Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker going for 3rd term

According to reports this morning (This one from the Argus/Associated Press), Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker is going for a third term:

Sam Kooiker announced this re-election campaign Thursday.

The 40-year-old Kooiker says if re-elected he plans to improve race relations and resolve long-standing issues the city has faced in complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. He says he also will continue his focus on the improving city’s infrastructure.

Read it here.

His second race for the office was a repeat against then Mayor Alan Hanks, with Kooiker coming out victorious. His third race, and second as mayor was against challenger and State Senator Mark Kirkeby.

There’s no word as to whether Kooiker will face a challenger in this years’ contest, which will be decided this June.

KELO Report: Tribe bans Patrick Duffy from entering lands because of representation

Apparently if you’re hired to defend someone the Tribe is good and mad at, you get the honor of being shunned:

A South Dakota tribe has barred a Rapid City-based defense lawyer from entering their land.

Oglala Lakota Tribe officials passed a resolution banning Rapid City lawyer Patrick Duffy from the Pine Ridge Reservation, after Duffy hired on to defend a Philip man charged with disorderly conduct for behavior toward Native Americans at a hockey game.

Tribal public information officer Kevin Yellow Bird Steele confirmed Thursday that the tribal ocuncil approved the resolution submitted by the Pass Creek District representatives on Feb. 24. He referred further inquiries to representatives from the district, who couldn’t be reached for comment.

Read it here.

I’m scratching my head at this one, as Duffy, who defended accused legislator Dan Sutton several years ago, is not someone you’d consider a right-winger. In fact he’d be the opposite.

Did Duffy deserve the evil eye from the tribe? Or is this a whole lot of silliness?

Press Release: AFP South Dakota Launches Patch-Through Call Campaign Against Sales Tax

AFP South Dakota Launches Patch-Through Call Campaign Against Sales Tax

Calls Inform South Dakotans of Penny Sales Tax Measure, Offer To Connect Citizens Directly To Legislator’s Office

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Today, Americans for Prosperity South Dakota launched the latest installment in its campaign against the Penny Sales Tax proposal being considered by the State House Affairs Committee. AFP SD will be launching robocalls aimed at members of the State House Affairs Committee. The calls will inform South Dakota families of the Penny Sales Tax proposal and offer to connect them directly to their legislator’s office in order to urge a “no” vote on the sales tax measure, Senate Bill 135.

Fighting the Penny Sales Tax has been among AFP SD’s highest legislative priorities. Earlier, AFP SD had taken to talk radio to discuss the legislation, and engaged its network of statewide activists, asking its members to send a letter to their legislator in order to stop the sales tax increase.

“With all the talk about the gas tax, no one seems to be talking about the Penny Sales Tax, but make no mistake, this bill has serious consequences. A one-penny sales tax sounds small, but could add up to over $150 million in new taxes if every city implements it.”

“Study after study has shown that sales taxes hurt middle-class families the most. At a time when many South Dakota families are still struggling to make ends meet, a new sales tax just isn’t fair,” said Americans for Prosperity South Dakota State Director Ben Lee.

The phone call script is below:

Hi!  This is Ben Lee from Americans for Prosperity, with an urgent tax increase alert. Tomorrow, the legislature will vote on a bill that will open the door for a massive sales tax increase. Press ONE to be connected to your legislator to tell them: South Dakota can’t afford higher sales taxes! Again press ONE to be connected to your legislator to stop the sales tax increase, Bill 135.  Americans for Prosperity can be reached at 866-730-0150.

Press Release: Thune Requested Report Outlines Rail Service Challenges in Upper Midwest

Thune, Klobuchar Requested Report Outlines Rail Service Challenges in Upper Midwest

-USDA report examines impact of rail congestion and underscores importance of robust rail network-

John_Thune,_official_portrait,_111th_CongressWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today commented on a newly released report that they called for from the U.S. Department of Agriculture examining the rail service challenges in the Upper Midwest in 2013 and 2014 and the implications these issues had on the region’s agricultural sectors. The report examines the causes and effects of rail congestion and underscores the importance of ensuring robust rail network capacity and investment in the future.

“Grain car backlogs, storage issues, and rail car premiums affect transportation costs and commodity prices, which are critically important to our agricultural producers in South Dakota,” said Thune. “This report is an important resource for understanding future vulnerabilities and the importance of maintaining strong rail service for our agricultural producers and other shippers. While the railroads have made important gains in rail service in recent months, we need to work to ensure that this service continues. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I look forward to working on long-term solutions that address the increasing demands for prompt, reliable, and safe service.”

