For potentially thousands of young women, the Super Bowl is anything but a game. Instead, it’s another opening for exploitation.
In recent years, there has been a lot of conversation about the possible connection between the Super Bowl and human trafficking. To be clear, there is no hard evidence showing that trafficking spikes surrounding the big game. What we do know is that the laws of supply and demand apply to trafficking too. In other words, traffickers are likely to transport victims to areas where there is increased demand – such as the Super Bowl host city. Nonetheless, the sad reality is that human trafficking happens in the U.S. every single day. While we should use opportunities like the Super Bowl to build awareness, we can’t allow ourselves to put the issue aside once the final whistle is blown.
Here are some numbers to consider. As many as 300,000 children are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking in the U.S. every single year. Most of the victims are young girls and, on average, they are just 12-14 years old when they are first trafficked. If the victim is a young boy, they are only 11-13 years old, on average. The most heart-wrenching statistic out there, to me, is that these young kids can be forced to have sex as many as 25 to 50 times a day.
Most of the transactions – about 76 percent by some estimates – are conducted online. Some of those online transactions have happened in South Dakota. As an example, South Dakota law enforcement placed undercover online ads in February 2013. The ads targeted folks in the Watertown area and offered underage girls for sex. There were no significant events surrounding the timing of the ad. Over the course of two days, more than 100 individuals responded. This isn’t just a problem happening overseas or in big U.S. cities. It’s happening around the corner from us.
The girls in our area being trafficked can be recruited at local schools, area malls, or online. Sometimes they are transported to other states, but in many – if not most – cases, they are being sold in South Dakota. It has to stop.
In 2015, Congress passed and the President signed a sweeping anti-trafficking package. It included resources for law enforcement officers, protection for victims, more enforceable laws against websites that allow for the sale of kids, and a provision I wrote allowing more resources to support shelters that house survivors. We’re hopeful these provisions will help.
Still, one of the most important things I or anyone can do is build awareness around the fact that human trafficking is happening – and it’s happening in our backyard. We all have a responsibility to keep an eye out for it in our community and speak up if we see anything suspicious.
One of the resources I like to share is the National Human Trafficking Hotline. If you believe you have information about a potential trafficking situation, I encourage you to call 1-888-373-7888. You can also text “HELP” or “INFO” to 233733. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Don’t be afraid to use this resource. It may save someone’s life.Read More
Some cancer patients in Aberdeen will soon see doctors in a new facility.
The new center is named after the late NSU men's basketball coach Don Meyer and his wife Carmen. Hospital and community leaders held a grand opening Thursday.
The addition to Avera St. Luke’s Hospital was in the works before Meyer died. It was very important to him, family members said.
"My only disappointment is that he couldn't be here with us today," Carmen Meyer said.
His three children were in Aberdeen Thursday to hear their mother Carmen thank everyone who helped make the new center a reality.
It is more than double the size of the current cancer care facility at Avera. An expected 150 to 200 people will pass through its doors each day, St. Luke’s CEO Todd Forkel said.
"Cancer virtually touches all of us and this project is so exciting because it will forever change our community," Forkel said.
The Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence can expand. Its design allows for the addition of three floors to house other specialties such as heart care. Forkel says those discussions are still five to ten years into the future. For now, it houses the Avera Cancer Institute.
"Every year 4,000 South Dakotans get the diagnosis of cancer," Rep. Kristi Noem, (R)-South Dakota, said. “And it changes their lives and they need a place like this place to come to, where people love them, care for them and help heal them with God's grace.”
Avera will start recruiting more providers to serve in the new center. It currently has two physicians and a mid-level. New equipment will also provide some of the latest advancements in cancer care.
It will have a linear accelerator which offers enhanced imaging and makes a full range of radiation treatments possible, according to a news release from Avera. A $3.4 million donation from the Helmsley Charitable Trust made that purchase possible.
"We were able to stay close to home and yet receive excellent care. Now the new cancer institute will provide even more services for the patients and for this we're thankful," Carmen Meyer said.
Donations will cover $5.7 million of the facility's $14.5 million price tag. The Meyers were instrumental in drawing some of the money.
Doctors will start seeing patients in this new center February 1.Read More
How the Environmental Protection Agency defines navigable waters has the potential to change the way of life in South Dakota, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said Thursday afternoon in Aberdeen.
The definition is currently being challenged in court.
Noem spoke at a noon luncheon at the Yelduz Shrine Center, where about 80 people attended. The new EPA definition is just one of many topics she discussed.
“It’s the largest federal land grab that we’ve ever seen in our lifetime,” Noem said of the new navigable waters definition.
The EPA definition gives the agency wide-reaching jurisdiction over ditches, streams, stock dams and even water flowing through a person’s yard, Noem said.
“I say you can’t do that,” she said. “You can’t expand your power by changing a definition.”
