US Senator Mike Rounds’ new routine profiled in Real Clear Politics

Real Clear politics has a profile on US Senator Mike Rounds, and how some of the lessons he learned while being Governor were helpful to his new position, and how he needs to reach back to when he was State Senate Majority Leader for others:

..Democrats wasted little time employing the same tactics they denounced Republicans for when they were in the majority. When the chamber moved from Keystone into funding for the Department of Homeland Security last week, Democrats filibustered the GOP leadership, voting three times in three days against debating a bill that would fund DHS while derailing Obama’s executive action delaying deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants.

MikeRounds official SenateRounds’ experience with those two bills informed his observation that things often move either too quickly or too slowly in the Senate. The Keystone debate was positive because there was a free flow of ideas, but there wasn’t always time to look into amendments carefully before voting on them, Rounds said. With DHS funding, Rounds said Republicans want to bring the bill up for debate, even if they don’t necessarily agree with the House provision to reverse Obama’s immigration order, but Democrats are blocking anything from moving forward.

“It’s a matter of getting to that point where each of the two parties has a certain position of strength,” Rounds said, but at this point in the process, neither side trusts the other to compromise.

Though he served as governor for two terms, Rounds isn’t new to legislating. Before his gubernatorial run, he spent a decade in the South Dakota State Senate, including six years as majority leader. Rounds said the process so far in Washington is very similar to what he experienced legislating at the state level.

“I think he really knows the drill better than most who come here who haven’t had that dual background,” said Sen. John Hoeven, the former governor of North Dakota. “As a governor you can really set your agenda much more, whereas it’s much harder to do that in the Congress or in the Senate. But I think in Mike’s case he really comes well prepared because he’s had experience doing both.”

Read it here.

So, are Dems going to run more candidates who don’t know what they’re doing?

I’ve been picking through Democrats’ Campaign finance reports, and noticed a trend among the statewide losing candidates that might be worth noting. Awful fundraising, and bad campaign finance reporting marks the undercard performers who filled the few Constitutional officer seats the Democrats bothered to attempt to fill.

Which might be a big tipoff as to some of the reasons they fared so dismally. No one had a clue what they were doing, and even fewer wanted to waste money on them:

Denny Pierson, Treasurer:. No year end campaign finance report on file yet. In the pre-general report, claiming $8241.50 Raised, $6845 Spent.

That could fund a legislative race. Maybe.

Denny Pierson Pre-General Report

Angelia Schultz, Secretary of State:  Claiming zero carried over (my error) , zero raised, zero spent in her year end report, despite reporting supplemental donations, and $1315.47 carried over in her previous report, which you can read below.  In her pre-general, where *I think* she claims $4598.81 raised, $3283.34 spent, and $1315.47 left over.

I say “I think” because the Dem’s candidate for SOS failed to fill the pre-general report out properly.  And, there’s no reporting of the supplemental donations.

In short, we knew they couldn’t raise money, but apparently Democrats also put up someone for SOS who couldn’t manage to fill out the campaign finance forms correctly.

Schultz Pre General

David Allen for PUC. Year End Report showing $494 Raised and nothing Spent. Although, Records do show him raising $750.   His Pre-general report which isn’t loading on the SOS site may have $300 or so in expenditures.

I’m not sure that funds a School Board race.

David Allen for PUC Year End Report by Pat Powers

Not a good reflection on the Democrats.   Luckily for Republicans, it sets the stage for continued GOP Dominance of the Statehouse for many years to come.

Why? Because we’re not seeing a challenge from these jokers any time soon.

The Bosworth Family’s poor choice of entertainment….

I couldn’t help but laugh at this. That wasn’t Sesame Street they went to see.

I’m assuming it finally dawned on them that it was strictly an adults only show when the puppets started singing “the Internet is for Porn.”

US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: Defending Religious Freedom

Defending Religious Freedom
By Senator John Thune

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressI always look forward to Sunday mornings. Faith, family, and community take the focus as thousands of families across South Dakota and throughout our country gather with the freedom to worship under the religion of their choice without fear of persecution. The American values of religious freedom and liberty are woven into the very fabric of who we are as a country and a distinct part of what makes America great.

In the U.S., we view it as incumbent upon us to question the decisions of government and businesses that may infringe upon an individual’s religious freedoms. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the conscience rights of individuals in the case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Under our system of checks and balances, the Supreme Court found that ObamaCare was constitutionally overreaching into Americans’ lives and forcing many to violate their conscience. It was a victory for religious freedom.

