Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem

SOUTH DAKOTA

Weekly Column: Human Trafficking and My Meeting with Ivanka Trump

2017/05/26

There are certain issues where no matter how many times you read about them, hear about them, or talk to folks who have lived through them, you just don’t understand how they could happen – and in South Dakota of all places. Human trafficking is one of those issues for me.

Recently, I sat down with Ivanka Trump at the White House on this very issue, alongside leaders from both sides of the aisle. Many understood the challenges from an international perspective, but when the conversation turned to what was happening inside our country, few realized that rural areas were as affected as major cities.

Whether I’m speaking on the House floor or in a meeting with trafficking advocates in South Dakota, when I start talking about how local law enforcement conducted a sting operation near Watertown that attracted more than 100 solicitations in just two days, people are shocked. Most just don’t realize this can happen in small towns too.  But it does.

Beyond rural versus urban, we had a thorough discussion about survivors’ needs.  In 2015, existing grants were opened to those who provide housing to trafficking survivors, as a result of legislation I wrote. While experts estimate between 100,000 and 300,000 children are trafficked in the U.S. each year, there are only a few hundred beds available to survivors nationwide. I’m hopeful this additional support will help create more safe spaces for survivors. 

But more must be done.  Once survivors escape, new challenges arise. Where do they find permanent housing? Or a job? Or a support system? Because traffickers often use drugs and alcohol as a means to control their victims, many survivors have criminal records that limit access to employment, housing, and support. 

In 2016, for instance, 80 percent of survivors surveyed by the National Survivor Network had lost or not received employment because of their criminal convictions.  To support survivors in getting back on their feet, I helped introduce new legislation that creates a pathway for them to expunge non-violent convictions and arrests from their records, so long as the crimes were a direct result of being trafficked. I’m hopeful this legislation will help relieve survivors of the past, open doors for them, and offer a path forward where healing can begin.

Still, one of the biggest pieces of feedback I get from South Dakota advocates is that we need to build awareness.  Shortly after my meeting with Ivanka Trump, the House passed legislation I cosponsored to enhance the Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign.  This is an effort to equip the general public and specific groups (such as hospitality workers, who may encounter trafficking more often than others) with better tools to identify and intervene when trafficking occurs.  

The fight against this inhumane crime requires action from each of us, so I encourage you to take a minute to learn more about the issue and spread the word. The more eyes we have out there looking for signs of distress, the faster we can move toward ending human trafficking altogether.

Read More

Noem Introduces IHS Bill

2017/05/25

Comparing health care on Native American reservations to that of third-world countries, Congresswoman Kristi Noem is sponsoring a bill she says will improve services in Indian Country.  

Noem says provisions in the bill will make a federal agency, Indian Health Service, more transparent and accountable.

"There's going to be whistle-blower protections built in, and also provisions that will clearly state that IHS employees will report directly to members of Congress so that we'll have much more openness and dialogue as we go forward with some of these reforms," Noem said.

The bill also requires Indian Health Service to set standards for wait times and requires employees to learn Native American culture. 

 A similar version of the bill is also in the Senate. Read More

Noem: Crop Insurance Vital For South Dakota Farmers

2017/05/25

Expect Congress to give President Trump's proposed budget a good going-over.  

Trump wants to cut billions of dollars in farm subsidies, including crop insurance.

But Congresswoman Kristi Noem says that program keeps South Dakota farmers operating during the worst of times.

"If we don't have crop insurance we will end up in a situation where we have a natural disaster somewhere in this country where then those producers will come to Congress and ask for a disaster payment.  Disaster payments aren't budgeted for, they're not predictable, they're often deficit spending, it's just not a responsible way to govern," Noem said.
 
Noem says Trump's new ag secretary, Sonny Perdue will be a strong advocate for farm interests at the White House. Read More

Noem Leads Colleagues in Introducing IHS Reform Bill

2017/05/25

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) – along with Reps. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Cathy McMorris-Rodgers (R-WA), and Tom Cole (R-OK) – today introduced the Restoring Accountability in the IHS ActFor years, federal reports have documented shocking cases of mismanagement and poorly delivered care at Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities.  The IHS was left to make improvements on its own, but despite funding increases almost every year, the agency produced increasingly poor care.  The Restoring Accountability in the IHS Act seeks to offer better tools for recruiting competent medical staff and leadership, improve care standards, and dramatically increase accountability.
 
“Enough is enough,” said Noem.  “IHS has to be reformed.  People’s lives are at stake.”
 
Noem continued: “The Restoring Accountability in the IHS Act would fundamentally alter how the agency operates, putting patient care first at all times.  Whether it’s recruiting competent medical staff and hospital leadership, improving care standards or instilling strict accountability measures, this legislation remains focused on ensuring tribal members in South Dakota and across the country receive the care their families need.” 