Noem said this EPA definition change doesn’t just affect the agricultural community, but home builders and contractors. There are concerns about the permits that will be required; what happens if permits aren’t issued in a timely manner; and the potential for $30,000-per-day fines if the appropriate permits aren’t obtained.
Noem said that legislation proposed to override the change has been vetoed by President Barack Obama, and Republicans are taking steps to counter the president’s decision. For now, she said, the U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to weigh in on the definition change, which means it won’t go into effect immediately.
The new definition essentially requires an EPA permit before any work can be done on covered lands.
“If that goes forward, it will change our way of life in South Dakota,” she said.
Those at Thursday’s lunch asked a variety of questions. One person noted the fact that his health insurance costs have increased from $150 per month to $685 per month since the Affordable Care Act went into effect. Noem said she’s heard often how health insurance costs have increased for people in South Dakota since the implementation of “Obamacare.”
She said efforts to repeal the full measure have failed, but Republicans have succeeded in repealing pieces of the act that implemented new taxes to fund it.
Noem said another attempt will be made this year to scrap the full Affordable Care Act.
“This year, we’ll put forward a bill that we believe will put competition back in the marketplace,” she said.
Another bill she expects to gain traction this year is a welfare reform act. Noem said it would provide opportunities for work training and education, so people on welfare “can provide for their families into the future.”
Later in the afternoon, Noem spoke at the grand opening of the Avera Cancer Institute inside the Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence.
On Thursday morning, Noem stopped in Webster where she spoke at a school assembly.
Some of the most influential people in my kids’ lives have been their coaches, and I think that’s true for a lot of folks. All three of our kids have been blessed to be on teams led by incredible coaches who taught them lessons they could use on and off the court. It’s what a good coach does.
In 2014, we lost one of South Dakota’s greatest coaches, Don Meyer. Coach Meyer served as head basketball coach at Northern State University in Aberdeen for 11 seasons. In 2009, he became college basketball’s winningest coach, and by the time he retired, he clocked in more than 900 victories. Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to participate in a ribbon cutting for the Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence at the Avera Cancer Institute in Aberdeen. It was an incredible honor to be there and recognize a coach that each of us could learn something from – whether we play basketball or not.
For those who may be unfamiliar with his story, Coach Meyer got in a terrible car accident in 2008 with injuries so significant that his lower left leg had to be amputated below the knee. During that surgery, they found cancer.
One of my favorite things he left behind was his “2nd Ten Commandments.” His words offer incredible perspective for anyone battling a serious illness. Like so many of his lessons as a coach, however, these commandments could apply to each of our lives. I won’t go through all of them in this column, but I did want to share a couple of highlights.
He started out his list with these two commandments: “Thou shall not worry, for worry is the most unproductive of all human activities. Thou shall not be fearful, for those things we fear never come to pass.” We live in an ugly world and it’s hard to not jump to worry and fear. Whether you or a family member is battling cancer, facing a job loss, or trying to change Washington, we ought to keep our focus on action, not fear. Our attention should be on what we have control over and the steps that can be taken to make a positive change.
Coach Meyer goes on to write in his fourth commandment: “Thou shall face each problem as it comes; you can only handle one at a time anyway.” Advice each of us could use from time to time.
His seventh commandment: “Thou shall not try to relive yesterday for good or ill. It is forever gone; concentrate on what is happening in your life and be happy now.” So many people today struggle with living in the now. We’re constantly on our phones or social media. It takes us out of the moment. Put it all aside – if even for a few hours a day – and live in the now.
Coach Meyer’s tenth commandment is my favorite: “Thou shall count thy blessings; never overlooking the small ones, for a lot of small blessings adds up to a big one.”
Coach Meyer was a blessing to South Dakota and the basketball community. As I stood up to recognize him at the recent ribbon cutting, I couldn’t help think about the legacy he has left for us. It is my hope that those facing serious illnesses – whether at the Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence or any of South Dakota’s excellent medical facilities – can find inspiration and even comfort from his story of resilience and faith.Read More
For Kristi Noem, the problem with school lunches in South Dakota came down to a cheese-covered piece of bread.
With school lunch regulations on the agenda in Washington, the South Dakota Congresswoman in an Argus Leader Media interview this week pointed to a recent offering at Hamlin public schools as an example of what's wrong with recent reforms: cheese bread, marinara sauce, peas and oranges.
“I understand the challenge that they have and they have to meet requirements each week,” Noem said. “But if we’re serving bread with cheese on it then we’ve completely given up to the bureaucracy and not realized that our job is to take care of kids.”
“They don’t feel that they’re getting what they’ve gotten in the past,” said Chris Beach, food service director for the Harrisburg School District.
Lawmakers and national groups have rallied to their cause. Both Noem and U.S. Sen. John Thune have been vocal about their intent to peel back some of the tougher regulations.
