Bernie enters 2020 race, as candidates competing to be the ‘most left’

Now that Socialist Bernie Sanders has entered the Democrat race for President, you have to wonder who in South Dakota is going to jump off that cliff to line up with him?   But, it really doesn’t matter. Because they’re climbing all over themselves to try to be the furthest left to capture the Democrat base:

The label “moderate” is scorned, avoided as a potentially fatal term in a primary campaign stacked with left-wing heavyweights like Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey, who speak glowingly of big-government policies like the Green New Deal. Most recently, populist firebrand Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Tuesday launched his second straight bid for the Democratic nomination. And progressive champions Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jeff Merkley of Oregon may soon join the 2020 melee.

Self-described centrists are few and far between. What is emerging is a field where candidates who might otherwise brand themselves moderates are pushing a message of unity while still highlighting their “progressive” bona fides — or, in the case of once-moderate-leaning figures like Beto O’Rourke or Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, openly aligning themselves with the party’s left flank.

Read the entire story here.

Opening our borders to criminals, promoting wackiness such as the green new deal, and killing pipelines is all you need to run for president on the Democrat side of the aisle these days.

What I’d like to hear is who in South Dakota is lining up for whom? And if they’re going to publicly stand behind their candidate’s policies.

In most expensive Governor’s race in History, Dems spent nothing.

The Rapid City Journal has a story up regarding how the 2018 election was the most expensive race for Governor in South Dakota History. But… it looks like at least one participant in it was a useless appendage:

At least $13.73 million was spent on South Dakota’s recent race for governor, which appears to have been the most expensive race for governor in the state’s history, according to a Journal analysis and historical data from a watchdog group.


Meanwhile, reports from the South Dakota Democratic Party showed no coordinated expenditures in the race for governor.


Stan Adelstein, a prominent businessman and Republican former legislator of Rapid City, spent a total of $5,820.51 on radio ads and an ad in the Journal, all supporting Billie Sutton.

Read the story here.

So when it was all on the line in the most expensive and competitive race for Governor in the state’s history, Democrats spent nothing.

And in fact, a disaffected Republican (who is also one of Stace Nelson’s big donors) spent more than the entire State Democrat Party to try to get the Democrat candidate elected.

Food for thought.

And I’d just repeat my prior endorsement to give Ann Tornberg 4 more years as State Democrat Party Chair!

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Here’s What a Strong Economy Looks Like

Here’s What a Strong Economy Looks Like
By Sen. John Thune

When the American people hear politicians and pundits discuss the economy, the message is often framed in broad and subjective terms – one person says it’s booming, another says it’s weak, and they might use phrases like bulls, bears, and bubbles to describe what they mean.

Sure, politics sometimes shapes how a person views the state of the economy, but there are always undeniable truths that are shielded from even the strongest political force: facts. And as President Reagan duly noted, they can be stubborn things. With facts in mind and politics aside, an objective look at the economy, which grew by a solid 3.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018, I might add, is worth seeing.

January marked the 11th straight month that the national unemployment rate has been at or below 4 percent – the longest streak in nearly half of a century. The number of job openings hit a record high at the end of 2018, and there were more job openings than job seekers, which is great news for people who are looking for work. Wages have been growing at a rate of 3 percent or greater for six straight months – a level unmatched since 2009 – and the median household income is at an all-time inflation-adjusted record of $61,372.

Again, those aren’t my opinions, those are facts, and the facts reflect what a lot of Americans are feeling these days. According to Gallup, “Americans’ optimism about their personal finances has climbed to levels not seen in more than 16 years, with 69% now saying they expect to be financially better off ‘at this time next year,’” and more Americans “rate the economy good or excellent” than at any time since January 2001.

Some people might disagree, but I don’t think today’s strong economic growth and consumer optimism just magically happened on its own. A strong economy is built, at least in part, on strong policies that help create an environment in which businesses can grow and hire more workers and where workers can better position their families for future opportunities.

