Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem

SOUTH DAKOTA

Weekly Column: Protecting Life

2017/04/21

I still remember the first time Bryon and I heard our oldest daughter Kassidy’s heartbeat. There was no baby bump – yet. No baby clothes in the closet. No name picked out. I’m not even sure how many people in our family knew we were expecting at that point, but with the rapid, muffled thuds of our baby’s heartbeat in the background, we knew our lives were already changed.

I believe every life, including an unborn baby’s life, has dignity and value.  But more than 40 years ago, the Supreme Court handed down a decision in direct contradiction to those principles. In the decades since, I – along with many in South Dakota – have been fighting to undo the damage.  While there’s still a long way to go, we’ve recently taken some meaningful steps forward.

President Trump came into office with a promise to nominate a Supreme Court Justice who would protect the constitutional rights of the unborn.  I’m hopeful the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch fulfilled that promise and I was glad to see him take the Oath of Office this April.

Days later, the president signed H.J.Res.43, which empowered states to defund abortion facilities, like Planned Parenthood. Now, states can instead choose to use this money to support non-abortion-providing clinics that offer greater accessibility and a broader range of preventive health care services to women.

In South Dakota, there are more than 100 federally qualified health centers or rural health clinics that could benefit from these funds, but only one Planned Parenthood center. To say that we must fund Planned Parenthood or deny thousands of women care is a false choice. We can support women’s health – and specifically, health care for low-income women – without supporting abortion providers. I was proud to cosponsor this legislation, which notably doesn’t take a penny from women’s health initiatives, and was thrilled to see it earn the president’s signature.

But more must be done.  Time and again, Congress has opposed taxpayer-funded abortions with bipartisan support.  Annual provisions, including the Hyde Amendment, have been passed repeatedly, saving an estimated 2 million innocent lives.  Even with this provision in place, however, Obamacare has allowed your tax dollars to flow to over 1,000 abortion-covering health plans.  That’s unacceptable. We need to make the Hyde Amendment permanent and government-wide. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which I cosponsored and the House passed, would accomplish that.

Additionally, I’m working to protect doctors, nurses and others who don’t want to participate in abortions. In some cases, these individuals have faced discrimination and retribution for sticking to their principles. That shouldn’t happen. I’ve cosponsored legislation to protect these individuals and I’m fighting to see it pass the House and hopefully be signed into law soon.

Bryon and I knew our lives had changed when we heard Kassidy’s heartbeat for the first time and I hope she knows just how proud we are of the generous, compassionate person she’s become. She’s grown up quickly and I love to think back on those days when I was still taller than her.  We read a lot together back then.  One of our favorites was Dr. Seuss’s “Horton Hears a Who,” which reads, in part: “A person is a person no matter how small.”  Each time we read that line, I’d think back to those first muffled thuds.  “A person is a person, no matter how small.” Read More

Weekly Column: Battling the Beetle

2017/04/13

As the temperature ticks upward and the last day of school inches closer, many are starting to think about their summer vacation plans. While schedules only seem to get busier, our family still tries to make it out to the Black Hills many times throughout the year, although we especially love those summer months and their longer days.  There’s just nothing like the hiking, the serenity, and – of course – the faces that a person finds in the Hills.  Over the years, however, we’ve seen the landscape change.  Year after year, our family pictures show a slowly dying forest.

For more than two decades, the Mountain Pine Beetle has devastated much of the Black Hills and turned portions of this once-heathy forest into a tinder box. In total, more than 30 percent of the 1.2 million acre forest was impacted to some degree by the beetles, increasing the area’s potential for a dangerous wildfire and jeopardizing the tourism and forestry industries that our state relies on.

This April, however, the U.S. Forest Service announced the beetle had finally been beat.  While work remains to repair the damage and make the forest more resilient against future outbreaks, getting to this point is a long-sought success.

The epidemic had been ongoing for around a decade before I was elected to represent South Dakota.  When I brought U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to view the damage firsthand in November 2013, it was clear we had the tools to combat the pine beetle, but we weren’t able to apply them on a large enough scale.  Reforms on the federal level were needed. 

Months later, we saw those reforms become law through provisions I helped write and fought to include in the 2014 Farm Bill.  As a result, we were able to cut through environmental red tape, get boots on the ground faster, and allow the Forest Service to work on the scale this epidemic required.  Around one million acres of the Black Hills National Forest benefited from the provisions.

Additionally, I fought to make sure we prioritized the funding needed to help beat the beetle. The financial support promised a trifecta of benefits. Of course, it helped us care for one of South Dakota’s most beautiful resources, but it also served to protect our state’s thriving tourism industry. According to a recent report from South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, outdoor recreationists support more than 18,000 jobs, add $85.5 million to state and local bank accounts through taxes, and offer $534 million worth of income to South Dakotans. The Black Hills is a critical piece of that industry. Maybe most importantly, however, I fought for support as a matter of public safety. Simply put, an unhealthy forest carries the potential for a deadly wildfire.