Thune spoke Wednesday at a hearing by the Senate Agriculture Committee about a five-year reauthorization of the federal child nutrition program, including tweaks to some of the more restrictive rules.
“Not only will passage of this legislation by this committee today take an important step to improve nutrition for our students in South Dakota and across the United States, it also will increase accountability, and flexibility for local schools and stakeholders,” Thune said.
It eases requirements on whole grains. Instead of making sure all grains served in lunchrooms are whole grain, schools would only have to make sure at least 80 percent were whole grain, said Gay Anderson, nutrition director for the Brandon Valley School District.
“In my district I can’t find a decent egg noodle that’s whole-grain,” Anderson said. “I haven’t found good saltine crackers, and the ones I have found are twice the price.”
The reauthorization bill also ends the requirement for yearly lunch price increases for some schools, and pushes back looming sodium restrictions from 2017 to 2019.
Harrisburg school kitchens have been able to meet the stricter health guidelines so far, but not without losing students who can’t stomach brown tortillas and whole-grain pasta. The upcoming sodium caps were “far too restrictive," and the extended deadline in the Senate bill would come in handy, Beach said.
“Which gives a little more time for manufacturers to take a look at those,” Beach said.
Noem’s bill would go even further on whole grains. It would also wipe away the upcoming sodium caps. The Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act is designed to give more flexibility to local schools, Noem said.
“I think everybody recognizes that we want our kids to eat healthy, but we want to have some common sense to it as well,” Noem said.
As for Hamlin’s cheesy bread, it’s a favorite for the kids and it’s also a fully balanced meal with fresh fruits and vegetables, said Shaun Peckenpaugh, food service director. School leaders base the menu on conversations with the student council, and garlic cheese bread with marinara is a popular request.
“It’s a full-balanced meal,” Peckenpaugh said.Read More
U.S. Representative Kristi Noem (R-SD) believes the federal government is failing to provide quality health care to Native Americans, creating a "state of emergency" on indian reservations.
She tells KELO-Radio that changes need to be made to the Indian Health Service. Noem says Congress ought to investigate several options, including strengthening incentives for high-quality health care providers to practice in IHS facilities on the reservations.
In the first ever 'State of the Tribes' Address to the State Legislature in Pierre last week, Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Howard Frazier told state lawmakers that the IHS had failed Indian country.Read More
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem said federal health care provided to South Dakota's Native American population is inadequate and called Wednesday for an overhaul.
Noem told Argus Leader Media that shortcomings in care provided through South Dakota's Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities constituted an "emergency situation."
"We have CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) coming in and shutting down emergency rooms because the health care is so poor," Noem said.
In a letter to IHS Principle Deputy Director Robert McSwain last month, Noem called for information about poor conditions at IHS facilities in Rosebud and Pine Ridge. The hospitals received notification from CMS last year that they would lose their accreditation unless conditions improved. She said she plans to launch an investigation into the facilities.
An IHS spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Noem also suggested that the feds consider an option like the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals' care card program. She said CMS and IHS should take a page from the VA's playbook and consider allowing patients access to care from non-IHS providers using federal funding.
"I stand firmly in the corner that it's the federal government's responsibility to provide health care to our Native Americans, and we should be doing that through reforms to IHS," Noem said.
The feds are considering a similar proposal that would require CMS to pay 100 percent of the cost for Medicaid-eligible Native Americans who seek health care from non-IHS facilities.
Currently, the state foots about half the bill for Medicaid-eligible American Indians that get health care from non-IHS facilities.
Noem said she wouldn't weigh in on Gov. Dennis Daugaard's proposal to expand Medicaid.Read More
Local timber industry officials are praising a letter sent last week to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell urging him to increase timber sales this year in the Black Hills National Forest to minimize damage from the mountain pine beetle, reduce fire risks and help sustain the forest products infrastructure.
Meanwhile, area environmentalists argue that proponents of increased timber sales were relying on myths and invalid assumptions to support their cause and increase private timber company access to cheap wood in public forests.
The letter, signed by U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Mike Enzi and John Barrasso of Wyoming, as well as U.S. Reps. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, noted that at least half of the Black Hills remains at high risk from the pine beetle infestation and that despite past timber sales, those beetles are marching on “and the epidemic is far from over.”
“Approximately 17,000 acres of trees were killed in 2015 in the BHNF as a result of the mountain pine beetle infestations, which is an increase over the 2014 acreage killed by the mountain pine beetle,” the congressional members wrote. “Equally as concerning, according to recent Forest Service statements, approximately 50 percent of the BHNF remains at high risk for mountain pine beetle infestation.
“Salvaging and utilizing those trees is far more preferable than allowing them to become fuel for forest fires that threaten the communities and forests of the Black Hills,” the letter continued.
