Chairman Boyd Gourneau to deliver the 3rd Annual State of the Tribes Address

 

PIERRE, S.D. –Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Chairman Boyd Gourneau will deliver the 3rd Annual State of the Tribes Address tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 11, at 1 p.m. CST before the South Dakota Legislature. Some of the topics Chairman Gourneau will address are methamphetamine use and healthcare.

The State of the Tribes Address affords tribal leaders the opportunity to address the State Legislature and the legislators the opportunity to hear some of the concerns and challenges of the tribes that share South Dakota’s borders.

“I am proud that the South Dakota Legislature and the tribes have embraced this opportunity.  The State of the Tribes Address is another bridge to understanding and working together,” said South Dakota Tribal Relations Secretary Steve Emery.

Gov. Daugaard To Appoint Michael Diedrich To District 34 House Seat

Michael Diedrich

December 29, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced today that he will appoint Michael Diedrich of Rapid City to fill the District 34 vacancy in the State House of Representatives.

Diedrich will succeed the late Craig Tieszen, who passed away in November. He will serve during the 2018 Legislative Session and his term will continue through the end of 2018.

Diedrich previously served in the South Dakota State Senate from 1987-91 and from 1993-95. He is vice president of governmental relations for Regional Health in Rapid City. During his almost seven years at Regional Health, Diedrich has also worked as associate general counsel and as interim VP of the compliance, human resources, and development departments. Diedrich previously spent 11 years in the Rapid City city attorney’s office, including seven years as city attorney, and also worked in private business.

“Mike Diedrich has extensive experience in the legislature, in private industry, and in the municipal and non-profit sectors,” said Gov. Daugaard. “With Rep. Tieszen’s sad passing, I appreciate that Mike is willing to step in and serve in the State House.”

Diedrich is a graduate of Rapid City Central High School, and earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of South Dakota. He also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and a master of laws in healthcare law from Loyola University School of Law.

“Craig Tiezen was dedicated to making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. I plan to serve with the same level of integrity, strong values and compassion that he displayed in all facets of life,” Diedrich said. “As a lifelong resident of Rapid City, I am humbled to represent my neighbors and community to positively impact change now and for future generations.”

Diedrich has served on many community and states board. He currently serves on the Rapid City Rushmore Plaza Civic Center board of directors, the Mt. Rushmore Society board of directors, the Rapid City Chamber of Commerce public policy and government affairs committees, the South Dakota Health Care Solutions Coalition, and the Boy Scouts of America district board. Diedrich is also a member of the board of directors of Black Hills Community Bank, N.A.

Diedrich and his wife, Connie, have two sons, Chris and Ross.

District 34 includes western Rapid City, generally including the areas west of Mt. Rushmore Road, Dinosaur Hill, and “the gap” on West Main Street, and including sites such as Camp Rapid, Canyon Lake, the Sioux San Hospital, West Middle School, and Southwest Middle School.

 

SOUTH DAKOTA LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ANNOUNCE HARASSMENT, PROFESSIONALISM AND CODE OF CONDUCT TRAINING

December 18, 2017

PIERRE – The leadership of the South Dakota Legislature have arranged for training on legislative ethics, professionalism and sexual harassment. The training will take place the afternoon of January 17, 2018, and all elected legislators and legislative staff are expected to attend.

Senate Majority Leader R. Blake Curd, M.D., R-District 12 (Sioux Falls), said, “The Legislature takes sexual harassment seriously and it will not be tolerated.”

“The safety, security and professionalism of the South Dakota Legislature and those with whom we interact are of paramount importance. While we have the ability to address unprofessional, unethical and inappropriate behavior of our elected members and legislative staff, we also understand that South Dakota citizens want to ensure that people in elected office conduct themselves in a way that represents the State professionally and ensures the safety and security of those engaged in the people’s business. Demonstrating our collective commitment in this regard, South Dakota’s Legislative leaders have arranged harassment, professionalism and code of conduct training for January 17, 2018,” said Senator Curd.