With these most basic religious freedoms, comes the responsibility to protect and preserve these liberties not only for Americans, but also for the millions across the globe who are imprisoned, persecuted, and even killed because of their faith. Which is why, on February 5, 2015, I joined my colleagues in introducing a resolution defending religious freedom and calling for the protection of religious minorities worldwide.

Religious freedom forged by our founding fathers sought to protect an individual’s rights of conscience, even if their particular theological convictions differed from the majority. This was especially important to the protestant and later Catholic Christians escaping persecution in Europe who went on to form many of the denominations with which we are familiar in South Dakota.

These same principles are equally important to the Christian and Rohingya Muslim minorities in Burma who face persecution from a Buddhist majority, as well as the ancient Christian and Yezidi communities of Iraq, fleeing almost certain death at the hands of ISIS. The constant struggle can also be seen in individual cases, such as that of Saeed Abedini, a Christian pastor with duel Iranian and American citizenship arrested and imprisoned in Iran based solely on his Christian faith.

It was Ronald Reagan who famously said, “…We must remember the most distinctive mark of all in the American experience: To a tired and disillusioned world, we’ve always been a New World and, yes, a shining city on a hill where all things are possible.” It is our responsibility to not only provide an example of religious freedom in our own lives, communities, and government, but to also speak out for those around the world who want nothing more than the right to worship according to their conscience without fear of persecution.

This is what we are called to as a nation, and as a people who believe in defending the intrinsic value of human life. I will continue to fight for these essential and most basic values as a member of the U.S. Senate, and I hope South Dakotans will join me in lifting their voices in support of religious freedom around the globe.
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Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Learning More About Education Funding

Learning More About Education Funding
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

DaugaardEvery year, when the Legislature meets, education is discussed and debated as much as any other topic. That’s the way it should be. South Dakota spends approximately half of our general fund budget on education, because we understand that it is a priority for our state.

Very often, debates about education focus on funding. That makes sense, because funding is the principal way that state government affects schools. Local officials decide how many teachers and staff to hire, and what to pay them. They decide which programs and courses to offer. But they make those decisions in the context of available funding.

Still, the focus on funding can draw attention away from the broader discussion – our policy goals for education in South Dakota. I believe that we have three goals: First, we want a quality system of schools focused on student achievement. Second, we want a workforce of great educators. Finally, we want an efficient, equitable funding system that supports those goals.

More funding may be the answer to achieving those goals, but we have a responsibility to the taxpayers to be certain that we are spending their dollars wisely. We need confidence that our state funding system for K-12 schools is aligned with those three goals.

That is why I am joining with legislative leaders to create a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students. This task force will reevaluate the current funding formula. It will collect and analyze data, engage with stakeholders and seek public input. The task force will make recommendations to the 2016 State Legislature for reform.

I know that some will say that, rather than establish a task force, we should take action now. But there are still too many questions that need to be answered.

We need to understand where teacher shortages are occurring and what can be done to address them. We need to ask why 12 states can spend less per student than South Dakota, yet pay their teachers more. We need to ask why, even as we hear growing concerns about teacher salaries, many schools’ reserve funds are increasing.

These questions need to be answered with hard data, not anecdotes or opinion surveys, and I have asked the Department of Education to compile hard data on the teaching workforce and on school funding to inform the work of the task force.

Three years ago, I joined with the Chief Justice and legislative leaders to initiate a year-long review of the criminal justice system. That process took on a difficult issue and resulted in a sweeping reform package that passed with broad support. This year, the Legislature is considering a similar reform package of the juvenile justice system, which is also the product of a year-long process.

We are bringing that same successful process to the issue of school funding. South Dakotans want a quality education for every student, and we want great teachers to provide that education. Through this process, we can gain confidence that our state funding system is focused on achieving these important goals.

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US Senator Mike Rounds’ Weekly Column: Taking Care of our Vets

Taking Care of our Vets
By Senator Mike Rounds
February 6, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateProviding adequate care and support for our military personnel – during and after their service – is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government. In fact, national defense is the primary purpose of the federal government. The brave men and women in uniform sacrifice everything to protect our freedoms here at home, and we owe it to them to make sure they have everything they need when they return from service. In the Senate, I have the unique privilege to serve on two committees that focus specifically on our military personnel: The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

I continue to be humbled by the stories of the brave men and women who fought and continue to fight for our country. I recently took part in a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in the United States Capitol. The ceremony honored World War II veterans who served in the First Special Service Force. In the year and-a-half these men fought in combat, they never once lost a mission. They specialized in rock climbing, skiing and amphibious stealth attacks in dangerous territory. A number of these heroes were present at the ceremony, and hearing their stories was inspirational. Though their bravery and sacrifices can never be fully repaid, we must make sure they and other veterans are properly compensated. We must never forget their sacrifice in service to our country.

