Noem to Introduce Legislation Offering More Flexibility for Local School Meal Programs

Noem to Introduce Legislation Offering More Flexibility for Local School Meal Programs

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today announced plans for legislation that reduces federal mandates on school meal standards, including the more stringent whole grain requirements that went into effect in July 2014 and the Target 2 sodium requirements set to be implemented in the coming years.

“Current school lunch standards create a one-size-fits-all model that doesn’t work for our kids and places costly and senseless burdens on school districts – especially smaller school districts,” said Noem.  “We all want our kids to be healthier, but we need to give our schools flexibility at the local level to ensure the standards work for the students it’s intended to serve.  As a mom, I want to make sure the school meal program my kids participate in is rooted in science-based nutrition plans and includes food that they’re actually going to eat.  After all, my kids don’t get the nutrients if it’s left on the plate.”

Rep. Noem introduced her initial Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act in December 2013.  This updated version of the bill includes new provisions to address concerns with the Target 2 sodium levels and whole grain requirements.

“It’s essential that kids get nutritious and filling meals while at school, but new standards have taken a step too far, resulting in many students choosing unhealthy alternatives outside the school lunch program,” said Sandi Kramer, Child Nutrition Director of the Yankton School District in South Dakota. “We are proud to support Rep. Noem’s Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act.  As a mother whose kids go to school in a very small school district, she understands the challenges schools will face in serving healthy and appetizing options to students under these new requirements.  With her bill, nutrition remains a priority, but it’s done in a way that’s going to work in the real world.”

The Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act will be introduced in the coming weeks.  The legislation would:

  • Allow schools to maintain the previous whole grain requirements.  Without this change, 100 percent of the grains that schools would be required to serve students would be whole-grain rich, pushing items like tortillas and pasta largely off the menu.  Rep. Noem’s bill would restore the requirement back to 50 percent, meaning half of the grains served would be required to be whole-grain rich.
  • Maintain Target 1 sodium requirements.  Absent a change, schools would have a difficult time serving healthy foods that include milk, cheese, meat and other foods with naturally occurring sodium.
  • Give administrators flexibility on some of the rules that have increased costs for school districts, including the school breakfast program, a la carte options, and school lunch price increases.
  • Make the USDA’s easing of the meat and grain requirements permanent through law, rather than regulations.  This would give certainty to schools that they’ll be allowed more flexibility in serving meats and grains while still staying within calorie maximums.


Press Release: Rounds Statement on Netanyahu Address

Rounds Statement on Netanyahu Address

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today made the following statement following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress:

“I thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for taking the time to address us today on our shared goal of stopping Iran from its nuclear ambitions. Our relationship with Israel transcends both time and political theater, and we must continue to work together to defeat our enemies which seek to destroy us. A nuclear Iran threatens the entire world and cannot be allowed to get nuclear weapons. I encourage the President to carefully consider the Prime Minister’s remarks today as he moves forward with his Iranian policy.”


Busy.. Working on legislation to help kids with Autism, and other stuff.

Yes, I’ve been somewhat quiet on original writing over the last couple of weeks as I’ve held down the homefront while my wife dealt with her Dad’s passing, and we both traveled for the funeral in Arkansas this last week.  But in case you’re wondering, yes, that’s me in an article at today.

No, I’m not in the accident reports, court reports, Argus 911, scolding political silliness or Democrats. I’m actually working with a great group of parents who are trying to ensure that a measure in the legislature being promoted as helping children with Autism actually does that, and doesn’t put families in a worse position than there were in before:

Parents of children afflicted with autism hope a bill moving through the legislature can be amended to help parents get insurance coverage for the most effective treatment plan.


In 2014, insurers in the state began to deny the intensive and expensive treatment protocols used in Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), which involve hours of therapy each week and can cost between $50,000 and $120,000 a year. A bill to require all plans to cover ABA died last year in Pierre and was replaced with a bill that called for a study group. Senate Bill 190 was offered by insurance providers in response to the study.


Stanley and other parents, including Pat and Michelle Powers of Brookings, say the bill would put those whose children were grandfathered into coverage in a more difficult position than they are now.

Michelle Powers told KSOO radio’s Rick Knobe on Monday that recognizing ABA coverage as effective and worthy while cutting coverage for the hourslong workaday therapy involved leaves previously-covered parents with less than they have now.

Without amendments, Pat Powers said, the bill recognizes ABA but ignores the tiered delivery system that makes it possible.

“It also places stricter limitations on coverage levels than those recommended by the legislative report in 2014,” he wrote in an email.

Read it here.

If you care about kids with disabilities getting services to help them live up to their potential, and give them a chance to become productive taxpaying citizens, as opposed to wards of the state, it’s an important bill to watch. And with a couple of minor tweaks, it can be a good bill, as opposed to a bad one that hurts families.

(And while we’re at it, I’m also helping with publicity for the Brookings Area Special Olympics Polar 5k run taking place on March 27th. The Polar 5k is one of the fastest growing 5k events in the state, and rivals the Hobo Day 5k in size. Sign up today.)