We are fortunate to have so many dedicated foresters working in the Black Hills throughout this time and I’m proud to have been able to score some victories in support of their efforts.  Nonetheless, while the Forest Service has ruled the epidemic over, years of damage left behind thousands of acres of dead and dying trees.  There’s work to do, but I’m committed to turning the Black Hills green again.

I count the Hills among South Dakota’s many treasures, which means keeping the forest healthy is a top priority. So, check out the progress this summer.  Plan a visit – maybe we’ll see you out there. Read More

Noem Announces 2017 Congressional Art Contest Now Open to SD Students

2017/04/12

Representative Kristi Noem and the South Dakota Arts Council are excited to announce the start of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition. The selected artwork from South Dakota will have the honor of being displayed in the United States Capitol for one year.  Additionally, the winning artist will be invited to a reception in the United States Capitol where they will have the opportunity to meet other winners from across the country.  The second-place winning entry will be displayed in Rep. Noem’s Washington, D.C. office. 

Any high school student in South Dakota is welcome to enter. Artwork must be completely original—in concept, design, and execution.  Artwork must also be entered in the original medium; no scanned reproductions are allowed.  To submit an entry, send a completed student release form and a high-quality photo of the art to the South Dakota Arts Council’s Rebecca Cruse at Rebecca.cruse@state.sd.us by May 1. Winners will be notified on May 5. 

Click here for a full list of rules and guidelines.  More information can also be found by visiting the Congressional Art Competition website or by calling Rep. Noem’s Washington, DC, office at 202-225-2801.

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Weekly Column: Opportunity at the Click of a Mouse

2017/04/07

When a young woman wanted to turn a love of fashion into a gainful career, she didn’t have to leave South Dakota’s landscape for New York’s cityscapes.  She could start her business here and sell nationwide with just the click of a mouse.

The internet is a powerful tool, connecting small businesses to their customers, doctors to their patients, students to their professors, and curious minds to the world.  Despite tremendous strides in recent years, however, many in rural South Dakota still lack adequate access.  And even for those who do have access, the challenge becomes keeping service affordable and in line with industry standards.

Part of the challenge is the expense of servicing rural consumers.  In large communities, dozens of families can be connected with every mile of cable, but in some areas of South Dakota, the population density falls to just two people per square mile.  With the goal of offering internet connectivity to everyone, rural broadband providers receive support through the Universal Service Fund (USF), a self-sustaining account that does not require taxpayer dollars.  This support helps compensate for higher costs so they can offer people more affordable rates.

Until very recently, however, USF support was only offered for customers who purchased traditional phone service and internet access together, which is why bundling services was often cheaper than stand-alone internet.  The arrangement didn’t make sense in the 21st Century.  After significant pressure from me and others, the rules were updated, but challenges remain in making sure they are implemented properly.

Unfortunately, internet access isn’t the only communications challenge facing rural South Dakota.  Companies in the business of routing voice calls sometimes purposefully drop long-distance calls headed for rural areas as a means to save money.  Maybe you’ve experienced this at some point. While even the sheer inconvenience of it is inexcusable, some of these calls involve emergencies, leaving rural families in an unnecessarily dangerous situation.

To address this issue, I’ve helped introduce H.R.460, the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act.  Among other things, this legislation would require companies to abide by basic call completion standards. The House of Representatives passed the bill in January.  I’m hopeful we’ll see the Senate act soon, so we can better ensure calls are no longer dropped just because the person on the other end lives in rural South Dakota.

Young people should never feel as though they need to leave South Dakota in search of opportunity. Even in the most rural parts of the state, people should be able to stream movies and TV, participate in interactive classroom discussions, access world-class health care, and even start a new business that hires locally but operates globally. By keeping the channels of communication open, all of this is possible with the click of a mouse.

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Activation ceremony held for 114th Fighter Wing at Joe Foss Field

2017/04/02

More than 100 members of the South Dakota Air National Gaurd's 114th Fighter Wing are getting ready to deploy to areas around the world.

An activation ceremony was held at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls Sunday afternoon for the air men and women and their families.

Gov. Daugaard, Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, and Rep. Kristi Noem were there to recognize the brave men and women.

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Weekly Column: Saving Families Money with a Pro-Energy Agenda

2017/03/31

If you’re a family making less than $50,000 annually in South Dakota, you likely spend double the national average on energy every year.  It’s one of the largest monthly expenses for many, so if we have the opportunity to drive those costs down, we ought to take it.

