“The price of liberty is labor as well as vigilance.” (Carl Skovel)

Speaker of the House results:

Boehner: 216
Pelosi: 156
Webster: 12
Others: 24 (I think 7 were Dem’s not voting for Pelosi)

If I got the tally right, 29 GOP members voted for someone other than Boehner. Around 3-6 of the votes seemed grounded in a personal problem with Boehner. But, around 25 voted out of conviction and I think that took courage.

If their conviction was grounded in an idea the Republic is served by pushing issues that will go nowhere and will make people in the middle to doubt Republicans are fit to serve, I disagree.  This fiasco of government policy wasn’t built in a day and I don’t believe it will torn down in a day.  This will take hard work and not every battle is equal to other battles.  I deeply and sincerely believe prudence and diligent focus on the long-run and big issues will serve America best and not less significant or short-term gains.

But, for many of them who didn’t vote for Boehner, I see a sincere expression wanting to have this majority mean something for the good of the Republic. This includes passing the most conservative legislation that will be RELUCTANTLY accepted by President Obama (moving the ball forward).  None of us will get everything we want.  But, hopefully, we can see steady progress toward a government that serves our interests vs. one that expects us to serve the government.

And yes, it will sometimes mean passing legislation that will be vetoed but will compare and contrast the differences between the two parties.  We have a Presidential election in 2016 and a full and open debate of these differences is necessary for a successful Republic.

And, personally, I’m glad this will include Keystone, first hopefully a repeal and then incremental changes in Obamacare, and real reforms in government and spending.

Obama will Veto Keystone Legislation if it hits his desk.

Wow. 6 years is not enough. President Obama just vowed to veto legislation meant to end his foot dragging on the Keystone XL pipeline:

The White House on Tuesday said President Obama would veto Keystone XL pipeline legislation if it passes under the new Republican-led U.S. Congress.

A bill that would have forced Obama’s hand on the issue failed to clear Congress in its final days last year. But the Congress that convened Tuesday and new Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the pipeline bill will be among the first issues voted on.

Read it here.

Press Release: Thune Welcomes Rounds to South Dakota Delegation

Thune Welcomes Rounds to South Dakota Delegation

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) welcomed U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to the South Dakota delegation following Rounds’s swearing in ceremony earlier today:

“Mike is a solid, proven leader who will bring South Dakota common sense to the Senate and is a welcome addition to the South Dakota delegation. As the new Senate Republican majority takes over, South Dakotans stand to benefit from Republican policies that create jobs and get Washington working again for them. From reining in burdensome EPA regulations and preventing backdoor energy taxes and fines on ranchers and farmers, to passing the Keystone XL pipeline and repealing the most onerous parts of ObamaCare, I’m committed to working with Senator Rounds and Representative Noem to advance South Dakota priorities. There is a lot to tackle in this new Congress, and I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with them on the major issues facing this country.”



Press Release: Gov. Daugaard Unveils Boards And Commissions Portal

Gov. Daugaard Unveils Boards And Commissions Portal

PIERRE, S.D. – As part of his mission to streamline government and promote openness, Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced on Tuesday the launch of a state Boards and Commissions Portal.

“Government should be open and transparent,” said Gov. Daugaard. “This portal will serve as a central hub for many of our state’s gubernatorial appointed boards and commissions, where South Dakotans can easily find minutes, information on members and upcoming meetings.”

South Dakota has more than 100 boards and commissions whose members are appointed by the Governor.

The portal will provide the public with access to a master calendar, meeting materials and information on each board and its members.

The new portal may be accessed at boardsandcommissions.sd.gov.


Proposed election changes coming this legislative session

Bob Mercer notes this morning what the specific changes being proposed for the 2015 Legislative session are, and how that could impact the way candidates do business:

Their proposal calls for checking the validity of a random sample of 5 percent of the signatures on a petition.

A would-be candidate found to have insufficient valid signatures after the spot check could appeal that adverse finding to circuit court.

Currently the secretary of state doesn’t have authority to check whether the signatures come from actual registered voters from the counties they show on the petitions.

Read it here.

