USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Torres Small & Rep. Johnson in Wall on Friday

USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Torres Small & Rep. Johnson in Wall on Friday

Washington, D.C. – On Friday, U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) will join U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small to announce a $3.3 million investment in CNF Enterprises to construct a new 30,000 square foot meat processing facility in New Underwood, S.D. This new facility will have the capacity to process 4,000 head per year – including beef, pork, lamb, and buffalo. The USDA grant mirrors Johnson’s Butcher Block Act.

Gov. Noem and Colleagues Support State Action Against ESG

Gov. Noem and Colleagues Support State Action Against ESG

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem and 18 of her fellow Republican governors released a joint policy statement opposing President Biden’s potential veto of a matter against the radical environmental, social, and corporate governance movement. You can read the full statement here.

“We as freedom loving states can work together and leverage our state pension funds to force change in how major asset managers invest the money of hardworking Americans, ensuring corporations are focused on maximizing shareholder value, rather than the proliferation of woke ideology,” wrote Governor Noemand her colleagues.

Congress took action to keep politics out of Americans’ retirement funds – but President Biden threatened to veto that measure. In doing so, he puts the pensions of thousands of hardworking Americans at risk to the environmental, social, and corporate governance


The expansion of environmental, social, and corporate governance “throughout America is a direct threat to the American economy, individual economic freedom, and our way of life,” continued Governor Noem and her colleagues.

Governor Noem and the other Republican governors agree to lead state-level efforts to protect individuals from this movement. Those efforts include protecting taxpayers from environmental, social, and corporate governance influences across state systems and protecting citizens from similar influences in the financial sector.

“As Governors, we are committed to protecting the interests of our constituents and will keep fighting the Administration’s decision to jeopardize retirement saving for millions of Americans to promote far left priorities,” concluded Governor Noem and her colleagues.

Governor Noem was joined by the following Republican governors in issuing the statement: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Idaho Governor Brad Little, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Utah Governor Spencer Cox, and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.


District 30 Legislator’s spouse charged with simple assault after crackerbarrel run-in with agent provocateur sticking camera in his face.

Following up to the story from a couple weeks back, State Representative Trish Ladner’s husband was charged with simple assault after fending off agent provocateur Matthew Monfore whom he said was sticking a camera in his face, which Ladner felt was an act against his person:

Yenulonis is the Custer County Sheriff’s Deputy who took the initial report.

Big takeaway from the article is that Monfore was sticking a camera in Ladner’s face, and Ladner claims he slapped at it, and it hit the ground.   Ladner has been charged with simple assault (Class 1 misdemeanor), or alternatively, disorderly conduct (Class 2 misdemeanor).

Could they get a conviction for someone feeling they needed to defend themselves for having a camera stuck in their face in Custer County? We’ll see.

You’ll have to chase down a hard copy of the Hill City Prevailer to read the entire article.


Thune Bill Would Expedite Urgently Needed Forest Management on Federal Lands 

Thune Bill Would Expedite Urgently Needed Forest Management on Federal Lands 

“I’m proud to introduce this legislation that would ensure the Black Hills National Forest and other forests receive the expedited treatment they need in order to mitigate the threat of insect infestations and wildfires.” 

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today reintroduced the Expediting Forest Restoration and Recovery Act. This legislation would require the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to expedite treatment of more than 70 million acres of National Forest System lands, in consultation with states, that have been identified as in need of treatment to reduce the threat of insect and disease infestations and catastrophic wildfires.

“Proactive management plays a critical role in keeping the Black Hills National Forest healthy and supporting the forest products industry, which supports jobs in rural communities,” said Thune. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation that would ensure the Black Hills National Forest and other forests receive the expedited treatment they need in order to mitigate the threat of insect infestations and wildfires.”

