Upholding Our Responsibility To Our Native Population

By Senator Mike Rounds
March 3, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Our tribal population is amidst a government-induced health care crisis as a result of decades of mismanagement and poor leadership at the Indian Health Service (IHS). In South Dakota and across the country, IHS facilities consistently fail to meet basic benchmarks of providing proper care to Native Americans. Headlines frequently tell the tale of emergency rooms closing down, lack of adequate health care professionals and blatant corruption among IHS administrative employees.  Too often, my staff hears horror stories of dirty or broken medical equipment, poor record-keeping, and in one case, a woman who gave birth to her baby on a bathroom floor with no nurses or doctors around to help her. This is unacceptable.

The first step toward fixing the crisis is understanding where the problems lie within the IHS itself. I recently introduced legislation requiring a full audit of the IHS. Despite the agency’s well-known and well-documented history of failing the people it is meant to serve, there has never been an independent, broad, thorough review of IHS. I have requested a systemic review of the agency’s structural, financial and administrative problems so that the federal government, working in close consultation with tribes, can make the changes necessary to live up to its trust obligations.

IHS is tasked with providing health care for approximately 2.2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives across the country. But one does not have to look beyond the agency’s own website to see that it is failing in its core mission. According to www.ihs.gov, tribal members continue to die at higher rates than other Americans in a number of categories, including liver disease and cirrhosis, diabetes, suicide and respiratory diseases. In the Great Plains Area, which includes South Dakota, Native Americans have a life expectancy 10 years less than the U.S. population.

Why this is happening can be found – at least in part – in the structure and culture of IHS itself. For example, my office has uncovered an alarming imbalance of staff: of more than 15,000 total IHS employees, only 725 are doctors. More than 10,000 IHS employees are administrative professionals – with nearly 4,000 dedicated to billing alone.

Additionally, there is no financial accountability or even a formula for how to allocate funding among the 12 IHS regional offices. IHS officials themselves can’t explain their own budget. This is particularly troubling in places like the Great Plains Region, which has one of the worst health disparities of all IHS regions despite being one of the largest and fastest-growing populations. Even if IHS is underfunded, we cannot responsibly spend more taxpayer dollars on this broken agency without increased transparency and financial accountability.

My legislation would allow us to fully understand the dysfunction at the agency so we can take the necessary steps to fix it. It is supported by the Great Plains Area Tribal Chairmen, officials within the Department of Health and Human Services, the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations and, most recently, the South Dakota legislature, which passed a resolution in support of an IHS audit earlier this year.

Our ultimate goal is for the federal government to live up to its trust obligations of providing timely, quality care to our tribal members. IHS will never be able to accomplish this without broad reforms. But first we need to understand where the problems lie. In the meantime, I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress, tribal leadership, IHS administrators, Health and Human Services officials and others to identify key areas of reform and identify potential solutions to provide better health care to our tribal members.

Democratic Legislative Leaders Mark “Fighting for Families” Week of Action

March 3, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – At their weekly press conference yesterday, State Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Billie Sutton of Burke and State House Democratic Leader Spence Hawley of Brookings marked the nationwide “Fighting for Families” week of action by highlighting the efforts of Democratic legislators to even the playing field for working families through their “Opportunity Agenda for Working Families.”

“Across the nation, Democratic state legislators are lifting up the importance of working families with a ‘Fighting for Families’ week of action,” Sutton said. “In South Dakota, there is only one more week to go in this year’s Session, and there is a lot to still be decided on campaign finance and ethics reform, on the budget, and other important topics. Democrats believe that whatever issues we face or decisions we make, as state legislators our first responsibility and duty is to stand up for a South Dakota that works for all of us, not just the wealthy and powerful few. That is what we have been fighting for every day in Pierre – and what we will keep fighting for every day we are here.”

Sutton said that Democrats understand that lifting the incomes of working families and providing them with economic security is the best way to grow our economy and create good jobs.