The current laundry list of changes being proposed include…

  1. SOS checks the validity of a random sample of 5 percent of the signatures on a statewide candidate’s petition, but not for State Legislators.
  2. Eliminating “last day” registered mail requirement for petitions, and requiring all petitions be in the office by the deadline.
  3. Nomination petitions start circulating one month earlier, starting on Dec. 1.
  4. A new deadline of the second Tuesday in March to challenge petitions.

I don’t like the inconsistency in item #1, and I think #2 creates an unlevel playing field based on geography. It’s easy to get a petition in under the wire if you live in Pierre, but not so easy if you’re out in Harding county.   #3 and #4 – Yes. Full speed ahead.

Other items I’d like to see? In particular, I’d love to see a petitioning process instituted for people to run for the other constitutional offices (excepting Lt. Gov), such as SOS, AG, School & Lands, etc. I think that opens up the process to candidates who might not otherwise consider it. But that might be just me.

What do you think about the proposed changes to election law? And what would you like to see that we don’t currently have?

Press Release: Thune Calls on Obama EPA to Withdraw Backdoor National Energy Tax

Thune Calls on Obama EPA to Withdraw Backdoor National Energy Tax
-Power plant rule will slam South Dakota rate payers-

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy calling on the EPA to withdraw its proposed regulations on exiting power plants, citing the significant financial burdens it will impose on South Dakota consumers, as well as technical infeasibilities that will drive up energy costs and threaten grid reliability.

“The Obama administration’s proposed power plant regulation is yet another example of presidential executive action that Americans clearly rejected in November as it will hurt jobs and increase costs,” said Thune. “The president’s proposed regulation is a national, backdoor energy tax that will slam South Dakota rate payers—especially low-income families and seniors living on fixed incomes. Affordable and reliable energy provides essential comforts for families across the country this winter and powers American industries to build a stronger economy. Yet the EPA’s proposal will make electricity rates skyrocket and stifle economic growth. I continue to urge Administrator McCarthy to reconsider.”

On June 2, 2014, the EPA proposed the Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, or Clean Power Plan, requiring a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 2030. Under the proposed rule, South Dakota power plants must reduce carbon dioxide emission rates 35 percent by 2030 based on emission levels from 2012. This reduction mandate is more stringent than the national average for the EPA’s proposed reductions. According to testimony provided to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission in July of 2014, South Dakota consumers could see their electricity bills increase by as much as 90 percent on account of this regulation.

Full text of the senator’s letter is available below:

January 6, 2015

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Headquarters – William J. Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

I am writing to strongly encourage additional review of the technical feasibility of South Dakota’s emissions reduction target under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, also known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP).  As you know, affordable and reliable energy helps grow the economy and helps low- and middle-income families make ends meet.  Unfortunately, the CPP will only increase electrical rates and hurt those who can afford it the least.

The CPP fails to recognize South Dakota’s unique energy profile, making compliance not only technically infeasible, but incredibly costly to consumers and damaging to South Dakota’s economic base.  For example, South Dakota is not fully credited for its robust renewable energy production, which totaled approximately 74 percent of all in-state electricity production in 2012.  Additionally, South Dakota has a single coal-fired steam electric generating unit (EGU) and only one natural gas combined-cycle plant (NGCC), which serve different Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs).  As I will detail below, each of these EGUs and the customers they serve fall victim to misguided assumptions under the CPP’s formula for calculating state emission targets.  The remaining building blocks of the CPP raise additional issues that will impose significant burdens to South Dakota rate payers.

Block I:  Coal Plant Efficiency

Improving heat-rate efficiency by six percent at South Dakota’s only large coal-fired EGU, the Big Stone Plant, is not feasible.  The facility, which provides affordable power to thousands in South Dakota and neighboring states, is in the midst of an approximately $400 million environmental upgrade project to meet the EPA’s Regional Haze regulations.  This investment actually decreases the heat-rate efficiency of the plant by approximately two percent when fully online, working against the six percent heat rate improvement for the plant required by Block I.  Because this major development cannot be factored into the CPP’s rubric for South Dakota, the Big Stone Plant will be required to effectively improve its heat-rate efficiency by eight percent.  Such a goal is technically unachievable because the Big Stone Plant is already implementing best practices and upgrades to achieve efficiency gains.  Additionally, the Big Stone Plant exports steam to an area ethanol producer, which it may stop doing on account of the target for heat rate improvement required by the CPP.

