The growth of expensive regulations from unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. is costing American families and burdening farmers, South Dakota’s Republican congressional delegation said Wednesday at an agricultural forum.
U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds spoke at Dakotafest, Mitchell’s annual farm show. Lauding agriculture as a top industry in the state, Noem said lawmakers need to make sure federal regulations in areas such as clean water and power-plant emissions aren’t slowing down economic growth.
“The regulations we face coming out of Washington, D.C are a threat to our way of life,” Noem said. “That is a weight around your neck.”
Agriculture is a difficult and unpredictable way to make a living, and lawmakers in Washington need to make sure policies are in place to encourage a strong farm economy, Thune said, praising provisions in the federal Farm Bill passed in 2014.
Acknowledging low grain and livestock prices that are dragging down farm income, Rounds said farmers have to be able count on a safety net and pledged to fight attempts to cut to crop insurance.
Thune and Noem are up for re-election in 2016. Noem faces Democratic state Rep. Paula Hawks, while Yankton businessman Jay Williams is challenging Thune.
An audience member said she couldn’t vote for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, and asked the delegation what South Dakota residents should do in the November election. Thune, in part, made his argument for Trump based on the possibility of future appointments tilting the partisan leaning of to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Politicians come and go. Presidents come and go. Members of Congress come and go,” Thune said. “The Supreme Court is a permanent, lifetime appointment that will be generational in terms of its impact on this country.”Read More
The U.S. needs to revamp its tax and trade policies.
That's what U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., told a group of about 35 people today during a luncheon hosted by the Aberdeen Area Chamber of Commerce's Government Affairs Committee.
She called the session a conversation because people appreciation conversations more than hearing speeches.
As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Noem spoke about tax and trade policies, both of which she said need to be reformed.
The Ways and Means Committee, she said, is often referred to as the oldest committee in Congress as it was the first one established. And some people refer to it as the most powerful committee because it has jurisdiction over tax policy, trade policy, health care issues and mroe.
South Dakota has never had a person on the committee, she said.
“I decided that if I was going to be there and be away from my state and my family, I wanted to be where I could have the biggest impact,” Noem said. “When you come from an agricultural state like South Dakota does, (tax and trade) issues are huge.”
Today’s tax policies are in dramatic need of reform, she said, which is why the committee put forward a tax reform blueprint prior to dismissing for an August break.
The blueprint, available on the committee’s website, is so dramatically different, Noem said most who take the time to look at it will be astounded.
And that’s what she’s hoping for. The committee is using the August break to discuss the blueprint and get general feedback. In fact, there are already changes being drafted based on discussions had by some committee members, she said.
“It really is a fundamental change in the way we look at our taxes,” she said.
The committee is focusing on lower rates so keep more money in their pockets and reinvest where needed, she said.
Noem said the U.S. in the only developed country that hasn’t reformed its tax code in 25 years, which has corporations doing business elsewhere. Vehicle companies, for example, are moving to manufacturing in Mexico, she said. Not only are there lower taxes, but Mexico also has more trade agreements, she said.
Being competitive in the world market will get the U.S. economy going and turn the country’s fiscal situation around, she said.
Part of that is establishing fair trade agreements. Most any store (in the U.S.) has products made in Vietnam, made in China, she said.
“But you walk into stores in those countries and you don’t see made in the USA products,” she said.
That is a problem the U.S. has with its trade agreements, she said.
“We would be foolish to think we don’t need any trade agreements at all,” she said.
The U.S. can negotiate better agreements that break down the barriers for producers, farmers, ranchers and businesses, she said.
“We can’t just sit here and worry about what’s within our borders,” she said.
That's especially true, Noem said, when 95 percent of world's customer base is beyond U.S. borders.
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Find out more about tax reform as proposed by the Ways and Means Committee at waysandmeans.house.gov/taxreform.Read More
It was a packed house at Dakotafest by farmers who were concerned about being able to do their job and make a living.
"We've got a lot of things going on. Farm economy isn't real good people are wondering how do I sharpen the pencil and survive this. We also have regulations raining down from Washington D.C.," said President of South Dakota Farm Bureau Scott VanderWall.
Senators John Thune, Mike Rounds and Representative Kristi Noem were on hand holding a forum to discuss the low commodity and live stock prices and trade policies that have farmers suffering from making their fair share of wages.
"I know the challenges but this is been a very difficult crop year with the drought that parts of the state are facing and low commodity prices there facing are some unique challenges," Noem said.
Representative Noem grew up in a farming household and she says it is issues like these that give her fuel.
"This reminds me of why I do what I do. We need normal everyday people that know how these producers feel making the argument for these policies in Washington D.C.," added Noem.
One of the frustration some farmers told us they face are all the regulations being dropped down, costing them thousands of dollars.
"All these regulations coming out of this administration is really stifling the farm economy and really the economy of the whole country," said Mel Freeman, a farmer for 30 years from Ethan.
"All these regulations that are impacting the industry get passed down to consumers. The average U.S. American pays an extra $15,000 per year just to comply with regulations," said Noem.
Several farmers share the thought that government in Washington D.C. think they know what is best for their land.
"No one better than us growers and producers that know about the land. We know what we produce better than anybody but us growers and producers. They always feel like they are in control, they are the ones that best know how to run and operate everything. It's not the case," said farmer Mark Engelbrecht.