“A thriving middle class isn’t just the result of a strong economy—a strong middle class builds a strong economy, which, in turn, helps to build a strong state budget outlook,” he said.

Sutton said recognition of this basic relationship between working families and a strong economy is why Democrats introduced their “Opportunity Agenda for Working Families” at the beginning of this years’ session. This Agenda was aimed to help level the economic playing field through legislation guaranteeing paid sick and family leave for workers in large corporations, creating a pre-K pilot program and restoring childcare assistance, fully funding the Building South Dakota Program, increased funding for the needs-based scholarship program, and repealing the sales tax on food.

“Democrats understand that we have a moral obligation to support the economic liberty and freedom of the working class in South Dakota,” Hawley said. “Unfortunately, the legislation advancing this agenda were killed in committee on largely party line votes.”

“While our friends across the aisle like to talk about helping working families, their actions and votes in the legislature tell a different story,” said Hawley.

Hawley said that in a Legislative Session in which one of the major topics has been state budget revenues tens of millions of dollars below estimates, Democrats feel it is their duty as legislators to prioritize what is important, and to protect the priorities and investments necessary to maintain and improve the quality of life of everyday South Dakotans.

“Our Opportunity Agenda for Working Families may have been defeated this Session, but we will keep fighting to protect working families and their priorities in our state budget decisions, and will keep pushing this Agenda in future Legislative Sessions,” Hawley said.

South Dakota Democratic Party Calls on State Republican Leaders to Put Country Before Party

March 2, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The South Dakota Democratic Party released the following statement in response to reports that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath about meeting with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign and that Trump associates and Putin associates had multiple in-person meetings in Europe during the campaign, according to European intelligence services:

“New and troubling revelations about connections between the Trump campaign or Trump associates and Russia seem to come to light almost every day. Almost as troubling as these ongoing revelations is the continuing lack of leadership shown by Republican leaders in South Dakota in responding to these continuing revelations. Republican elected officials and candidates, such as Representative Noem, Senators Rounds and Thune, Attorney General Jackley, and congressional candidate Dusty Johnson need to finally put their country above their party and call for the resignation of Jeff Sessions, the appointment of a special prosecutor, and the formation of an independent, 9/11-style commission to investigate the connections between Donald Trump, his campaign, and the Russian government. If they do not do so today, they need to be asked what other shocking and incriminating revelations it will take for them to do so.”

Star Academy To Be Sold – HB 1209 Passes After District 30 Rep. Tim Goodwin Intervenes

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Tim Goodwin’s Legislative Week Seven
February 27, 2017

Whew!  This last week included Crossover Day.  What that means is that all House bills that passed through committee have to be heard on the House floor by midnight, Feb. 23.  After Crossover Day, we tackle all Senate bills that passed in the Senate chamber, and the Senate does the same with House bills that passed the House of Representatives.

We started Session at 1pm and worked until 9:10pm.  It was a long day.  Before 1pm, we had committee meetings and caucuses to work.  In my opinion, this day is a total set-up.  The bills are thrown at us with little time to debate, with machine gun style rattling the thought processes, intended to convince us to vote the way they want us to.  I say this because we had many days when we were in session less than 2 hours.

We conservative republicans met separately and discussed bills, had our sheets and positions done, before session started.  We felt well read on issues and we weren’t rattled by this hurry, hurry, “no time” political stunt.

Here is an example of just one bill: HB1209 Authorize Sale of STAR Academy.  This bill was defeated, then through political maneuvering, there is a procedure in which a bill can be brought back one more time.  This happened around 4pm.  The procedure to bring the bill back passed.

After that happened, my emails lit up as did my phone.  I had voted against authorizing the sale, as I wasn’t convinced the STAR Academy should have been closed in the first place.  With it’s closure, there isn’t a place for these troubled youth to go to get a second chance.

So…I visited with the Custer mayor and played email tag with Chamber and Economic Development folks from the city of Custer.  They ALL recommended that I change my vote to yea, and get as many of my fellow representatives to go along with me.  Their convincing argument was that it is just sitting empty, so let’s sell it and get it back on the tax roles for the county.  Once sold, a new buyer will bring much needed jobs to the community.