Block II suggests that coal-fired generation can be pared down with natural gas power re-dispatched in its place.  However, such a strategy runs contrary to the efficiency goals of Block I because the Big Stone Plant was designed to operate at a high capacity factor, and lower loads reduce efficiency.  In other words, the constant start-ups and shutdowns of the coal-fired EGU imposed by Block II will result in less efficient operations of the plant, increased stress to mechanical systems, and higher maintenance costs—all of which are in direct contradiction to the efficiency mandates of Block I.

Additionally, operating the Big Stone Plant on a limited or seasonal basis will result in a stranded asset because the $400 million upgrade required by the EPA, which is more than the original cost of the plant, will not have fully depreciated by the time the CPP requires the plant to shutter for most of the year.  The EPA rightfully states that the CPP should not result in stranded assets, which equate to higher utility costs for consumers, less grid reliability, fewer jobs, and in the case of the Big Stone Plant, limited ability to recoup the investment in a manner that isn’t punitive to South Dakota ratepayers.

Block II:  Natural Gas and Multiple RTOs

Block II dictates that NGCC EGUs operate up to a 70 percent capacity factor to meet energy demands as coal-fired generation is retired or limited.  This is a blanket provision that fails to account for unique circumstances in each state.  For example, in determining the amount of energy South Dakota’s singular NGCC EGU produced in 2012, the CPP should recognize that Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s Deer Creek Station was largely under construction in 2012 and only operated approximately 90 hours for testing and other start-up procedures.  The CPP uses Deer Creek Station’s actual 2012 capacity factor of a mere one percent in calculating South Dakota’s required carbon emission rate reduction.  I believe a fair assessment would recognize the Deer Creek station as “under construction” and reassign an assumed capacity factor of 55 percent in 2012.  Such a recalculation would be consistent with reality and the EPA’s vow to make the CPP flexible.

One of the most glaring issues of the CPP is that it fails to recognize the composition of America’s electric grid.  Electricity is not produced and consumed solely within state lines, but sold, dispatched, and consumed across state lines through RTOs.  Big Stone Plant is dispatched primarily by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., serving customers in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.  Deer Creek Station is presently dispatched by the Western-Integrated System, but recent agreements will dispatch it to the Southwest Power Pool in the future.  Because the electric generation at one EGU cannot simply be reduced at one location and re-dispatched from another across RTOs, Block II again proves technically infeasible for South Dakota.  While the CPP provides that states can work in multi-state agreements, the EPA has not demonstrated it has the legal authority to require EGUs to coordinate generation, let alone proven the feasibility of multi-state partnerships involving multiple RTOs.

Block III:  Renewable Power Sources

It is also concerning that hydroelectric generation is not included in baseline calculations for Block III of the CPP.  Failure to include hydroelectric generation denies a comprehensive consideration of South Dakota’s diverse energy portfolio and unfairly skews South Dakota’s emission reduction target.  In the CPP’s baseline year of 2012, South Dakota produced

74 percent of its energy from renewable sources, and only three states produced fewer carbon emissions.  As of August 2014, my state generates 546 GWh from hydroelectric and 121 GWh from wind sources.[1]  All renewable energy deserves inclusion in the EPA’s calculations for establishing our emission reduction target.

Additionally, much of South Dakota’s hydro and wind power is exported to other states.  It was discouraging to learn that South Dakota will not get credit for its existing renewable resources and future renewable resources on account that this power is sold to consumers out of state.  Renewable power produced in South Dakota should count toward meeting the emission reduction goal for South Dakota.

Block IV:  Consumer Energy Efficiency

The CPP will also interfere with and potentially discourage demand-side electricity consumption programs.  For example, as many as 250 electric cooperatives in 34 states, including South Dakota, have implemented voluntary demand response initiatives for electric resistance water heaters that reduce energy demand during peak hours.  On account of efforts like this, electric cooperatives account for 20 percent of national peak reduction, even though they manage only 10 percent of retail electricity sales.  Under the CPP, many of South Dakota’s utilities would not receive credit for demand-side management programs that have been in place for years, and it is unclear which states will receive credit for demand-side management programs that result in emissions from out-of-state power plants.  If South Dakota ratepayers take the initiative to participate in these programs, South Dakota’s emission target under the CPP should reflect their participation.

