“I will not pledge to support the Republican candidate for President” (Donald Trump)

I’m not surprised.  He once supported single payer health insurance, Hillary Clinton and the right to abortion.

Update:  9:19-  I think all the Republicans on stage (Trump is no longer a Republican in my eyes) have been impressive.  They have taken tough questions and answered them with conviction and coherence.  I gained some insight in the appeal of Ben Carson. I’m proud to be a Republican tonight.

Rounds, Thune Introduce Bill to Strengthen Military Families’ Right to Self-Protection

Rounds, Thune Introduce Bill to Strengthen Military Families’ Right to Self-Protection

MikeRounds official SenatePIERRE—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees, and U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), today introduced legislation to allow military spouses to purchase handguns in the state where their husband or wife is permanently stationed for duty, or in a neighboring state if the military spouse commutes across state borders to their duty installation. The Protect Our Military Families’ 2nd Amendment Rights Act was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA-02).

“At a time of increased threats on military bases and to members of our Armed Forces, it is as important as ever to give military families the opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said Rounds. “Our men and women in uniform – and their families – make incredible sacrifices to keep our country safe; allowing them to keep their families safe is the least we can do.”

“When our men and women in uniform answer the call of duty, sometimes at a moment’s notice, it is notJohn_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_Congress just the servicemember who is impacted,” said Thune. “For many military families whose parent or spouse changes duty stations, the move could result in a new home, job, or school. We should be doing all we can to make life safer and easier for these military families who sacrifice a great deal for America. Our servicemembers and their families should not have to forfeit any of their rights in order to protect ours.”

Current law restricts citizens from legally purchasing a handgun in any state other than the one in which they reside. An exception to this law was made for active duty service members who are on permanent duty station orders, so that they can be considered a resident of the state in which they are assigned. Our legislation extends that exemption to their spouses as well. Other cosponsors include Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

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Republicans, Democrats Agree: IRS “Delinquent” With Treatment of Tax-Exempt Organizations

thuneheadernew John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressRepublicans, Democrats Agree: IRS “Delinquent” With Treatment of Tax-Exempt Organizations

“The Obama IRS was grossly incompetent, it improperly targeted groups for political reasons, and it stonewalled various investigations”

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over the IRS, issued the following statement after the Finance Committee released the findings of its bipartisan report on its investigation into the IRS’s treatment of organizations applying for tax-exempt status:

“I applaud Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden for conducting this bipartisan and in-depth investigation of the IRS’s behavior with respect to its treatment of certain conservative organizations that applied for tax-exempt status,” said Thune. “This report confirms what a lot of us already knew – the Obama IRS was grossly incompetent, it improperly targeted conservative groups for political reasons, and it stonewalled various investigations into reported misbehavior. Most importantly, this report confirms that the IRS let down the American people and lost what little trust and confidence taxpayers had left in the agency.”

Bipartisan findings of the report include (courtesy of the Senate Finance Committee):

  • During the years 2010 to 2013, IRS management failed to provide effective control, guidance and direction over the processing of applications for tax-exempt status.
  • Top IRS managers did not keep informed about the applications involving possible political advocacy and thereby forfeited the opportunity to provide the leadership that the IRS needed to respond to the legal and policy issues presented by these applications.
  • Lois Lerner, who headed the Exempt Organizations Division, became aware of the Tea Party applications in early 2010, but failed to inform her superiors about their existence.  While under Lerner’s leadership, the Exempt Organizations Division undertook no less than seven poorly planned and badly executed initiatives aimed at bringing the growing number of applications from Tea Party and other groups to decision.  Every one of those initiatives ended in predictable failure and every failure resulted in months and years of delay for the organizations awaiting decisions from the IRS on their applications for tax-exempt status.
  • The Committee also found that the workplace culture in the Exempt Organizations Division placed little emphasis or value on providing customer service.

o   Few if any of the managers were concerned about the delays in processing the applications, delays that possibly harmed the organizations ability to function for their stated purposes.

