Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Double-Digit Disaster

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Double-Digit Disaster
By Rep. Kristi Noem
October 2, 2015

Nearly one in three health insurance plans sold nationwide on next year will see double-digit rate increases.  In South Dakota, those kinds of increases are expected for 100 percent of the plans, according to an analysis done by Agile Health Insurance this September.  The President’s health care law fundamentally failed to drive down the cost of health care in this country and now hardworking families are left to foot an ever-increasing bill.

Congressional Republicans have tried many different approaches to repeal the President’s bill in full and even in part.  We’ve been successful in getting portions of the bill repealed nearly a dozen times, which has already saved billions of dollars.  But more must be done.

This September, I helped the House Ways and Means Committee advance legislation that aims to repeal five core elements of the President’s health care law: the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (or IPAB), the medical device tax, and the “Cadillac tax.”  This legislation uses a tool called “budget reconciliation” to help protect the language from being stopped by Democrats in the Senate.

In the Senate, almost every bill requires at least three votes: one to start debate, one to end debate, and a final vote on passage.  The first two votes require a 60-vote majority before the legislation can move forward.  Since there are just 54 Republicans in the Senate, most bills require the support of at least six Democrats, making any legislation very difficult to move forward – especially bills that would repeal parts of the President’s signature health care law.

Because of Senate rules, however, reconciliation bills bypass the 60-vote threshold and can pass with just a simple majority – or 51 votes.

There are limits with this approach, however.  For instance, this tactic can only be used once a year, every provision within the bill must directly impact revenue, and it must produce an overall cost savings.  You might remember that Senate Democrats used this same tactic in 2010 to pass a portion of Obamacare. But just as the President’s health care law couldn’t be passed in full through budget reconciliation, it also can’t be completely repealed through budget reconciliation alone.  Nonetheless, reconciliation is the best tool we have to get repeals to the President’s desk that offer meaningful relief to families struggling under Obamacare.

If we are able to tear down the most harmful portions of the President’s health care law, we could stop the entire program in its tracks, which would give us the ability to replace it with a more affordable, patient-centered system.

That replacement system would allow people to buy insurance across state lines.  It would provide tax incentives to help families pay for a health insurance plan that worked for them.  It would reform medical malpractice laws while continuing to safeguard individuals with pre-existing conditions.

A better system that isn’t accompanied by double-digit cost increases is possible.  We just need the chance to implement it and our budget reconciliation language moves us in the right direction.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Life on the Grid

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Life on the Grid
By Rep. Kristi Noem
September 18, 2015

We got together recently with some of the family for a quick lunch after church one Sunday.  My brother-in-law, Wesley, had apparently had enough of seeing everyone on their phones during the meal, so he declared it a “No Cell Phone Event.”  We all pulled our phones out and stacked them one on top of the other in the middle of the table. If only for an hour, we were going to go without our devices.  And you know what?  It was kind of nice.

Sure enough, however, as soon as we’d all been able to get some in-person face time, we all picked our phones back up, logged in, and checked to see what happened in the short time we’d been away.  The reality is that’s the world we live in.  It’s an increasingly connected world that relies on one thing above all else: electricity.

Whether we’re trying to keep our phones charged or the lights on, we need access to reliable and affordable electricity.  For all the debates we have about new sources from which to harvest that power, however, one component is often times left out of the discussion: that is, our outdated electrical grid.

Energy executive Robert Catell told a group of city managers in 2010: “If Thomas Edison came back today, not only would he recognize our electricity system, he could probably fix it [when problems arise].”  Clearly, it’s time for an upgrade.

windgridFortunately, South Dakota is moving ahead of the curve and upgrades are underway.  Earlier this month, I joined a handful of other state leaders and members of Xcel Energy and Otter Tail Power Company to help break ground on the CapX2020 transmission line that will run between a new substation near Big Stone City and an existing substation by Brookings.  For consumers, this ground breaking symbolizes the turning of a page to a new era of energy.  By modernizing and expanding this section of the grid, you will have better access to reliable and affordable electricity for decades to come.