When former President Obama was first running for office, he outlined an energy agenda that, as he said, would “necessarily skyrocket” electricity rates.  Over the course of the next eight years, his administration implemented provisions that made affordable energy more and more difficult to access.  His boldest move promised to increase costs by as much as $17 billion nationwide and put a quarter-million people out of work annually, according to some estimates.  In South Dakota, analysts believed the plan would force electricity prices to rise 30 percent on average and 36 percent during peak times.

In addition to being costly, many questioned whether President Obama’s regulatory actions were within the Executive Branch’s authority.  As a result, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the administration’s proposal and Congress passed legislation to stop it, although President Obama chose to veto that effort.

I believe our energy challenges can be solved, but the answer is innovation, not regulation.  I’ve been very encouraged by the Trump administration’s actions on this front.  In late-March, President Trump signed new Executive Orders to roll back many of the Obama administration’s overreaching energy regulations and I was honored to join Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke hours later as he signed Secretarial Orders reflecting that same agenda.  Their actions help clear a path so market-driven ideas can lead the way forward.

By prioritizing innovation, I’m optimistic we’ll see lower costs, a revved up economy that supports good jobs and higher wages, and a decrease in our reliance on foreign energy from volatile regions of the globe.  I’m also hopeful that by allowing innovation to lead, we’ll be able to strike a balance between energy production and environmental protection in a way that doesn’t cripple the economy.

There is almost no profession that values the sustainability and integrity of the land than a farmer or rancher.  Our livelihoods depend on it. During planting season when I was a kid, I remember climbing into the tractor to take over for my dad and almost always finding a tiny, purple prairie pasque inside.  My dad loved that flower and told me countless times how special it was, as it seemed to grow best on native grasslands.  It’s an image I don’t forget.

American ingenuity can address even the toughest challenges, but I don’t believe the government is the best facilitator for that innovation.  Instead, we need to give folks the freedom to pursue smarter technologies and finally drive down energy costs for South Dakota families. Read More

NOEM: Trump Administration's Energy Agenda Promises Stronger Economy, Greater Security

2017/03/29

Following a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Interior today, Rep. Kristi Noem discussed the positive impact President Trump’s pro-energy agenda could have on South Dakota families.

“Many South Dakotans spend nearly twice the national average on energy every year. Rather than driving those costs down, the Obama administration’s plan promised to increase the bill by 30 percent,” said Noem.  “Our energy challenges can be solved, but the answer is innovation, not regulation.  The actions of President Trump and Secretary Zinke clear a path for market-driven ideas to lead the way.  As a result, I’m optimistic we’ll see lower costs, a revved up economy that supports good jobs and higher wages, and a decrease in our reliance on foreign energy from volatile regions of the globe. This is what a pro-growth, all-of-the-above energy approach looks like.” 

Rep. Noem today joined Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke as he signed a series of Secretarial Orders reflecting President Trump’s pro-growth energy agenda.  Included among the orders was a lifting of the Federal Coal Leasing Moratorium.  With roughly 40 percent of U.S. coal being produced on federal lands, this opens new opportunities to access more affordable domestic energy.

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Noem: Keystone XL Opens Opportunities for South Dakota

2017/03/24

Rep. Kristi Noem today issued the following statement, after President Trump issued a presidential permit to approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline:

“Access to energy is central to improving our national security and building a more robust economy that offers better jobs and higher wages.  Not only does the Keystone XL Pipeline offer these large-scale benefits for our country, its construction will translate into added revenue for cash-strapped South Dakota counties, relief on our roads and rails, and job opportunities for folks across our state. I’m glad to see President Trump move forward on this critical piece of American infrastructure.”

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155th Engineer Co. receives Reserve Family Readiness Award

2017/03/24

Nearly a year after returning from Kuwait, the 155th Engineer Company received national recognition for its work to support military families.

The Rapid City-and Wagner-based Army National Guard unit was honored with the United States Department of Defense Reserve Family Readiness Award on Friday at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes in Washington, D.C., drawing praise from U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and U.S. Sen. John Thune.

The award, established in 2000, is given to the unit in each of the seven services that demonstrates excellence in engaging with and supporting their members' families, according to the Department of Defense. The 155th is the only National Guard unit in the country to receive the award.

Noem called the award an "incredible tribute" to the integrity and values of the South Dakota National Guard, and also took time to express gratitude for the servicemen's families.

"I am deeply grateful to those who volunteer to serve in our military, but service is not something only those in uniform do. Their families serve alongside them, too, making sacrifices so our guardsmen and women can protect the freedoms you and I exercise every day," Noem said. "I am incredibly proud of the 155th Engineering Company's accomplishments and their unrelenting commitment to family readiness."

Thune, too, thanked the families of the 155th for each of their sacrifices and commitment to the United States that often go unseen.

