With Repeal of Obama-Era WOTUS Rule, Noem Urges Public to Comment on Replacement Proposal

With Repeal of Obama-Era WOTUS Rule, Noem Urges Public to Comment on Replacement Proposal

Washington, D.C. – An outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s expanded “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) definition, Rep. Kristi Noem today applauded a rollback of the Obama-era rule and urged the public to comment on the Trump administration’s replacement proposal.

“The Obama administration attempted to pull off one of the largest federal land grabs in U.S. history when it finalized the Waters of the U.S. rule,” said Noem. “There is no question that the Obama-era rule needed to be replaced. To help ensure today’s proposal will offer the clarity farmers, ranchers, and homeowners deserve without the massive government expansion that President Obama’s EPA had attempted, I encourage folks to review the proposed rule and weigh in through the public comment process.”

As finalized by the Obama administration, the WOTUS rule could greatly expand the federal government’s control over small and seasonal bodies of water throughout South Dakota and the country. Estimates show that if a landowner falls out of compliance, penalties could cost more than $30,000 per violation, per day.

In May 2015, Noem helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass the bipartisan H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which would send the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers back to the drawing board on the WOTUS rule. Months later, a federal appellate court temporarily suspended the nationwide implementation of the WOTUS rule, a suspension that holds today.

In January 2016, Noem joined the House in passing legislation disapproving the rule. President Obama later vetoed the bill. In February 2017, Noem joined more than 35 Members of Congress in a letter to President Trump, urging the administration to take action to repeal WOTUS.

The Trump administration did so, and today proposed several changes to the 2015 WOTUS rules, including:

For more information, constituents can visit https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule. Public comment will be accepted for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. There will also be an information webcast on January 10, 2019, and a public hearing in Kansas City, KS, on January 23, 2019. Information on both events will be posted to https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule


Rounds Statement on Confirmation of Jon Kobes to be Circuit Court Judge

Rounds Statement on Confirmation of Jon Kobes to be Circuit Court Judge

WASHINGTON– U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today issued the following statement on the confirmation of his counsel, Jonathan Kobes of Sioux Falls, to be a Circuit Judge on the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Kobes will replace Judge Roger Wollman, who is taking senior status at the end of the year.

“Jon will be an excellent judge on the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit,” said Rounds. “He has spent his career demonstrating his commitment to justice, the fair application of the law and the betterment of the community by providing pro-bono legal services to those in need. I have the utmost confidence in his ability to protect the Constitution and the rule of law, and I look forward to watching him excel as a federal judge.”


Rounds Statement on Senate Passage of Five-Year Farm Bill

Rounds Statement on Senate Passage of Five-Year Farm Bill
Bill includes a number of Rounds’ priorities

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today made the following statement on the Senate passage of the farm bill conference report, which includes a number of priorities he requested earlier this year. It passed with strong bipartisan support, 87-13.

“The farm bill is a vital piece of legislation for farmers and ranchers in South Dakota, where our economy depends on agriculture,” said Rounds. “At a time when farm income is down 50 percent and our producers are at the tip of the spear with the ongoing trade disputes, passage of a five-year farm bill is a critical step toward providing our ag community with much needed certainty and stability. The farm bill includes tools that can help farmers and ranchers keep their operations viable even during tough times. I thank Senate and House Ag Committee leaders and members for their work on this important bill, and urge the president to sign it into law as soon as it passes the House.”

The farm bill includes a number of priorities Rounds has pushed for in farm bill negotiations:

  • Strengthens safety net programs such as crop insurance;
  • Allows for re-enrollment for producers utilizing commodity programs under Title I, specifically Price-Loss Coverage (PLC) and Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC);
  • Increases the cap for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres from 24 million acres to 27 million acres, with 2 million acres reserved for grasslands;
  • Establishes an Animal Disease and Preparedness Program, which includes a  vaccination bank to combat economic, food and national security concerns;
  • Increases the total Farm Service Agency (FSA) Guaranteed Loan Program’s individual cap on Ownership and Operating Loans from $1.399 million to $1.75 million. Rounds called for an increase to these individual loan caps in the FSA Loan Guarantee Enhancement Act that he introduced;
  • Establishes a Rural Health Liaison position to work in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services to improve rural health care delivery. This measure is based on legislation Rounds sponsored.