The grid upgrades also enable us to better tap into South Dakota’s diverse energy resources.  Coal and natural gas remain to be some of the most reliable and affordable sources of energy we have access to.  In a state that spends a disproportionate amount of our family budgets on electricity costs, affordability has to be a big factor.  The upgraded grid system will move this kind electricity more efficiently.

But we also live in a place that can capitalize on an abundant amount of wind and hydro power.  Grid upgrades will allow us to take greater advantage of that as well.

Unfortunately, many experts have raised concerns that President Obama’s Clean Power Plan puts a greater emphasis on regulation than innovation when it comes to modernizing our electrical system.  Because the proposed EPA mandates are expected to put added strains on the grid, we could see decreased reliability and higher costs for consumers.  It’s irresponsible to compromise our energy security in this way.

Most of us live our lives on the grid.  Making sure it is reliable and efficient has to be a priority.  It was a privilege to be there while South Dakota took another step in the process of modernizing the grid, but more must be done.  For that to happen efficiently, the federal government has to get out of the way and let innovation lead.


Noem Votes Against President’s Iran Nuclear Deal

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Noem Votes Against President’s Iran Nuclear Deal

WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today voted against the President’s nuclear deal with Iran, joining the majority of House members in her opposition to the deal.

“The President’s agreement with Iran was poorly negotiated, fails to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities, and ultimately undermines the security of the United States and our allies,” said Noem.  “We need to walk away from this agreement – there’s no other way to put it.”

In addition to joining the House in voting down the President’s nuclear deal with Iran, Noem helped the House pass legislation this week to take away the President’s authority to waive, suspend, or reduce existing sanctions on Iran until January 2017, when a new President would take office.  She also supported legislation that asserts the President has failed to fully comply with the law by not submitting to Congress two additional side agreements.

“From the very beginning, the United States entered these negotiations with the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  This agreement fundamentally fails to ensure that,” said Noem.  “What’s more, the President’s proposal eliminates Iran’s sanctions almost immediately, neglects anywhere-anytime inspections, and allows this State Sponsor of Terrorism to keep its nuclear infrastructure intact. It’s a bad deal and it must be stopped.”


Congresswoman Noem’s Weekly Column: Infrastructure Investments: Building blocks for a healthy economy

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Infrastructure Investments: Building blocks for a healthy economy
By Rep. Kristi Noem
August 28, 2015

There’s hardly anything our family consumes that isn’t somehow impacted by rail.  From the food we eat to products we use in our homes, the reliability of our nation’s railways is critical.  In South Dakota, that importance is even more prominent.  Nearly every commodity we produce is exported and shipped via rail.  Disruptions or delays have an immediate and costly impact, as we saw early last year.  If our infrastructure crumbles, so does our economy.

Earlier this month, I met with the Rapid City, Pierre, and Eastern Railroad (RCP&E), which covers 670 miles of track stretching from Minnesota to Wyoming and running straight through the middle of South Dakota.  Railroads like RCP&E along with the state government are making meaningful investments to help avoid the backlogs that occurred last year.  I’m optimistic it’s been enough to ensure our rails can run smoothly and on time this year, but as is true for our nation’s roads and bridges, continued investments are necessary.

With nearly every farmer, rancher, and consumer relying on a well-maintained rail infrastructure, investments here should be a national priority.  It’s one of the reasons why I’ve been supportive of offering tax incentives to those willing to devote financial resources to improving our railroads.

One such incentive is the Short Line Tax Credit, which helps smaller railroads.  If you are investing in our railroads, you are creating jobs; you are increasing the speed of commerce; you are making products more affordable for hardworking families across the country.  The federal government has a responsibility to make those investments easier and offering tax credits like this helps accomplish that.

I am proud to have co-sponsored legislation in the House to extend this credit through 2016 and because it has broad bipartisan support, I’m hopeful we can see it enacted soon.

I’ve also encouraged the U.S. Department of Transportation to use existing grants to make greater investments in South Dakota, as so many of our nation’s commodities are shipped out of our state.  Moving wheat, soybeans, and corn more efficiently in South Dakota will reap countless benefits for consumers throughout the entire country.  It’s worth the investment.