"The men and women of the South Dakota National Guard are among the best of the best, so it's no surprise to see the 155th Engineer Company being recognized by the Department of Defense for their commitment to family readiness," Thune said. "I want to congratulate them on receiving this award and thank their families for the many sacrifices they make on a daily basis, too."

Family readiness programs, like the 155th, are a "vital link in the support networks for Reserve Component families," and support in critical missions worldwide, according to the DoD. Representatives from the unit received a commemorative plaque and framed certificate, as well as a certificate of recognition and award from the Military Officers Association of America.

The 155th Engineer Co., which deployed in August 2015 to Kuwait and returned in July 2016, was the second mobilization of the unit. The 155th deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Noble Eagle in 2002-2003.

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Trump Administration Clears Keystone XL Pipeline

2017/03/24

Under the Obama administration, the Keystone XL Pipeline met its end.

It received new life on Friday.

Calling it “a great day for American jobs,” President Donald Trump announced Friday his administration is giving the $8 billion project the green light.

A permit clears the way for the Keystone XL pipeline to start construction.

The proposal moves oil from Alberta, Canada through several states, including South Dakota and connects its way down to the gulf coast.

Senator John Thune said the decision is “long overdue” and has been held up by government for a “really long time.”

Thune also said constituents in his home county, Jones County, are all for the project.

“They believe that it’s going to generate additional revenue for the school district. There are a lot of communities, a lot schools in South Dakota, who are trying to survive, desperately looking for ways to be able to raise the resources to be able to educate their kids. This is one way it will enable them to do that,” said Thune.

Rep. Kristi Noem and Gov. Dennis Daugaard also voiced their support for the decision, citing energy efficiency and economic benefits.

However, South Dakota Democratic Party Executive Director Suzanne Jones Pranger said the pipeline will not have a positive impact on residents.

“It’s really only helping oil companies. It’s not creating many jobs contrary to what the Republicans have been saying and on top of that, it really hurts South Dakota landowners, as well,” said Jones Pranger.

She said the concerns over the project are coming from land owners, farmers and tribal leaders.

“That’s really unfortunate that, once again, the president has put big business over the rights of individuals of this state and country,” said Jones Pranger.

Opponents of the pipeline are also concerned about the environmental impact of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Thune said analysis done by the Obama administration on the pipeline came back with “minimal to no environmental impact.”

The pipeline still needs permit approval from Nebraska before it can begin construction.

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Weekly Column: Fighting for Financial Independence

2017/03/24

For many, preparing for Tax Day only highlights just how much of a person’s paycheck is redirected straight into the federal government’s bank account.  The truth is our tax returns only tell part of the story.  Federal regulations add thousands of dollars more in hidden costs every year for South Dakota families.  I’ve heard from many that “enough is enough” – and I agree.  So regardless of if it’s tax or regulatory reform, I’m focused on giving you more financial independence.

One of the first places I’m looking to save you money is on your taxes.  Last year, I helped outline a simpler and fairer tax code.  In totality, the plan is estimated to save the average family $4,600 per year, according to analysis done by The Tax Foundation.  On top of that, they expect the plan would help grow the economy by 9.1 percent over the next 10 years, which translates into more jobs and higher wages. 

The way we’re proposing to do this may save more than money.  Under our plan, tax returns may be simple enough to fit on a postcard, hopefully saving taxpayers the 6 billion hours we collectively spend doing our taxes each year.

Like I mentioned before, there are also hidden costs the federal government imposes.  Today, almost 25 percent of a new family home’s final cost is dealing with regulations to build that home.  Under Obama-era motor-vehicle regulations, the cost of a new car could spike almost $3,000 by 2025.  Meanwhile, regulations on everything from lightbulbs to dishwashers could increase consumer costs by as much as $1,600. And it just keeps adding up from here!

Already, President Trump and Congress have worked together to delay, repeal, or dismantle more than 90 regulations put in place by President Obama.  But more must still be done.  In addition to dismantling the unnecessary regulations piece-by-piece, I’ve supported legislation to make it much more difficult to impose these massive regulations in the first place.  Just days into 2017, the House passed a bill I co-sponsored that would require any major regulation to be approved by Congress.  If enacted, it would be an unprecedented check on federal bureaucracy.

After eight years under President Obama, I think too many have accepted a status quo that leaves less money in your pocket and puts more decisions in the government’s hands.  Whether it’s regulatory reform or tax reform, there is a path forward that gives you more freedom and financial independence.  Ultimately, that’s the path I will always pursue.

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Human trafficking troubles continue in Midwest

2017/03/22

January was Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month, but organizations in Sioux Falls who work with victims of these crimes are making sure people are aware of these issues all year long.

