Rounds, Blunt Introduce Bill to Allow Community Banks to Better Serve Rural Areas

Rounds, Blunt Introduce Bill to Allow Community Banks to Better Serve Rural Areas

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, and U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) today introduced legislation to support and strengthen lending in local communities. The Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2015 would roll back burdensome financial regulations to make it easier for community banks to serve their customers, who often reside in rural areas with fewer lending options.

“Community banks are the lifeblood of small businesses and economic activity in South Dakota and other rural areas,” said Rounds. “Relieving community banks from unnecessary regulatory burdens will increase credit access for South Dakota families across the state. With more than 6,500 community banks in the U.S., the federal government must make sure they are helping – not hindering – their ability to grow and support their communities.” 

“Community banks are an integral part of Missouri’s economy and the communities they serve,” Blunt said. “These banks often are the primary lenders to small businesses and farmers across the state. The Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2015 gives our local banks relief from burdensome financial regulations, allowing them to better serve and meet the needs of local businesses which will lead to investment and economic growth in communities in Missouri and nationwide.”

The Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2015 would:

  • exempt community banks with $50 billion or less in assets from the Basel III capital rules;
  • increase the Small Bank Holding Company Policy Statement qualifying asset threshold from $1 billion to $5 billion;
  • exempt publicly held community banks with less than $1 billion in assets from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s internal control attestation requirements;
  • allow savings and loan holding companies to use the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new deregistration and registration thresholds; and
  • preserve current Securities and Exchange Commission rules regarding the definition of “accredited investor.”

Earlier this year, the Community Bank Access to Capital Act of 2015 was introduced in the House of Representatives by Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises. It is supported by the South Dakota Independent Community Bankers (ICBA) and national ICBA.


Rounds: I’m Disgusted by Planned Parenthood’s Actions

Rounds: I’m Disgusted by Planned Parenthood’s Actions

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today issued the following statement after a second video has surfaced of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the organization’s operation of selling body parts of aborted children.

“I’m disgusted at Planned Parenthood’s disregard for the sanctity of human life. This is further proof that the organization should not be receiving taxpayer dollars. I support a full and thorough investigation of this appalling situation.”


USDA Announces Conservation Programs That Will Benefit South Dakota

USDA Announces Conservation Programs That Will Benefit South Dakota“This new program that I worked to include in the 2014 farm bill will not only provide incentives to preserve grassland … it will also help improve existing pastures and hay land.”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) applauded the recent announcements by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that the sign-up process will soon begin for a new Conservation Reserve Program-Grasslands (CRP-Grasslands) initiative authorized by the 2014 farm bill, and that an additional 21,000 acres are now available for South Dakota’s State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative.

“I’m glad that the sign-up process will soon begin for a new CRP-Grasslands initiative that will provide an incentive to keep more of South Dakota’s grasslands intact,” said Thune. “One of the greatest concerns of our state’s grazing livestock producers is the declining availability of grassland. This new program that I worked to include in the 2014 farm bill will not only provide incentives to preserve grassland, but with the 50 percent cost-share for establishing approved practices, it will also help improve existing pastures and hay land.”

Sign-up for the CRP-Grasslands initiative is expected to begin September 1, 2015. This initiative helps landowners protect grassland and rangeland, while also maintaining them as grazing lands. Participants may also produce or harvest hay for seed production, subject to restrictions during the nesting season of certain bird species. Annual rental payments under CRP-Grasslands may be up to 75 percent of the value of the grazing land covered by the agreement.

Thune’s sodsaver provision, a separate initiative to preserve native sod in the Prairie Pothole Region that is currently being administered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency, was also included in the 2014 Farm bill.

“I was also pleased to hear that Secretary Vilsack responded to my request for additional SAFE acres,” Thune continued. “SAFE has been a popular CRP initiative, with more than 100,000 acres enrolled in South Dakota. South Dakota needs at least one million acres enrolled in CRP in order to sustain a thriving pheasant population, and the increased availability of the popular SAFE CRP acres will provide important conservation benefits and boost our state’s economy.”