“There is broad recognition from agencies to communities that we are facing a wildfire crisis in this country, particularly across the west,” said Ben Wudtke, executive director of the Black Hills Forest Resource Association and the Intermountain Forest Association. “Policies and on-the-ground work must reflect the immediate need to address the crisis across meaningful scales using multiple types of treatment. We have seen success across national forests from implementation of commercial harvest treatments, reducing small diameter forest components, and prescribed fires following other treatments or in otherwise inaccessible areas. We appreciate Senator Thune introducing legislation that would take meaningful action to address the forest conditions that are driving the wildfire crisis, and impacting the resources we rely on for clean water, recreation, forest products, and wildlife habitat.”

“The lack of active forest management is changing the role of forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources on National Forest lands in many western states,” said Tim O’Hara, vice president of government affairs for the Forest Resources Association. “Tree mortality rates across the country are greater on Forest Service lands than those forests managed by non-federal public and private land managers. Senator Thune’s legislation, Expediting Forest Restoration and Recovery Act, would expedite forest management that would improve carbon sequestration and storage on National Forests lands across the U.S while supporting rural forest-based economies.”

“Recent fire seasons prompted Congress to provide the Forest Service with unprecedented new authorities and new resources to start turning the tide on the forest health and wildfire crisis on our National Forests,” said Bill Imbergamo, executive director of the Federal Forest Resource Coalition. “Almost a year and half later, we’re not seeing the kind of progress needed to protect communities, watersheds, and wildlife habitat. Sen. Thune’s bill would direct the Forest Service to use these authorities, and prioritizes reducing fuel loads on the National Forests. The forest products sector can help implement fuels reduction on acres that are already open to management. It’s time to get serious about addressing this crisis, and Senator Thune’s bill is key to getting that done.”

“The 2014 Farm Bill provided states with the opportunity to highlight the scope and scale of the insect and disease epidemic on the National Forest System,” said Kacey KC, president of the National Association of State Foresters. “In cooperation with states, the USDA Forest Service has designated approximately 74 million acres nationwide as insect and disease treatment areas, but only a fraction of those acres have been treated. The lack of active management on federal lands is threatening the continued flow of social, economic, and ecological values from our federal forests as millions of acres continue to be altered by insects, diseases, and uncharacteristic wildfires. The Expediting Forest Restoration and Recovery Act will do just that – expedite the critically necessary treatment of these acres.”

In South Dakota alone, the USFS designated the vast majority of the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) as a landscape-scale insect and disease area that is in need of treatment. Despite authorities provided by Congress to proactively manage national forests, on-the-ground management activities, including timber thinning, are lagging in the BHNF and other forests throughout the country. In 2022 alone, more than 7.5 million acres burned, approximately a quarter of which were on USFS lands, resulting in significant carbon emissions, loss of wildlife habitat, and reduced opportunities for recreation.

The Expediting Forest Restoration and Recovery Act would:

  • Require the USFS to expedite treatment of forests through application of the insect and disease and hazardous fuels categorical exclusion for projects on acres suitable for timber production while providing necessary exclusions for National Wilderness Preservation System lands and roadless areas;
  • Require the USFS to publish a report annually detailing the acres that have been treated;
  • Require the USFS to prioritize reducing the risks of infestations and wildfires over other objectives in forest plans;
  • Expand the insect and disease and hazardous fuels categorical exclusion to include certain forest lands that have been susceptible to infestations and wildfires in recent years; and
  • Allow states to retain good neighbor agreement timber sale revenues for authorized restoration services on any land under a good neighbor agreement in the state.

Thune, who has helped write four farm bills throughout his time in Congress, has introduced multiple farm bill proposals ahead of the current bill’s expiration in September 2023.


Guest Column: Ode to Our Citizen Legislature by Representative Will Mortenson

Ode to Our Citizen Legislature
Rep. Will Mortenson (R-Central South Dakota)
March 14, 2023

For 134 years, South Dakota has counted on regular citizens to do the business of governing our state. We have rejected attempts to create a full-time legislature. State legislators don’t have media teams or full-time, political staff. We come to the Capitol, consider each issue, and apply our best judgement. We have regular jobs and go back to them when the legislative session wraps up in early March.