"Most people you talk to now will at least talk about, 'oh, it happens in the oil fields,' or pheasant hunting or especially Sturgis," said Michelle Markgraf, executive director at The Compass Center in Sioux Falls. "What they need to realize though, [is] it's not [just] happening on these one-off events. It's happening every single day in South Dakota."

"It's happening all over the United States and throughout South Dakota," U.S. House Rep. Kristi Noem told KSFY News. "Most of the folks I visit with think it only happens around big events or isolated incidents, but that's just not true."

"We actually have four of the poorest counties located in the U.S. in South Dakota any time you have that kind of vulnerability with income traffickers know how to prey upon that," said Becky Rasmussen, the executive director at Call to Freedom.

"Because we have the two interstates [I-29 and I-90] that bisect our city, a lot of the trafficking comes up through those on the way to North Dakota and on the way out west river," Markgraf explained. "Sometimes its right here in Sioux Falls too."

The way traffickers recruit, has also changed.

"Social media gives them another avenue to recruit through all angles," said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen said that traffickers target vulnerable men and women, and also men who they want to help them recruit.

"They'll private message them, they become friends with them," she said. "They will look for somebody who maybe is having a rough day, [or] they don't feel like their family cares about them. Teens put those emotions out there."

And then traffickers do what's called, "groom" them.

"They'll respond to them, they'll connect with them, they'll actually go as far to set up dates with them," Rasmussen said. "And it's not just men there are also females that are recruiting."

Markgraf said that she works with a "task force" in Sioux Falls that helps identify social media and other apps that are being used to traffick victims, but each time they meet and identify them, there's usually an entirely new list.

Noem, an advocate for trafficking victims who has worked on legislation regarding trafficking for years, said she's currently sponsoring a bill that would help clear criminal records of victims who have non-violent crimes on the background checks -- like prostitution or drug-related charges. Noem said she's regularly heard from victims that when they try to begin healing after being trafficked, it's nearly impossible to get a job or finding housing that will allow them with a criminal record.

Governor Daugaard just signed a that bill (H.B. 1118) back on March 10, that eliminates the need for prosecutors to prove minors were forced or coerced into trafficking - when they pursue cases against their traffickers.

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Packed House Greets SD Congresswoman Kristi Noem at Watertown Town Hall

2017/03/20

An overflow crowd estimated at between 200 and 250 people packed into the Watertown Police Department’s Community Room Saturday morning for a town hall meeting featuring South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem. Normally Noem opens her meetings with a Congressional overview but skipped that Saturday going directly to questions instead. One of her first came from a Sioux Falls man who asked Noem for assurances his health insurance won’t continue increasing under the new Republican healthcare plan. Noem responded saying Obama Care is failing on its own merits with double digit increases and insurers leaving the market.

Noem also touched on the score given to the new Trumpcare by the Congressional Budget Office showing the Republican Plan reducing premiums by 10 percent and the deficit by more than 330 billion dollars, but leaving millions, including 25,000 South Dakota residents, in fear of losing their insurance.

Noem says the tax credits offered by the Republican plan will benefit Americans who would see a net return of between two and fourteen thousand dollars.

Attendees came from all over the state to attend the town hall meeting that featured a moderator to ensure the crowd didn’t get unruly. The room filled to capacity more than an hour before it began.

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Weekly Column: A Diversity of Issues Impacting Agriculture

2017/03/17

I love what Bridger Gordon, a student from Whitewood, SD, wrote about agriculture: “Agriculture encompasses – and enhances – the entire environment, harnessing soil, water, sunlight to produce food, habitat, employment.” That observation helped Bridger win a national essay contest this year, which came with a $1,000 prize and a trip to Washington, DC, to celebrate National Ag Day on March 21.

Bridger is right.  The impact of agriculture is expansive, which is why America has offered producers a safety net for decades in the Farm Bill.  While the deadline is still more than a year away, work on the next Farm Bill is already underway.  Hearings have begun and I’m working closely with Ag Committee Chairman Conaway to be sure South Dakota producers have the support they need.

The 2014 Farm Bill was one of the most reformed we’ve seen.  It maintained strong risk-management programs, strengthened the livestock disaster program, and invested in ag-related research.  But improvements are needed.  I’m working on legislation, for instance, that would streamline the process for wetland determinations, ensuring producers get a timely response and have an efficient path for appeals. 

We also must make sure commodity programs work as they were intended.  I’ve heard many concerns about how ARC-county was administered, so we’re looking at possible improvements there.

Changes to conservation programs, like CRP, are also being discussed.  During the last general sign up, only 101 acres were accepted into CRP in South Dakota even though producers submitted applications for thousands more. The numbers don’t add up.