Now, as this is taking place, bill after bill is being debated on the floor.  I was also receiving emails and calls from many other constituents on the bills that were a priority to them.  Side note that my desk is next to an exit door, so I could slip out and talk to the essential callers at the same time I listen to debate on the floor and run back in to vote.  Weighing this argument to sell STAR Academy, I worked the floor to get as many as possible to switch their votes as well.  Once the HB1209 came up the second time, I entered the debate, telling them about my phone and email discussions with the leaders from the city of Custer.  The end result was that the STAR Academy sale passed 46 yea – 21 nay!  Earlier it was defeated 31 yea – 36 nay.  Whew!

Tim Goodwin, Representative, District 30

South Dakota Democratic Legislative Leaders Respond to Progress Made in Respecting the Will of the Voters

February 24, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – At their weekly press conference yesterday, State Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Billie Sutton of Burke and State House Democratic Leader Spence Hawley of Brookings responded to the progress made this week in their efforts to honor the will of the voters by advancing campaign finance reform and government ethics reform this Legislative Session. These efforts continue years of Democratic efforts to reform government ethics and campaign finance in South Dakota, and were made more urgent after the Republican majority in Pierre overturned Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act passed by the voters in November, without a replacement in place.

“After the majority party in Pierre repealed Initiated Measure 22 without a replacement in place, Democrats in Pierre have been doing everything we can to fulfill our moral obligation and responsibility to honor the will of the voters and pass meaningful campaign finance and government ethics reform this session,” said Hawley. “This week, we did see some significant progress on the goal of reforming government ethics. Unfortunately, there was also a big setback in the efforts to reform campaign finance laws and reign in the influence of big money on South Dakota politics.”

“The good news is that HB 1076, which creates a Government Accountability Board, passed through the full House this week. We’re pleased that this bill – very similar to bills brought in the past by Democrats which were killed by the majority party – passed the House with some strong bi-partisan support, and has bi-partisan sponsors in the Senate,” Hawley said.

Sutton said the news was not so good in the area of campaign finance reform.

“Last week, Democratic efforts to amend SB 54 to reinstate the contribution limits passed by the voters in IM22, were defeated along party lines in the Senate State Affairs Committee.  Not only did the majority party defeat these efforts to respect the voters’ wishes to limit the influence of big money on South Dakota politics, they also railroaded through the committee several last-minute amendments which raised the already lax contribution limits proposed in the original bill,” Sutton said.

Sutton also noted that when Democrats tried to bring the amendment to reinstate the contribution limits of IM 22 on the Senate floor the Republicans tabled the amendment, allowing no debate.

“Democrats believe the will of the people on campaign finance deserved to have a debate on the Senate floor. I guess the majority party didn’t feel the people’s voice deserved to be heard. In its current form SB 54, doesn’t just ignore the will of the people, it opens the flood gates once again for big money to influence our elections,” said Sutton.

Despite this setback, Sutton and Hawley pledged Democrats would continue to work to respect the will of the voters and do whatever they could to pass meaningful campaign finance legislation.

“We Democrats have introduced bills to reform government ethics and campaign finance laws for years, and we will continue to make good-faith efforts to work with the majority party to make the kind of reforms in campaign finance and government ethics called for by the voters in November,” Sutton said. “We call on our friends across the aisle to do the same.”

An Agenda Built on Growth and Strength

An Agenda Built on Growth and Strength
By Sen. John Thune
February 24, 2017 

Although President Trump has been in office for more than 30 days now, many of his Cabinet nominees are still waiting for a simple up-or-down vote in the U.S. Senate. These delays have little to do with the nominees’ qualifications and everything to do with Senate Democrats’ failure to accept the results of the 2016 election.

To put this historic level of obstruction into perspective, the confirmation process for President Trump’s nominees is the slowest since George Washington was president – you know, when people had to travel by horse and buggy.