A recent SASC hearing focused on a commission report that called for an overhaul of the compensation layout of our armed forces. The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission (MCRMC) recently completed their recommendation to overhaul how the military receives compensation and benefits, including regular and retirement payments. I thank the members of the commission who presented their findings to us. Right now, only about 17 percent of service members leave the military with any retirement benefits. The commission’s plan would bump that number up to 75 percent. From what I have read, there are some good ideas in the report. However, we have to honor the promises which we have made to those individuals currently in the retirement system. They honored their end, we must honor ours. We cannot balance our budget on the backs of service men and women or our veterans.

We wasted no time getting to work to help our heroes in the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. One of the very first pieces of legislation we took up this Congress was the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act. Tragically, too many returning veterans, still struggling with the invisible wounds of war, don’t seek the mental health care they need. By passing the Clay Hunt SAV Act, we hope to change that. I supported it out of committee and was happy it passed unanimously out of the Senate. The legislation takes important steps to supply returning veterans with the tools they need to safely acclimate to life back home. It would also streamline mental health resources to make them more effective and efficient.

We have a duty to care for our men and women in uniform and follow through on our promises to them, and it’s an honor to serve them in the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. I will continue to find ways make sure these brave men and women have the support they deserve from the government of the country they fight so hard to defend.

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Congresswoman Noem’s Weekly Column: Bypass the Bureaucracy

Bypass the Bureaucracy
By Rep. Kristi Noem
February 6, 2015

kristi noem headshot May 21 2014It’s a project that would support approximately 42,100 jobs, according to the U.S. State Department.  It’s a project that would generate millions of dollars in revenue for cash-strapped county governments in South Dakota every year, supporting needed infrastructure investments and critical community services.  It’s a project the majority of Americans agree we should move forward with – even in this hyper-partisan world we live in.

The project is the Keystone XL Pipeline and this week, Congress will be putting legislation on the President’s desk to finally approve it.  We’ve been debating this pipeline for more than six years.  In that time, nearly 10,000 miles of oil pipelines have been constructed in the United States, which is the equivalent of eight Keystone XL Pipelines.  And even without the pipeline, Canadian oil has flowed into the United States via roads and rails, which are much more costly and risky options.  So, what’s been the holdup?  The President has made this debate political.

Despite what the President said in his State of the Union address a few weeks ago, this isn’t just about “a single oil pipeline.” This administration has slow walked many attempts to expand America’s energy economy.  Recently, lower gas prices have given many families more financial independence.  Those prices are directly linked to more North American energy production and the additional influence the U.S. now has over global oil markets because of the increased supply.

That growth was achieved in spite of this administration’s policies.  Less oil was produced on federal lands in 2012 than in 2007.  But on non-federal lands, which don’t require federal approval, production increased 35 percent in that time.

The discrepancy between federal and non-federal production is due, at last in part, to a broken bureaucracy.  In many states, it takes less than a month to process drilling permits.  In North Dakota, for instance, it takes an average of 10 days.  In California, it’s seven days.  Texas averages a five-day turnaround, although expedited permits can be issued in as little as 48 hours.  A federal permit, on the other hand, takes more than 300 days to acquire.  But it hasn’t always been this way.  Since 2006, federal permitting times have increased by an incredible 41 percent.

I agree that we need to aim higher than a single pipeline, but I also believe that pipeline is a good place to start.  That’s why I’m voting to put this project on the President’s desk this week.  We must cut through the layers upon layers of red tape this administration has put in the way of a healthy economy.

Despite our efforts and the support of millions of Americans, the President has already promised to veto the legislation.  That won’t deter us. I believe it’s my responsibility to keep pushing forward commonsense, bipartisan measures like this.  Should he follow through on his veto threat – as I suspect he will – I will continue looking for legislative options that move this pipeline to completion.  It’s time to bypass the bureaucracy. It’s time to build.

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New pins for the collection, and Senator Kittridge joins the board.