Earlier this month, Thune sent a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack requesting an increase in SAFE acres for South Dakota.

The goal of South Dakota’s Pheasant SAFE is to enroll a total of 94,500 in CRP to provide block acreages in the form of nesting, brood-rearing, winter-roosting, and escape cover for ring-necked pheasants and other upland birds. The goal of the South Dakota Western SD Grassland Habitat SAFE project is to enroll 40,800 acres of habitat critical to declining grassland birds native to Western South Dakota. Targeted species include the sharp-tailed grouse, upland nesting waterfowl, and other birds.


First Lady To Hold Book Walk


First Lady To Hold Book Walk

PIERRE, S.D. – First Lady Linda Daugaard will hold the third annual book walk for children in the backyard of the Governor’s Mansion on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 6:30 p.m. CDT.“The book walk is an opportunity to encourage children to read and give them the chance to get out and exercise,” said Mrs. Daugaard.

Children in junior kindergarten through the second grade are invited to attend, but must be accompanied by an adult. The walk will take approximately a half hour.

The featured books will be “One Duck Stuck” by Phyllis Root and “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper. Participants will walk around Capitol Lake and stop at stations along the way to read portions of the first book. “One Duck Stuck” by Phyllis Root will be posted along the inside driveway of the Governor’s Mansion for the younger children. After children arrive at the last station and finish the book, light refreshments will be provided. 

“The book walk should be entertaining for children as well as adults, and I hope those living in Pierre and the surrounding areas will take the opportunity to spend an evening outdoors with us,” said the First Lady.


Still heading South…

Greetings from Louisiana.

I’m still heading South on day three of my cat-return adventure. Neither my wife nor I have killed the other one yet (usually our disagreements are based on navigation), but there’s still some trip to be had. 

Yesterday afternoon had me exploring the diamond mine in Murphreesboro, Arkansas, and overnighting there.  Sometimes when you see those television shows touting tourism destinations, you watch the show, and think “I’d like to got there sometime,” and you’re excited when you finally get do do it.

And then reality hits. All of a sudden you go from thinking you might be like Indiana Jones, and find out it’s actually closer to being on the chain gang.

Here’s the hole I managed to dig while I was at the diamond field, as I found the sand had the consistency of cement.  On a 95° day it’s a little less than ideal. Think of it much like the climate of the Badlands except add 100% humidity.

I was bound and determined to stick it out, after the kids thought they might enjoy the water park at the entrance of the diamond field a little bit more.  I managed about an hour to an hour and 20 minutes before diamond-less, I finally threw in the trowel.

I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it…. but I think next time I might pick a day where the temperature is at least down in the 70s or 80s.

As opposed to yesterday’s sweat fest, I’m hoping today to end the day a bit more leisurely in Pensacola, Florida, where the most strenuous thing I’m going to do is to find someplace to eat an animal that originated in the ocean.

It is a vacation, after all.

Today’s KCCR: Walker trial begins today

KCCR News out of Pierre is reminding us this morning that ‘the other’ US Senate Candidate on trial for petition issues has his day in court starting today:

33 year old Walker was indicted in June for election law violations stemming from the 2014 U.S. Senate race. Jury selection begins at 9:00 this morning (Monday). Walker’s trial will be similar to that of Annette Bosworth, as the court will recesses after today and pick up the trial Wednesday at 1:00 and probably continue into Thursday.

In addition to his election law violations, Walker is also being charged of threatening by electronic device. These charges stem from Walker’s continued phone calls to several state offices, including Hughes County States Attorney Wendy Kloeppner.

Read it all here.

US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: The Importance of Education


The Importance of Education
By Senator Mike Rounds
July 17, 2015

MikeRounds official Senate A strong education system is vital to making certain our young people have the opportunity for a prosperous future. To accomplish that goal, I believe the federal government’s role in education should be limited and well-defined. I’m pleased the Senate came together recently to pass the Every Child Achieves Act, or ECAA, a comprehensive, bipartisan overhaul of our education system that will improve the quality of education across the nation.