In addition to the Farm Bill, I want to make the regulatory environment work better for agriculture.  Already, Congress and President Trump have delayed, suspended, or reversed more than 90 Obama-era regulations, including many impacting rural South Dakota. The president announced steps to roll back the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule, for example, just weeks after I sent a letter urging him to do so.

I’ve also been in touch with the administration on the importance of maintaining a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which helps get ethanol and biodiesel into gas pumps around the country. This is something the Obama administration often fell short on, but I’m encouraged by the Trump administration’s repeated commitments to the RFS.

We’re also working on comprehensive tax reform. In 2015, we permanently extended Section 179, which many use when purchasing equipment. I’ve also been supportive of a $1-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel to help decrease our reliance on foreign oil and increase support for American-grown fuels.  More must be done though.

In the House’s blueprint for tax reform, we’re looking to lower tax rates for small businesses, simplify the tax code, and repeal the taxes that make it more difficult to pass an ag operation from one generation to the next (this includes the death tax).

While ag policy is largely dictated by Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a lot of influence too.  I was pleased to see former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue nominated as USDA Secretary.  Sonny and I have hunted pheasants together many times.  I know he understands our industry because he’s lived it.  He was raised on a row-crop farm, became a veterinarian, and at one point even ran a grain and fertilizer business.  I’m looking forward to being able to work with him on South Dakota priorities.

I am incredibly proud to represent so many farmers and ranchers, the very people who – as Bridger Gordon observed – grow the world’s food, preserve our local habitat, and provide employment for more than 120,000 people in South Dakota.  Thank you for all you do.

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Obamacare Repeal/Replace: Read the Bill

2017/03/16

We're delivering on our promises to repeal and replace Obamacare with President Trump's proposed health care reforms. Read More

Weekly Column: Repealing and Replacing Obamacare

2017/03/10

When we talk about healthcare, we’re talking about something that is very personal to people.  It’s why I’ve so often looked for ways to put you, the patient, in control of your own healthcare.  Since Obamacare came into play, however, rising costs, shrinking options and increased bureaucratic involvement has resulted in control being taken away from patients and their doctors.

I’ve heard from thousands of South Dakotans about the burdens placed on them by Obamacare. For instance, a retired teacher from Sisseton saw her premiums increase from $350 to $500 per month while her out-of-pocket threshold increased from $5,000 to $6,000.  Higher costs, worse coverage.

A Sioux Falls small business owner had once tried to cover 60 percent of his employees’ premium costs.  But after Obamacare, premiums rose to the point that this benefit wasn’t affordable anymore.

A family in Haakon County reached out to me after their premiums increased 200 percent. A family in Milbank saw costs for their son’s insurance rise from $89 per month to more than $300.  A woman in Rosholt pays almost $250 more per month for a plan that doesn’t include the benefits she used most often. 

While I could go on and on with stories like this, I understand others have felt greater security because of Obamacare’s provisions.  For years, we have fought to offer relief to those hurt worst by Obamacare. The Independent Payment Advisory Board, which could have led to rationed care for seniors, was gutted.  The 1099 mandate was eliminated and some of the most burdensome taxes were delayed.  Even after the tweaks, however, Obamacare remains beyond repair.

Earlier this month, House Republicans put forward a new vision for health care: one that offers Americans from all walks of life the freedom and flexibility to get the health coverage their family needs.  This legislation came about after years of debate and the final stages were completed in close collaboration with President Trump and his administration.

The legislation eliminates Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates.  It abolishes 14 Obamacare taxes that take $1 trillion from American taxpayers every decade.  This includes taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and medical devices as well as the Health Insurance Tax, based on legislation I authored, which could cost the average family nearly $5,000 over the next decade if it isn’t repealed.

The flawed Obamacare subsidies left many behind, so this legislation replaces them with monthly tax credits for low- and middle-income Americans.  These credits range from $2,000 to $14,000 per year, depending on a person’s age and family size.  You will finally be able to choose the plan that’s right for you – even if that means cheaper catastrophic coverage, which is something Obamacare didn’t allow you to do.  In addition to the tax credit, states will receive new resources to help people out and Health Savings Accounts will be enhanced and expanded to grant you even more flexibility.

At the same time, health insurers still won’t be able to deny coverage or charge more money based on pre-existing conditions and young people will be allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26.

There is a lot packed into this legislation, so I encourage you to read through it yourself at www.ReadTheBill.gop

Shortly after the language was released, the House Ways and Means Committee, which I’m a member of, had the opportunity to go through section-by-section and debate any edits folks thought should be made to the part of the bill that fell under our jurisdiction.  Once all the committees sign off, the full House of Representatives will have the opportunity to debate and vote on the bill.  We expect this process to play out over the next few weeks.