Full text of the farm bill can be found here.


House and Senate to Vote on Bipartisan Farm Bill Compromise

House and Senate to Vote on Bipartisan Farm Bill Compromise

“Getting a pro-agriculture, pro-farmer farm bill to the president has been the goal all along, and I’m glad we’re one step closer to delivering on it.”

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, today issued the following statement on the bipartisan farm bill compromise that was negotiated between leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees. The House and Senate are expected to consider the compromise legislation in the lame duck session of Congress. Once approved by both chambers, the bill would head to the president for his signature.

“This farm bill is literally two years in the making,” said Thune. “I introduced my first farm bill proposal in early 2017and spent more than a year drafting proposal after proposal, using ideas and suggestions from South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers, to help lay the groundwork for the product Congress will soon consider. While there were significant policy differences between the House and Senate bills, it’s good to see negotiators, who I’ve been in communication with throughout this process, were able to reach an agreement. Getting a pro-agriculture, pro-farmer farm bill to the president has been the goal all along, and I’m glad we’re one step closer to delivering on it.”

Thune, who to date has introduced roughly 40 farm bill-related initiatives to reform and strengthen the farm bill, startedintroducing individual marker bills in March 2017, and they covered nearly every title of the overall farm bill. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June, which included one dozen Thune-authored provisions.

Highlights of Thune-Authored-and-Supported Provisions Included in the Bipartisan Compromise Bill:

  • Provisions of Thune’s Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP), which was included in S. 499 that he introduced in March 2017. SHIPP is a new voluntary income protection program that would provide participant farmers with a short-term acreage conserving use program, which unlike the traditional Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), requires a commitment of only three to five years. SHIPP is authorized and funded as a pilot program at 50,000 acres in the six Prairie Pothole Region states: South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota.
  • Provisions of Thune’s bill (S. 1259), which would require that Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC)-County payments be calculated using the physical location of each farm’s tract of land instead of the current policy, which uses a farm’s administrative county to determine payments.
  • Provisions of an amendment introduced by Thune and included in the Senate farm bill that would allow producers who are currently enrolled in ARC or PLC to change enrollment in 2021, which is not permitted under current law. This provision was expanded in the final farm bill to also include 2022 and 2023.
  • Provisions of Thune’s bill (S. 909) to increase the CRP acreage cap. Thune proposed increasing it from 24 million to 30 million acres, and the final farm bill increased it to 27 million acres.
  • Additional provisions of S. 909 that would target CRP acreage enrollment based on a state’s historical CRP acreage enrollment and allow greater flexibility and expanded haying and grazing options on land enrolled in CRP.
  • Provisions of Thune’s bill (S. 1913) that would close additional loopholes in sodsaver provisions to further disincentivize producers for converting native sod to cropland in exchange for increased crop insurance indemnities.
  • Provisions of Thune’s bill (S. 2936) that would provide tools and direction to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help improve the accuracy of the U.S. Drought Monitor and require the coordination of USDA agencies that use precipitation data to determine livestock grazing loss assistance and stocking rates.

Click here for a full list of the nearly 20 Thune-authored-and-supported provisions in the 2018 farm bill and here for text of the compromise legislation.

Thune has served on the Agriculture Committee in both the House and Senate and is currently the only member of the South Dakota congressional delegation to serve on the committee. Thune has written three farm bills during his time in Congress, and the 2018 farm bill is his fourth. Agriculture is South Dakota’s top industry, with more than 43 million acres of agricultural land throughout the state.

To learn more about Thune’s 2018 farm bill effort, please visit the farm bill section on www.thune.senate.gov.


Does the Senate GOP Caucus need some Flex-seal™ for those leaks?

Anyone else noting that the Senate Republican Caucus seems a little ..leaky lately?

This past week, we had Stace Nelson tweeting pictures from the elections taking place in the GOP Senate caucus..