Many of the farmers we spoke to today said having Senators Thune, Rounds and Representative Krisit Noem come down and listen to their problems gives them hope for the future.Read More
At approximately 8 a.m., nearly 11 months without commercial service came to an end for Watertown Regional Airport passengers.
The first Aerodynamics Inc. (ADI) flight carrying approximately 30 passengers took to the skies Monday morning en route to Denver. After going through the Transportation Security Administration screening process — which called for passengers to remove shoes, belts, and items in pockets — the passengers boarded the 50-seat airplane, guided by TSA and ADI staff members the entire way.
On board, passengers lined into a plane that featured a row of window seats on the left side and a combination of aisle and window seats on the right side. Passengers had the option of storing their belongings in either cubby holes above their seats or underneath the seat.
Each seat was lined with leather material, making for a comfortable ride throughout.
Some passengers, such as Watertown City Council Alderman Glen Vilhauer and his wife, Darla, arrived as early as 6:10 a.m. for the flight, planning to be back in the afternoon to allow Vilhauer to attend Monday night’s city council meeting.
Having a front-row seat in witnessing a process that included a few hiccups, Vilhauer approached the flight somewhat skeptically. Those hiccups began with the canceled flights and subsequent termination of service of the city’s previous airline service provider, Great Lakes Airlines, and included the bankruptcy of ADI’s former parent company, SeaPort Airlines, back in February.
“For the last several months, I’ve been telling the mayor (Steve Thorson) that I’ll believe this when I see it when that first flight takes off,” Vilhauer said while in flight. “By golly, we got the job done. So far so good.”
With the affordable rates of the airline — at an average of $99 for a one-way ticket between Watertown and Denver — the Vilhauer couple foresees taking future trips to Denver even though they are not frequent fliers. Glen Vilhauer also believes the rates will allow others to consider booking future flights.
“I just really hope Watertown and the surrounding communities support the air service out of Watertown,” Vilhauer said. “It’s been a long time coming. Hopefully, we’ll make it worthwhile.”
About 20 minutes after initial takeoff, at about 8:20 a.m., the flight stopped in Pierre to pick up almost 20 passengers, bringing the plane nearly to its 50-passenger capacity. During the approximately 20-minute stop, some passengers used the time to take the opportunity to use the small walk-in restroom located at the back of the plane. Approximately 8:40 a.m., the inaugural flight resumed its journey to the mile-high city.
During the second leg of the journey, flight attendants offered passengers an assortment of drink options, including Coca-Cola products, apple and orange juice, and water. Those who partook in the beverage options were able to pull out a small table attached to the back of the seat in front of them.
At approximately 10 a.m. Central Standard Time (9 a.m. Mountain Standard Time), the flight completed its journey to Denver with a landing at Denver International Airport as passengers traversed the tarmac to a lower level of the airport.
Many passengers who intended to fly back to Watertown after landing in Denver used the 90-minute break to grab breakfast within the airport’s many restaurants, with Denver omelets being a popular selection at Lefty’s Colorado Trail Grille. Those who wandered around the airport a bit could find more familiar fast food fare in McDonald’s and Pizza Hut, albeit at higher-than-average prices.
Other passengers on the inaugural flight opted to stay in Denver or continue on their journeys to cities such as Phoenix.
At about 11:30 a.m. CST, many of the passengers boarded the return flight to Pierre and Watertown. After returning to Watertown Regional Airport shortly after 2 p.m., the passengers were greeted by area citizens, including U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., in celebration of a successful return of airline service in Watertown, highlighted by a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Summing up the magnitude of the moment, Noem said, “This is a great day for Watertown, but really, it’s a great day for all of northeast South Dakota. I’m thrilled to see this airport filled up with people. I caught a lot of flights out of this airport, and I hope to continue to catch many more.
“I hope everybody encourages their family and friends to use this,” Noem added. “This is a wonderful thing to have in a city and it benefits our entire state. It will really help us develop economic growth as well.”
Shortly after Noem concluded her remarks, a voice over the airport’s intercom announced that a new wave of passengers were cleared to begin boarding for the second ADI flight out of Watertown.
U.S. Representative Kristi Noem spent time in Madison on Friday. Noem toured some facilities, including East River Electric Power Cooperative, and also held a town hall meeting in East River’s auditorium.
At the town hall meeting, Noem told those attending that she holds these types of events to update residents on what is happening in Congress, as well as hear people’s questions and concerns. On Friday, Noem talked about her serving on the House Ways and Means Committee and its work currently on tax reform.
Noem says our country’s corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world, and companies are leaving because of it.
She said that the country’s trade policy also needs to be addressed.
Noem said that the United States needs to have better trade agreements in order to allow access to our products by other countries to help grow our economy.
Noem fielded several questions from residents at the town hall meeting, including questions about the EPA, the federal budget, and health care. Noem said that she has not been in favor of the Affordable Care Act, and that she is a sponsor on a healthcare reform bill that came out recently that would replace that.
Noem is traveling around the state this month while Congress is in recess. She said Congress will be back in session in September.Read More
On Capitol Hill where very few people were “farm kids” and even fewer actually pursued farming or ranching as a career, the personal impact of agriculture can get lost. But as I like to remind people, while not everyone farms, we all eat.