Ben Wudtke, forest programs manager for the Black Hills Forest Resource Association, a nonprofit trade association that represents 13 companies in the Black Hills, said the issue is less about generating more business for forest products companies than it is about maintaining a healthy forest.
“The mountain pine beetle continues to be a threat to Black Hills forests,” Wudtke said. “We still have an abundance of forests that are at high-risk for pine beetle infestations, so we’re supportive of the request for increasing sawtimber output that will help sustain the current forest products companies and also manage the forest in a sustainable manner.”
Environmentalist Brian Brademeyer, a member of the Friends of the Norbeck, said Monday that the timber industry, and by extension the two-state congressional delegation, are making a case by relying on a threat of pine beetle infestation, which he said is diminishing.
“That letter is curious,” Brademeyer said from his home near Mount Rushmore National Memorial. “We haven’t heard anything about pine beetles in two years. In the Southern Hills they are virtually gone. It’s just a justification for more logging.”
Brademeyer said he had commissioned a “world-famous statistician” to examine a century’s worth of Black Hills’ data, including timber volumes, fires and pine beetle infestations dating back to 1900, and he had concluded “that beetles didn’t increase the risk of fire and, actually, led to a slight reduction in the likelihood of fire.”
“They don’t care if the public loses money through timber sales, and that’s why they are seeking public timber,” Brademeyer said. “These guys just want public dollars thrown at private corporations.”
Nancy Hilding of the Prairie Hills Audubon Society was skeptical of the letter’s statistics, particularly the acreage lost to pine beetles in 2015.
“I haven’t seen the statistics, but I doubt every single tree on 17,000 acres was killed,” she said. “It’s a little far-fetched and is probably disingenuous.”
Hilding encouraged the public to pay attention to the small details, because she said the letter contained some questionable assertions.
“As far as I know there is no scientific evidence that trees killed by beetles provide more of a forest fire danger than trees that are just standing there,” she said. “Studies have shown that 20 years after a pine beetle infestation, there is a little bit of increased risk for fire. But studies also have shown that 20 years after a timber sale, there also is a slight increase in fire danger.
Citing a 2005 study by the Oregon-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation intended to dispel misconceptions about forest insect pests, Hilding noted that, “Native forest pests had been part of our forests for millennia and function as nutrient recyclers; agents of disturbance; members of food chains; and regulators of productivity, diversity, and density.”
Furthermore, Hilding said the study found there was no evidence that logging can control beetles or forest defoliators once an outbreak had started, and that although thinning had been touted as a long-term solution to controlling beetles, the evidence was mixed as to its effectiveness and may, in fact, lead to simplified forests that could actually increase the risk of insect outbreaks.
“Those areas where beetles have killed trees and areas where fire has killed trees provide important and valuable habitat for species,” Hilding added. “For instance the black-backed woodpecker, which is currently being considered for designation under the Endangered Species Act, is one such species that needs this type of habitat.”
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is expected to issue its decision on the status of the woodpecker, which is found only in the Black Hills, Oregon and California, sometime in the fall of 2017, she said.Read More
In 2015 alone, the U.S. government put more than 79,000 pages of new regulations in the federal register. Add these to the list of existing regulations and the economic impact amounts to more than $1.8 trillion or about $15,000 per household annually. The stream of costly federal regulations needs to stop.
One of the most controversial regulations finalized in 2015 was the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule, or WOTUS. The Clean Water Act enables the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to regulate so-called “navigable waters.” In the EPA’s latest WOTUS rule, however, the federal agency broadened the definition of navigable waters to include ditches, prairie potholes, and even seasonally wet areas. Changing a few words around may seem minor, but it can have a huge impact.
As written, WOTUS could become one of the largest federal land grabs in our lifetime. Everyday tasks – like treating your lawn for mosquitos, putting up a fence in your backyard, or spraying your crops for disease – could become federally regulated activities that carry fines worth upwards of $30,000 per day if a farmer or homeowner is found in violation.
With a potential impact that significant, it’s no wonder why thousands of people have shared their outrage over WOTUS. The EPA did its best to camouflage that anger, however. In fact, a December 2015 Government Accountability Office report found the EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” to create the illusion of grassroots backing. Not only did they violate the public trust, they broke the law. They must be held accountable for their actions.
On January 13, Congress put our stamp of approval on a bill that would stop WOTUS from taking effect. The final step is to get the President to sign on, which frankly, is unlikely. While a presidential veto is all but certain, I wasn’t going to be discouraged from pursuing our agenda. We need to keep pushing forward the initiatives that are important to South Dakota and the country.
Even if the President fails to understand the burden WOTUS puts on families, farmers, and small businesses, a federal appellate court has put a temporary, nationwide suspension on the rule’s implementation. One way or another, I’m committed to stopping this EPA expansion.