Our South Dakota system still works. The Legislature remains close to the people. We return home each weekend for cracker barrels or to hear from constituents at the grocery store or at church. When we receive emails from constituents, it is actually the legislator reading the email and responding. When we get calls, we return them, usually from our cell phones. In South Dakota, we still have a true citizen Legislature.

This year, we worked through the 462 bills and joint resolutions placed before us, just like we do every year. Each one of these bills and resolutions got a full and fair hearing, at which any person can appear and testify. These hearings are always broadcast on the internet and archived. That is unusual for state legislatures. Many other states do not require hearings, even fewer broadcast and record the proceedings, and very few allow any person to testify without registering in advance. After these hearings, each bill was either passed or was defeated by a recorded vote. All this information is saved at I’m proud of our transparent process and will protect the guarantees that all bills receive hearings and that those hearings are available to the public immediately.

So – what did our citizen-led process produce this year? We adopted Governor Noem’s recommended budget. She proposed increases for educators, nursing homes, and state employees, as well as targeted increases making tuition free for National Guard members, constructing prisons, and replacing old and outdated software systems that serve all of state government. In February, both the Governor’s staff and the Legislature’s economists advised us that revenues were continuing to come in strong, so we could afford to give teachers, nursing homes, and state employees a little more funding. The Legislature also set aside money to get ready for the Medicaid Expansion costs that will be coming in a couple years. Finally, the budget we adopted accounted for a $104 million sales tax cut, similar in size to that which the Governor proposed. The budget followed the Governor’s blueprint and added prudent investments for schools, nursing homes, and state employees. It saved money for known expenses in the future. South Dakotans should be confident that their budget is fiscally responsible and takes care of our obligations, all while cutting taxes by more than $100 million.

Beyond the budget, we made real strides in college affordability, addressing workforce shortages and helping those struggling with mental health and suicide. We passed bills to protect the public and back law enforcement. We made thorough improvements to our election system. We defeated needless laws and avoided creating a slew of new government programs. It was a productive, workmanlike effort from the 2023 Legislature.

Our nation’s founders had a vision for how the United States was supposed to be governed: by leading citizens from each state, taking a few months out of their year to come together and pass a limited set of laws before returning to live under those laws. Where Congress veered off course, South Dakota stayed steady. Our Legislature is comprised of farmers, educators, law enforcement, businessmen, and everything in between. We are parents and grandparents. We serve on charitable boards and coach youth sports teams. We don’t have dozens of staffers or media strategists. We’re just regular South Dakotans who come to the Capitol for nine weeks and do the people’s work. This year, I’m proud to say, we got the job done.

Gov. Noem to Sign Tuition Reimbursement Bill for Members of the SDNG

Gov. Noem to Sign Tuition Reimbursement Bill for Members of the SDNG

Bill Signing to Take Place in Rapid City

 PIERRE, S.D. – On Thursday afternoon in Rapid City, Governor Kristi Noem will sign HB 1039, which provides 100% tuition reimbursement for members of the South Dakota National Guard at Board of Regents institutions and state tech colleges.

The bill signing will take place at 12:15 pm MT on Thursday March 16 at the Range Road Armory in Rapid City. Media is welcome to attend the bill signing, and Governor Noem will take questions.

Shortly after the bill signing, Governor Noem will participate in a deployment ceremony for the 216th Fire Fighting Detachment. That ceremony will take place at 1pm MT at the same location.

This legislation will help South Dakota’s bravest men and women to stay in our state to get an education, participate in our booming economy, and raise a family. The members of the South Dakota National Guard have gone above and beyond the call of duty time and time again. This legislation will give back to them and ensure that they can receive the kind of education they deserve.