Earlier this month at the Sioux Empire Fair’s annual Ag Appreciation Lunch in Sioux Falls, I had the opportunity to say thanks by serving a meal to those who feed the world. Not only do these producers grow the food our families consume, they provide the backbone to South Dakota’s economy and a layer of security for our country, as we never want to become too reliant on foreign nations to feed us. It is for these reasons that I fight so hard to make sure agriculture policy provides a strong safety net for our food supply without imposing unnecessary costs and regulations on producers.
The last farm bill was the most reformed we’ve seen in my lifetime. Many of the programs now work more efficiently and with greater accountability to taxpayers, but we are always looking at ways to improve them. While we continue to monitor the legislation’s implementation, preliminary work has already begun for the next farm bill with formal hearings likely kicking off next year.
For my part, I’ve been working closely with Ag Committee Chairman Conaway to ensure he’s aware of how current programs are playing out in South Dakota. I’m also working with Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson and Rep. Kevin Cramer on legislation we hope to have included in the next farm bill that would help alleviate the problematic wetland determinations backlog. Producers can’t make certain improvements to their land until they’ve been given the OK that changes won’t impact protected wetlands. We need to ensure we are protecting our land and habitat, but producers shouldn’t have to wait years for a decision. Our legislation makes a series of reforms – including requiring that producers get an answer within a few months of a request.
Overzealous regulators are also a challenge for producers. One of the most concerning regulations we’re fighting against today is the EPA’s controversial Waters of the U.S. rule. This could be one of the largest federal land grabs our generation has seen with penalties rising to more than $30,000 per violation per day. We’re working through both the legislative and judicial system to reverse course and we’ve had some successes – especially after a Federal Appellate Court issued a temporary suspension.
Tax reform is another area that is incredibly important to our agriculture community. This Congress, I gained a position on the committee that major tax reform measures must go through. Moreover, I’m one of only 14 Members of Congress – and the only one with a deep background in agriculture – to serve on the committee’s specialized tax policy panel. That’s important because for the first time in a long time, there is real momentum behind this issue and we need to get it right.
Late last year, we made the Section 179 tax deduction permanent, giving farmers and other small businesses more certainty on investments into their operations. Now, we’re looking at broader efforts to help both small businesses and individuals. We’re fighting to make the tax code more simple, more fair, and better at promoting healthy economic growth. I’m truly humbled to give agriculture a voice at this table.
Whether we’re talking tax policy, regulatory issues, or the farm bill, I stand up every day in support of South Dakota farmers and ranchers. I’m proud to explain what the industry is – and isn’t – and to keep unnecessary regulations away from operations. Most of all, I’m grateful to represent a state whose economy is still rooted in agriculture.Read More
Long-standing staffing and management shortcomings have been plaguing the Indian Health Service(IHS), and now members of Congress and members of the tribes are scrambling to improve the Federal agency.
"The morale of the tribal members themselves is very low at this point," said William Bear Shield, Chairman of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Health Board.
There's a cruel joke often told in Indian country, don't get sick after June. The truth beneath the humor, the IHS yearly budget is typically depleted after six months.
William Bear Shield says if tribal members get sick, they're forced to foot the bill.
"Sometimes they decide to ignore their health concerns and try to deal with it until October 1st," Shield explained.
Funding problems are only a small part of the picture, according to David Flute, chairman of the Sisseton Wahpeton Sioux Tribe.
"A lot of our tribal members get misdiagnosed. They get wrong medicine prescribed to them," Flute said.
Flute says the members of his tribe don't get the medical attention they need until it's too late.
“The doctors know that they need some specialty care, but the Indian Health Service won't pay for it until it's a loss of life or loss of limb," Flute said.
While problems plaguing IHS have been well-known in the Great Plains area, lawmakers in Washington seemed to be relatively unaware of the crisis until tribal members testified before Congress. In the last 7 months, 9 people have died because one IHS emergency room was shut down.
"They could not believe that we have this kind of healthcare being delivered in America today. It’s third-world quality health care, and it’s shameful," said Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD).
Rep. Kristi Noem has introduced a bill to overhaul the embattled agency.
"It's time for them to realize that we are serious about getting this crisis fixed," Noem said.
Noem's bill comes after health inspectors uncovered serious quality-of-care deficiencies at hospitals over the past 14 months.
"Change can happen quickly when you're dealing with life and death situations," Shield said.
Meanwhile, IHS announced it will spend $700,000 dollars to help hospitals across the country meet accreditation standers, but Shield said the nightmare won't end until the legislation passes.
"We are very hopeful that the bill after it is worked up within committee, will be passed and we will immediately see change," he said.Read More
Rep. Kristi Noem today thanked Milbank native Morgan Jones for her time and efforts during her internship in Noem’s Washington, DC, office.
“Morgan has been an excellent addition to our office,” said Noem. “Her hard work ethic, diligence, and willingness to help will serve her well as she gets ready to begin her career. I’m hopeful that by learning more about the intersection between public policy and veterinary medicine, Morgan can come away with an even better rounded perspective into what her future may hold. I look forward to seeing all that she accomplishes.”