I know that sometimes the burden of federal regulations can be difficult to see – especially if they don’t impact us or our work directly. But the reality is that federal regulations, like WOTUS, stunt America’s growth and threaten the opportunities ahead. Bureaucrats need to be reined in.
Already this year, the House has passed legislation to reduce the overall cost of current federal regulations by 15 percent. Our legislation, H.R.1155, would do this by forcing federal agencies to search for unnecessarily burdensome regulations, report them to Congress, and then eliminate them for good. We’ve also passed legislation requiring bureaucrats to better communicate the purpose and impact of proposed regulations. You have a right to know what they’re doing in clear, succinct language.
These bills build on legislation we passed in 2015 which would force any major regulation to get approval from Congress before being implemented. We need to give the people a bigger voice in this process.
2015 was a record-setting year for federal regulations. By one group’s count, more than 3,300 rules and regulations were finalized. It’s gotten out of control. Too much power is being concentrated in the hands of federal bureaucrats and it’s costing hardworking families dearly. We have to reverse course, and I’m hopeful that will begin with stopping the EPA’s new WOTUS rule.Read More
U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and U.S. Reps. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) this week wrote to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to request the agency increase its timber sale program for the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF) in fiscal year 2016. Increasing timber production in the BHNF will help mitigate damage caused by the mountain pine beetle, reduce fire risk, and help sustain the existing forest products infrastructure.
“Approximately 17,000 acres of trees were killed in 2015 in the BHNF as a result of the mountain pine beetle infestations, which is an increase over the 2014 acreage killed by the mountain pine beetle,” the delegations wrote. “Equally as concerning, according to recent Forest Service statements, approximately 50 percent of the BHNF remains at high risk for mountain pine beetle infestation. Salvaging and utilizing those trees is far more preferable than allowing them to become fuel for forest fires that threaten the communities and forests of the Black Hills.”
Full text of the letter can be found below, and a signed copy can be found here.
Chief Tom Tidwell
USDA Forest Service
1400 Independence Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20250-1111
Dear Chief Tidwell:
We are writing to request an increase in the FY 2016 timber sale program for the Black Hills National Forest (BHNF). Notwithstanding the obvious successes of the BHNF’s timber sale program, we are concerned that the sawtimber volume planned for sale in FY 2016 is inadequate to sustain the existing forest products infrastructure.
Although there have been some recent successes in fighting the mountain pine beetle in the Black Hills, the epidemic is far from over. Approximately 17,000 acres of trees were killed in 2015 in the BHNF as a result of the mountain pine beetle infestations, which is an increase over the 2014 acreage killed by the mountain pine beetle. Equally as concerning, according to recent Forest Service statements, approximately 50 percent of the BHNF remains at high risk for mountain pine beetle infestation. Salvaging and utilizing those trees is far more preferable than allowing them to become fuel for forest fires that threaten the communities and forests of the Black Hills.
We request an increased FY 2016 sale program, with a sawtimber target of 220,000 ccf, which would: 1) sustain the current forest products industry; 2) salvage more acres of trees already attacked by mountain pine beetles; 3) treat additional acres resulting in reduced potential for further mountain pine beetle infestations; and 4) reduce fire danger.We look forward to your response. Thank you for your consideration. Read More
Representative Kristi Noem today joined the House in passing legislation disapproving of the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. If today’s legislation is enacted, the controversial rule expanding EPA jurisdiction to small ditches, prairie potholes and even seasonally wet areas will have no force or effect. With approval from Congress, the legislation now heads to the President for his signature or veto.
“As written, the Waters of the U.S. rule could become one of the largest federal land grabs in U.S. history,” said Noem. “Everyday tasks, like spraying your lawn for mosquitos or your crops for disease, could now become federally regulated activities that carry fines worth upwards of $30,000 if a farmer or homeowner is found in violation. I’m proud Congress has moved this legislation forward. I strongly urge the President to understand the burden this regulation puts on families and sign our legislation to withdraw it.”
In May 2015, Rep. Noem helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass the bipartisan H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which would send the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers back to the drawing board on the WOTUS rule.
Noem has also called on the EPA to define regulated navigable waters on a map after an alarming graphic was released that has raised questions about how extensive the EPA’s regulatory authority could become. Read more and view the graphic here.
Additionally, in May 2014, Rep. Noem joined 231 Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle on a letter urging the EPA and the Secretary of the Army to withdraw the proposed rule.Read More
Members of South Dakota's all-Republican congressional delegation say President Barack Obama needs to focus more on solving the nation's problems.
Obama gave his final State of the Union speech Tuesday night, using it to summon an affirmative vision of his administration and for the future.
Sen. John Thune said South Dakotans don't want to hear about Obama's legacy — they want to hear his ideas for addressing issues such as the economy.
Sen. Mike Rounds said he thinks an "overwhelming majority" of South Dakotans are dissatisfied with the direction of the country, and that Obama's speech "lacked any serious ideas for working together."