As well as anonymous person(s) dumping caucus campaign data & documents to democrats, possibly trying to intentionally to make someone look bad in the run up to the caucus elections.

Until they can come out with a political version of this stuff..

The GOP Senate Caucus might have to directly deal with their rule-breakers.

Did someone forget to get their campaign finance reports in?

From the Secretary of State’s Office comes the list of people who nearly two months after the deadline that the Secretary say have yet to file their campaign finance report.

Included on the list are the Ballot Question Committee for pot promoters New Approach South Dakota, as well as the committee for a long dormant political campaign from it’s leader Melissa Mentele.

Both extremes of the political spectrum are represented, with the far end of the left coming from Bernie Sanders endorsed Clara Hart, who apparently isn’t big on timely reports, and representative of the extreme right Shad Olson, who is treasurer for Political Action Committee ‘Bright Future,’ which the SOS has also given a tardy slip to.

Two of the more notable names on the list are perennial failed candidate Lora Hubbel, and the chairwoman of the South Dakota Democrat Party herself, Ann Tornberg.

Here’s the list as it stands this morning:

Committee Name Committee Type Ending Balance Treasurer First Name Treasurer Last name
Ann Tornberg For District 16 Legislative Committee $34.77 Ann Tornberg
Beadle County Republican Women County Political Party $1,506.83 Ardyce Jensen
Bootz for House Comittee Legislative Committee $0.00 Nicole Bootz
Bright Future Statewide Political Action Committee (PAC) $0.00 Shad Olson
Dewey County Democrats County Political Party $0.00 Michelle DuBray
Douglas County Republican Party County Political Party $120.23 Rex Winter
Ericks For SD House Legislative Committee $207.37 Garry Denker
Friends of Melissa Mentele Legislative Committee $55.00 Melissa Mentele
Friends of Tammy Basel Legislative Committee $2,993.59 Joseph Urbaniak
Friends of Zachary Kovach Legislative Committee $0.00 Alexis Dooley
Hamlin County Republicans County Political Party $2,233.74 Stephanie Sauder
Hanson for House Legislative Committee $508.87 Michael Hanson
Hart for House Legislative Committee $19,402.67 Clara Hart
Hubbel Campaign Legislative Committee $21.60 Lora Hubbel
Koch for SD Legislative Committee $0.00 John Koch
Leary for Legislature Legislative Committee $0.00 Mary Leary
Matt Rosdahl for South Dakota House of Representatives – District 4 Legislative Committee $41.60 Matt Rosdahl
Midwest Action PAC Statewide Political Action Committee (PAC) $0.00 Zachary Nistler
Miner County Democrats County Political Party $0.00 Mary Leary
New Approach South Dakota-Medical Cannabis Statewide Ballot Question Committee $191.89 Melissa Mentele
Renville for SD Legislative Committee $0.00 Allison Renville
Silvis for Senate Legislative Committee $0.00 Alanna Silvis
South Dakota Young Democrats Auxiliary Party Committee $0.00 Zachary Anderson
Troy Lunderman for district 26A State Representative Legislative Committee $0.00 Troy Lunderman

Sutton blasting donors with weekly post-election loss appeals for cash. Is Billie running for something or just trying to retire debt?

As we hit Friday, the Billie Sutton for Governor sent the latest in what has become a string of seemingly never-ending e-mailed solicitations for money.

In fact, I think I’ve seen as many in the last month as in the last few months of the Gubernatorial Campaign, as they are constantly being dropped in e-mail boxes.

(Sorry for the small type on some of these, they didn’t lay the first couple out very well for scaling.)

I look at it with one of two outcomes in mind. It seems as if either Billie Sutton is thinking about running for something coming off of his immediately past loss in the race for Governor…  or he’s continuing to work over donors in an effort to retire campaign debt.

Considering the weekly frequency of the appeals, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.  It’s certainly not coming without a purpose in mind.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Remembering 41

Remembering 41
By Sen. John Thune

Like so many other young conservatives in the 1980s, I really came of age politically during the Reagan Revolution. I was deeply inspired by President Reagan’s commitment to democracy and freedom and his compassionate, yet principled approach to governing, a model I’ve tried to embody throughout my service to the people of South Dakota.