“This legislation is a strong step forward to restore accountability to the Indian Health Service and improve the delivery of care in Native American communities. I commend Rep. Noem for her work to develop creative solutions that will solve the most pressing issues plaguing Indian healthcare in the Great Plains region, and I look forward to working with her to advance this bill through the House,” said Bishop, Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
 
“Reforms to IHS are long overdue, and the Restoring Accountability in the IHS Act provides solutions to the obvious inefficiencies plaguing IHS,” Mullin said.  “By bringing accountability and flexibility to IHS management, Native Americans and their families will see dramatic improvements in their health care system. This bill will bring quality and reliable health services reforms to the IHS delivery system.”  

“The IHS is essential to our Native American communities across the nation, and it is crucial that we deliver on our promise to provide the best care possible for Native citizens,” said Cole. “This legislation will allow for significant reforms in the IHS, in both patient care and in protocol. Our Native Communities deserve peace of mind when seeking care for their health.”
 
The Restoring Accountability in the IHS Act offers a series of reforms to the IHS, addressing both medical and administrative challenges.  More specifically, the legislation: 

Offers Better Tools for Recruiting Competent Medical Staff and Leadership

  • Provides incentives to health care professionals to serve in the IHS, including pay flexibility and relocation reimbursements when employees move to high-need areas, as well as a housing voucher program for rental assistance to employees.
  • Allows managers to be eligible for the IHS student loan repayment program to incentivize more competent managers to join the agency.
  • Provides flexibility for the IHS in hiring and firing.
  • Makes volunteering at IHS facilities easier by providing liability protections for medical professionals who want to volunteer at IHS hospitals or service units and centralizing the agency’s medical credentialing system.

Improves Patient Care Standards

  • Requires the IHS to develop standards to measure wait times.
  • Requires IHS employees to attend culture training annually that teaches them about the tribe(s) they serve.

Increases Accountability

  • Enhances fiscal accountability by ensuring reports and plans are completed in a timely manner. Failure to comply with the requirements will restrict the IHS' ability to provide salary increases and bonuses.
  • Increases congressional oversight by requiring reports that assess staffing needs, existing protections against whistleblowers, and the frequency and causes of patient harm events.
  • Reiterates IHS employees’ right to petition Congress and requires HHS to notify all employees of the IHS of their statutory right to speak with Members of Congress and their staffs.

The Restoring Accountability in the IHS Act was also introduced today in the Senate by Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD) and John Hoeven (R-ND).

Read More

Borehole project pulled

2017/05/24

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Tuesday, that they are discontinuing support of the Deep Borehole Field Test Project.
 
Representative Kristi Noem broke the news with a press release Tuesday morning.
 
Jen Jones, Midland, stated she is very happy with the decision. Patricia Temple, DOE Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, stated in a congressional notification that the move was made due to budget priorities.
 
Noem’s press release noted,  “... significant concerns were raised by Noem and community members regarding the potential for these sites to house future nuclear waste.
 
“Like many South Dakotans in Spink and Haakon counties, I was deeply concerned about doing testing in our backyard to determine whether deep boreholes could store nuclear waste.
 
“I am grateful to the Trump administration for hearing the concerns raised by these communities and subsequently withdrawing consideration of this proposal.”
Temple’s release stated that the four research teams in South?Dakota, Texas and New Mexico are to continue with the public in their areas to answer any remaining questions.
 
An update to the DOE’s website post regarding the project stated, “Due to changes in budget priorities, the Department of Energy does not intend to continue supporting the Deep Borehole Field Test (DBFT) project and has initiated a process to effectively end the project immediately.”
 
RESPEC’s post on Drill Deeper SD noted, “The Department of Energy will be focusing their budget resources for high-level waste disposal and storage on Yucca Mountain.”
 
The DOE also stated, “In order to best address the Nation’s nuclear waste needs going forward, the Administration has requested $120 million in recently released FY18 budget proposal to advance the nation’s nuclear waste management program, and the Department hopes to pursue that process as expeditiously as possible.”
Todd Kenner, RESPEC?CEO, noted that first and foremost he appreciates the communities and residents of Haakon County. He said, “I thought we had great public meetings and respectful dialogue.”  
 
He added that he appreciated the respectful, positive manner, that  people had at the meetings. “It’s good to know that we are capable of doing that,” he said. “I truly commend the residents of Haakon County.”
 
Jones echoed those sentiments. She too, appreciated the meetings where issues were discussed in a calm manner. 
 