Rep. Kristi Noem said the picture painted by Obama in his speech "is a starkly different image than what most people see in their own backyard."
The House voted Wednesday to strike down an Obama administration rule that critics say would give the federal government too much authority to oversee wetlands, streams and other small waterways.
The resolution passed the House largely along party lines at 253-166, with 12 Democrats and all Republicans except one supporting the resolution. All Republicans, except Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, backed the resolution. The measure was passed by the Senate in November. But the votes are expected to be largely symbolic, because the White House has promised to veto the measure.
“This regulation would change our way of life in South Dakota," Rep. Kristi Noem told reporters. "In fact, I believe it is the largest federal land grab that we’ve seen in my lifetime.”
The South Dakota Republican said even if the White House follows through on its veto promise, she was “hopeful we’ll get resolution in the courts.”
For now, the changes to the Clean Water Act are not being implemented because a federal court blocked the measure last year pending the outcome of lawsuits filed by more than a dozen states including South Dakota.
Republicans and agriculture groups say the rule is nothing more than a land grab that gives the government too much power to regulate their land and potentially subject ditches, stream beds and self-made ponds on their property to new oversight. As a result, farmers worry they would have to pay for costly environmental assessments and apply for more permits.
The EPA warned following the Senate vote that rejecting the rule “would sow confusion and invite conflict at a time when our communities and businesses need clarity and certainty around clean water regulation.”
Collin O'Mara, president of the National Wildlife Federation, said the House was not doing enough to protect the country’s water. “By overwhelming margins, Americans want to see their streams and drinking water protected, not polluted or destroyed,” he said. “Today’s vote defies the will of the American people."Read More
Representative Kristi Noem today issued the following statement in reaction to President Obama’s final State of the Union address:
“The picture President Obama tried to paint tonight is a starkly different image than what most people see in their own backyard. We live in a world where wages are stagnant, the institutions set up to care for our veterans, seniors, and Native Americans are failing at the most basic levels, and few people are confident in the state of our national security. I believe we can do better. We have a responsibility to rebuild our economy and give more opportunities to every American. We must strengthen our national security, restoring American leadership and giving people greater peace of mind. We must reenergize the American Dream, using it to inspire our next generation to imagine and achieve a better world for their families and our nation. I believe in better than what President Obama’s policies and tonight’s speech offered and I’m hopeful we can achieve it.”Read More
For five years, I have fought for the day that we could put a bill on the President’s desk that would repeal Obamacare. January 7, 2016, turned out to be that day.
From my first day on the job to now, I have spoken to thousands of South Dakotans about the President’s health care law. The mandates. The costs. The plans that have been lost. Year after year, the problems seem to become more pronounced – and more expensive. It’s hard to believe, but this year, every single health care plan on the exchange in South Dakota saw a double-digit rate increase, according to analysis from Agile Health Insurance. It’s too expensive and there seems to be no end to these increases in sight.
The President’s health care law fundamentally failed to do anything that actually drives down the cost of health care in this country. Instead, Obamacare issued top-down mandates to ensure more people would foot an even larger bill. It isn’t working.
Nonetheless, President Obama was quick to threaten a veto on our legislation. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t owe it to the American people to take our best shot at repealing a piece of legislation that the majority of Americans oppose. Moreover, we’ve been able to get some smaller wins by making big pushes in this way. In fact, we’ve had more than a dozen repeals or delays of Obamacare provisions become law because of our efforts.
We’ve been working toward this for a long time. I’ve joined the House in passing a number of full and partial repeals, but our efforts have repeatedly been blocked by Senate Democrats. This time, however, we were able to use a process called “budget reconciliation,” which allows Congress – once a year – to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass legislation with a simple majority in the Senate. There are strings attached to that process, so we weren’t able to do a full and complete repeal, but we did successfully target major portions of the President’s health care law, including the individual and employer mandates.
We also found significant savings for hardworking taxpayers. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates our legislation would reduce the deficit by $516 billion over 10 years.
I understand it’s not enough just to repeal Obamacare. Our health care system is broken. But there is a better way. We could create competition by letting people purchase insurance across state lines. Small businesses could be allowed to pool together to purchase more affordable coverage. You could get a tax break for purchasing insurance, rather than a tax penalty if you didn’t. There is an alternative – a conservative, patient-centered alternative.
This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me on this, I’m sure. Even if we can’t replace Obamacare under this administration, I will do everything I can to provide relief where possible until we have a new President. And in the meantime, I’m grateful that we got a bill through Democrat gridlock and to the President, a small victory.Read More
The GOP–controlled House of Representatives is celebrating their latest jab at the Affordable Care Act.
Wednesday, the House passed legislation that essentially guts Obamacare, and after more than 60 votes to roll back all or part of the law, the bill will make it to the President's desk.