“I would like to personally thank Senator Deb Peters, R-District 9 (Hartford), for her assistance in garnering the resources for this important topic. Her service as President of the National Conference of State Legislatures has facilitated access by the South Dakota State Legislature to some of the nation’s most respected authorities and presenters in these fields. I look forward to the training in January and believe it will be an invaluable and educational experience for all,” said Senator Curd.

Senate Minority Leader Billie H. Sutton, D-District 21 (Burke), echoed the importance of action on this topic, saying, “South Dakotans expect and deserve a government that is honorable and respectable. This training is the first step in the right direction to help ensure we have a culture of integrity and professionalism in Pierre that we can all be proud of. As elected officials, we must be held to the highest standards of good and ethical conduct. We must continually be listening to the people we represent and taking action to ensure we are doing all we can to promote a principled state government that supports equality and opportunity for everyone.”

House Majority Leader Lee Qualm, R-District 21 (Platte), stated, “In light of the current national allegations regarding sexual harassment, I am excited the leadership of the South Dakota Legislature is moving pro-actively to ensure all elected legislators and legislative staff have an opportunity to participate in this training. As leaders, we take this topic seriously and expect all members and staff to attend. Integrity, ethical conduct, respect and professionalism are demonstrated every day in legislators and staff. This training will strengthen these great qualities.”

House Minority Leader Spencer Hawley, D-District 7 (Brookings), also commented, “Everyone expects to be able to work in a safe, harassment-free environment. This training is an important step for the SD Legislature to take to help ensure the professionalism and highest ethical standards from our elected officials and staff.

Confronting The Realities of Another Lean Year

South Dakota Governor Gov. Dennis Daugaard

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard
December 8, 2017

The Capitol Building was a busy place on Dec. 5 when lawmakers came to town for the annual Budget Address. They packed the state House early that afternoon to hear about our current economic situation and my proposal for the upcoming budget year.

With revenue trending below projections, I doubt legislators were surprised when I explained we face another lean year. The projected tax revenue for this budget year will leave us $20 million short. To compound that, we have 450 more students enrolled in our schools than anticipated. This is a good problem. Higher student enrollment means our state is growing. But it’s a problem that adds another $10 million to the gap for this fiscal year.

The revenue shortfall and enrollment growth must be combined with emergency costs that will need to be covered. Unaddressed, this would leave us $34 million in the red this year. We need to fill that hole to balance in fiscal year 2018, and then adopt a balanced budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

I am proposing we fill the current year gap by reducing expenses where we are able, and using one-time cash sources, including funds from our reserves. This would still leave our reserves at a healthy level of 10 percent of our general fund spending.

For the upcoming fiscal year, I cannot recommend inflationary increases for education, Medicaid providers or state employees. Inflationary increases would cost about $58 million and we have only $32 million in new recurring revenue.

Still, although we cannot afford inflationary increases, I am proposing we dedicate the majority of new recurring revenue to those three priority areas. I am recommending the largest funding increase go to K-12 education to cover next year’s higher enrollment.

Second, I propose we complete a plan, begun two years ago, to better reimburse community-based Medicaid providers for actual costs. This will allow us to keep our promise to those who serve the most vulnerable in our state.

And for state employees, I am recommending a very modest amount to keep some employee pay, which is already lower than market, from falling even further behind.

Although the situation is not ideal, we must remember that our state has been through tougher times. It was just seven years ago that we were facing major shortfalls because of the recession and had to balance the budget with across-the-board cuts. Our situation is not as dire today and I am not calling for cuts.

Also, this experience is not unique to South Dakota. Many governors and legislatures across the country are seeing soft revenues. Recently, Montana and Oklahoma have had to call special sessions to address budget shortfalls.  Moreover, others have not been willing to confront their fiscal reality. According to Moody’s, nearly a dozen states began their fiscal year without a budget in place.

In South Dakota, we have been willing to make the difficult decisions and that has put us in an enviable position. We have structural balance, a healthy level of reserves, AAA status with all three credit rating agencies and one of the strongest pension plans in the nation. I’m very proud of these achievements. They reflect the discipline and maturity that South Dakotans expect of their elected officials. We should never take that for granted.