As I mentioned before, I understand healthcare is very personal and it’s for this reason I believe you should be in control of it. That’s ultimately why I’m fighting through this process to finally repeal and replace Obamacare. Read More

NOEM: Delivering on a Promise to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

2017/03/07

Rep. Kristi Noem today issued the following statement upon the release of the American Health Care Act:

“In the years since Obamacare was first passed, South Dakotans have called for its repeal and replacement. In the meantime, they’ve seen premiums skyrocket, deductibles soar, and choices become limited.   In gutting the Independent Payment Advisory Board and delaying some of the most burdensome elements, we were able to offer a degree of relief, but Obamacare is fundamentally beyond repair.  Tonight, we are taking the most significant steps to date in the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.  There is still plenty of public debate that must happen and I look forward to hearing South Dakotans’ feedback, but this is a critical step toward healthcare that is more affordable and accessible to all.”

The American Health Care Act dismantles Obamacare’s onerous mandates and taxes (including Rep. Noem’s Health Insurance Tax repeal), expands and enhances the use of Health Savings Accounts, and offers individuals and families a monthly refundable tax credit to help purchase health insurance, among other things.  Additionally, the proposal continues protections for those with pre-existing conditions, allows young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until 26, and maintains the policy of no lifetime caps.  To view a full copy of the bill, please visit www.ReadTheBill.gop.

The House Ways and Means Committee, of which Rep. Noem is a member, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee have jurisdiction over the legislation.  The committees are expected to meet later this week to formally consider the bills.

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Ag committees begin work on new farm bill

2017/03/06

The U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Committees have started the process of writing a new farm bill.

The Senate Agriculture Committee held its first farm bill field hearing Feb. 23 at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan. Farmers testifying at the hearing talked about what they think is working and what is not from the 2014 legislation. They also emphasized the need for funding levels to be maintained or increased in the 2018 farm bill due to lower grain prices and net farm income.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., serves on the committee. He said members aren't looking at wholesale changes in the new farm legislation, but they have identified some areas that need tweaking. The goal for lawmakers is to protect farmers facing low commodity prices.

"The commodity title of the bill is really important and making sure we've got a safety net that works," he said.

That means if the Agriculture Risk Coverage program is maintained, the payment discrepancy between counties must be fixed.

"There were differences between counties that was concerning to us, and so how some of the yields had been calculated and the formulas that went into that is something that we would, you know, definitely take a look at," said Keith Alverson, who farms near Chester, S.D., and is immediate past president of the South Dakota Corn Growers Association.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said she has had frequent conversations with House Ag Committee Chair Mike Conaway about changes in the next farm program with ARC topping the list.

"We're looking at the ARC program. The county-by-county yields, we're not sure that should stay. What really helps producers, those are the kind of changes we want to make to commodity programs," she said.

Thune said the safety net also includes permanent disaster programs for livestock, such as the Livestock Indemnity Program and Livestock Forage Programs.

Since 2012, western South Dakota has received over $265 million in payments under the permanent disaster title in the current farm bill, he said.

While crop insurance is not a component of the farm bill, it will be negotiated in tandem with the measure. Noem said it's a priority because it's the most important risk management tool available for grain farmers.

"We need to continue to look into making sure that we have crop insurance, that that risk management tool is there, it's secure," she said.

The committees also are looking at enhancing water quality and conservation programs.

"We need more conservation acres. We're all very disappointed in what happened in CRP here in South Dakota, but we need to prioritize that and make sure that that's fully funded," Noem said.

Thune agrees there will be more emphasis on conservation in this bill and he is offering his own program called the Soil Health and Income Protection Program or SHIPP.

"This would give producers an opportunity to take the poorest producing land that they have and put it into a program for a shorter amount of time, get rental payments on that," he said.

He said payments would be figured at half of the Conservation Reserve Program rental rate. Farmers would have to plant a perennial crop on the land, but would be able to hay and graze those acres.

Another anticipated change in the 2018 farm bill is the Margin Protection Program after many dairy producers failed to receive payments when the milk price dropped below breakeven levels. The reason is payments were based on average margins, which they say is a flawed formula that needs to be revamped or thrown out in the next program.

"That's definitely going to be reworked. Too many senators, particularly on the agriculture committee, know that their dairy farmers aren't getting anything out of the program," said Chris Clayton, DTN ag policy editor. "There may be a whole new kind of different program brought up for dairy. The problem is then how much is that new program going to cost every year?"

In fact, the big key for the entire farm bill is finding budget dollars to keep even current funding levels.

"The farm bill is a matter of robbing Peter to pay Paul, so what ends up happening there is critical," Clayton said.

Congress will be going through the process of budget reconciliation and looking for savings that will determine the baseline funding for the farm legislation.

"You know if ... the committees can actually show some way, shape or form of reduction in the cost over a 10-year period that's a more likelihood they can get a bill done," Clayton said.