President Reagan was a tremendous public figure, but he had help along the way and often leaned on George H.W. Bush, his trusted vice president who served alongside him for all eight years of his presidency. Reagan trusted him for the same reasons the American people trusted him when they later elected him to serve as our 41st president: He was smart, kind, a true public servant, and dedicated to making America a better place than when he found it.

By the time George H.W. Bush (or just “41” as he’s known today) ascended to the presidency, he’d already spent a lifetime in public service. Barely an adult, he enlisted in the Navy and quickly became one of the youngest naval aviators ever to take to the sky. James Baker, Bush’s long-time friend, White House chief of staff, and secretary of state, described him poignantly as a “charter member of the Greatest Generation.”

War hero was only one chapter in Bush’s long and tenured career in public service. He would later serve as a member of Congress, ambassador to the United Nations, diplomat in China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and vice president of the United States – all jobs that most public servants would consider a pinnacle career achievement on their own, let alone collectively.

His resume for president was as good as it gets, a characterization he’d likely contend, as humble as he was in life. And while he’d been assigned many titles throughout his nine-plus decades on earth, I think it’s safe to say that above all others, he was proudest to be called husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

On his marriage to Barbara, the longest marriage of any presidential couple in our nation’s history, Bush once wrote, “I have climbed perhaps the highest mountain in the world, but even that cannot hold a candle to being Barbara’s husband.”

I was humbled and honored to attend President Bush’s funeral in Washington, D.C. As I listened to everyone who spoke at the memorial service, it was almost as if they were puzzle pieces perfectly selected to illustrate each corner of Bush’s life, giving all of us a full picture of what this man meant to the United States. They talked about his place in history and his role as a world leader and described him as a friend, family man, and son of God.

In an almost poetic way, presidential historian Jon Meacham said of Bush that he was “America’s last great soldier-statesman, a 20th-century founding father.” Meacham was able to read his full eulogy to the president before his passing, and the president responded in a way and with a sense of humility that only he could: “That’s a lot about me, Jon.” As if to say his own eulogy should focus more on the people he served rather than the man who so selflessly served them – humble to the very end.

When President George W. Bush spoke at the funeral, it was an emotional message from a son to his father, not one president simply eulogizing another. The 43rd president said of the 41st, “He taught us what it means to be a wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He was firm in his principles and supportive as we began to seek our own ways. He encouraged and comforted but never steered. We tested his patience. I know I did. But he always responded with the great gift of unconditional love.” Unconditional love. What a profound and timeless lesson on what truly matters in life.

Rest in peace, Mr. President.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Remembering a Great American

Remembering a Great American
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Across the country, Americans are mourning the loss of President George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, who passed away on Nov. 30, 2018, at age 94. President Bush was an extraordinary man who exemplified everyday American values: faith, family and country. He married Barbara Pierce after World War II and together they had six children: George, Robin, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. He and Barbara were married for 73 years when she passed away in April of this year.

President Bush was a warrior, diplomat, peacemaker, leader and public servant. He served in many different capacities during his more than 40 years in public service. He was a young naval aviator who fought in World War II, a two-term congressman from Texas, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, United States envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and vice president under President Reagan before he was elected president. He valued public service and has said, “Any definition of a successful life must include serving others.” He shared that sense of duty with others through his Points of Light Foundation which promotes volunteerism and giving back to our communities.

As a World War II veteran, President Bush was a member of the Greatest Generation. He was a man of integrity who governed during times of both war and peace. The decisions he made have had a lasting global impact. When the Soviet Union was collapsing, we were worried about the threat of war and what they would do with their nuclear weapons. President Bush decided to meet with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to find a solution where peace could prevail. That is a testament to President Bush’s leadership, demeanor and diplomatic skills.