Jones will be continuing her education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, working towards a major in Animal Science and minors in Political Science and Public Health. In addition to her studies, Jones serves as president of the University of Minnesota Pre-Vet Club and as a Community Advisor for the university’s housing department.“While I’m hoping to become a veterinarian one day, serving South Dakota as an intern in Rep. Noem’s office has given me a unique perspective into how our government can impact a person’s day-to-day life, including the lives of veterinarians,” said Jones. “Not only have I expanded my understanding of the legislative process, but I’ve also learned a lot about how to effectively communicate. I’m grateful to the staff and Rep. Noem for all that they do for the people of South Dakota.” Read More
I would like to commend Rep. Kristi Noem’s staff for their incredible assistance during a very stressful time. The day before we were scheduled to leave for my daughter’s international wedding, we discovered that my husband’s passport had expired. A panicked call to Representative Noem’s Sioux Falls office resulted in a quick solution. We had an immediate plan and the passport, with the help of her staff, was rushed through the system within 24 hours. Because of their diligence, caring and professionalism, my husband was able to walk my daughter down the aisle.
Without their help, our oversight could have been a very sad occasion for our family. We commend the staff here in Sioux Falls and wish to publicly thank them for everything they did; from the constant communication to the work they put in behind the scene to make it happen. After making contact with Representative Noem’s office and an initial conversation; there was never a doubt that they were working to make it happen. We appreciate her highly effective staff and all their hard work for her constituents.Read More
Earlier this summer, lightning struck Crow Peak in the Black Hills, setting about 2,700 acres of land on fire before it was contained. The blaze threatened the homes and ranch lands near its path as well as the lives of the firefighters working to fend off its flames.
Over the course of the last decade or so, wildfires across the country have grown larger and more dangerous. In 2015, a record-breaking 10.1 million acres burned, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In total, the fires took the lives of at least seven firefighters, severely damaged 4,500 homes, and cost approximately $2.6 billion.
Because of the way funding is allocated, the increased size and scope of fire fighting has drawn much-needed resources away from preventing these blazes altogether. I, along with many members on both sides of the aisle, would like to see this changed. More specifically, I've backed the bipartisan H.R.167, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act. This legislation would help protect the resources we have to keep our forests healthy, thereby lowering the risk of costly wildfires. The most damaging fires would then be fought with emergency funding, just like other natural disasters are.
In the Black Hills, excessive drought and damaging pine beetles have only amplified the risk of wildfires. Not only is this a significant safety concern, but it also jeopardizes our state’s tourism and forestry industries – and the paychecks of the hundreds of South Dakotans employed in these industries.
A number of counties West River have already become eligible for emergency relief due to excessive drought. Even the small rains some counties have received have simply not been enough to prevent fires or quench dry ranch lands.
Years of pine beetle damage have also turned much of the Black Hills into a tinder box. An estimated 430,000 acres - or about one-third of the Black Hills National Forest - have been destroyed by pine beetles. Through provisions I helped write into the 2014 Farm Bill, we've been able to help cut through environmental red tape, get boots on the ground faster, and allow the Forest Service to work on a larger scale in many cases. So far, nearly one million acres of the Black Hills National Forest has benefited from these provisions, but more must still be done.
Through other efforts, we were also able to prioritize additional funding to help beat the beetle.
Simply put, it is much more cost-effective and significantly safer to prevent a wildfire than it is to fight one. Our funding allocations should reflect that.
We are fortunate to have so many dedicated foresters working in the Black Hills today, fighting to keep our forests healthy, preserving our landscape, and, when necessary, stepping in to protect homes, livestock and lives. I am incredibly grateful for their efforts and humbled by the risks they take.Read More
At the invitation of Glacial Lakes Rubber & Plastics (GLRP) CEO Robb Peterson and Vibram USA CEO Mike Gionfriddo, Senator John Thune (R-SD), Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD), and RepresentativeKristi Noem (R-SD) will join the employees of GLRP and Vibram USA in Watertown to celebrate the grand opening of GLRP's new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. GLRP partnered with Vibram USA in 2014 and has quickly grown to require a new, larger, more functional facility. This important milestone is being marked by the participation of the full South Dakota Congressional delegation in the ribbon cutting at the new plant.
Vibram USA designs, develops and manufactures soling for high performance consumer and military-specific footwear and is the largest supplier of high-quality footwear soling to the U.S. Department of Defense. The Glacial Lakes Rubber & Plastics plant features multi-line capability with the ability to manufacture a broad spectrum of Vibram products, ranging from soling for high-performance athletic shoes to combat boots for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Special Operations Forces. In addition, GLRP also produces products for the automotive, industrial, and agriculture markets with a variety of molding technologies.
GLRP's new facility in Watertown adds 300% more square footage than their previous location and doubles the capacity for soling presses. The company has also made a significant investment in new IT technology to support the company's continued growth and expansion in South Dakota and added a full state of the art materials laboratory with materials testing and measuring capabilities. Most importantly, GLRP has already added a dozen new employees to support their expanded manufacturing capabilities.
The South Dakota Congressional Delegation will recognize the unique importance of GLRP's new manufacturing plant by participating in the ribbon-cutting event. During the event, Senator Thune, Senator Rounds, and Rep. Noem will tour the facility and meet with employees to learn more about the important work GLRP is doing to provide high-quality footwear components to the U.S. military.