“Reliable and affordable rail service is critical for providing Minnesota’s agriculture producers with access to markets beyond our state’s borders,” Klobuchar said. “While service has improved in recent months, delays have caused lost sales, involuntary shutdowns at processing facilities and disruption to agriculture markets. This report underscores the importance of strong rail service to agricultural producers and will serve as a critical tool as we continue to improve rail service in Minnesota and across the country.”

The report finds that in September of 2014 some of the major grain producing states most impacted by poor rail performance‎ had remaining grain and oilseed stocks in storage up to 40 percent higher than in previous years. USDA notes that the situation left less permanent storage available to accommodate another record harvest, as production and stocks exceeded permanent capacity by over 900 million bushels during the 2014-2015 harvest. The report also finds capacity issues and service concerns caused shippers to pay record-high car premiums, 28 to 150 percent above the average previous levels for roughly 65 consecutive weeks.

Access to the full USDA report is available here.


Vets group fronted by South Dakota Attorney Joel Arends suing State Department over Hillary Clinton e-mails

Maybe Annette Bosworth shouldn’t have rolled Joel Arends under the bus so hard when she was arrested & charged for illegal petition signatures. He’s getting far more attention than her goofy surrogates have been able to gin up with hit pieces and fake press conferences.

Why is Joel a media darling this week, and appearing on “the Blaze” and other national media? His group – Veterans for a Strong America – are suing the State Deparment for ignoring a Freedom of Information request for Hillary Clinton’s email and telephone log:

Joel Arends, chairman of Veterans for a Strong America, said his group specifically requested Clinton’s personal emails from a specific time period before and after the Benghazi terror attack in case Clinton had also sent some relevant emails using her personal account during that time.

Arends said he was unaware at the time of the request that Clinton had relied exclusively on a private email account using a server located at her New York private residence.

“At this point in time, I think we’re the only ones that specifically asked for both her personal and government email and phone logs,” Arends said of his group’s Benghazi-related request.

Veterans for a Strong America filed the FOIA request in the course of writing a book, “The Difference it Makes,” about the government’s handling of the Benghazi attack.

Read it all here.

Incoming US Attorney advocating for repossessing Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place because they owe money

Here’s a quiet little story out of the Pierre Capitol Journal that gets a little more interesting when you take notice who some of the players are:

Heezen, contacted later by the Capital Journal, said the amount that is delinquent as of Dec. 31, 2014, for work at Wakpa Sica is $76,405. In addition, scheduled payments totaling $38,202 could become delinquent in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The payment due this year alone is $12,734. If nothing is paid over the next three years, the total owed the city in principal alone will be $114,607.

The first and only payment made to the city for the road and utilities work at Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place was in 2008.

Ward III Alderman Randy Seiler thinks the city ought to do what it can to get the money that it is owed for those improvements. Seiler, an attorney, made that point to the city council on Monday and explained his thought in more detail later to the Capital Journal.

“I think we need to look at our collection options,” Seiler said. “We need to look at legal ownership of the land, legal ownership of the assets, what assets are available. There’s a process through the court system.”

However, Seiler noted, if Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place has been converted to trust land – that is, federal land that is held in trust for the tribes – then the process becomes more difficult.


It is trust land, according to Scott Jones, who was one of the Lower Brule Tribe’s tribal outreach consultants who worked with the project as it was first being organized. Jones said a 12-acre site, by act of Congress, has been designated as trust land.


The facility is described in those documents as intended to serve as a “tribal gathering place” to house the Sioux Nation Judicial Support Center and the Sioux National Economic Development Council. It’s also intended as a site to display and interpret tribal history, culture and art.

Read it here.

You may remember Fort Pierre City Councilman Randy Seiler, who is advocating for repossession of the property for non-payment of bills, because he also had a big job promotion recently.

Next week, he becomes the acting US Attorney:

First Assistant United States Attorney Randy Seiler will take over the leadership of the U.S. attorney’s office upon the departure of Brendan Johnson. Johnson on Wednesday announced he’ll leave his job as U.S. attorney March 11 to open an office in Sioux Falls for a large law firm.


He is a member of the Fort Pierre city council.

Read that here.

Now, please note that I don’t know that I disagree with Seiler in the least. It’s just not every day that you see a US Attorney advocating that cities take back trust land because someone wasn’t able to pay their bills.

And it’s also somewhat ironic, as if memory serves, Wakpa Sica was meant in part to act as a bridge between tribal courts and regular courts – with the differences between the two and the difficulty in collecting on bad debts acting as a barrier to investment on reservations.