  • The Committee made a number of recommendations to address IRS management deficiencies as follows:

o   The Hatch Act should be revised to designate all IRS, Treasury and Chief Counsel employees who handle exempt organization matters as “further restricted.”  “Further restricted” employees are precluded from active participation in political management or partisan campaigns, even while off-duty.

o   The IRS should track the age and cycle times of applications for tax-exempt status to detect backlogs early in the process and allow management to take steps to address those backlogs.

o   The Exempt Organizations Division should track requests for assistance from both the Technical Branch and the Chief Counsel’s office to ensure the timely receipt of that assistance.

o   A list of over-age applications should be sent to the Commissioner on a quarterly basis.

o   Internal IRS guidance should require that employees reach a decision applications no later than 270 days after the IRS receives that application.  Employees and managers who fail to comply with these standards should be disciplined.

o   Minimum training standards should be established for all managers within the EO Division to ensure that they have adequate technical ability to perform their jobs.

Issuance of the report was delayed for more than a year after the IRS belatedly informed the Committee that it had not been able to recover a large number of potentially responsive documents that were lost when Lois Lerner’s hard drive crashed in 2011.

o   By failing to locate and preserve records, making inaccurate assertions about the existence of backup data, and failing to disclose to Congress the fact that records were missing, the IRS impeded the Committee’s investigation.  These actions had the effect of denying the Committee access to records that may have been relevant and, ultimately, delayed the investigation’s conclusion by more than one year.

A timeline can be found here.

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Paula Hawks declares “I stand proudly with Planned Parenthood.” Good luck with that.

And today we have Paula Hawks tweeting that she “stands proudly with Planned Parenthood,” who has been in the news lately for admitting they harvest fetal tissue for medical experimentation.

And Hawks doubles down and goes after Congresswoman Noem for introducing legislation to defund Planned Parenthood for the practice, but also seeking constituent input.

Could the Hawks campaign be the shortest campaign in the history of South Dakota?

Rounds Reaffirms Commitment to Repeal Pay Ratio Rule

RoundsPressHeader MikeRounds official SenateRounds Reaffirms Commitment to Repeal Pay Ratio Rule

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, today reaffirmed his commitment to repeal the pay ratio rule embedded in Section 953(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is voting today to adopt the pay ratio rule.

“The pay ratio rule is a waste of time, effort and money, and the SEC is misguided in voting to adopt this duplicative, unnecessary rule,” said Rounds “Repealing the pay ratio rule – as my legislation seeks to do – would allow companies to find more productive uses of their time and money so they can invest in the future and create jobs. I will work to move it forward in the legislative process.”

The statute requires the SEC to promulgate a rule requiring companies to disclose the pay ratio of their CEO compared to a company’s median workers. Section 953 is not only redundant because CEO pay is already public, it would also cost businesses millions of dollars in compliance costs.

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My pile of boards leftover from the SDSU Stadium demolition looks like this now! (Not bad for a PolySci grad)

deck4I’ve written more about it on facebook than here, but you might recall that ‘d all but abandoned my hopes of expanding my little concrete pad that passed for a patio this year until I’d stumbled across a pile of lumber at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

And that lumber became the genesis for the biggest project I’ve ever taken on.

ReStore is a great resource for old furniture, light fixtures, building materials, and most anything you can think of in a thrift store, sans clothing. I go out there from time to time to see what they have. And in the latest trip to see what I could see, I went out back to a lumber pile, and noticed that they had a big pile of lumber that at one time had been painted for the SDSU Jacks.

It was explained to me that all these boards of blue and gold had been left over from the stadium demolition. Much of the lumber had gone to stadium benches which were sold to alumni. And they were more interesting, as they had been painted with row numbers. What was in the pile were the more boring or pedestrian boards that they didn’t want, or couldn’t use.

Noticing that it was a big pile of 18 foot long 2×10 lumber, which retailed in the neighborhood of $50 a board for treated lumber at Lowe’s, I asked the ReStore people “how much?”

deck3The reply? “$5 a board.”   And I couldn’t load it fast enough.