I strongly believe the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which became law just 14 months ago, set the stage for a lot of what we’re seeing today, and I’m working with my colleagues to find additional ways we can further enhance the benefits of this historic effort.

Tax reform is working, but some people are determined to undermine its success for their own political gain, even if it means distorting the facts in order to do it. For example one of my Democrat colleagues who’s running for president just recently stretched the facts to try to claim that preliminary tax refund figures suggest that tax reform is hurting, not helping middle-income families.

While the IRS data is far from complete, it’s true that up to this point (remember, tax filing season just opened at the end of January), the average tax refund is down in 2019, but that doesn’t mean Americans are paying more in taxes. The whole point of a tax refund is to give money back to taxpayers who overpaid the government throughout the year. According to the Washington Post, “a smaller tax refund means you gave less of a loan to the U.S. government over the course of the year. Ideally, you should end up with no refund or tax due.”

Since tax reform lowered rates across the board, Americans kept more of their hard-earned money in 2018. In fact, 90 percent of families that make between $40,000 and $200,000 should expect to see a lower tax burden this year. This is good news, not bad news for the American people.

Back to my original point, though, I believe the economy is strong, not purely in a rhetorical sense, but because the facts clearly highlight the reality. Policymakers can always do more, and the economy can always be stronger, which is why we’ll continue to pursue pro-growth policies that help create more opportunities and greater financial security for the American people.


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Indian Health Service Continues to Let Down Tribal Members

Indian Health Service Continues to Let Down Tribal Members
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Tribal members have been in the midst of a government-induced health care crisis for decades due to poor leadership and mismanagement at the Indian Health Service (IHS). For far too long, tribal members who rely on IHS for health care have faced unimaginable horrors. Troubling reports from a number of IHS facilities have found gross mismanagement, dirty medical equipment, broken sanitizers and blatant corruption. In one outrageous case, a woman gave birth to her baby on a bathroom floor with no nurses or doctors around to help her. Many of these horror stories happen right here in South Dakota.

The financial, structural and administrative problems at IHS have resulted in tribal members receiving misdiagnoses, waiting too long in emergency rooms, and in some cases dying due to inadequate care. There is no excuse for hospitals not to reach basic benchmarks for providing proper care and protect patients and tribal members.

IHS has a trust and treaty responsibility to provide proper health care to tribal members and it has failed in its duty. To help get the agency on the right path, I recently reintroduced legislation that would require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary to contract an assessment of IHS’ health care delivery and financial management processes. This is the same bill I introduced last Congress, which passed out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee with bipartisan support. We’re optimistic we can bring it past the finish line this Congress.

An assessment will allow us to take a close look at the failures of IHS so we can work in close consultation with the tribes to immediately solve these problems and begin providing the reliable care our tribal members deserve. During our research of the agency, we found that despite a large user population and an annual appropriation of more than $5 billion, IHS does not have a funding formula. There are also no qualitative measurements to gauge quality of care. This mismanagement has taken a toll on tribal members, especially those in the IHS’ Great Plains Region, which includes our state. We have the worst health care disparities of all the IHS regions, including the lowest life expectancy, highest diabetes death rate, highest tuberculosis death rate and highest overall age adjusted death rate.

A recent report from the Wall Street Journal and FRONTLINE PBS shed light on the failure of the federal government to stop a child predator—an IHS pediatrician—in Indian Country. IHS moved this person from reservation to reservation, covering up decades of sexual abuse of Native American children in Pine Ridge and elsewhere. This is appalling. Failing to protect these vulnerable children is unacceptable.

Following the news report, HHS Secretary Azar announced an investigation into IHS’ policies regarding abuse allegations, which we welcome. However, IHS has had problems with abuse and other atrocities for decades. The problems are systemic. We need an assessment of the direct-service facilities within IHS as soon as possible.

IHS will continue to fail our tribal members unless we take a close look into the operations, funding, quality of care and management at the agency. My IHS assessment bill is a necessary first step toward making real changes so the IHS can deliver the timely, adequate care the federal government has a trust and treaty obligation to provide to tribal members.


Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Update: Building Relationships

Building Relationships
By Rep. Dusty Johnson

I came to Congress to solve real issues for South Dakotans. This office has awarded me the opportunity to meet and engage with constituents that perhaps I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to know. Every meeting that comes through my door is important, but I am particularly impressed with the purpose of South Dakota’s tribal members.

Since being sworn in on January 3, I’ve had the privilege and honor of meeting with Rosebud Sioux President Rodney Bordeaux, Oglala Sioux President Julian Bear Runner and Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier. Dozens of tribal program administrators, tribal educators and tribal citizens have also traveled to Washington to discuss education and healthcare shortfalls and opportunities. Meeting with tribal leaders almost daily leaves me with even more questions and the urge to research solutions. If one thing is clear, it’s this – I’ve got a lot to learn.

I’ve certainly never pretended to know everything. If anything, I’m eager to share where my knowledge falls short and how learning from others can help fill in those gaps. The relationships I’m building with Indian Country emphasizes the importance of jointly recognizing our complicated history. We must work together through our differences to make South Dakota, and our country, better for all people.

Earlier this week, I was made aware that U.S. soldiers from the Wounded Knee Massacre received Congressional Medals of Honor. This is yet another dark stain on our nation’s past. The time has come for all of us to learn more about what happened, come to grips with that truth and get a better sense of what should have happened in the aftermath and what should be done going forward.

Despite the tragedies of our past, tribal members are resilient and determined. They are not interested in the dependency the federal government tends to give. Instead, they want an opportunity to build the capacity needed to create jobs and prosperity. Infrastructure is a primary concern, which is all too common throughout South Dakota. Economies can only grow and develop if our communities, both on and off tribal lands, have reliable roads, bridges and telecommunications systems. We can do better.

As one of 435 members of Congress, I know I can’t fix everything. Here’s what I do know – I’ll continue to build a meaningful and productive relationship with tribal members and tribal leadership throughout South Dakota.


Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Update: Putting Knowledge to Work

Putting Knowledge to Work
By Governor Kristi Noem

Growing up, I loved working on the farm with my dad. It’s a good thing, too, because there was plenty of work to get done. We’d stay in the fields from dawn to dusk, but we didn’t know any other way. There was no Facebook or Instagram, so I didn’t know what my classmates were doing after school or in the summers. I just knew that my siblings and I were expected to work hard. And I’m glad we did. That early experience taught me lessons that have served me well in life.

I know many of you share that same background and work ethic. It’s our South Dakota way, and it must be something we pass down to the next generation. I strongly believe that the best way to prepare our young people for their careers is through work experience.

Much of this job-ready teaching is done through Career and Technical Education (or CTE) programs in high school. Shop and home-economics were the CTE classes of my generation – and maybe yours – but today, South Dakota’s young people have access to courses that offer job-ready training in everything from IT and healthcare and business to skilled trades like plumbing and welding.

Earlier this month, dozens of students from all over South Dakota gathered in Pierre to celebrate February as Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. It was incredibly encouraging to talk with them and hear about the skills they’re learning. Programs like 4-H, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), FFA, Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), and the Civic Air Patrol give young people hands-on experiences in leadership, problem solving and communication – translatable skills that students can take with them regardless of where the job market may lead.

In addition to offering opportunities for young people to pursue good-paying jobs in industries that are critical to our economy, a strong CTE program equips employers with a skilled workforce, ready to fill the jobs that are available.

I want more South Dakota student to embrace opportunities like this – opportunities that open doors to new passions and equip businesses with a strong and dependable workforce.

Over the coming year, I’m asking school leaders to work with me to increase work experience in our high schools.  I want to see more CTE and skills training in high school, as well as bolstered apprenticeship programs. Students need the chance to step outside the classroom and put their knowledge to work.

That’s why I’m partnering with local businesses and administrators to hold a “Week of Work.”  This will be a special week when every high school student will get out of the classroom to experience a day on the job. I hope this can lead to schools coordinating more internships and experience-based classes.