For more than a century, rail has connected our coasts and enabled American commerce to thrive.  Still today, it remains one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to ship our goods, moving 40 percent of our nation’s intercity freight traffic and bringing one-third of U.S. exports to port.

Together with investments in roads and bridges, investments in our railroads help enable commerce to happen.  They are the building blocks of a healthy economy and a requirement for sustainable economic growth.


Noem Praises Federal Court’s WOTUS Ruling

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Noem Praises Federal Court’s WOTUS Ruling

WASHINGTON D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today applauded a U.S. District Court’s action that temporarily blocks the Obama administration’s controversial “Waters of the U.S.” rule.

“The Obama administration’s proposed WOTUS rule could amount to one of the largest federal land grabs in U.S. history.  It is a vast federal overreach and the District Court was right to put the brakes on it,” said Noem.  “The District Court’s hold is temporary at this time, so our efforts to reverse this rule must continue.   If the EPA’s proposal would ever be allowed to move forward, the expanded authority would empower federal agencies to fine homeowners, farmers, ranchers and others tens of thousands of dollars per violation – per day.  We can’t afford it.”

In May 2015, Rep. 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.

Noem has also called on the EPA to define regulated navigable waters on a map after an alarming graphic was released that has raised questions about how extensive the EPA’s regulatory authority could become.  Read more and view the graphic here.

Additionally, in May 2014, Rep. Noem joined 231 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle on a letter urging the EPA and the Secretary of the Army to withdraw the proposed rule.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Boosting Opportunity

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Boosting Opportunity
By Rep. Kristi Noem
August 21, 2015

South Dakota is a small business state.  Drive through nearly every town and the main street will be lined with family-owned businesses – the café, the grocery store, the seed dealer, the hair salon, you name it.  It’s part of what makes South Dakota so great to live in.  We can do business with people we know, and that’s a rare thing in today’s world.

My own family has run small businesses throughout our lives.  We’ve built up a family farm, managed a restaurant, even opened a hunting lodge at one point. Those experiences have given me an understanding of the challenges small businesses face in getting the word out about what they have to offer.  And doing so efficiently when margins are tight is imperative.

That’s why I was proud to work with the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce and Facebook for a “Boost Your Business” event earlier this month.  I wanted it to be another tool to help level the playing field so growing South Dakota businesses can better compete in their communities and across the globe.  All in all, more than 300 South Dakotans turned out for the event, learning from social media experts and their peers in South Dakota about how to use technology to grow their customer base.

I’m proud to be able to help facilitate opportunities like this.  To me, unlocking the potential of others is one of my primary responsibilities and something I work to do not only at events like this, but also through the policies I help advance as South Dakota’s lone representative in the U.S. House.

This year, I’ve helped push an opportunity-driven agenda that works to pave the way for South Dakota businesses to thrive.  For instance, I helped the House pass the America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act. Provisions in this bill make Section 179 expensing levels permanent, so small businesses and millions of Americans who depend on them can better plan for the future.  This has been a critical provision for many South Dakota farmers and small businesses.  If it’s made permanent, I’m hopeful we can give these job creators more incentive to invest and greater certainty.

Additionally, we took up and passed the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act.  According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, “government requirements and red tape” ranked as one of the biggest issues facing small business. This bill helps cut through that red tape by requiring federal agencies to consider the impact on small business when writing new regulations.  It also provides greater opportunity for these growing businesses to offer input on the rules and regulations that will hit them hardest.

In South Dakota, 82,705 small businesses employ nearly 200,000 workers.  In fact, more than 96 percent of employers in our state are small businesses.  We need to make sure we do all we can to unlock the potential of each of these businesses.  So whether it means plugging family businesses into social media networks or giving them a bigger voice in the federal rule-making process, I’m committed to doing all I can to support them.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Navigating the Federal Government

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Navigating the Federal Government
By Rep. Kristi Noem|
August 14, 2015

Every day, South Dakotans need to interact directly with dozens of federal agencies.  Maybe you receive health care through the Veterans Administration or Medicare.  Perhaps your family is looking to grow through an international adoption, which requires coordination with the U.S. State Department. Maybe you receive benefits from the Social Security Administration or operate your family business with a loan from the Small Business Administration or have a CRP contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At some point or another, most of us will have to deal with a government agency.  While we hope it goes smoothly and that they serve you with the respect you deserve, we know it unfortunately doesn’t always turn out that way.