AFP SD Director Ben Lee Discusses Stealth Tax Increase on KELO Radio

AFP SD Director Ben Lee Discusses Stealth Tax Increase on KELO Radio

One Penny Sales Tax Proposal Would Result In More Than $150 Million In New Taxes

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Americans for Prosperity South Dakota Director Ben Lee appeared on KELO Radio to discuss a bill that could increase sales taxes in South Dakota by $150 million. AFP South Dakota has been engaging its network of activists, encouraging them to reach out to their legislatior and urge them to vote NO on this dangerous legislation.

Excerpt from the interview: “South Dakota’s economic advantage is our low tax structure…Any time we consider significant tax increases we’re threatening that and we’re threatening our economic advantage…If every city chose to take take advantage of the ability to add an additional 1 penny sales tax, that would result in more than $150 million in new taxes, which would be far and away the largest tax increase in South Dakota history… This bill has been under the radar and we don’t think enough folks have been talking about it. So we wanted to shine a light on it and talk about how we don’t believe this is good tax policy for South Dakota.”

You can listen to the full interview here.

Governor to Republicans – Get on the stick, and get recruiting

From the Rapid City Journal:

Gov. Dennis Daugaard told Republican county leaders at their statewide meeting Saturday that candidate recruiting can start immediately for 31 of the 105 seats in the Legislature. Those are seats that Democrats currently hold or have Republicans who can’t seek re-election to the seats in 2016 because they are term-limited. He also suggested that the 74 other Republicans should be asked whether they plan to run again in 2016 so there can be a head-start on finding new Republican candidates to run if they aren’t.

“We are so much more organized, and it makes us strong,” Daugaard said.

Read it here.

Good, solid advice. Time to get recruiting for offices, especially since we may be circulating petitions in 9 months.

That explains a lot. Rapid City CVB using mascots in campaign. Not Tourism

Coming on the heels of my post asking about why the Rushmore mascots are being used in a political campaign, I received a heads up about there being more than one set:

There are two sets of Rushmore mascot costumes.  One is owned by the SD Department of Tourism, and the other is owned by the Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau.  The Tourism mascots are not participating in this campaign, so I can only assume it is the Rapid City CVB mascots.

So, it’s not the state’s mascots who are inserting themselves into the convention center vote. It’s those owned by the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Stolen from Facebook: Can I get the state tourism mascots for my next campaign?

I was perusing facebook this morning, and noticed that Jordan Mason, a former Rapid City Councilman and Register of Deeds candidate had reposted the below pictures, and was commenting about electioneering, likely because it was a pro-civic center message in and around the in-person absentee polling place.


But, the thing that came to my mind was “aren’t these state tourism mascots?” and “What is 1/4 of the state tourism mascot doing promoting a particular position in an election?”

If they’re available for rent, let me know, as I’d love to have Teddy and Lincoln for a hospitality suite at the next GOP Convention.

(Update – Check out my latest post. Apparently, there are 2 sets of costumes. Kind of like a set of evil twins. One is owned by the state, which has noting to do with this, and one owned by the Rapid City CVB….. whom I’m guessing has a lot to do with this.)

US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Academy Nominations

Academy Nominations
By Senator Mike Rounds
February 27, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateServing in the United States Senate comes with a lot of responsibilities, but nominating South Dakota students to the military service academies is one that I am really looking forward to. My first opportunity to nominate students to the academies will be this fall.  Each member of the Congressional delegation will nominate students to the academies. The four service academies that require a Congressional Nomination are the Military Academy at West Point, New York; the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland; the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York. The Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut does not require a nomination by a member of Congress. All academies offer great opportunity for young people to become leaders in our nation’s military.

Since only a small number of students are nominated to each class, being selected is very prestigious. It also isn’t easy. The service academies are looking for the best and the brightest. Interested students must meet eligibility requirements in leadership, physical fitness, character and scholarship. It is a rigorous program, but also highly rewarding. The service academies open a world of opportunity for their graduates. The young people joining the military directly from the academies are among the highest caliber our country has to offer—a result of the challenging training and education they received.

Admission is a two-part process. First, the student must apply to the academy of his or her choice directly. After the student meets the admissions requirements of the academy, he or she can contact my office requesting a nomination. I have put together a screening committee who will help me review applications and conduct extensive interviews before I make my final decisions on nominees. After the student has received my nomination, it is up to the admissions office at each academy to ultimately decide who gets accepted.

The process can be confusing, so to help students along the way, I plan to hold “Military Academy Day” events across South Dakota in the coming months. At these seminars, my staff will be joined by representatives from each academy to make presentations and answer questions from interested students and parents. Our first Military Academy Day will take place on March 28, 2015 at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls. The Sioux Falls Academy Day will be the first in a series across the state, including in Pierre and Rapid City. Others may be added, as well. I would encourage all high school students who are thinking about attending a military service academy to attend this informative event. More information about the Academy Day in Sioux Falls can be found on my website,

By attending an academy, not only will students have the opportunity to serve our nation and help lead the best military in the world, but they will receive an excellent education at a top-notch institution. I encourage young South Dakotans interested in service to consider our military academies.