Senator Thune said, "The fact that GLRP and Vibram USA quickly outgrew their previous facility is a testament to just how successful their partnership has become. This expansion is good news for the two companies, all of the employees who've helped make this happen, and most importantly, the men and women in uniform who will benefit from all of this hard work. It's pretty special to know that the work these companies are doing here in Watertown can help our troops complete their mission around the world with quality, American-made products. I congratulate GLRP and Vibram USA on a job well done, and am excited to see what they do next."
Senator Rounds said, "I am pleased to participate in the grand opening of the new Vibram USA and Glacial Lakes Rubber & Plastics facility as they continue to grow their businesses and bring jobs to South Dakota. Businesses like these are the backbone of our economy and I'm pleased to see them thriving in South Dakota. I thank Vibram USA and Glacial Lakes Rubber & Plastics for their commitment to our state and to the men and women of our armed forces, for whom they supply quality rubber soling for military footwear."
"This expansion speaks volumes about the people of Watertown and the incredible and dedicated workforce you can find in this community," said Rep. Noem. "Here in this facility, hardworking men and women will have the opportunity to create something incredible. From the soles that will take a marathoner over the finish line or a soldier over the mountains of Afghanistan – to the bumpers, seals and gaskets needed for our cars, trucks, and agricultural equipment – consumers can see the Made in America stamp and have confidence that the best workforce stands behind the work."
Vibram USA CEO Mike Gionfriddo said, "Vibram USA is pleased to support the continued growth and expansion of Glacial Lakes Rubber & Plastics. The partnership between our two companies ensures that Vibram's military and commercial customers will have the capacity and quality needed to sustain the growing demand for high-performance Vibram rubber soles. The South Dakota workforce has consistently demonstrated their commitment to the quality manufacturing necessary to meet the high standards set by the Vibram brand and we are looking forward to continuing to invest in our partnership with Glacial Lakes. "
Glacial Lakes Rubber & Plastics president and CEO Robb Peterson commented, "We are pleased to welcome Senator Thune, Senator Rounds, and Congresswoman Noem to our new facility. Their attendance and participation in this ribbon-cutting event demonstrates the importance of manufacturing and job creation in Watertown and throughout South Dakota. Glacial Lakes is pleased to continue our partnership with Vibram USA to manufacture the highest quality rubber soling for our armed service members. Our growth is a result of our strong business partnership and I look forward to maintaining our relationship."
Six days before graduating high school, Bailee Ward saw the United States Airforce Academy had looked at her online recruiting website.
That's when the idea of potentially joining a military program similar to that entered her mind. But ultimately, she brushed it off.
She continued through her summer, and the idea never came back to her mind.
Later that year, while she was attending the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Ward walked by a ballroom at the school with a sign outside advertising a military academy day.
All branches of the military were present discussing the possibility for students to join. She decided to grab a folder and joined the group.
During the presentation, the director of admissions asked the student audience to raise their hands if they were older than 17 and out of high school.
Ward was the only one to raise her hand.
Months later, Ward is now enrolled in the United States Naval Academy Class of 2020. Ward was inducted June 30 and has already started her six-week challenge of basic midshipman training as part of Plebe Summer.
About 1,200 candidates are selected each year for the Academy's "plebe" or freshman class, and each student is required to participate in Plebe Summer.
During this time, plebes have no access to television, movies, the internet or music, and have restricted cell phone access. They are permitted to make three phone calls during the six weeks of Plebe summer.
Ward's grandmother, Bobbi Ward, said Bailee made her first phone call Sunday, July 10, when her family was able to speak with her. With a chuckle, Bobbi said her granddaughter did have a time limit, "and she went right up to the limit."
Ward will see her parents the weekend after basic training completes, during parents' weekend. She will then come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Although she cannot make or receive phone calls, she can receive letters.
Before leaving, Ward's emotions were a mix.
Ward's initial interest centered around the Air Force Academy because she hopes to somehow work in aviation.
But when she met with a representative from the Naval Academy, "something just clicked," Ward said. "Since I was a female from South Dakota at an engineering school, my application would stick out, and I'd get attention whether I liked it or not."
Later that day at Mines, she went back to her dorm and filled out the preliminary application. Later during the application process, Ward needed letters of recommendation from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.
"It all started kind of by chance — a good chance," she said. "l'm more honored than anything. It's humbling that they would choose me over anyone I saw in online forums and at my interviews."
Ward hopes to be an aviator.
"I've always wanted to see the world from a different perspective," she said. "If I can't make flight school I'll be disappointed, but I know there's something else out there I can do."
Those possibilities include a Marine Corps officer and flight officer, among many other opportunities.
The pressure and rigor of Plebe Summer is carefully designed to help plebes prepare for their first academic year at the Naval Academy and the four years of challenge that await them.
As the summer progresses, new midshipmen rapidly assimilate basic skills in seamanship, navigation, damage control, sailing and handling yard patrol craft. Plebes also learn infantry drill and how to shoot 9 mm pistols and M-16 rifles.
Other daily training sessions involve moral, mental, physical or professional development and team-building skills. Activities include swimming, martial arts, basic rock climbing, obstacle, endurance and confidence courses designed to develop physical, mental and team-building skills. Forty hours are devoted the instruction of infantry drill and five formal parades.
"The opportunity this will give me with four years of school and the level of education I'll receive, I can't repay that with five years of service," Ward said. "I'll more than likely make a career out of it."