For years, Republicans have attempted to repeal the President's signature health care law, and hope this action will bring relief to Americans.
Representative Kristi Noem said, "We're certainly anxious to put in place another health care reform that would actually put them back in charge of their own health care decisions with their doctors. Lower their costs, create more competition in the market that would certainly be better for America."
President Obama has vowed to veto any efforts by Republicans to repeal Obamacare.
This marks the first time that Congress has sent a measure to repeal it, forcing the President to issue a rare veto.
Representative Kristi Noem today joined the House in passing legislation to repeal the majority of President Obama’s health care law. The bill will now head to the White House for the President’s signature or veto. While the President is expected to veto the legislation, this represents the first time a major repeal of Obamacare provisions has been able to avoid a filibuster by Senate Democrats and reach the President’s desk.
“For five years, I have fought for this day,” said Noem. “This Congress owes it to the American people to take its best shot at repealing the President’s health care law. Every single health care plan on the exchange in South Dakota saw a double-digit rate increase this year – every single plan. It’s too expensive for families and it’s simply unaffordable for taxpayers. Rather than targeting the drivers of health care cost increases, Obamacare issued top-down mandates to ensure more people would foot an even larger bill. Today, we sent a signal that this Congress is serious. It’s time to fix this problem for the American people.”
H.R.3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, repeals the individual and employer mandates, the “Obamacare slush fund,” the medical device and “Cadillac” taxes, among other provisions. It also eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year. If enacted, the legislation would reduce the deficit by $516 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
H.R.3762 was passed through a budgetary process called reconciliation, which allows Congress – once a year – to avoid a filibuster in the Senate.
Noem has been a vocal opponent of the President’s health care law. As an alternative, she has previously supported legislation that would allow individuals to purchase insurance across state lines and allow businesses to pool together in order to purchase more affordable coverage for employees. She has also supported efforts to offer a tax break to families for health care expenses and expand access to health savings accounts.Read More
President Barack Obama announced plans Tuesday to require background checks for guns purchased from dealers even if they're bought online or at gun shows.
It's one of four Executive Orders laid out by the President aimed at curbing gun violence despite opposition in Congress to new gun laws.
South Dakota's members of Congress responded Tuesday afternoon by expressing their disappointment in the President's decision to bypass Congress.
“Even after several years of unconstitutional executive overreach, it’s still alarming that when the legislative outcome doesn't match President Obama’s desired result he is so willing to repeatedly circumvent Congress and the will of the American people,” said Senator John Thune. “The Senate has debated many of these proposals on more than one occasion and the people’s elected representatives in Congress have rejected increasing the burden on law-abiding citizens. Our nation’s response to the recent tragedies should focus on a careful review of the root causes of these violent behaviors and how to stop them from happening in the future. President Obama should shelve his ‘my way or the highway’ approach and face the reality that Congress and the American people have a voice in how this nation is governed.”
“The executive actions the president announced today will make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to legally obtain firearms and do nothing to fix the problem of gun violence,” said Senator Mike Rounds. “Criminals and terrorists aren’t going to obey the law anyway. I will continue to fight against the president’s endless attack on our 2nd amendment rights.”
“Especially in a debate over something as important as the Second Amendment, bypassing Congress and the American people, as the President is attempting to do, cannot be tolerated," said Representative Kristi Noem. Congress will be providing vigilant oversight of the President’s actions and holding him accountable wherever possible. I fully expect challenges to be made in the courts as well. The right to bear arms is carefully protected within our Constitution and yet the President has time and again dismissed this as outdated. He is wrong. The Second Amendment and limits to executive authority are fundamental to how we operate as a nation today – just as they were at our founding. I stand firmly behind them.”Read More
South Dakota's Kristi Noem (R) says it's clear that President Obama intends to go around Congress and around public debate on gun control. The President this week intends issuing some executive orders.
Noem, South Dakota's lone representative in the House, says bypassing the American people can not be tolerated.
Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) is also weighing in against Mr. Obama's plans. He says we don't know the specifics yet, but it looks like the President is trying to make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to get firearms.
Obama's proposed plan would reportedly try to close the so-called gunshow loophole by requiring anyone who sells more than 50 guns a year to obtain a federal license and conduct background checks.Read More
When South Dakota Republican Kristi Noem was looking for a new office at the beginning of this Congress, she knew she'd need one thing in particular: closet space.
Noem is one of dozens of lawmakers who, by day, work in the office buildings on the House side of the U.S. Capitol and, by night, live in them.
"There's storage in this room here for my blankets and pillows," Noem told NPR in a recent tour of her office in the Rayburn building.
These lawmakers say office living has some political benefit, but it's mainly a good way to save a buck in Washington.