The Senate Ag Committee will hold its next farm bill field hearing in Michigan this month.

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Weekly Column: 21st Century Cures

2017/03/03

Almost two years ago, my nephew Gage learned he had Type 1 diabetes, a disease his older brother Hunter had been diagnosed with a few years before.  Shortly after the family got home from the hospital in Sioux Falls where Gage had learned to give himself shots and test his blood sugar levels, he was talking with his mom about what the diagnosis would mean.  At one point, he told her, “If God is going to heal me or Hunter, I hope he heals Hunter.  He’s had diabetes a lot longer than me.” 

What an incredible display of brotherly love!  Just a few months ago, another one of my nephews, Mitchell, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as well.  It’s my hope and prayer that one day, because of the incredible research currently underway, we’ll be able to tell Hunter, Gage, Mitchell and young people like them that there is a cure; they can be healed.

On February 28, in observance of the 10th annual RARE Disease Day, people around the world turned their attention to diseases like this.  Throughout the day and the week that surrounded it, my team and I met with many South Dakotans whose families were forever changed by rare conditions. 

I spoke with one father, for instance, whose son had both Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease, which our family has learned is a somewhat common combination as they are both autoimmune diseases (one of our nephews also has Celiac disease). The whole family has now gone gluten free to accommodate his son’s Celiac disease and with new technological advancements, he can monitor his son’s blood sugar levels almost minute-by-minute through an app on his phone.

We also met with two inspiring moms of children with cystic fibrosis and a father whose son has been living with a severe genetic disorder.  The disorder causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges, and various physical characteristics. Ongoing research offers more insight into how to manage life with the disease, but there is currently no cure.

While the syndromes and diseases take many different forms, I am consistently inspired by the resilience of those who live with these diagnoses and the caregivers who offer support.  It was with these families in mind that I helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act last year.  The bill was also approved by the Senate and eventually signed into law by the president.

The 21st Century Cures Act provided new support for research and biomedical innovation, specifically incentivizing the development of drugs and medical countermeasures for pediatric diseases.  Additionally, the legislation removed regulatory burdens that slow the pace of scientific advancement, modernized clinical trials, put patients at the heart of the regulatory review process, and streamlined processes that made it difficult to translate discoveries into FDA-approved treatments.

For more than a century, the United States has been on the leading edge of medical innovation and I’m committed to protecting this tradition for a century more.  With the 21st Century Cures Act now in place, I’m hopeful we’ve cleared a space where innovation can thrive and new forms of healing can take hold.

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Emission standards opposed by SD delegation to be cut by Trump

2017/03/02

Another presidential executive order could be the beginning of the end for a carbon-cutting initiative criticized by South Dakotans in Congress.

President Donald Trump is expected to target the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, supported by former President Barack Obama, with a new executive order that could be signed as early as next week, according to a Reuters report.

The plan was announced in August 2015 and was intended to reduce carbon pollution from power plants by setting long-term emissions goals for every state. The plan was stayed on Feb. 9 by the Supreme Court pending judicial review, but Trump's order could send the plan back to the EPA, ending its legal defense, Reuters reported.

U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem declined to comment on the order until it is signed, but all expressed criticism of the Clean Power Plan.

"I had serious concerns with the Obama administration's effort to shutter reliable and affordable coal generation," Thune said. "I strongly oppose this backdoor national energy tax and look forward to advancing a truly all-the-above energy approach."

Rounds also supports an "all of the above" approach that preserves the country's natural resources.

"In his joint address to Congress, President Trump made it clear that he will work to roll back overly burdensome regulations so that our economy can grow and prosper, which is an agenda I support," Round said.

The order is also expected to bring an end to a temporary federal coal mining ban on federal coal leases, imposed by the Obama administration in January, Reuters said.

Don Kelley, a board member for Dakota Rural Action, opposed the upcoming executive order. He said pollution from coal power plants have increased mercury contamination in South Dakota waters and have accentuated medical conditions, like asthma.

Kelley said South Dakota is already behind the curve on the adoption of solar energy, and while some utility companies have installed solar farms, making cuts to the Clean Power Plan could keep the state from catching up.

"Our state has kind of sat back and said, 'There is no rush, and there's no need to sort of help people who want to use renewable energy,' " Kelley said.

Noem said preservation of the land is important, but she believes the Clean Power Plan would increase energy costs. She said South Dakotans making $50,000 per year already spend one-fifth of their after-tax income on energy costs, double the national average.

"We all want to preserve our environment for future generations, and in a place like South Dakota, where we largely make our living off the land, that is especially true," Noem said. "But the preservation should be done through innovation, not regulation."

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Contact Information

1323 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2801
Fax 202-225-5823
noem.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Ways and Means

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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