Leaders can and should learn from other leaders, and President Bush’s leadership has inspired countless men and women to give back to their communities in a leadership capacity. I remember attending a speech that then-Vice President Bush gave in Pierre at T.F. Riggs High School when he was running for the presidency. He took dozens of questions from the audience, answered them thoughtfully and thoroughly and treated everyone at the event with respect. Rather than trying to highlight the divisions between himself and his opponent, he spoke with optimism about the future of our country. He reminded us that as Americans we have much more in common than what divides us. That message has had a real impact on me and the way in which I seek to lead.

While George H. W. Bush served as leader of the most powerful country in the world, at his core he was no different than many South Dakotans. He was a man of deep faith who put God and family first. He believed fiercely in serving others and giving back. He was also a man who loved the outdoors, like so many of us here in South Dakota. In fact, President Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush spent time in the beautiful Black Hills hiking, fishing and visiting Mount Rushmore. He loved spending time on the water, and often took friends, family and neighbors on boat rides even during the later years of his life. But most of all, he enjoyed spending time with his beloved wife Barbara and their kids, grandkids and great-grandkids.

George H.W. Bush is one of just 45 people throughout our 242 year history elected to serve as the leader of the United States of America. He leaves behind a lasting legacy and lifelong lessons which we can all strive to achieve. Jean and I continue to keep the Bush family in our prayers as the nation joins together to honor the incredible life of our 41st president.


Governor-Elect Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Building a Stronger Economy

Building a Stronger Economy
By Governor-elect Kristi Noem

A couple years ago, I was at the grocery store when a young mom stopped me in the aisle. Her cart was full of generic groceries. Her pocket was full of coupons. She looked at me and said: “Kristi, when are things going to get better?”

We talked about how costs had gone up – healthcare, groceries, electricity, childcare – yet she hadn’t seen a pay raise in years.

That scenario became the foundation of what I fought for while I helped negotiate once-in-a-generation tax cuts that began to answer that question.

Those historic tax cuts were signed into law about a year ago, and things have gotten better.

The average South Dakota family of four will now receive a $2,400 tax cut. How? I fought for lower rates, a doubling of the Child Tax Credit, and reforms that have made America’s economy boom. Millions have received pay raises, bonuses, or increased benefits. Job creation is up. And despite leaving more money in people’s pockets, the resulting economic growth is expected to increase federal revenues $1 trillion over the long term, helping stabilize the budget.

I will apply these same low-tax, pro-growth principles as governor and veto efforts to increase taxes. You’ve worked hard for your money; our state government must respect that.

And our work to kickstart the economy has just begun.

In early December, I announced that Steve Westra will join my administration as Commissioner of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Steve brings a background of business experience and innovation to the table. Currently the Chief Operating Officer of Hegg Companies Inc., a Sioux Falls-based company, Steve has shown a unique ability to develop strategies and creative approaches that bring job-creating projects to South Dakota. He’s also served on the Tourism Advisory Board, the Sioux Falls Board of Health, and in the State House of Representatives. Most importantly, I know Steve will run a service-oriented agency. He’ll lead by example in serving the businesses GOED is working to grow. He’ll respect and serve South Dakota taxpayers.

I have big plans for the future of South Dakota’s economy, and Steve is just the partner I need to make those plans a reality. Together, we’ll transform GOED into an agency that centers around keeping South Dakota’s taxes and red tape at a minimum while making the right investments. We’ll make it easier to start and grow a business.

I also see GOED playing a bigger role in coordinating workforce development. I want to bring the department together with area employers, the South Dakota Department of Education, the Board of Regents, and tech schools to make sure young people are getting the skills needed to prepare them for key jobs.

What’s more, I believe South Dakota is ready for a new growth industry. The financial services industry flourished in our state during the 80’s and 90’s because Governor Janklow made it a priority to provide low regulatory burdens and an advantageous tax environment. Between these, skills training, and the research available at South Dakota’s universities and tech schools, I believe we have all the necessary ingredients to recruit a new industry – we just have to pursue it, and I see a targeted role for GOED in that effort.

And while we recruit new business, we’ll also invest in the businesses putting South Dakotans to work today, helping them grow from five employees to 10, 50, or more.

I hope someday I have the opportunity to run into that mom in the grocery store again. Things have gotten better, families have gotten stronger, and the best days are still to come.