Since the 1950s, most (if not all) Cabinet nominees for incoming presidents had been confirmed by this point in their presidencies. From 1881 to 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt became president, every single Cabinet nominee was confirmed on the first day of a new administration. When Senate Republicans were in the minority and President Obama came into office, we didn’t stall the confirmation process. While we disagreed politically, we knew how important it was for the new government to get up and running as quickly as possible.

Despite this obstruction, the Senate has already made progress on our commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare. Earlier this year, we passed an Obamacare repeal resolution that gives Congress the tools it needs to dismantle this failed law and replace it with reforms that drive down costs and increase access to quality care. After significant delays, the Senate approved Dr. Tom Price to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He will play an integral role in our effort to reform our health care system so it works more efficiently for the American people.

Our 2017 agenda also includes reforming our outdated tax code for the first time in 30 years. In today’s global economy, a simpler and fairer tax code would give U.S. businesses a more competitive edge. It would also help strengthen our economy – get us back to growth rates of 3 percent or higher. A strong, healthy economy leads to more good-paying jobs, which is exactly what we need.

Also this year, we’ll confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court. There’s no shortage of ways to describe Judge Gorsuch: mainstream, well-qualified, universally respected, just to name a few. By the time his nomination comes before the Senate, I hope cooler heads will have prevailed and Democrats will give him an up-or-down vote – the same courtesy Republicans gave to President Obama’s first-term Supreme Court nominees.

While I understand my colleagues’ disappointment with having lost the election (I’ve been in their shoes, too), this is what happens in a democracy. But there are no winners when progress is held hostage purely out of spite and anger. Whether or not Democrats change their approach and work with, rather than against Republicans – and I hope they will – I’m not going to let that get in the way of delivering for South Dakota.

An Unglamorous Yet Necessary Undertaking – A Column by South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard

An Unglamorous, Yet Necessary, Undertaking
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard
February 24, 2017

PIERRE, SD – The word that best sums up the public trust held by elected officials is stewardship.Stewardship – the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care – has been my goal as governor. It is through good stewardship that we balance the budget each year, make improvements to the state pension system and adopt new budget practices.

Stewardship also involves the sound management of tangible state assets. Regular maintenance of state-owned facilities prevents larger problems in the future, but state government also needs to constantly reevaluate its need for the facilities that we have. When I first ran for governor, I talked about the need to scrutinize state-owned land and buildings – and to sell assets that were underutilized. This has been an ongoing process now for six years.

We first addressed the Human Services Center in Yankton. A number of buildings on the campus were vacant and some were beyond repair. As we started to pursue sales options, we heard concerns from those within the community who stressed the need to preserve the history of HSC. We worked with the Yankton County Historical Society to negotiate a lease-purchase agreement for the historic Mead Building. The local historical society has since been beautifully restoring this building. With the Legislature’s support, we then sold the remaining unneeded land and demolished many vacant, dilapidated buildings.

Next, we looked at the campus of the South Dakota Developmental Center in Redfield. Like the Yankton facility, this large campus was built to house over a thousand South Dakotans with developmental or mental health issues, often for their entire lives. Today, the campus serves only about 125 persons. This year, I am asking legislators to authorize the transfer of several vacant buildings and the adjoining lands from that campus to the City of Redfield, which has expressed an interest in refurbishing the buildings and returning them to a public use.

We are also discussing a potential sale of the former State Training School campus in Plankinton. This property has been leased for over a decade to a private company that operates the Aurora Plains Academy there. We are evaluating the potential to sell the campus, and I have brought a bill to authorize that potential sale this year as well.

There is also a bill pertaining to the potential sale of the STAR Academy property outside of Custer, which closed last March. There are too few juveniles in the corrections system to justify this large campus. Even a future increase of juveniles in corrections would not justify reopening STAR Academy; we would use smaller, more efficient facilities that are closer to population centers. My hope is that the STAR Academy property, which is at a scenic Black Hills location, can be sold and developed to create jobs and economic activity in the area.