Kenner noted that there had been no prior indication before Tuesday’s statement that the project would be canceled. He said the announcement coincided with the end of phase one of the project. He added that they knew of President Donald Trump’s interest in pursing Yucca Mountain again. 
Read More

Trump administration dropping nuclear waste burial test

2017/05/23

The U.S. Department of Energy is abandoning a test meant to determine whether nuclear waste can be buried far underground because of changes in budget priorities, the agency said Tuesday.

A spokeswoman said in a statement that the agency doesn't intend to continue supporting the Deep Borehole Field Test project, which was meant to assess whether nuclear waste could be stored in approximately 3-mile-deep holes. Officials had stressed it wouldn't involve the use of actual nuclear waste.

Federal energy officials said in December that companies were exploring potential sites for the test in South Dakota, Texas and New Mexico. Only one company would have eventually carried out the field test.

The project's contract dictated that after the project was completed, the borehole would have been permanently sealed and the land restored.

Local officials in North Dakota and South Dakota had previously rebuffed project organizers over nuclear waste concerns.

South Dakota U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem in a statement applauded the Energy Department's move, saying that she and local community members were deeply concerned about doing testing in "our backyard" to see whether boreholes could store nuclear waste.

"I am grateful to the Trump administration for hearing the concerns raised by these communities and subsequently withdrawing consideration of this proposal," Noem said.

U.S. Sen. John Thune said in a statement that he's glad the Trump administration has decided to end the project in the wake of strong public opposition. A spokesman for Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in a statement that he didn't object to the test as long as it wouldn't have led to nuclear waste storage in South Dakota.

The proposed site in South Dakota was in Haakon County. Edward Briggs, chairman of the county commission, said he was neutral toward the project.

"They claimed that this thing was strictly a research hole," said Briggs, who wasn't fully convinced it wouldn't have meant future nuclear waste storage. "Your gut instinct tells you that's where it would probably lead to in 10-15 years."

Todd Kenner, CEO of RESPEC, a company pursuing the South Dakota site, said that the company is reaching out to local community leaders to inform them of the decision.

The Trump administration on Tuesday sent Congress a federal spending plan that seeks $120 million to revive the mothballed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, which is hugely unpopular in Nevada and was largely stopped by the efforts of former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid.

Waste from commercial reactors in the U.S. now is stored onsite at nuclear power plants. The waste generated from defense activities is kept at a few secure locations.

Read More

Noem: Say yes to opportunity

2017/05/21

Say yes.

That was U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem's message to Wessington Springs High School seniors during this year's commencement address at the graduation ceremony, held on Saturday at the elementary school in Wessington Springs.

Noem was invited to speak by the students themselves.

"That meant the world to me," Noem said at the start of her commencement address.

It was Noem's first high school commencement address this year, and she shared advice given to her by her grandmother after Noem had her first child. Because people have to say "no" often, Noem urged the Class of 2017 to say "yes" whenever possible, even when something doesn't seem appealing.

Many times, Noem said she's attended events or meetings that didn't seem fun or a productive use of time, but she said she often met someone who changed her life or learned something new that changed her perspective.

"In this day and age, so many people are telling you to say 'no' ... I would encourage you to say 'yes.' Take advantage of opportunities," Noem said.

On a day when the students were celebrating their success, Noem also decided to list some of America's greatest success stories who first failed, like Abraham Lincoln, who she said failed in business in politics for 30 years before becoming president, and Thomas Edison, who turned a laboratory fire into an inspiration for a battery-powered search light.

"I don't think in life it's necessarily what happens to you that defines you. It's how you react to it, and the fact that you don't necessarily quit when you hit those roadblocks along the way," Noem said.

Lastly, Noem encouraged each member of the class to write a personal mission statement to direct their actions throughout their lives.

Noem said the class of 2017 has hosted events to benefit the community, classmates and people with cancer. Because of that, Noem believes each member of the senior class is already focused on the best way to spend their time, and she reminded them to maintain that focus throughout the years to come.

Noem also mentioned the tornado that caused extensive damage to the town in June 2014, saying she was impressed by the love and support shown in the community during the recovery process, and she was happy to return for a more joyous occasion.

"This is one of my favorite things to do. I love graduation," Noem said before the ceremony. "A lot of times I come to communities during hard times. It's always fun to come back when there's something to celebrate."

Class representatives Whitney Reider and Wyatt Stevens addressed their class before Noem took the stage. They shared stories dating back to elementary school, thanked everyone who helped them along the way and offered words of encouragement to their fellow graduates.

"If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it," Stevens said.

Of the 12 students who graduated Saturday, 10 will study in South Dakota next year. Five will attend Mitchell Technical Institute, three are going to South Dakota State University, one will attend the University of Sioux Falls and one will go to Western Dakota Technical Institute.