The federal government can be a very difficult, complicated, and confusing organization to navigate.  But that’s where my office can help.  We call it “casework” and I believe it’s one of the most important functions of a congressional office.

Many times, we can help you with a single phone call.  Perhaps you’re simply not sure which agency or division you should contact.  We can help you figure that out quickly. We can also help you find exactly who to talk to within an agency to save you time and frustration.

Sometimes, the cases can be more complicated than that, however, and we are here to help you in those scenarios as well.  If you can’t get an answer from a federal agency or if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly, we can make a formal inquiry or request information on your behalf.  While we cannot guarantee a favorable outcome, we will do our best to help ensure you receive a fair and timely response.  This is our way of ensuring the federal government remembers who it is accountable to – and that’s you.

Last year alone, we helped more than 500 constituents navigate federal agencies through our casework.  Please know our door is always open to help.  If you need immediate assistance, please visit my website at or call my office at 605-878-2868.

I’m incredibly grateful to be able to serve you in this way, so please don’t hesitate to contact my office if you need help.


Congresswoman Noem’s Weekly Column: 190 Bills Passed, But More Work Remains

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014190 Bills Passed, But More Work Remains
By Rep. Kristi Noem

If you read the headlines, it’s difficult not to get frustrated with what’s happening in our country. Almost every day it seems we open the newspaper or turn on the news or scroll through Facebook to read about a new crisis, more gridlock, or greater dysfunction. It makes you wonder what is going on in this country? That’s how I feel sometimes, anyways.

The good news is, however, we aren’t standing idly by. Step by step, we’re getting things done.

At this point, we’re just over halfway through the year.  Already, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed 190 bills, far more than the historical average of 125 bills by this point.

The legislative process these bills have undergone has been more open too.  Every perspective has had the opportunity to be debated.  In fact, the House of Representatives has considered more than 600 amendments, which is double the historical average.  The result has been a Congress that is more effective, with 29 bills being enacted into law this year – once again, well above the historical average of 21.

Of course, it’s not all about the numbers.  The bills that have become law have been meaningful as well.  The Clay Hunt Act aims to prevent veteran suicides, which happen at a rate of about 22 per day, by giving veterans better access to mental health resources. The USA Freedom Act strictly limits the NSA’s bulk data collection.  The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which I helped author, represents one of the most expansive anti-human trafficking laws this decade.  The Medicare Access and Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act shifts the focus toward the quality of care, not the quantity.  And new trade legislation puts strict oversight and accountability restrictions on the administration’s trade negotiations.

Additionally, the House has held dozens of oversight hearings, focusing on everything from the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups to the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi to executive overreach.  Together with the Senate, we also passed the first bicameral 10-year balanced budget plan since 2001.

Despite several accomplishments, there are still major issues that must be overcome. In the coming weeks, the House will take up legislation that stops the President’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran.  While I’m cautiously optimistic we have enough votes to get the legislation through both sides of Congress, we continue to work toward achieving a veto-proof majority that can override the President.

Funding for road and bridge repairs expires in October as well, but we have been working on a real, multi-year fix that may include reforms to at least a portion of the tax code.

Other tax reforms – known as tax extenders – are also on the agenda for the last half of the year. The House has already passed a number of these so-called extenders, including a permanent fix to Section 179 – a section of the tax code that is important to many South Dakota ag producers.

While the House has also pushed forward legislation addressing sanctuary cities, the President’s health care law, and immigration, I am doubtful we can find enough common ground with the administration to make responsible changes.  Nonetheless, we’ll keep pushing our ideas forward.

I am continuously striving for a more efficient, effective, and accountable government.  As part of that, I believe it’s my responsibility to show you what has been accomplished, while admitting to the challenges that lay ahead.  There’s a lot of work to be done, but we’re making progress – one step at a time.


Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Reining in Regulators

knoem kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Reining in Regulators
By Rep. Kristi Noem
July 31, 2015

$1.88 trillion – that’s how much federal regulations cost hardworking Americans overall in 2014 alone. $14,976 – that’s how much, on average, those regulations cost each of us individually.  500 – that’s approximately how many new regulations costing more than $100 million annually have gone into effect since President Obama took office.  No matter how you add the numbers up, it is too much.  This administration and the federal bureaucracy it controls must be reined in.  Period.

On July 29, the House of Representatives passed legislation that aims to provide more congressional oversight over the federal regulatory process.  More specifically, the REINS Act, which is legislation I cosponsored, would require Congress to approve any regulation that costs the economy more than $100 million annually.  That may seem like a high bar, but approximately 80 regulations would have tripped that threshold last year alone.

A number of these regulations are derived by the EPA.  For instance, last June, the EPA released new greenhouse gas emission standards that apply to new as well as existing power plants.  According to an October 2014 study by NERA Economic Consulting, the EPA’s proposal could cost consumers and businesses as much as $41 billion per year.  Additionally, the Heritage Foundation estimates that by 2030, the costs could rise to a total income loss of more than $7,000 per person.

We all want to preserve our environment for future generations, but in a state like South Dakota, the costs associated with a regulation like this could prove devastating.  Families in South Dakota that earn less than $50,000 per year already spend one-fifth of their after-tax income on energy costs, which is double the national average.  Many can’t afford to pay even more.

Of course, the EPA’s upcharges don’t end there.  I’ve heard from many South Dakotans about their concerns with a new “Waters of the U.S.” definition that the EPA released.  It grossly expands the agency’s reach, giving them regulatory authority over many streams, ditches, sloughs, and even areas that are only wet seasonally.  The expanded authority would empower them to fine property owners tens of thousands of dollars per violation – per day.

The EPA is eager to utilize this authority too.  Last year – before the expansion was finalized – the agency threatened to go after a Wyoming farmer for digging a stock dam on his own property.  He explains they threatened a $75,000-a-day fine.  After heavy pressure from Wyoming’s congressional delegation, the EPA backed down.  Even so, no farmer, rancher, or citizen should have to endure those unnecessary headaches at the hand of an overzealous federal agency.  I share concerns that this story won’t be the last.

Federal regulators shouldn’t be able to operate in a bubble.  It’s time they are forced to think twice before finalizing ill-considered, needlessly costly and simply unnecessary regulations.  That is what the REINS Act intends to do.  I’m hopeful we can see this necessary legislation move forward in the Senate and make its way to the President’s desk.  You deserve greater accountability.


Noem Named Hero of Main Street

noem press header kristi noem headshot May 21 2014Noem Named Hero of Main Street

Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem was today honored as a “Hero of Main Street” – an annual designation offered by the South Dakota Retailers Association in conjunction with the National Retail Federation.

“My family had a Main Street business, so I understand the struggles these businesses face as they create jobs within our communities,” said Noem.  “I want to fuel an Opportunity Economy for these hardworking individuals and families.  That will only come through smarter policies that unlock the potential of the American workforce by leveling the playing field so small businesses can compete in their communities and across the globe.  We have a long way to go to accomplish this, but I’m committed to moving us further in that direction every day.”

Created in 2013, the “Hero of Main Street “ award annually recognizes Members of Congress for their support for Main Street priorities.  Noem has been a recipient in 2013 and 2014 as well.

“South Dakota’s retailers and small businesses are working hard every day to create jobs, provide stellar customer service, and giving back to our state’s economy as well as their communities,” said Shawn Lyons, Executive Director of the South Dakota Retailers Association.  “We are very appreciative of the support from our Congressional Delegation to ensure that our retailers can thrive and survive in these challenging regulatory times.”

The South Dakota Retailers Association was founded in 1897.  With more than 3,700 members, the organization ranks as one of the largest state retail associations nationwide.  To search for a member in your community, please click here.


Pictured (Left to Right): Gary Cammack (Union Center), Shawn Lyons (Rapid City), Rep. Kristi Noem, Elmer Karl (Gregory), and Dan Tribby (Rapid City)