Moreover, the EPA has signaled that the CPP will credit Renewable Energy Certificates to states that receive electricity, rather than those that generate it.  Such unfavorable treatment of utility-scale renewable energy projects will remove incentives for investment.  Consumers should receive credit for their investments that reduce emissions.


The EPA’s CPP will pass significant costs onto hard-working South Dakota families.  In my home state alone, families earning less than $50,000 per year already spend one-fifth of their after tax income on energy costs, which is double the national average.  The CPP is a regressive national energy tax that will disproportionately fall on the elderly, the poor, and those on fixed incomes.  According to testimony at a roundtable hosted by the South Dakota Public Utility Commission in July, some South Dakotans will see their electricity rates almost double as a result of the CPP disproportionately impacting the Midwest.  Additionally, the CPP will impose increased costs to U.S. manufacturers, impeding economy growth and investment, all in return for virtually no impact on atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration or global temperatures.

For these reasons, I urge the EPA to withdraw the CPP due to the serious economic burden it will impose on South Dakota consumers.  At a minimum, the EPA should reconsider South Dakota’s emission reduction target to more accurately reflect our existing energy portfolio and the investments of utilities and ratepayers have already made in efficiency upgrades, renewable energy production, and demand-side energy management programs.  I appreciate your consideration of this important matter and look forward to your timely response.

Kindest Regards,


[1] http://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=SD#tabs-4


The Final Term. Who is in the Legislature’s 2016 graduating class?

In looking up where Craig Tieszen was in term limits for a prior post, it had me looking at the LRC roster for the Legislators who are term limited out, and are starting their final term in their chamber.  This two-year stretch is their last opportunity to make their mark among their colleagues, especially if their intent is to run for higher office at the legislative or higher level.

In a few cases, it also sets up showdowns we might already predict for the 2016 elections.

CLASS B, Elected in 2008, reelected in 2010 and 2012, eligible to run for the same seat in 2014, ineligible to run for the same seat in 2016.

Jim Bradford
Corey Brown
Craig Tieszen
Mike Vehle

Jim Bolin (to move up would have to challenge Dan Lederman)
Justin Cronin (With Brown termed out, he might move up)

Peggy Gibson (Could challenge Jim White in ’16)
Brian Gosch (to move up would have to challenge Alan Solano)

Kevin Killer (With Bradford termed out, could move up)
Patrick Kirschman (to move up would have to challenge Angie Buhl-O’Donnell)
Fred W. Romkema (to move up would have to challenge Bob Ewing)
Lance S. Russell (to move up would have to challenge Bruce Rampelberg)
Dean Schrempp (Could challenge Betty Olson in ’16)
Jacqueline Sly (to move up would have to challenge Phil Jensen)
Roger Solum (to move up would have to challenge Reid Holien)
Mike Verchio (to move up would have to challenge Bruce Rampelberg)
Dean Wink (to move up would have to challenge Gary Cammack)

So start watching them now – on a few, you could see fireworks!

US Senator John Thune on what the Republican Majority will do

Nice opinion piece at cnn.com from South Dakota US Senator John Thune on what the new Republican Majority in the Senate will bring to Washington. Mainly forward momentum for the first time in years:

The new Republican majority will get right to work on job-creating legislation, starting with legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which the President’s own State Department has admitted will support more than 42,000 jobs during construction. Keystone XL enjoys bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, and I hope the President will finally sign off on this job-creating project.

Republicans will also take up two other bipartisan jobs measures that were stuck in the Democrat-led Senate for far too long. We are committed to repealing the job-killing Obamacare medical device tax, a tax on life-saving medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps. This tax has already eliminated thousands of jobs in the medical device industry, and it’s on track to eliminate thousands more if it isn’t repealed. Given the economic stagnation of the past six years, the last thing our economy needs is a tax that is eliminating thousands of jobs.

Republicans will also work to repeal the Obamacare provision that changed the definition of full-time employment from 40 hours a week to 30 hours. This provision has forced countless businesses to cut back on hiring or reduce workers’ hours and wages, which has meant fewer jobs and opportunities for American workers. Eliminating this provision has bipartisan support, and Republicans look forward to taking it up this year.

