Guest Column: Listening and Following Through by Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree

Listening and Following Through
by Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree

MADISON–Wednesday was a pivotal day in the debate on forging a path forward to facilitate value-added agriculture’s future in South Dakota. SB 201 gives money to farmers and counties, not out of state trial lawyers and environmental activists who line their pockets by killing value-added ag projects with misinformation and propaganda. I’m standing up on SB 201 to fight for farmers and was joined by ag groups like SD Corn, SD Soybeans, Ethanol Producers Association, the SD Chamber of Commerce and many more.

When South Dakota farmers succeed, all of South Dakota succeeds, and that cuts both ways. When South Dakota farmers have limited access to national and global markets, our whole state suffers. A rising tide lifts all boats, and that’s why I am committed to legislation like SB 201 that fosters a brighter future for all of South Dakota.

I have heard from hundreds of landowners in South Dakota about pipelines and landowner rights. Some of these folks do not want any reforms. Instead, they want to block all progress in South Dakota. The overwhelming majority of South Dakotans see the opportunity that comes with expanding ethanol markets and historic investments like Gevo in Lake Preston. I’ve listened to all sides of the debate, and I’m delivering on my promise to deliver policy reform that promotes respect, fairness, and certainty for all parties involved in infrastructure and value added agriculture.

Last week the Senate also overwhelmingly passed a change in South Dakota law to prevent foreign entities from owning South Dakota ag land. HB 1231 is now on the way to the Governor. Our ag economy and food security belong in the hands of Americans. This bill also prohibits ownership by China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia or Venezuela.

SB 187 is a funding request to help cities and counties support cybersecurity levels. This can help local governments protect citizen information, critical infrastructure and elections by avoiding potential cyber attacks and ransoms. It was good to see this  bill was approved unanimously. Also up in Joint Appropriations on Friday was SB 45 to establish the Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology at Dakota State University. Appropriators also passed this request onward to the Senate floor to be heard in the upcoming week.

On Thursday, the halls of the Capitol were filled with young Bulldogs. The fourth grade “Little Legislators” from Madison Elementary made their annual trip to visit us. Thanks for representing Madison and learning about state government. The pledge of allegiance was as loud as it has ever been in the senate chamber with them joining us from the gallery.  Our state’s future is bright with kids like these!


Governor Kristi Noem tied for first in CPAC poll for Trump running mate

Governor Kristi Noem is tied for first in a CPAC poll for who attendees thought should be Donald Trump’s running mate in the upcoming presidential election. According to The Hill:

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy were tied for first place as Republican grassroot activists’ preference for former President Trump’s vice presidential pick.  

Attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gave Noem and Ramaswamy 15 percent each when asked whom they believed Trump should pick as his running mate for 2024.  

Read it all here.

Further bolstering Governor Noem’s chances is that if you’ve ever met Kristi, she’s pretty down to earth and not leaning towards being a crackpot like Ramaswamy, as keeps coming up in anecdotes.

Fox News: Senator John Thune endorses Donald Trump after South Carolina primary win

According to Fox News, South Dakota US Senator John Thune is endorsing Donald Trump after his latest primary win:

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican leader, is endorsing former President Trump for reelection.

It’s a key win for Trump from the establishment wing of the Republican Party. The South Dakota Republican is Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s top deputy in the Senate GOP.

“The primary results in South Carolina make clear that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president in this year’s pivotal presidential election. The choice before the American people is crystal clear: It’s Donald Trump or Joe Biden,” Thune told Fox News Digital.

Read the entire story here.

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: IRS Needs to Do More to Protect Taxpayer Data

IRS Needs to Do More to Protect Taxpayer Data
By Sen. John Thune

In 2022, Congress passed the No TikTok on Government Devices Act. As its name suggests, this law bans TikTok on government devices due to the significant security risks that the app poses. This was an important step to protect sensitive data and government networks, but a recent report indicates that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has not fully complied with the law.