Also in the Black Hills area, the construction of the new State Veterans Home in Hot Springs has led us to reevaluate the land and buildings on that campus, and I am asking legislators to approve legislation that allows us to explore repurposing portions of that campus.

Likewise, property formerly used by Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City will be reverting to state ownership. The state has no use for this property, and another bill would authorize its sale. I also hope the Legislature will pass a similar bill allowing the state to sell the former School for the Deaf buildings and property, located on East Tenth Street in Sioux Falls.

Stewardship efforts such as these may seem run-of-the-mill or un-noteworthy during a busy legislative session. Yet, they are still important proposals. We owe it to the taxpayers to keep the state’s footprint to a minimum, to avoid spending tax dollars on maintenance of unneeded facilities and to return these properties to the tax rolls when possible. It may be an unglamorous undertaking, but it’s a necessary one.

Tim Goodwin – A Freshman Reality – Week Six

By Tim R. Goodwin, Representative, District 30
February 21, 2017

Congratulations and a big thank you goes out to the grass roots efforts to halt the Spearfish Canyon and Custer County (Camp Bob Marshall, Bismark Lake) Land Swap!  My hats off to not only the great citizens of district 30, but also to our friends to the north in their mobilization to bring this proposal to a standstill!  The governor made the remark that he hadn’t heard any opposition to the land swap?!  Now in his defense, he keeps himself pretty insulated, and it seems has a staff that tells him only what he wants to hear, so I take the man at his word.  However, he’s heard all of us now, like we’d say in the Army, “Lima Charlie,” translated to Loud and Clear!

Before we pop the champagne cork, let’s see where we’re at; we have won the battle in putting this proposal on hold, but we have not won the war.  It could still appear in the waning hours of this session, or be top priority next session (next year), which is the governor’s last year in office.  Sen. Russell, Rep. Frye-Mueller and I will be vigilant in keeping a close eye on this outrageous proposal.

I had two bills defeated in committee (Not Happy!).  HB1151 had to do with unused Index Factor funds; basically stopping the county from utilizing any unused index factor funds from the previous three years, and then having the authority to give property owners up to a 10% tax increase.  My bill struck this provision, making the county opt out, or in layman’s terms, have a vote of the people before they can implement a property tax increase.  The bill was defeated in committee 12-2.

HB1131 had to do with a statute that was put in to pass the ½ cent tax that was passed last year for teachers’ pay increase and commercial tax relief.  The statute stated that for every $20 million in internet sales, the ½ cent sales tax would DECREASE 1/10th  of a percent, not to exceed ½ cent.  So in essence, giving us tax payers the ½ cent sales tax increase back to us, once internet sales his $100 million.  We would be back to 4% sales tax, not 4-1/2 like we now currently pay.  My bill started the meter, so that this would become  reality.  It was defeated in committee 9-5.  I plan to lobby HARD for both of these bills; to bring them back next year.

A hot topic in the news is a letter 12 of us legislators signed.  Rep. Frye-Mueller and I were 2 of the 12.  The letter asked Marty Jackley, Attorney General, to make a ruling on the constitutionality of vehicle bills.  These bills that have a vague title such as “for the betterment of South Dakota,” but the bill is blank, to be filled in later!  I’m not making this up!  The establishment legislators are more than upset, so it’s likely they are up to no good.  My beef with vehicle bills is that they bypass the committee process, where the public has an opportunity to be a proponent or opponent on every bill.

More to come, stay tuned….

Tim R. Goodwin, Representative, District 30

Tim.Goodwin@sdlegislature.gov or call 605-773-3821 or my cell 605-390-5324

CITY OF CUSTER CITY COUNCIL AGENDA February 21st, 2017 – City Hall Council Chambers

CITY OF CUSTER CITY
COUNCIL AGENDA
February 21st, 2017 – City Hall Council Chambers
5:30 P.M.