Learning about the world of work helps our young people figure out what fields aren’t for them and the areas in which they excel. Perhaps more importantly, though, work experience teaches students the people skills they need.  Work experience teaches young people to show up on time, to dress professionally, and to interact with customers.  We do a disservice to our students if they graduate high school without these skills.

The work ethic of South Dakotans is second to none. I’m proud of that. Investing in CTE programs means we’re investing into that work ethic and equipping young people with the skills needed to be successful in whatever career they choose.


Governor Noem on twitter: Legalizing industrial hemp would flood crime lab

From Twitter, Governor Kristi Noem points out the burden legalizing hemp would put on Law Enforcement:

South Dakota GOP renews “Don’t Sign on the Line” campaign to encourage voters to educate themselves before they sign petition to hide information

South Dakota GOP renews “Don’t Sign on the Line” campaign to encourage voters to educate themselves before they sign petition to hide information

In the face of a new ballot measure which would roll back ballot measure reforms guaranteeing information be provided up front to voters, as they did in 2017, the South Dakota Republican Party is launching a campaign for people to learn about all of the effects of petitions before they sign them.

State Republican Party Chairman Dan Lederman is encouraging every South Dakotan who is approached by a ballot measure petition carrier that they DON’T SIGN ON THE LINE until they have a chance to fully research the measure, as well as to verify that the petition carrier can produce South Dakota identification.

“It is very concerning to Republicans that there is a new ballot measure being circulated that is asking voters to sign away their rights to be informed about what’s on the ballot,” Republican GOP Chairman Lederman said. “If this measure is placed on the ballot and passes, people would be giving up many of the rights they have when it comes to ballot measures and making sure the people who ask for their personal information are not bad actors, and that they follow the law.”

“When someone wants to remove information from the ballot that tells taxpayers what a ballot measure would cost, and remove a ban on individuals from sponsoring or circulating petitions for four years if they have committed multiple petition-law violations, it should raise a red flag for everyone,” Lederman said.

“We’ve noted previously that the initiative and referendum process was established in South Dakota to allow a government that’s more responsive to its citizens, and not for whatever D.C. or California special interest group who could write the biggest check and send in armies for a slick, street-corner sell. No one is demanding less information about what their government does, yet these characters seem to think hiding information from voters is the thing to do.”

“Only when voters are satisfied that a ballot measure makes South Dakota better, and it’s a fellow South Dakotan making the ask, should they consider signing,” Lederman said.

Noem Streamlines Education Processes for Military Families, Signs Additional Legislation into Law

Noem Streamlines Education Processes for Military Families, Signs Additional Legislation into Law

PIERRE, S.D. – Governor Kristi Noem yesterday signed legislation to streamline school enrollment processes for military families relocating to a new school district.

“The men and women of our military serve sacrificially, but they don’t do it alone. Their families serve beside them,” said Noem. “Too often, military kids unintentionally bear the brunt of a military transfer. I’m proud to sign this bill that streamlines and simplifies the process of transferring schools for children of military personnel, further ensuring their education remains on track.”

HB1044 will allow an active military parent to enroll their child in school while pending transfer and prior to establishing residency in the district – providing for a smoother relocation.

Noem approved the following pieces of legislation:

  • HB1008 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding the required notice for biennial state political party conventions
  • HB1020 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding state building committees for capital improvement projects
  • HB1024 – An act to authorize certain species of game fish to be used as bait                   
  • HB1043 – An act to require the Department of Social Services to collect and report certain information regarding the military affiliation of a parent whose child is subject to a report of abuse or neglect
  • HB1044 – An act to authorize certain children who are subject to a pending military relocation to apply for enrollment in a school district
  • HB1045 – An act to revise the definition of campus security officers for purposes of the South Dakota Retirement System
  • HB1052 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding the notice given to county commissioners for special sessions
  • HB1075 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding the authority of conservation district governing boards
  • SB32 – An act to revise the composition of the South Dakota Board of Social Work Examiners
  • SB37 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding association health plans
  • SB51 – An act to revise certain provisions regarding trusts