here.

Coming up in the 2016 session: Student Privacy Act, Education, Medicaid Expansion, and the first Legislative budget.

I was at a Republican meeting today getting a preview of bills we can expect this next session, and it seems that this next session is going to be anything but mundane.

Everyone in attendance agreed that education and medicaid expansion are going to be the highest priority and overreaching topics of the next session. And some thought that given the funding challenges, the two were literally going to be connected at the hip, given the savings opportunities afforded if the federal government agrees to the state’s proposed plan for the feds to pick up Native Americans receiving off-IHS services which had been funded by Medicaid.

The impression given was that the intent of the legislature is to look strongly at finding money within the system before any new taxes are discussed. Otherwise known as “looking in the couch before we pass any tax increases.”  There was also discussion over the basic philosophy of the medicaid expansion, which goes back to the Governor’s thoughts on it some time back – should we be providing entitlements to able-bodied adults who are perfectly capable of going and getting jobs to pay for it themselves?

Since these are the two big ticket items in next years’ proposed session, I’d expect we’re going to hear much more about them in the remaining weeks before the legislative session.

State Representative Fred Deutsch was there and spoke about a couple of bills he would be bringing – first and foremost being the Student Privacy Act. The “SPA” is designed to disallow the opposite sex – according to biology – to be in any state of undress amongst each other, such as in locker rooms and bathrooms.  He indicated the bill is designed to protect and shield school districts by setting the guidelines forth in state law.

What came as the biggest surprise to me was being informed that for the first time, the group was informed that the South Dakota Legislature intends to being it’s own budget to the table as part of budget discussions, in addition to, and as opposed to simply reworking the Governor’s Budget.

That’s right – for the first year, the Legislative Research Council apparently has a computer program to allow the legislative branch to develop it’s own budget, and it was noted that part of the process is intended to reconcile the legislative budget and the Governor’s budget.  It’s a small step, and will be the first time they’re trying it, but in the big scheme of things, it’s huge in terms of legislative independence.  Stay tuned on that one.

Lots more to come as we move past turkey day next week, and tick down until the legislative session.

And if there are legislators out there who want to give a preview of what they’ve got coming up, drop me a note here.

Lawsuit filed by Attorney Joel Arends against Chad Haber, Annette Bosworth, and Rose Bosworth for defamation, tortious interference, etcetera..

How is your week going? Because by the sounds of it, it’s going better than the Bosworth family’s is, as three of them had a lawsuit filed against them by Annette’s former attorney Joel Arends, whom she rolled under the bus in an attempt to shift blame from herself when it all hit the fan as she was arrested for falsely attesting that she circulated and witnessed the signatures being placed on certain petitions.

It has been quite some time in coming, but not entirely unexpected, after Bosworth’s campaign of blame.

Arends v Bosworth, Bosworth and Haber

If you read the lawsuit, filed in Lincoln County: “This action is brought by Plaintiffs to recover for defamation, false light, defamation by implication, tortious interference with business relationships, civil conspiracy, and other tortious conduct committed by Defendants.”

And the lawsuit accuses the defendants of “….knowingly and intentionally engaged in a multi-year, sophisticated, and coordinated disinformation campaign against Plaintiffs by publishing numerous false and disparaging statements regarding Plaintiffs on radio, television, and the Internet, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.”

And, it also says that they “also recruited various legal agents to publish comments on website “comment” sections and Face book postings.”

Continuing… “Upon information and belief, Defendants used Defendant Annette Bosworth’s United States Senate campaign assets and resources to fund their disinformation campaign against Plaintiffs.”

And it continues on with the details for thirty pages of alleged misconduct. And as detailed in the document, Arends does not put a specific dollar amount on his claims, but does ask for:

Plaintiffs respectfully request a judgment against Defendants as follows:

(a) Actual and consequential damages;
(b) Punitive (exemplary) damages;
(c) Joint and several liability;
(d) Reasonable and necessary attorney’s fees;
(e) Costs of the lawsuit;
(f) Prejudgment and post-judgment interest at the statutory rate;
(g) Injunctive relief prohibiting the distribution of false and
misleading information by Defendants regarding Plaintiffs; and
(h) Such other and further relief as the Court deems reasonable
and appropriate.

So, take a look. Take a read of the detailed document, and let us know what you think.