WHAT: Governor Noem to sign tuition reimbursement bill for members of the SDNG
WHEN: 12:15 pm MT on Thursday, March 16
WHERE: Range Road Armory – 3740 Range Rd, Rapid City, SD


Gov. Noem Signs Legislation Updating “Governor” References

Gov. Noem Signs Legislation Updating “Governor” References
Signs Other Good Government Bills into Law

 PIERRE, S.D. – Governor Noem has signed HB 1175,  which reflects the fact that South Dakota has its first woman Governor and changes references to the Governor and other officials in state statute.

“Every little girl in South Dakota should realize that she can grow up to do whatever she wants to do – to be whoever she wants to be,” said Governor Noem.  “We are fixing our laws and South Dakota Constitution so that they reflect the fact that women and men can both attain offices like governor. I began my State of the State Address by promising to deliver on this, and I am grateful to the legislature for working with me.”

Governor Noem also signed the following 10 good government bills into law:

  • SB 23 – Makes an appropriation for the modernization of the state’s enterprise resource planning systems;
  • SB 69 – Modifies the composition of the State-Tribal Relations Committee;
  • SB 134 – Revises membership of the Medical Marijuana Oversight Committee;
  • SB 145 – Revises provisions pertaining to township eligibility for the rural access infrastructure fund;
  • SB 174 – Prohibits the enactment or implementation of an ordinance, resolution, or policy that prohibits the use of an energy utility service;
  • HB 1008 – Revises provisions relating to actuarial terminology used by the South Dakota Retirement System;
  • HB 1035 – Makes an appropriation to the Department of Revenue for the modernization of the motor vehicle administration system;
  • HB 1042 – Updates additional charges allowed for mailing decals and plates;
  • HB 1220 – Provides that a female who undergoes an unlawful abortion may not be held criminally liable; and,
  • HB 1239 – Prohibits a ban of fuel gas appliances used by consumers.

Governor Noem has signed 137 bills into law and vetoed 4 this legislative session.


Johnson Leads Work Requirements Fight in the U.S. House

 Johnson Leads Work Requirements Fight in the U.S. House

The America Works Act closes loophole states have used to ignore existing work requirements

 Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the America Works Act, a bill to reform work requirements for able-bodied Americans receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Current federal law requires Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) younger than 49 years old on SNAP to participate in work, training, or education for 20 hours a week.

Currently, 18 states utilize waivers to exempt individuals from work requirements. Unfortunately, many states abuse these waivers and ignore work requirements for ABAWDs. Johnson’s bill would close the loophole allowing those waivers. According to data prior to the pandemic, 1.36 million ABAWD households reported zero dollars in gross income – meaning they did not work at all.

“Work is the best pathway out of poverty,” said Johnson. “Work requirements have proven to be effective, andpeople who can work should work. With more than 11 million open jobs, there are plenty of opportunities for SNAP recipients to escape poverty and build a better life.”

The America Works Act of 2023:

  • Emphasizes and amends work requirements for Able Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs) requiring childless adults, unless exempted, to work or participate in work-related training or education, for at least 20 hours per week in order to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
    • This bill maintains current law which states that ABAWDs are subject to a three-month limit of SNAP benefits unless they work 80 hours per month.
  • Raises the age limits of an ABAWD from 18 to 49 to 18 to 65, consistent with the age individuals become eligible for Medicare.
    • Employment projections from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics show that individuals over the age of 55 are projected to assume over 25% of the workforce in 2022.
  • The America Works Act of 2023 eliminates states’ ability to carry over exemption waivers from year to year, reducing instances of stockpiling and hampering abuses of the law.
    • States are currently allowed robust flexibility in managing their SNAP population, with 12% of state caseloads eligible for exemptions from the work requirements.  Johnson’s bill maintains that flexibility, but doesn’t allow states to carry over exemptions year after year.