While I was in Pierre this week, I was furiously hitting eBay for a group of political pins that were closing, and dang it, someone was bidding me up, right to the wire. But, I really wanted these, as there were several I didn’t have.

newpins

A nice McGovern for Congress Litho pin, a Large Joe Robbie for Governor, a Joe Foss for Governor Pin, 4 inaugural pins (Sig Anderson 1951, Joe Foss 1957, Ralph Herseth 1959, and Frank Farrar 1969), and a pin for that declares ” I am for A. B. Kittridge.”

I was missing the McGovern Pin, the Foss Inaugural, that particular size of Foss for Congress Pin, the Large Robbie Pin, and the Kittridge pin were all ones I didn’t have, so I paid a little more than I might have on another day.

My fellow button collecting friend Lee Schoenback tells me the Kittridge pin is easier to find than some, but I didn’t have one. It’s an early South Dakota pin, and many of those are challenges to find. Especially during a time when US Senators weren’t elected by the people, but were chosen by the state legislature.

In July of 1901, Kittridge was appointed by Governor Herried, and according to an article:

Governor Herreid to-day- appointed A. B. Kittridge of Sioux Falls as Senator to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Kyle.

kittridgeAlfred B. Kittridge is a native of New Hampshire, haying been born in Cheshire County, March 26, 1861. . His early education was obtained In ; the public , schools and when 17 years of age, he entered Yale University. He was graduated from that institution in 1882, and at once commenced the study of law at Rutland, Vt. In 1884 he entered the Yale Law School and was graduated in 1885, being admitted to the Connecticut bar in June of the same year. He removed to. Sioux Falls, S. D., in 1885 and began practice of law. Mr. Kittridge early manifested an interest in State politics and was for a long time ex-Senator Pettigrew’s trusted lieutenant. In 1896 the” two parted upon the money question. Mr. Kittridge was the Republican committeeman from South Dakota in 1892 and 1896. He is a bachelor.

Read that here. And, according to the American Almanac Yearbook of that year, in 1903, he won election in his own right in 1903, when he was selected by the State Legislature on January 20th, by a vote of 120-12 over his Democratic opponent, John A Bowler. (Dems didn’t do so hot back then, either). But, according to his congressional biography, he failed to be renominated in 1908.

The pin was likely from the 1908 election.  And along with the non-duplicates, the Kittridge pin will be given it’s place of honor on the SDWC Bulletin board.

Senate Bill 166 – The Petition signature measure – tabled. It’s going to take a lawsuit to figure this one out.

From the Rapid City Journal, State Representative Corey Brown has asked for Senate Bill 166 which proposed to make state petition law consistent with the constitution to be withdrawn.

He said Friday afternoon that he received a message from the Legislature’s page adviser Thursday evening. He said she told him the pages were answering calls from opponents of SB 166, including some who cursed at the high school students.

and…

Brown said the state law setting the threshold at 5 percent of governor votes for a statewide initiative or referendum doesn’t match other state laws, such as 5 percent of registered voters needed for a municipal initiative or referendum.

and…

Brown said he expects the next initiative petition to be challenged if the signature count is based on 5 percent of the governor vote.

“I do believe that there’s still a problem,” he said. He added, “I guess maybe there’s other avenues to fix that.”

Read it here.

Cursing at high school kids? Nice. I always thought people of good conscience could disagree in a civil society. Apparently we’re setting the bar too high. Based on what Senator Brown notes, It sounds as if it’s going to take a legal decision based on the laws’ inconsistency with the state constitution to void SDCL 2-1-5.

What do you think, was Senator Brown’s decision to ask for his bill to be tabled a good move, or should this bill have gone all the way?

Highway patrol steps in after Rep Hickey argued with atheist group

From the Capitol Journal, it appears that things got lively on the Capitol rotunda floor yesterday:

Talk that started out sounding friendly ended with raised voices and a lawmaker who said he was “insulted” by one of the secular humanists/freethinkers who spent several hours Friday in the Capitol Rotunda talking about their concerns.

Capital security, in the person of a state Highway Patrol trooper and a state public safety official checked in with members of the group after the legislator, Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Sioux Falls, told the officers as he was leaving that he had been insulted.

And…

Hickey said Tomlinson insulted him.

“He said I should take a high school science class. I said, ‘Are you questioning my education?’ He said yes.”

Tomlinson corroborated Hickey’s account, except that he thought the lawmaker seemed thin-skinned over the sharp exchange. “I said, ‘Educate yourself.’”

Read the entire story here.

Did the highway patrol need to get involved? What are your thoughts?