A recent inspector general report revealed that 2,800 mobile devices used by IRS Criminal Investigation employees and computers assigned to those employees can access TikTok. The inspector general also found that the IRS has not updated its “Bring Your Own Device” program, which shockingly allows IRS employees to use personal devices for business purposes. That means that IRS employees who are accessing sensitive taxpayer information on their personal devices are also potentially accessing TikTok. Worse still is that the IRS won’t commit to complying with recommendations to resolve the personal device issues until October 2024.

As the lead Republican on the Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight, holding the IRS accountable is an obligation I take very seriously. In response to this troubling report, I recently sent a letter to the IRS commissioner requesting information about the agency’s compliance with the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, the IRS’s “Bring Your Own Device” program, and the security of taxpayer information being accessed on personal devices. TikTok’s close ties to the Chinese Communist Party and their troubling data practices are reasons to be concerned about the app being loaded onto or accessible on a device that also deals with taxpayer and government data. This warrants swift action by the IRS to comply with the law and protect Americans’ data.

Unfortunately, this is only the latest issue in the IRS’s troubling history of mishandling taxpayer information. In the last few years alone, the IRS has inadvertently posted confidential information from 120,000 taxpayers on its website, destroyed 30 million unprocessed tax documents, and tens of thousands of Americans’ tax information was stolen by an IRS contractor and wound up in the hands of the left-leaning news site ProPublica.

The American people should be able to trust that when they file their taxes with the IRS, their personal information is safe. I will continue to hold the IRS accountable for its handling of taxpayer information and ensure the agency is adequately protecting Americans’ information.


Congressman Dusty Johnson’s Weekly Column: Preserving our Partnerships

Preserving our Partnerships
By Rep. Dusty Johnson
February 23, 2023

BIG News

This week, I traveled to Taiwan with the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. It was a productive trip, meeting with Taiwan’s leaders to identify ways to strengthen our partnership and tackle the China threat. During a meeting with President Tsai, we discussed the importance of trade between our two countries. After Canada and Mexico, Taiwan buys more American ag products per capita than any other country. Taiwan also produces over 90% of the world’s most advanced semiconductors. Their trade relationships are critically important to the health of the global economy and preserving our partnership is vital to Taiwan’s food security and national security.

Taiwan is rightfully concerned about an invasion from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). During a visit to the Taiwan Strait, only 110 miles from China, I saw how an invasion by the CCP could play out. Our team spent hours being briefed by American military experts about how our nation is providing the training and equipment Taiwan needs to defend itself.

The Select Committee on the China meeting with Taiwan’s leaders.

BIG Idea

On Monday, I was in Wessington Springs to speak at the annual Farm, Home, and Health Show that has been on a three-year hiatus. High school senior Avery had the great idea to restart the show. She used her leadership skills to bring the show back, organizing more than 60 vendors and events throughout the day. Avery gave me the opportunity to share an update from Congress and answer questions from attendees.

Avery and Johnson at the Farm, Home, and Health Show in Wessington Springs.

BIG Update

Last April, the Biden Administration announced a proposed climate rule that would effectively require 67 percent of new car sales to be all-electric by 2032. That’s a big jump from last year’s 7.6 percent of all-electric car sales.

After pushback from thousands of car dealerships, industry workers, members of Congress, and concerned citizens like you, the Administration has decided to take their foot off the gas for this requirement. While this is a win for the short term, Biden plans to speed up EV benchmarks after 2030.

These EV requirements:

  • Increase our reliance on China for semiconductors and chips
  • Force Americans to pay more for their vehicles
  • Increase government debt due to EV tax credits

This week, I joined nearly 140 House Republicans to urge the White House to stop this proposed rule and I joined Fox Business to talk about this overburdensome rule.


Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: The Freedom to Be Secure – and How to Keep it

The Freedom to Be Secure – and How to Keep it
By: Governor Kristi Noem
February 23, 2024

In my State of the State Address, I talked about the Freedom to be secure. We are so fortunate to live in a nation where we have many Freedoms, including the Freedom to feel secure in our own communities. Unfortunately, that security is now being threatened. And today, we are even more at risk of having our security ripped out from under us than ever before.

I’ve called the national security crisis happening at our Southern Border right now a warzone many times, and I will continue to do so. It is undeniably true. We have dangerous criminals and terrorists flowing into our country each and every day. Joe Biden and so-called “Border Czar” Kamala Harris continuously refuse to take action, forcing the states to take matters into their own hands.

What do you do when you have a warzone on your hands? You send soldiers.

Two years ago, I was the first governor in America to send my National Guard soldiers to the Southern Border. This week, I announced that we will be deploying troops from one of the top National Guards in the nation to secure our border for the fifth time. South Dakota’s finest will be in Texas helping to build the border wall and keep our country secure. I am proud of them for their dedication to this cause, and I am incredibly grateful to them for answering the call to serve their state and nation.

Just a few weeks ago, after I briefed a joint session of the South Dakota legislature on the dire situation at our Southern Border, they became the first legislature in America to pass a joint resolution expressing their support for securing the border.

The drugs coming into our country because of this open border are a risk to every single family in America. We are seeing the effects right here in South Dakota. Fentanyl is flowing into our country at a rapid pace – and when combined with the “zombie drug” xylazine, it makes an already deadly drug even deadlier. I was proud to sign a bill this legislative session to classify xylazine at a Schedule III controlled substance. This new law will keep South Dakotans safe, secure, and healthy.

We have surpassed ten million illegal immigrants living in the United States today. If we were to create a state of just those illegal immigrants, it would be the tenth largest state in America. And as we keep learning more about the people entering our country, it’s clear that our Freedom to be secure is at risk.

A large number of the people crossing our Southern Border are military-aged, Chinese men. This is no coincidence. The Chinese-owned app TikTok is promoting videos that point people to holes in the fencing along our border. The Chinese Communist Party is literally providing individuals with step-by-step instructional videos on how to enter the U.S. illegally.

China is our biggest external threat. I recognized that – it’s why I was the first to ban TikTok on state government devices in the state of South Dakota. Many other states followed our lead. Congress followed our lead. And, surprisingly enough, Joe Biden even followed our lead – TikTok is banned on devices in the White House right now.

In South Dakota, we are continuing to lead where the federal government is letting America down. My priority is, and always will be, the people of this great state.

South Dakotans will never have their Freedom to be secure taken away from them – not on my watch.


Minnehaha GOP leaves 2 of 4 city council seats uncontested, after chair R. Shawn Tornow promised to “chip away at Democratic Party strongholds”

The Sioux Falls City Council* candidate filing deadline was today. And of the four seats up for election, the two seats in the northern half of the city were completely conceded by Minnehaha County Republicans without a fight and without GOP candidates, despite the earlier promise of the County GOP Chair “to chip away at Democrat strongholds” during his race for county party chairman.

In January 2023, the Minnehaha County Republican chairmanship was won by former Republican legislator R. Shawn Tornow who made certain campaign promises:

Tornow said his goals will be shoring up fundraising and local organization, as well as beginning to chip away at some of the Democratic Party’s last strongholds in the state.


“We’d really like to try to recruit good candidates, get more precinct committeepeople involved and fundraising is part of it,” he told Forum News Service.

Read that story here.

Tornow must have actually promised something about eating a bag of chips, and not chipping away at Democrat strongholds, as his first test was a bust where one of city council seats currently held by a Republican was handed away without a shot fired, and no one bothered to provide assistance to a new candidate in another open seat to check to see if he did things correctly.