Reps. Chuck Edwards (NC-11), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Jake Ellzey (TX-06), Mary Miller (IL-15), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), August Pfluger (TX-11), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05), Josh Brecheen (OK-02), Jen Kiggans (VA-02), Randy Feenstra (IA-04), Troy Nehls (TX-22), Ryan Zinke (MT-01), Mark Alford (MO-04), Andy Ogles (TN-05), Max Miller (OH-07), Pat Fallon (TX-04), Virginia Foxx (NC-05), Randy Weber (TX-14), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Tim Walberg (MI-05), Richard Hudson (NC-09), Scott Franklin (FL-18), and Michael Cloud (TX-27) are original cosponsors of the America Works Act.

Read the bill text here.


Minnehaha Co GOP features Haugaard presenting “the factual discussion about the Julie Frye-Mueller case.”

This last Friday, the Minnehaha County GOP had a luncheon, but it doesn’t look like a lot of people signed up to swallow this narrative along with their breadsticks.

Wow. Would not expect a lot of people going to Pizza Ranch because they wanted to hear from Julie Frye-Awful’s attorney on how the Senate mistreated her.

And from the photos, I’m not wrong. But that should not come as a shock. 33 of the 35 members of the Senate didn’t believe Haugaard and Frye Mueller a month ago, either.

According to the post, they proclaimed they had “nearly 40 people there.” And if you subtract the organizational officials and spouses, you might break 30.

30 people out of 55,643 Republicans in the most populous county in South Dakota. Think of that.

Minnehaha County Republicans struggled to fill a half-room at Pizza Ranch in their first at bat with the new leadership group, as they tried to push an already rejected narrative by the attorney for a disgraced legislator. 

Not exactly a party building exercise.

Guest Column: One Senator’s Summary of Session

One Senator’s Summary of Session
by Sen. Brent “B.R.” Hoffman
“There are two things you should never see up close:  making sausage and politics.”
Otto Bismark
It’s not easy to explain the legislative process.  While the end result may be a new law, the route it took to get there is often circuitous or haphazard, as the process is mostly built on precedent and personal relationships.  It’s not easy to follow, nor is it for the faint of heart.
Though the process can be messy (“making sausage”), it still seems to work, and so it’s important to share information on new resolutions, landmark laws or dead bills that may be of interest to you.  So here below, I’ve summarized the main proposals I presented as the prime sponsor this last legislative session, and I’ll hope you find it interesting.
Nuclear Energy Interim Legislative Committee (SCR601), a concurrent resolution, passed cleanly through the Senate (34-0) and House (63-5).  The next step is consideration by the Legislative Executive Board, and if selected, a study on nuclear energy would take place this summer.
Limited Parole for Violent Offenders (SB146), a landmark law and order bill, cleared the Senate (29-4) and House (53-17).  This legislation is focused on higher-level, violent felonies and is sometimes called “Truth in Sentencing.”  The bill is currently under consideration in the governor’s office.
Constitutional Amendment for Term Limits (SJR504), a joint resolution, would limit terms of service for senators and representatives to eight years.  Currently, legislators can serve without limit as long as they switch between chambers, take a break or are reappointed.  Though the resolution failed in committee (8-1), an initiated amendment has been filed for petitions to place it on the ballot.  Term limits have never passed the state legislature, but have never failed at the ballot box.
Promoting the State Motto (SB133), a simple bill, would’ve replaced the tourism slogan (“Great Faces, Great Places”) on state license plates with the state motto: “Under God the People Rule.”  Though the bill passed the Senate Transportation Committee (5-1), it was defeated in the Senate (23-12).
Presiding Officer of State Senate (Rule S1-1) is a proposal to empower the state senate, rather than the executive branch, to preside over the state senate.  The rule change moved forward from the Legislative Procedures Committee (7-0).  The Legislative Research Council will study and “develop a proposal” prior to the next session.
In addition to these bills, I co-sponsored a number of other bills, and as always, you’re welcome to contact me for additional details.  It’s an honor to work for you in the state senate, and I thank you for the opportunity.


The author served a career in the military, surviving the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.  He’s a published author, occasional newspaper columnist and currently serves as a state senator for District 9, which includes western Sioux Falls, Hartford and Wall Lake.