Broken Budget System Wastes Taxpayer Dollars, Hurts Military

 

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
Dec. 8, 2017

The federal government’s budget process hasn’t worked in more than four decades. I have been a vocal critic of the current system, which largely rubber-stamps federal spending with very little debate or discussion. I recently voted “no” on a continuing resolution, which funds the government for two weeks, through December 22, 2017. This is not a decision I take lightly, and I’d like to take this opportunity to explain what led me to this decision.

This year, working within this broken system, we gave negotiators extra time to work out a compromise on spending. Rather than getting to work on a compromise package during that period, a day before the extended deadline of Dec. 8, Congress was forced to vote on another extension because no progress had been made in the nearly three months when the original deadline was extended. This new deadline comes just before the holidays, hoping it will add pressure for Members to accept conditions they may otherwise disagree with. This is not a good policy.

A number of us have worked on proposals to modify our current budget ‘process’ – a term I use loosely – so that we can actually do the work we were sent here to do: make informed policy decisions and make certain the federal government is being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. Yet Congress continues this pattern of passing short-term, stopgap spending bills.

I cannot, in good conscience, lend my support to this continuing resolution that merely continues federal spending and whose lone policy change could actually end up hurting South Dakota families. If we are ever to get our spending under control, eliminate wasteful programs and provide much-needed stability for our military, we must reject the status quo.

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am concerned about the impact continuing resolutions have on military readiness. Military leaders have repeatedly warned our committee of the dangers that these short-term, stopgap spending bills have on their ability to adequately train, equip and maintain the force.

In particular, under continuing resolutions, the Defense Department is restricted from starting new programs, which is deeply concerning in today’s rapidly-changing threat environment. One example is the mounting cyber threat to our armed forces and our civilian critical infrastructure. If we are to adequately recover readiness levels that were lost over the last eight years, as well as modernize our armed forces in this increasingly dangerous and complex world, we must give them the funding stability and certainty that continuing resolutions fail to provide.

The federal government has an obligation to the American people to be good stewards of their hard-earned dollars. We simply cannot continue to allow spending to run on auto-pilot, without a genuine opportunity for Congress to manage and debate the merits of individual programs. This practice will not change until more of us send the message that we must either repair this broken system or we get our work done on time. The American people expect no less.

Rounds Opposes Continuing Resolution To Fund Federal Government Through December 22, 2017

 

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

December 7, 2017

 WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) issued the following statement after voting no on the Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government through December 22, 2017:

“The hasn’t worked in more than four decades. I have been a vocal critic of the current system, which largely rubber-stamps federal spending with very little debate or discussion. This year, working within this broken system, we gave negotiators extra time to work out a compromise on spending. Now we are one day from their extended deadline and yet no closer to a deal than they were three months ago. So they are asking for more time to negotiate, with a new deadline just before the holidays, hoping it will add pressure for Members to accept conditions they may otherwise disagree with. This is not good policy.

“A number of us have worked on proposals to modify our current budget ‘process’ – a term I use loosely – so that we can actually do the work we were sent here to do: make informed policy decisions and make certain the federal government is being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars. Yet Congress continues this pattern of passing short-term, stopgap spending bills.

“I cannot, in good conscience, lend my support to this continuing resolution that merely continues federal spending and whose lone policy change could actually end up hurting South Dakota families. If we are ever to get our spending under control, eliminate wasteful programs and provide much-needed stability for our military, we must reject the status quo.

“This practice will not change until more of us send the message that we must either repair this broken system or we get our work done on time. The American people expect no less.

“As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am concerned about the impact continuing resolutions have on military readiness. Military leaders have repeatedly warned our committee of the dangers that these short-term, stopgap spending bills have on their ability to adequately train, equip and maintain the force. In particular, under continuing resolutions, the Defense Department is restricted from starting new programs which is deeply concerning in today’s rapidly-changing threat environment. An example is the mounting cyber threat to our armed forces and our civilian critical infrastructure. If we are to adequately recover readiness levels that were lost over the last eight years as well as modernize our armed forces in this increasingly dangerous and complex world, we must give them the funding stability and certainty that continuing resolutions fail to provide.”