Nearly two dozen veterans a day fall victim to suicide. Not only is this number about twice as high as civilian suicide rates, but as of 2012, more men and women in uniform lost their life to suicide than in combat. We cannot accept this as the status quo. We, as a nation, have to do better.
In recent years, the VA has seen its funding increase. Some reforms have been made. But the bureaucracy has remained the same. Wait times are too long. Calls into the veteran suicide crisis hotline have gone to voicemail, according to the VA's own Inspector General report earlier this year.
Still, there is hope. Veterans who have been able to cut through the VA's red tape are less likely to lose their life to suicide. That's one of the reasons why I've been so vocal about the fact that we need to keep the Hot Springs VA Hospital open. This is a facility that has served veterans for more than 100 years. Its position in the Black Hills provides a level of serenity that aids in the healing process – especially for those facing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and similar illnesses.
Those who receive care there have lobbied hard to make sure it stays open, as has the Hot Springs community. Despite all this, the VA has incrementally depleted the number of services offered in Hot Springs and pushed forward a plan to close the facility altogether. Now is not the time to shutter the doors and tell our veterans to find help elsewhere.
The House has voted to block the VA from using funds to close the facility in Hot Springs or limit services there through FY2017, provisions I fought to include; but veterans deserve a permanent solution.
Earlier this Congress, the House also passed the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which helps increase access to mental healthcare at the VA. The bill became law only months later and implementation is underway. Additional services are also offered to veterans in major mental health legislation that passed Congress just a few weeks ago.
There are also incredible organizations throughout South Dakota that are reaching out and making a difference. Over Independence Day this year, I had the opportunity to meet members of the Lane Logan Memorial LTD at a parade in Watertown. They are working hard to fight PTSD and veteran suicide in memory of Lane, who lost his life to suicide at just 28 years old after serving his country.
The Sergeant Derr Foundation in Rapid City also does important work to advocate and assist those fighting battles after returning home. Sergeant Colton Derr lost his life far too young. As his biography reads, "Colton's one unfulfilled desire was to share his love with a family of his own. Instead, Colton is sharing his love with our God and family in Heaven."
Our office is also here to help. If you or a loved one ever faces an unresponsive VA, we are here to help usher you through, ensure they respond, and hold the agency accountable for its failure.
The VA's directive is to serve our nation's veterans and provide them with the care they have earned. Especially for those fighting a battle at home against PTSD, TBI and other mental illnesses, it's time that they begin treating veterans on the service members' terms, not the VA's.
Legislation introduced by members of the South Dakota congressional delegation on Thursday outlines a federal-state land swap that would create more outdoor opportunities in the state.
U.S. Sens. Mike Rounds (R-SD) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Senate version of the bill, while U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) introduced the House version.
The bill would give the state control of 1,468 acres of federal land in areas surrounding Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake. In exchange, the federal government would take control of 1,954 acres of state land within four separate parcels.
“Tourists come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of our unique landscape and natural resources,” Rounds said. “This exchange will allow the state to manage more land near two popular tourist sites in the Black Hills — Custer State Park and Roughlock Falls, located near the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. I thank Sen. Thune and Rep. Noem for their work on this legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with them and the state of South Dakota to see this transfer through.”
South Dakota has proven time and again that it can preserve and protect the state’s natural resources while offering outdoor experiences that attract tourists from across the nation, Thune added.
“I’m confident this track record will lend itself to creating similar opportunities in the Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake areas once this land exchange is completed,” Thune said.
Like so many families in South Dakota, Noem said, hers is “enamored” with Spearfish Canyon.
“In the busy chaos of life, you can find peace and serenity there that is unmatched,” Noem said. “South Dakota has shown over and over again that we can provide access to sites like this while preserving them for our children and grandchildren to enjoy as well. I’m proud to work with Sens. Thune and Rounds to bring this state treasure under local control.”Read More
South Dakota’s congressional delegation has introduced bills calling for a state-federal land swap that would allow the expansion of Custer State Park and the creation of a state park in Spearfish Canyon.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced the Spearfish Canyon state park proposal during his State of the State speech in January. At that time, he said the state would need to acquire some federally-owned land. South Dakota’s congressional delegates introduced legislation toward that end Thursday.
Sen. John Thune introduced a bill in the Senate with co-sponsorship by Sen. Mike Rounds, and Rep. Kristi Noem introduced a companion bill in the House.
Daugaard issued a written statement Thursday thanking all three.
“There are still many steps to take before this vision can become a reality, but I’m hopeful we will get there,” Daugaard’s statement said.
If the swap is approved by Congress and the president, 1,468 acres of federally owned Black Hills National Forest land — including the Timon and Rod and Gun campgrounds — in the Spearfish Canyon area would be transferred to state ownership. Another 524 acres of federally owned land adjacent to Custer State Park, including Bismarck Lake and Camp Bob Marshall, would also be transferred to state ownership. Camp Bob Marshall is leased by the U.S. Forest Service to the Western Dakota 4-H Camp Association for youth camps.
In return, the state would transfer four state-owned parcels totaling 1,954 acres to the federal government.
If the legislation proposing the swap becomes law, an appraisal would be ordered for all the affected parcels.
If the federal land is appraised higher than the state land, the state would have to convey additional land to the federal government, or pay additional money to the federal government, or a combination of both.