1. Call to Order – Roll Call – Pledge of Allegiance

2. Approval of Agenda

3. Approval of Minutes – February 6th, 2017 Minutes

4. Declaration of Conflict of Interest

5. Department Head Discussion

Public Works Director – General Discussion

            Finance Officer – General Discussion

6. Public Presentations – Public Hearings

            a. Custer Area Economic Development Corporation – Current Hospital Building

            b. Second Reading – Ordinance #787 – Medical Zoning – Regional Health Network

            c. First Reading – Ordinance #785 – Alcohol, Malt Beverage & Drinking Establishments

            d. Resolution #02-21-17A – Conflict of Interest Policy

            e. Resolution #02-21-17B – Limited English Proficiency Plan

            f.

7. Old Business

            a.

            b.

8. New Business

            a. Temporary Street Closure Request – Run Crazy Horse Marathon

            b.  Temporary Street Closure Request – Custer YMCA

            c. Way Park Request – Chamber of Commerce

            d. Combined Election Agreement with Custer School District

            e. Extraterritorial Area Policy Agreement with Custer County

            f.

9.  Presentation of Claims –

10. Committee Reports –

11. Executive Session – Personnel, Proposed Litigation, & Contract Negotiations (SDCL 1-25-2)

12. Adjournment

REMINDERS 

Park & Recreation Committee Meeting – February 22nd, 2017 5:30 P.M.

Public Works Committee Meeting – February 27th, 2017 5:00 P.M. 

Regular City Council Meeting – March 6th, 2017 5:30 P.M. 

General Government Committee Meeting – March 13th, 2017 4:00 P.M. 

Planning Commission Meeting – March 14th, 2017 7:00 P.M. 

Regular City Council Meeting – March 20th, 2017 5:30 P.M.

Steps Forward In Mental Health -House Bill 1183

Steps Forward In Mental Health
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard
February 17, 2017

PIERRE, SD – significant number of Americans struggle with mental illness. For many the struggle is silent. Some experience short-term mental health problems; it’s not uncommon for individuals temporarily to face mild forms of mental illness at some point during their lives. For others though, it’s a lifelong battle that requires consistent treatment. No community is untouched by mental illness. It affects schools, work places and families.

Last year the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program released a study on mental health in South Dakota. The study found that our state has a high prevalence of undiagnosed and untreated depression as well as a very high prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. While 87 percent of survey respondents reported receiving all needed medical care, only 64 percent reported receiving all needed mental health care, and just 54 percent received all needed substance use care.

Without proper treatment, individuals with mental health problems can land in the emergency room or in jail. When a person showing signs of mental illness behaves in a way that causes arrest, a court may order an evaluation of the person’s fitness to stand trial. In recent years, the increased number of these court-ordered evaluations has caused delays for the mentally ill. In some instances, mentally ill individuals had to wait in jail several months for competency evaluations to be completed.

Recognizing this problem, South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson convened a task force to address delays in court-ordered mental health evaluations and shortfalls in treatment for the mentally ill within the justice system.

Funded by a grant from the Helmsley Charitable Trust, the task force released its report in November. Among its findings, it recognized that our system lacks procedures to identify mental illness quickly after an arrest, and in many cases jails are not equipped to deal with mental health needs. In some cases, diversion options that are already authorized by statute are not available in all areas of the state.

This legislative session, the Legislature is considering House Bill 1183, which would enact the task force’s recommendations.

The legislation will provide law enforcement with tools to better identify and respond to mental health crises, prevent unnecessary jail admissions, and assist communities in building capacity to offer intervention services. The bill will also expand the pool of providers who can provide competency evaluations, and will shift funding from the Human Services Center directly to counties to perform these evaluations. An oversight council will monitor implementation and recommend changes to future legislatures.

I thank the Chief Justice and task force members for undertaking this work and offering their recommendations, and I thank the Helmsley Charitable Trust for the funding they provided.

I support HB 1183 and I hope legislators will send the bill to my desk. These common sense proposals will be steps forward for our state.