Gov. Daugaard Invites Nominations For District 34 House Seat

December 6, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – Gov. Dennis Daugaard is asking the public to nominate candidates to fill the vacant seat in the State House of Representatives from District 34.

The vacancy, which will be filled by gubernatorial appointment, is due to the death last month of Rep. Craig Tieszen. The Governor’s appointee will serve during the 2018 Legislative Session, and through the current term that runs through the end of 2018.

“Rep. Tieszen was a dedicated public servant and his passing is a real loss for our state,” said Gov. Daugaard. “I’m asking the public to help identify an appointee to complete Rep. Tieszen’s term.”

District 34 includes western Rapid City, generally including the areas west of Mt. Rushmore Road, Dinosaur Hill, and “the gap” on West Main Street, and including sites such as Camp Rapid, Canyon Lake, the Sioux San Hospital, West Middle School, and Southwest Middle School. A district map can be found at SD Legislature

Those wishing to be considered for the appointment, or to offer nominations, should contact Grace Beck in the Office of the Governor at 605-773-3661. Nominations should include the candidate’s name, current address, telephone number and relevant background information.

South Dakota’s Economy Benefits from NAFTA

By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
Oct. 27, 2017

Free and fair trade is vital to South Dakota’s economy. Not only does it open up important markets for South Dakota products, it results in higher wages and supports our small businesses and producers. Last year, we exported $1.2 billion in products to other countries, including goods, machinery and electronic equipment. In particular, the North American Free Trade Agreement—NAFTA—between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, South Dakota’s top two exporters in 2016, continues to benefit our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers.

Since taking office, President Trump has indicated that he has a desire to renegotiate our trade agreements, and in May of this year, he announced the administration would begin talks with Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA. I am supportive of him making the best possible deals for American producers, however simply withdrawing from NAFTA, without a similar structure in place, would harm South Dakota’s producers

Just last year, American producers sent $20.5 billion worth of exports to Canada and $17.8 billion worth of exports to Mexico, which is the largest market for U.S. corn and soymeal. Mexico is also the second largest market for U.S. soybeans and the third largest market for U.S. beef. American trade with our NAFTA partners has more than tripled since the agreement took effect, and has increased more rapidly than trade with the rest of the world. Between 1993 and 2016, according to trade data reported by the U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. trade with Mexico increased by 544 percent and trade with Canada increased 158 percent.

Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry, and trade contributes to the overall health of the ag economy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) concluded in a recent report that NAFTA has had a positive impact on North American agriculture over the past two decades. The value of U.S. agricultural trade with our NAFTA partners has increased from $8.7 billion in 1992—before the agreement was implemented—to $38.1 billion in 2016, while imports rose from $6.5 billion to $44.5 billion. The leading NAFTA-traded products are meat and dairy products, followed closely by grains. South Dakota is a top producer of these products.

I have encouraged the administration to maintain strong ties with our NAFTA partners as they continue their negotiations. I have repeatedly asked our U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, to stand up for the United States’ agricultural industry abroad, and work to open up new markets for American products. Earlier this year, the administration reached an agreement to allow for U.S. exports of beef into China. This was a win for South Dakota ranchers, who are now able to sell their top-quality beef in a lucrative market.

Canada and Mexico are essential trading partners for our state and nation, and I encourage the administration to continue working with their leaders to maintain an agreement for free and fair trade among our countries. At a time of economic downturn in our agricultural sector, continuing to increase trade with our North American neighbors and other global allies is of vital importance.

State Rep. Tim R Goodwin Suggest Star Academy Transitions To Methamphetamine Rehabilitation Center

 

By Tim R Goodwin
District 30 Rep. (R)
October 24, 2017

Star Academy is still for sale!  As all probably know by now, Star Academy went on the auction block Thursday, October 19, and received no bids. None. Nada. Zero.  Governor Daugaard’s Chief of Staff, Tony VanHuisen, said, “Big state run institutions are not an efficient way to address problems like methamphetamine addiction”.  Mr. VanHuisen went on to say, “and it is unlikely that the state could find enough qualified staff to operate that type of facility in the Custer area”.

Are you kidding me?  When Star Academy closed in April 2016, they had 80 full time personnel. At no time during its 20-year run did they run out of qualified staff to run the facility.