The cheap lumber left me to imagine how I was going to put this together from a pile of boards I possibly sat on as an undergraduate student, into a structure that my family could use and enjoy for many years to come.

Here I might mention that I’ve never built a deck before. But, I watch the DIY Channel. I’m game!

I found that my inexperience would crop up from time to time, especially as I was measuring for my decking. On one occasion, I seem to recall exclaiming to myself “Why are these posts 12 feet apart, and these at the bottom are 12’4″?  I measured twice!

deck2 I found myself running back to Habitat ReStore on more than one occasion for “just another couple of SDSU Bleacher boards” for various reasons; whether it was to add support, or to fix my goof-ups.

And in constructing it, I found creative solutions to some of those various goof-ups, such as breaking up the 12ft spans of decking with a board in the middle, masking my post mismeasurement, as well that little thing where I omitted the width of the lumber bolted to the outside of the posts in my calculations.

Did I mention I hadn’t build a deck before?

deck After going on vacation for a week, I returned and dug into the deck once more with gusto, adding railings, 2 sets of stairs, and finally a pergola to outline where my outdoor kitchen will be.

An open corner will hold a plant, or a planter box, so I don’t have to do try to make a post and short railing sturdy enough to weather kids hanging on it all the time.  I’ll cull through the leftovers to see if I’ve got something to make hand rails out of for the stairs. And I’ll add some decorative trim to mask the underside of the deck.

But for now, my deck of SDSU leftovers is looking pretty darned good for an alumnus of the SDSU political science program (versus the engineering or construction management programs), to the point where I’m not afraid to put the family on it

You know, what they say is true. You CAN go anywhere from SDSU.  As far as these bleachers are concerned, you can go from life as seating for thousands of football enthusiasts to a new home and life entertaining and helping a Brookings family enjoy the outdoors for years to come.

Rounds featured in Roll Call Article on “Former Governor’s Caucus.”

South Dakota’s US Senator Mike Rounds is featured in an article on the Roll Call web site about the “Former Governor Caucus,” discussing the difference between running the show, and being one of many:

MikeRounds official SenateJust six months into his Senate tenure, Rounds, who is interested in a biennial budget process as well, is still getting used to his position as a junior member, particularly with crucial legislative deadlines coming to a head in the fall.

“As a new member, not being directly involved with those discussions on a regular basis, it’s frustrating, where as governor you’d be right in the middle of things,” he said.

and…

When King approached Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about the Former Governors Caucus, he told the Kentucky Republican that some suggested the group be called the Extremely Frustrated Caucus.

“Then Mitch said, ‘Well, I’ve found if you have a former governor who’s now a senator and you ask him which job they like better, if they tell you senator they’ll lie to you about other things.’ I thought that was a pretty good way to put it,” King said, laughing.

Read it all here.

Thune, Rounds Introduce Legislation to Authorize Permanent Land Transfer for Expansion of Black Hills National Cemetery

Thune, Rounds Introduce Legislation to Authorize Permanent Land Transfer for Expansion of Black Hills National Cemetery

Similar Land Transfers Have Occurred at the Minuteman Missile Site and Wind Cave National Park

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today introduced the Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act, legislation to facilitate a permanent land transfer of approximately 200 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery outside of Sturgis.

“All of the agencies that are involved in this process want to see a permanent land transfer between BLM and the Black Hills National Cemetery,” said Thune. “This transfer is neither controversial nor unprecedented, so I hope our legislation moves through the Senate swiftly so the transfer process can begin as soon as possible. This expansion will help ensure that we can continue to honor our veterans with a dignified burial in the beautiful Black Hills National Cemetery for generations to come.”

“This permanent land transfer guarantees that generations of veterans will be able to rest peacefully in the Black Hills National Cemetery,” said Rounds. “I’m hopeful that this noncontroversial proposal will move quickly through Congress.”

Under current law, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act limits transfers like this one to a lifespan of 20 years. The Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act would make this particular transfer permanent.

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