Read it all here.

West River Legislators detail legislative plans for 2015, including to help legislators make ends meet.

KOTA TV was interviewing legislators recently, and caught up with them on their legislative plans, which include fighting the pine beetle, education, and making sure legislators are paid enough to make ends meet.

Wait, what?:

Verchio plans to work $1.5 to $2 million dollars into the budget to continue fighting the mountain pine beetle fight.

He says it is important to focus on privately-owned land. “We’re the money would go to small private-property owner to help subsidize their fight,” said Verchio. “Beetles will just keep growing and growing if we don’t fight them on the private property, it doesn’t do any good to fight them in the surroundings properties because then they spread on out to private properties.”

Senator Craig Tieszen (R-District 34) says he will again be proposing an increase in salary pay for legislators.


Tieszen says people are asked to leave their normal jobs in January, February, and March and that makes it hard for some people to make ends meet financially. “I think it’s so low we exclude people from serving in the legislature and that has a detrimental effect,” said Tieszen.

Lastly, Representative Jacqueline Sly (R-District 33) says teacher pay and school funding are issues that will be talked about during this legislative session.

Read it here.

Seriously, I’m not trying to pick on Craig TIeszen, but this is twice in a week he’s in the news offering legislation that seems… well, seems destined to go down in flames. First it was going backwards on felon voting, and today it’s increasing legislative pay.

It’s not like the legislative pay issue hasn’t gone to the ballot before. It comes up about every 2-3 years, and someone who is term limited out makes the proposal. And then it goes down in flames, either in the legislature, or at the ballot box.  Noting that Tieszen is termed out after this session, we can put this attempt into that pattern.

I’ll be the first to agree that legislators are underpaid, and we need broad representation, and it’s one way to attract good people to run for office. But, it’s traditionally been a really, really tough sell to taxpayers. And in some cases, it’s been used against those voting for it in elections.

I’ll put it to you dear readers – What’s your opinion?

Only 10 No Votes for Boehner for Speaker. What do you think?

According to the newspaper “The Hill,” currently, only 10 Republicans have specifically noted that they’re going to vote against John Boehner to be Speaker of the House, with Louie Gohmert of Texas announcing a run against the Speaker, as well as Ted Yoho.

One candidate below notes they’re supporting Daniel Webster. Like Yoho, both coming from Florida..

A small but growing number of Republicans say they will vote Tuesday to deny John Boehner a third term as Speaker of the House.

But ousting a sitting Speaker is a difficult feat, and a group of a dozen defectors failed two years ago to depose Boehner, the powerful Ohio Republican.

Because the House GOP expanded its majority in the midterm elections, 29 Republicans would need to vote against Boehner to force a second ballot. Even then, it’s improbable that Boehner would relinquish the gavel and step aside without a drawn-out fight.

The Hill is keeping a running list on Republicans who are opposing Boehner. Here is where the count stands. Please send updates/feedback to [email protected]


Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) — Freshman who knocked off House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had said he’d support Boehner, but flipped this week.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.)* — Disapproved of how the $1.1 trillion spending bill was handled last month.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)* — Outspoken Boehner critic says he’ll run for Speaker. Gohmert is friends with Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has called for Boehner’s ouster.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.)

Rep.-elect Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) — Stated on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t back Boehner for Speaker. However, Palmer later said he regretted that pledge “to a certain extent” because it might threaten his ability to secure preferred committee assignments. Still, Palmer said he told Boehner he would need to keep his word.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)* — Maverick lawmaker says he’ll back Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for Speaker.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) — Hard-line opponent of immigration reform backed Boehner two years ago. Since then, Boehner reportedly called King an “asshole” behind closed doors. Boehner ripped his GOP colleague after King made his controversial “canteloupe” remarks regarding DREAMers.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)*

Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) — Stutzman lost whip race to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.). Bridenstine says he’s been told Stutzman will oppose Boehner.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.)* — Challenging Boehner for Speaker.

Read this, and who is saying yes all here.

Not a very big list of “No votes.”  Certainly not enough to oust Boehner.

My opinion is that he was pretty good ally to South Dakota in terms of actively supporting the farm bill.   So, what do you think? Has Boehner done a good job? Or does he need to be replaced?