Here’s my take:

  1.  Star Academy was appraised for $2.34 million. That means the state has to get a bid for that, or a higher amount, to sell it.
  2. To  build a new  facility would cost approximately 50 million dollars.
  3. South Dakota  has a huge methamphetamine problem and still has a juvenile delinquency problem.

So why not refocus Star Academy to a methamphetamine rehabilitation center and start up the juvenile delinquency program again?  It’s my view that we should imprison the drug pushers/kingpins but send the drug users/addicts to treatment, and not the county jail or state penitentiary. Another intangible is the healing quality of  the Black Hills that Star Academy exemplifies. So, let’s  not sell it at a bargain price, but re-open the facility. There, I said it!

If  you agree with me, let’s start an all-out effort to let Governor Daugaard know. Tell him it was a mistake to close it in the first place, and to reconsider what  a poor decision it was.   We all make mistakes.   It is part of life. Governor Daugaard’s number  is 605-773-3212.  Please Gov. Daugaard reconsider re-opening Star Academy.

Thank you again for giving me the privilege of representing you as your District 30 representative in Pierre.

In Washington, There’s a Tax for Every Occasion

By Sen. John Thune
October 20, 2017

Death should not be a taxable event. Surprisingly, though, the idea that it would be such an occasion has become a political issue that can pit family-run farms and ranches against Washington’s political elite who think certain Americans, including some farm and ranch owners, should be taxed two or three times on their wealth. I simply disagree.

I don’t need to tell the hard-working farm and ranch families across South Dakota that they’re in a land-rich and cash-poor business. They know the assets on the business’ balance sheet far exceed the earnings that end up in the family checkbook. But for too many lawmakers in Washington, they just don’t seem to care.

The case against the death tax, which can hit families at the worst possible moment, is pretty straightforward. As everyone knows, an individual’s wages are taxed when they are earned. Interest, dividends, and capital gains from wages that are saved are then taxed again. When the owner of those assets passes away, the death tax can hit his or her earnings yet again – for a second or third time. It’s this extra assessment on previously taxed assets that folks, myself included, find so objectionable.

Wealth isn’t only measured by the amount of money a person has in his or her bank account. It’s also measured by non-liquid assets, like land or other property. That can spell trouble for a land-rich South Dakota family-run farm or ranch if the death-tax collector shows up at the door, particularly now, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture says cropland values have increased by 400 percent over the last 15 years. Remember, growth in land value doesn’t always translate into growth in cash from those assets.

For supporters of the death tax, their favorite talking point is that it hits a small number of family-owned businesses, farms, and ranches each year, as if that somehow justifies a confiscatory tax on a larger swath of Americans. What they conveniently fail to mention is the large expense – both in time and money – that farmers and ranchers invest during their lives to avoid being a death tax statistic. Too often, these folks have to hire costly lawyers, accountants, and estate planners, all of which can cost well over one hundred thousand dollars, to develop an effective estate plan. They can also spend tens of thousands of dollars each year in life insurance premiums – again, all just to avoid being a victim of the death tax.

Don’t take my word for it, though. A South Dakota rancher and estate planner recently wrote, “My brothers and I own an 8,000-head cattle feeding and finishing operation that will be threatened by the death tax if nothing changes … Repeal of the death tax means farmers, ranchers, and small business owners like me can stop wasting money on a tax that threatens our family’s future. That extra money can be spent more wisely in our local economy, which helps our community grow through increased jobs, wages, and purchasing.”

I get it. Many of my Democrat colleagues who support the death tax see it as an opportunity to raise revenue and spend it on other federal programs. They don’t think many farmers and ranchers pay the death tax, and for those who are fortunate enough avoid it, the tens of thousands of dollars they shell out to do so are just a mere inconvenience. In effect, they are punishing success by demanding another big tax at death. To those lawmakers, I’d say you need to meet more farmers and ranchers.

In my opinion, one family-run operation that’s forced to sell because of the death tax is one too many. Now is the time to bury the death tax once and for all, and I’ll continue my years-long fight to do so in the tax reform bill I’m working on in the Senate.