If the state land is appraised higher than the federal land, portions of the state land could be excluded from the swap to achieve an equal-value exchange.
Since the governor announced the state park proposal in January, the state used money from the Spearfish Canyon Foundation to acquire 73 acres of Spearfish Canyon land, including the site of Spearfish Falls, for $750,000 from Barrick Gold Corp. The pedestrian bridge leading to Spearfish Falls was not included in the purchase, because it was mired in litigation stemming from an easement dispute between Barrick and neighboring private landowners. The state has an option to purchase that additional small tract after the litigation is resolved.
The proposed 1,600-acre Spearfish Canyon state park would also include Roughlock Falls, which already is part of a designated state nature area. The state acquired Roughlock Falls as part of a $2.7 million deal in 2006 that included other land at the mouth of the canyon near Spearfish.
Some degree of confidential communications has existed in America since George Washington’s time as general in the Revolutionary War. But as the global landscape became increasingly complex and the stakes of a single information leak rose, the system used to protect that information evolved from a gentlemen’s agreement to a formal national security classification system.
The modern version we operate under today dates back to World War II when – at the urging of Albert Einstein and other scientists – it became necessary to ensure information related to the atomic bomb remained secure. Just as during World War II, what earns a classification today must remain undisclosed for the continued safety and security of the United States. No exceptions can be made.
In January 2009, just days before assuming the role of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton set up an unauthorized email server in an unsecured location over which both personal and official emails would be transmitted. Few in the general public knew of the set up before a House investigation into the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, uncovered it in 2015.
In the months since, we have learned that tens of thousands of State Department emails were sent through that server, including more than 100 that contained classified information at the time they were sent. Eight of those email chains included Top Secret information, which under federal rules means the information would cause “exceptionally grave damage to the national security.”
Despite the sensitivity of the information, the email server was left physically and virtually unprotected. Getting a Gmail account would have been more secure, according to FBI Director James Comey.
The consequences are real. Comey explained hostile actors may have gained access to the information. In fact, the FBI was able to confirm hostile actors did gain access to the private email accounts of individuals Clinton was in regular contact with.
Despite all this, no indictment of Clinton or her staff was made, a decision the FBI says was because Clinton didn’t mean to put our national security at risk with the careless behavior. Regardless of intentions, carelessly mishandling classified information breaks the public’s trust and jeopardizes our national security and the safety of our troops and diplomats abroad.
With so many serious questions remaining, I am actively fighting to keep America’s classified information – and in turn, the American people – secure.
Following the Democratic National Convention at the end of this month, Clinton is expected to begin receiving classified intelligence briefings. Without the public’s overt permission in November, this level of access should not be given to someone who has historically acted carelessly with our national security.
Shortly after Comey’s announcement, I joined Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul and others in supporting the TRUST Act, which would revoke Clinton’s security clearance as well as the security clearances of her colleagues at the State Department who were also careless in their handling of classified information. Additionally, the legislation would express Congress’s desire to keep classified information out of Clinton’s hands until she earns the legal right to such access.
I have also reached out directly to Comey with questions about the process he used to make a recommendation against indictment as well as the precedent this decision will set. It is imperative we have clarity and accountability on this.
I firmly believe there is a great responsibility that comes with access to classified information. Only those who will treat it with the extreme care it merits should have access. No one should get an exception to that rule.Read More
People are dying.
That’s the message tribal leaders took to Congress one more time as aHouse subcommitteeheard testimony onproposed legislationto improve the Indian Health Service.
Babies born on bathroom floors, stolen narcotics, surgical instruments washed by hand, nurses who cannot operate a crash cart or start a dopamine drip, unlicensed medical personnel, funds unaccounted for—the list of egregious violations of the Hippocratic oath, not to mention the law, at IHS facilities is long.
Some of these complaints go back to the 2010 Senate report on conditions at Aberdeen (now Great Plains) Area IHS hospitals, “In Critical Condition,” but many were documented well before that. And they continue, leading to the closure of the Rosebud Hospital emergency department in December after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determined that conditions were so bad that they would no longer reimburse for services provided there.
Tribal leaders have taken these issues to Congress before. Even after years of testimony, leaders are describing the same conditions, and so far finding the same lack of effective response.
Not that there isn’t expertise in the room.Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Alaska Native and Indian Affairs, was an emergency room physician before he was elected to the House in 2012. He founded the Coachella Valley Healthcare Initiative in 2010. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., is an M.D. whoseHouse websiterefers to him as “Dr. Dan.” He has worked part-time treating patients at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center for the last 20 years and now serves on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., is a dentist from Flagstaff. Rep. Norma Torres, D-Calif., was instrumental in implementing the Affordable Care Act in California, according to herwebsite.
But that expertise, with a few exceptions, did not seem to extend to health care for Native Americans.
Benishek said he was “not aware of the severity of the problem. So this hospital [Rosebud] is run by the IHS? Is that the story?” He said he had not known that the federal government operated any hospitals outside of the VA. Gosar urged tribes to be more forceful in insisting that IHS answer to them until Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., who authored the legislation under consideration, pointed out that lack of tribal consultation on the part of IHS was one of the fundamental issues.
William Bear Shield, Rosebud Sioux Tribe council member and chairman of the tribe’s health board, bluntly stated a fundamental issue: “Listening to the committee questions, there needs to be some education.