I’m guessing this one isn’t going to be resolved there.

Video Release: Rounds Presses EPA on Economic Impact of Regulatory Proposals

Rounds Presses EPA on Economic Impact of Regulatory Proposals

WASHINGTON —U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPA) Committee, today had the opportunity to question Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy about the agency’s  process for determining the economic impact when proposing major new rules. In addition, he asked her to clarify EPA’s contradictory statements about the public comments received on the proposed Waters of the U.S. rule. Misleading statements could confuse the public into thinking the proposed rule, which received overwhelmingly negative feedback, was more favorable than EPA portrayed.

“Much of what is coming out of the EPA would impose costly new mandates with little consideration given to the far-reaching effects these rules would have on the average American,” said Rounds. “It’s imperative we hold the agency accountable for its onerous, job-killing agenda by making sure they are using the most current, accurate information available and not skewing the facts in their favor.”

The EPA is required under Executive Order to consider economic affects whenever writing a “major rule.” A 2014 government report found the EPA was using data from 1979-1991 when studying the economic impact of recently finalized major rules. As a result, the regulations the EPA was crafting for the U.S. were finalized with the assumptions that the U.S. economy 20 to 30 years ago was the same as it is today, and involves only four industrial sectors, which is not accurate and does not take into account the transformation the U.S. economy has undergone in the past several decades.

Press Release: Thune, Noem sponsored Bipartisan, Bicameral Federal Impact Aid Bill to Streamline and Improve Program

Bipartisan, Bicameral Federal Impact Aid Bill Introduced to Streamline and Improve Program

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Rick Larsen (D-Wa.) introduced their bipartisan, bicameral legislation to modernize and streamline the federal Impact Aid program, which provides payments from the federal government to local school districts to make up for local taxes lost on account of federal land within their school districts, such as military bases and federal land like Indian Reservations or federal grasslands.

This bill will improve the federal Impact Aid program’s efficiency in a variety of ways, including permanently simplifying payment calculation for federal property, resulting in the ability for school districts to receive timelier payments. In recent years, districts have experienced a delay in receiving timely payments due to delays in the process for calculating land valuation, which puts additional financial burdens on already cash-strapped school districts. The Local Taxpayer Relief Act would also improve the Impact Aid program to ensure schools that have consolidated that were previously eligible continue to be eligible for Impact Aid.

“School districts need certainty from the federal government about what to budget for annual Impact Aid revenues,” said Thune. “The bipartisan, common-sense changes included in our bill make the Impact Aid program run more efficiently and ensure that school districts with federal lands will receive timelier payments. While I was pleased that Congress acted at the end of last year to extend the simplified payment calculation formulas to accelerate Impact Aid payments, we need to make these improvements permanent by passing our legislation to reauthorize the entire Impact Aid program.”

“Hawaii educates over 13,000 students whose parents serve in our military,” said Hirono. “Federal Impact Aid provides Hawaii’s communities with resources to help serve our students, and the bill my colleagues and I are introducing today will help the Hawaii Department of Education get those resources more quickly and efficiently. As a proud graduate of Hawaii’s public school system, I am committed to ensuring that all Hawaii students receive a quality education.”

“In the past, bureaucratic red tape has delayed critical Impact Aid payments to South Dakota schools, making it difficult to meet needs of South Dakota’s young people,” said Noem.  “The concepts in this bipartisan legislation will help cut through that red tape and continue to deliver critical education dollars to our schools more quickly and efficiently – now and long into the future.”

“Impact Aid provides critical support to schools in my district to make sure students have the best opportunities to succeed today and in the future. This bipartisan bill ensures permanent, on-time payments for school districts where federal activity like military bases limits funding available to public schools through property taxes,” Larsen said.

Created in 1950, the Impact Aid program is the oldest federal education program and represents a commitment to reimbursing districts that host non-taxable federal property activities. This bill improves this program for the 1,300 impacted school districts that educate more than 11 million children across the country without increasing government spending,

In 2012, Congress included a provision in the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to end the highly subjective “highest and best” formula. The “highest and best” formula attempted to determine the “real value” of federal property, which created a highly inefficient payment formula that was subject to local interpretation by assessors on the value of taxable property adjacent to eligible federal property.

In December of 2014, Congress included a provision in the FY 2015 NDAA to extend the simplified payment calculation process for federally impacted schools for three years, resulting in timelier payments to school districts.

The Local Taxpayer Relief Act would reauthorize the Impact Aid program and make permanent the NDAA provision simplifying the payment calculation process.