Thune Welcomes Sioux Falls Pastor Named U.S. Senate “Chaplain for a Day”

thuneheadernew Thune Welcomes Sioux Falls Pastor Named U.S. Senate “Chaplain for a Day”

“It’s a great honor for me to welcome to the United States Senate today our pastor from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Jeff Wheeler …”

WASHINGTON — Pastor Jeff Wheeler of Sioux Falls Central Baptist Church today served as U.S. Senate “Chaplain for a Day.” U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) nominated Pastor Wheeler for the honor.

“It’s a great honor for me to welcome to the United States Senate today our pastor from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Jeff Wheeler, who just offered our invocation this morning,” said Thune. “I’d like to express how much Kimberly and I have appreciated the opportunity to worship and to benefit from his ministry and enjoy and are blessed by his teachings each and every week when we are back home in South Dakota.”


Noem Votes to Prohibit Refugees from Syria and Iraq from Being Admitted to the U.S.

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Noem Votes to Prohibit Refugees from Syria and Iraq from Being Admitted to the U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Kristi Noem today supported legislation to temporarily prohibit Syrian and Iraqi refugees from being admitted to the United States.  More specifically, H.R.4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, would put an immediate pause on the program until the FBI and relevant intelligence agencies could certify to Congress that an individual does not pose a threat.  The legislation, which Noem cosponsored, passed the House today with broad bipartisan support.

“My priority – and my fundamental responsibility – is to keep the American people safe,” said Noem.  “Top security officials have admitted that we don’t have the resources necessary to fully vet refugees from countries, like Syria, whose government is in shambles and where we lack a law enforcement presence.  Until confidence in the vetting process can restored and we can certify that refugees do not present a safety threat to the American people, we must put a pause on this program.  This legislation would certainly be an important step toward greater national security, but what our country needs as well is a comprehensive plan from the President regarding how he plans to defeat ISIL and overcome the threat of global terrorism.”

Earlier this week, Noem joined more than 100 of her colleagues in writing President Obama regarding their concerns about admitting refugees from Syria and Iraq and urging him to immediately suspend the program.  Click here to view the letter.


Thune, Heitkamp Ensure Beneficiary Access to Durable Medical Equipment

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressThune, Heitkamp Ensure Beneficiary Access to Durable Medical Equipment

Legislation will ensure that durable medical equipment (DME) providers are able to meet the needs of Medicare beneficiaries in their areas

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) today introduced the DME Access and Stabilization Act, legislation that would provide bridge relief to rural DME providers in non-competitively bid areas through the end of 2018. This legislation will ensure that DME providers are able to meet the needs of Medicare beneficiaries in their areas. Additionally, this legislation seeks to address the underlying issues with DME reimbursement in non-competitive bidding areas. Examples of DME include hospital beds, blood glucose monitors, and wheelchairs.

“It is important that people receive quality health care, no matter where they live,” said Thune. “Not only does this legislation ensure that suppliers in rural areas can provide services they need to people in all parts of South Dakota, but it may enable people to return home faster after hospitalization.”

“Seniors in rural areas like North Dakota deserve continued access to needed medical equipment, like hospital beds, walkers, and oxygen supplies,” said Heitkamp. “Our bipartisan bill would smooth the transition to a new payment formula for businesses supplying and servicing these products, and make sure seniors, particularly those in rural communities, can continue to live independently and with dignity.”

Thune and Heitkamp introduced this legislation to address the problem caused by the national rollout of competitively bid DME prices to non-competitively bid areas. Competitive bidding was created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Competitive bidding for DME started with Round 1 of bidding in nine metropolitan areas in 2008, but was suspended due to issues with implementation. Suppliers then had to rebid Round 1, and prices for Round 1 went into effect in January 2011. Round 2 competition started in 2011 in an additional 91 predominately metropolitan areas, and prices for Round 2 took effect in July 2013. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will then take these rates from the competitively bid areas and extrapolate them to non-competitively bid areas, which will threaten beneficiary access to DME because of inherent differences in supply and delivery costs between metropolitan and rural areas.

On January 1, 2016, the competitive bidding program will be rolled out to South Dakota and North Dakota, two areas without competitive bidding areas. According to an estimate, many providers in the upper Midwest will face a nearly 40 percent reduction on average in reimbursement for the most commonly ordered DME they provide to seniors, making it financially difficult to continue to provide DME.

Joining Thune and Heitkamp in cosponsoring this legislation are U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).