And sensitivity. Susan V. Karol, Tuscarora Nation, who, according to Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said of babies being born without physician assistance at an IHS facility in South Dakota, “If you’ve only had two babies hit the floor in eight years that's pretty good,” was just made Chief Medical Officer for the Great Plains Area.
Mary Smith, principal deputy director of IHS, parried many questions during the hearing by noting that she had been on the job for only a few months.
But the decision to make Karol CMO for the Great Plains Area was made on Smith’s watch. Asked by Noem to explain, Smith said, “I think the person in question [Karol] has publicly apologized. I know that she is committed to caring for the patients… there was no chief medical officer in the Great Plains and there was no full-time person and as I’ve said at this hearing, we have very serious recruitment and retention problems… I thought it was important to have a full-time chief medical officer there, so that was the basis of the thinking for that.” Karol did in fact apologize for the comment at a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing in February on substandard care at IHS facilities in the Great Plains Area.
In an email to ICTMN, Noem said of Smith’s decision to appoint Karol to the CMO position: “Especially in a time of crisis, it’s important we have a Chief Medical Officer in place in the Great Plains region, but the comments that have been made are indicative of an IHS culture that needs to change. That is one of many reasons why my legislation includes cultural sensitivity training. We must ensure the people who are serving tribal communities respect tribal communities and their way of life.”
On July 14, CMS announced that after seven months, with five babies born in ambulances en route to hospitals 50 miles away and the deaths of nine people being transported to other facilities, the Rosebud emergency department was set to reopen July 15.
Bear Shield has called for an independent investigation of the deaths at the Rosebud facility. Victoria Kitcheyan, treasurer of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, testified about conditions at the Winnebago Hospital, where her aunt and others died under poorly documented circumstances with no follow-up investigations.
“We’ll never know how many people died unnecessarily. We’ll never know how many people were misdiagnosed.” Until systematic changes are made within IHS, she said, “Winnebago Hospital will continue to be the only place where you can legally kill an Indian.”
The Helping Ensure Accountability, Leadership, and Trust in Tribal Healthcare (HEALTTH) Act was introduced in June. A similar bill, the IHS Accountability Act of 2016, was introduced in the Senate in May. The bill was authored by Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who is also a doctor. An oversight/legislativefield hearingon the legislation was held in June.
Noem has said her office and Barrasso’s staff are working to align the two pieces of legislation in hopes of being able to send legislation to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature in the near future.Read More
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today introduced legislation cosponsored by Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) that would facilitate a federal-state land exchange that includes nearly 2,000 acres of federally owned land in the Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake areas and nearly 2,000 acres of land in four separate state-owned parcels. U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) introduced a companion bill in the House of Representatives. The delegation introduced its respective bills in response to a request from Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R-S.D.).
“The state of South Dakota has proven time and again that it can preserve and protect South Dakota’s natural resources while providing unparalleled outdoor experiences that attract people from across the state and nation,” said Thune. “I’m confident this track record will lend itself to creating similar opportunities in the Spearfish Canyon and Bismarck Lake areas once this land exchange is completed.”
“Tourists come from all over the world to catch a glimpse of our unique landscape and natural resources,” said Rounds. “This exchange will allow the state to manage more land near two popular tourist sites in the Black Hills—Custer State Park and Roughlock Falls, located near the Spearfish Canyon Lodge. I thank Sen. Thune and Rep. Noem for their work on this legislation, and I look forward to continuing to work with them and the state of South Dakota to see this transfer through.”
“Like so many families in South Dakota and across the nation, ours is enamored with Spearfish Canyon,” said Noem. “In the busy chaos of life, you can find peace and serenity there that is unmatched. South Dakota has shown over and over again that we can provide access to sites like this while preserving them for our children and grandchildren to enjoy as well. I’m proud to work with Senators Thune and Rounds to bring this state treasure under local control.”
The land exchange would include 1,468 federally owned acres in the Spearfish Canyon area and 524 federally owned acres in the Bismarck Lake area, which includes Camp Bob Marshall, land leased by the U.S. Forest Service to the Western Dakota 4-H Camp Association for youth camps. The state-owned portion of the exchange includes approximately 1,954 acres of land in separate parcels.Read More
Rep. Kristi Noem today joined the U.S. House of Representatives in passing new investments into the Indian Health Service (IHS) and wildfire prevention efforts, while also preventing the DC Booth Fish Hatchery from closing and stopping the EPA from completing its controversial Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. Despite increased support for many South Dakota priorities, the legislation reduced overall spending $64 million below FY2016 levels and $1 billion below the President’s budget request.
“While not perfect, this legislation moves us closer to a model that does more good with fewer dollars,” said Noem. “The EPA’s bloated budget and overreaching regulatory policies have made it more difficult for many in South Dakota. I’m proud to have made significant cuts to EPA funding and reduced spending overall, while also offering needed support for IHS, wildfire prevention, the PILT program and other critical South Dakota priorities.”
The FY2017 Interior and Environment appropriations bill includes:
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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Thank you for coming to my town hall at the Library today in Sioux Falls everyone. Great… https://t.co/0Vu4ey4pm6
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I spoke to the SD Telecommunication Association Conference in Brookings this morning and thanked… https://t.co/wb98S8ReBB
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I'll be on @MiddaySDPB today at noon! Hope you're able to tune in.