Noem sleeps on a pullout in her office. She described her morning routine this way:
"There's a gym in the basement, so I get up in the morning and go down to the member's gym and work out with a group of people," she said. "And then I go to the women's gym and shower and put my makeup on and stuff and come back up here and get dressed."
Sleeping in the office is not without some hazards, Noem said. One night in her old office, she was working late on her laptop when an unwelcome visitor arrived.
Noem is a farmer and a rancher, but she freaked out. She called a male staffer back to the office to help catch the mouse. They couldn't find it, so for her peace of mind, she had him duct tape the bottom of her office door "so that it wouldn't come in while I was sleeping," she said.
The most prominent member of this "Couch Caucus"? Newly minted House Speaker Paul Ryan, who's been sleeping in his office for years.
The Wisconsin Republican told CNN's Dana Bash in a recent interview that he would keep doing it even if he is, now, second in line to the presidency.
"I'm just a normal guy," Ryan said.
"But normal guys don't sleep in their offices!" Bash replied.
Maybe it's not normal, but there are no rules against it.
There's also no official data on how many do it. Lawmakers estimate, though, that at least 40 House members sleep in their offices.
"I think there's more than you might expect," said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., who sleeps on a futon in his office. "There's quite a few of us, particularly the younger members with young families back home in our districts. There's quite a few — men and women."
Noem is one of very few women who sleep in their office. Most of them are Republican men.
It's good politics, particularly among conservatives, to make it known back home they're not getting too comfortable in Washington. When Republican Bill Huizenga was campaigning for the Michigan seat vacated by Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, for example, voters wanted to know three things, Huizenga told NPR.
"People would ask me: What am I going to do about spending, what am I going to do about Obamacare and am I sleeping on my couch like Pete," he said.
The transition was easy for Huizenga because, as he quipped, "I'm a cheap Dutchman."
A handful of Democrats sleep in their offices, too, though Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley said he's not trying to make a political statement.
"It's not something I'm thrilled about," he said. "It's just circumstances."
Quigley started sleeping in his office, in part, to save money to put his two daughters through college. Every lawmaker NPR interviewed said saving money was the main reason they do it.
Members of Congress make $174,000 a year, but maintaining a residence in the neighborhoods around the U.S. Capitol can easily cost approximately $2,000 a month. That's a waste of money, these members said, if you're only staying in Washington a few nights a week — and keeping a house in your home state.
"Next year's schedule for the House activities? We're here 83 nights. So you're paying rent in a very expensive neighborhood for 282 nights you're not here," Quigley said.
Since next year is an election year, lawmakers will spend even less time in Washington, so sleeping in the office is not just practical, but maybe, also good politics.Read More
1323 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
U.S. Representative Kristi Noem is a wife, mother, experienced rancher, farmer, and former small business owner. Kristi was born and raised in rural Hamlin County in northeastern South Dakota and still lives there today with her husband, Bryon, and their three children, Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker.
Kristi learned the value of hard work early in life from her father. He put Kristi, her sister and two brothers to work on the family farm at a young age caring for the cattle and horses and helping with planting and harvest. After graduating from high school, Kristi began attending college at Northern State University in Aberdeen. When her father died unexpectedly in a farming accident, Kristi returned to the family farm and ranch full-time. Her father’s death left a huge absence, so Kristi stepped up and helped stabilize the operation and provided leadership when it was needed most.
Kristi’s work on the farm and ranch didn’t go unnoticed. In 1997 she received the South Dakota Outstanding Young Farmer award and in 2003 she was honored with the South Dakota Young Leader award.
Kristi’s experience as a small business owner shaped her understanding of government and its purpose. Too often, government is inefficient and ineffective, simply getting in the way of small businesses and entrepreneurs who wish to create jobs and grow our economy. Realizing this, Kristi decided to get involved to try and make a difference.
Her service includes the South Dakota State Farm Agency State Committee, the Commission for Agriculture in the 21st Century, the South Dakota Soybean Association, and numerous other boards and committees. In the fall of 2006, Kristi was elected as the 6th District Representative to the South Dakota House of Representatives.
Kristi quickly realized she could serve her district, and the State of South Dakota, more effectively in a leadership position. So in her second term she ran for, and won, the position of Assistant Majority Leader in the State House, where she served until 2010.
Kristi was first elected to serve as South Dakota’s lone Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 2, 2010.
While keeping up with her Congressional duties in Washington, D.C. and work with constituents in South Dakota, Kristi continued to take undergraduate courses from South Dakota State University. In December 2011, Kristi graduated from SDSU with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
On November 6, 2012, Kristi was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she continues to serve on the Agriculture Committee and House Armed Services Committee.
Kristi enjoys helping her daughters compete in rodeo and 4-H. She has been a 4-H leader for 14 years. Kristi is also an avid hunter. She particularly enjoys pheasant hunting on the homestead and archery elk with her brothers.
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