As the dust settled this evening and the candidate slate was set for Sioux Falls city races, the sole contest where Republicans will have to perform is the at-large seat with former Republican State Representative Richard Thomason bearing the burden of carrying the GOP banner in upcoming city elections against Democrat Allison Renville, and magician Doug Henning  unaffiliated candidate Jordan Deffenbaugh.  This seat is currently held by Republican Councilor Alex Jensen who chose not to run again.

Republicans did retain a currently held position in the Southwest City Council seat which was left uncontested for Sioux Falls Republican Ryan Spellerberg already winning the seat without an election when no other candidates filed by the deadline for the seat where current Republican councilor Marshall Selberg is term limited.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is where the Minnehaha GOP had the opportunity to make a difference, but performed like they did at last years’ Sioux Empire fair, where they skipped the important stuff and just didn’t show up. 

The Northeast District will remain outside the grasp of Republicans after Republican Tarek Maalouf discovered his nominating petitions had been improperly filled out when it was too late, leaving the race Republican free, with Independents Miranda Bayse and David Zokaites running against Libertarian Neil Jeske.

This would have been an opportunity for the county Republican team to show their value in assisting a new candidate. Which they didn’t.

In the Northwest District where Republican Councilman Greg Neitzert was term limited out, his seat was actually handed over to Independent Jennifer Sigette, as no other candidate filed. What happened with the campaign promise of “try to recruit good candidates?

Just didn’t happen. As Yoda from the Empire Strikes back is quoted, “do or do not, there is no try.”

That’s the problem with the group who is currently in charge of the largest Republican County organization in South Dakota.  There is “no try.” No candidate assistance. No candidate training. No candidate recruitment.

Not in the least.

(*And yes, I’m well aware that they are not partisan offices. But that doesn’t mean that parties don’t recruit and assist people to run for them.)

New Developments in Shad Olson domestic assault case; Court appointed attorney & judge both withdraw, $5000 cash bond posted.

A few new developments in the Shad Olson domestic assault case have popped up since Wednesday, when I noted Olson’s not guilty plea was entered into the record by the court.

  • First, Shad Olson is no longer listed as an inmate via the Meade County jail website, which had him still noted him incarcerated as late as this past Wednesday.
  • Second, court records retrieved on-line note that the judge in Olson’s case has recused himself from proceedings yesterday, February 22nd. AND Olson’s attorney has filed a motion to withdraw as counsel.
  • The same day, it appears that a $5000 cash bond was paid to retrieve Shad Olson from the county jail where he has been in residence for the past two weeks.

Stay tuned. More to come.

Sometimes you have great things without even realizing it.

One of the tasks I have playing Mr. Mom at the homebase in Brookings as my wife works at her new job in the hills is to try to organize the chaos and clutter for the eventual move that will happen in a few years, if everything goes to plan.  Part of that involves downsizing, and figuring out what should go.

I’d been looking for a bag of extra inaugural pins I had I wanted to check for older duplicates, which invariably had me pulling out a lot of pins and other memorabilia I have stored, when I came across a stack of old “Legislative Handbooks” for South Dakota, which many in Pierre would recognize by their more common name, the “Red Book.”

At some point I bought a stack of them on eBay or someplace, with the oldest going back to the 1917-1918 session, South Dakota’s fifteenth legislative session at the time.  They’re a neat reference, but, again downsizing.   So as I go through them, I hit the one for 1949, and note this on the inside cover.

The Red Book for 1949 is signed by it’s former owner – Lt. Governor Rex Terry of Ft. Pierre.

Rex Terry was the 24th Lt. Governor of the State, and served from 1949-1955 under 2 different Governors – George T. Mickelson, and Sigurd Anderson. And this was his personal red book from his first term as Lt. Governor.  Terry was born Feb 21, 1888, in Sturgis, Dakota Territory, which might make him the last Lt. Governor born in Dakota Territory.  You can read a bio here, as well as his write up in the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

As something I’ve had scurried away in my closet for the last several years in a pile of red books, I’m reminded that sometimes you have great things without even realizing it.