The ECAA passed the Senate 81-17 and has been endorsed by teachers, superintendents, local school boards, state legislatures and governors. The ECAA restores decision-making on education and accountability standards to those who know students best—parents, teachers and local school boards—and provides flexibility to our education system. I believe in local control of education. While standards are important, a “one-size-fits-all” directive from the federal government has proven to be the wrong approach and has led teachers to “teach to the test.” Returning education decision making to its rightful place – in the hands of local governments – is a needed replacement to the No Child Left Behind law, which expired in 2007. Since that time, 42 states have been operating under waivers from No Child Left Behind– proof of just how much reforms have been needed.

I’m pleased that the Every Child Achieves Act included a deficit-neutral amendment I offered to address low graduation rates at tribal schools. My amendment seeks to improve the quality of education in Indian Country, especially in rural and high poverty areas. In some parts of the country, tribal schools have graduation rates as low as 40 percent, which is half the national average. This is unacceptable. Native American students—just like all students across the country—deserve a strong education system to prepare them for a successful future.

My amendment also lays a foundation to fix the systemic education problems facing students in Indian Country by directing the Department of the Interior and the Department of Education to conduct a study in rural and poverty areas of Indian Country. The study will identify federal barriers that restrict tribes from implementing common-sense regional policies instead of one-size-fits-all policies directed from Washington. It will also identify recruitment and retention options for teachers and school administrators, and look at the limits in funding sources these schools are facing. Lastly, the study will provide strategies on how to increase high school graduation rates at tribal schools.

Our students are our country’s greatest asset, and every student deserves a quality education. The Every Child Achieves Act improves our education system by empowering states, teachers and school boards to make their own curriculum decisions. This will lead to higher standards, better teaching, better learning and more accountability. I’m pleased my colleagues came together to pass the ECAA in the Senate and will continue to seek ways to strengthen education.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Being Good Stewards Of Taxpayer Dollars

daugaardheader Being Good Stewards Of Taxpayer Dollars

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

DaugaardThroughout my time serving as governor, good stewardship of taxpayer dollars has been my goal. Two pieces of recent news can assure South Dakotans that state government is handling their money responsibly.

On June 30, we closed the fiscal year with a budget surplus. Our ongoing revenues came in higher than projected and our expenses came in lower than budgeted. Revenue growth for the completed 2015 fiscal year exceeded estimates adopted by the Legislature last March by $10 million, or 0.71 percent; and state agencies demonstrated fiscal restraint, spending $11.5 million less than appropriated, or 0.84 percent.

Each year when we make budget projections, we try to make estimates that are as accurate as possible. There’s no way to project the exact numbers, so it’s better to err on the side of a surplus not a deficit. Through the Bureau of Finance and Management’s diligence, we were pretty close this year. Our projections were 99 percent accurate.

The good news of the surplus follows on the heels of a recently released report from the Mercatus Center in which South Dakota was ranked third in the nation for fiscal condition. The study is based on the comprehensive annual financial reports from each state for fiscal year 2013. The study compares states by their abilities to pay short-term bills, meet long-term spending obligations and increase spending. The study also takes budget and trust fund solvency into account.

In the study, we ranked just behind Alaska and North Dakota – and that’s something to be proud of. While Alaska and North Dakota derive a large percentage of their revenues from oil severance taxes, we must rely on other revenues more closely tied to economic activity.

When I took office, balancing the budget was my number one priority. Now, for four years in a row, we have maintained structural balance in our budget and we’ve done so without using one-time revenues or rainy day funds.

In a time when many other states are adopting rosy projections and employing budget gimmicks to justify overspending, South Dakota is acting responsibly. We don’t spend money we don’t have, we keep our budget structurally balanced and we seize opportunities to spend in the short-term where it can lead to savings. These practices reflect the responsible values of South Dakota citizens.