Read More

Weekly Column: Sharing Our Agricultural Traditions

2017/05/19

For nearly 100 years, my family has farmed the land we live on. It’s more than a business to us. It’s a tradition, a way of life – one that we share with many across the state.

Earlier this month, I was pleased to welcome U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to South Dakota and give him a peak into our tradition of agriculture and the people behind it. While it was his first official visit to the state as Secretary, it wasn’t his first trip here altogether.  We’ve actually hunted pheasant near my home in the state’s northeastern corner a few times before (he’s a really good shot, by the way) and he’s ridden in the combine with me while I harvested our crops.

South Dakota was a natural stop during his first few weeks on the job, as it’s a microcosm of the many issues under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) jurisdiction. From farm and ranch policy to forestry to hunting and fishing, we have a little of everything.

To start the day, we sat down with tribal leaders, who have a significant number of farmers and ranchers within their constituencies.  Because of the unique relationship between tribal governments and the U.S. government, I wrote legislation to establish a permanent Office of Tribal Relations within USDA. That provision was successfully rolled into the 2014 Farm Bill and we continue to monitor its implementation today.

Additionally, Secretary Perdue was shown the Black Hills National Forest and the damage done by a decades-long pine beetle infestation. While the Forest Service announced the beetle had finally been beat this April, work remains. Helpful provisions were included in the 2014 Farm Bill at my request, but we will need the continued support of USDA to repair the damage and make the forest more resilient against future outbreaks.

Following the tour, we sat down with producers. While the current Farm Bill will run through 2018, work has already begun on the next one and Secretary Perdue will be essential in implementing that legislation.

The livestock disaster and crop insurance programs have given many South Dakotans an essential safety net, but changes to the commodity programs are needed. We’ll also be looking to improve the Farm Bill’s wetland determinations provisions.  Under existing regulations, producers have been delayed in making improvements to their land because of a years-long backlog. I’ve sponsored bipartisan legislation to address this and am hopeful we’ll see it included.  Corrections must also be made to CRP (the Conservation Reserve Program), which only accepted 101 acres in South Dakota during the last sign-up period despite thousands of acres being submitted for consideration.

The day also included a stop at Ellsworth. To make the point that the Farm Bill is really a food bill, I often tell folks that while not everyone farms, everyone eats. I also like to mention that good farm policy is essential to our national security. If other countries control our food supply, they can control us. Food security is national security.

I’ve always been proud to be part of South Dakota’s tradition of agriculture, making it all the more special that I could show our newest Secretary of Agriculture how we do it with excellence.

Read More

Noem Accepting Applications for Fall Interns

2017/05/19

Rep. Kristi Noem is accepting applications for fall internships in her Washington, D.C.; Sioux Falls; Rapid City; and Watertown offices.

Student interns will work with staff on various constituent service and communications projects, as well as assist with legislative research. Both South Dakota and Washington, D.C., internships provide students with first-hand knowledge of the legislative process and the countless other functions of a congressional office.

College students who are interested in interning in any of Representative Noem’s offices should submit a cover letter and resume to Michael.Maloof@mail.house.gov by Friday, July  14, 2017.  For more information, contact Michael Maloof at 202-225-2801.

Read More

Noem, South Dakotans: Time for Tax Reform is Now

2017/05/18

Representative Kristi Noem today released the following statement after a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, where she heard testimony on the House GOP tax reform proposal:

“It’s been more than 30 years since President Reagan led the last major tax code overhaul. In that time, layers of regulations and loopholes have been tacked on, creating the mess we have today. Additionally, provisions, like the Death Tax, are actively holding family farmers and small businesses back. Now is the time to repeal the Death Tax, simplify the tax code, reduce tax rates across the board, and create a system that’s going to support folks in their pursuit of the American Dream.”

South Dakotans also weighed in on the need for tax reform:

Terrance Nemec, CPA, CGMA (Sioux Falls, SD) – Nemec & Associates: “As a certified public accountant with 33 years of experience, I’ve watched as the tax code has become increasingly complex, making it both costly and difficult to comply with, especially for small businesses. At the same time, the quality of customer service within the IRS has fallen. As a result, I see within my practice and clients a decreasing confidence in the tax system as a whole. Tax reform gives us the opportunity to address these matters, ease frustrations, and restore faith and confidence in our tax system.”

Brett Hanson (Sisseton, SD) – Tri State Building Center: “Full and permanent repeal of the estate tax would allow for more family-owned businesses to be passed on to the next generation. The planning, legal and accounting fees associated with tax drain business resources that could otherwise be used for reinvestment in business operations. Repealing the estate tax would boost business investment and create jobs. Northwestern Lumber Association applauds Rep. Noem’s leadership to repeal this inefficient tax and urges Congress to pass the Death Tax Repeal Act.”

Scott VanderWal (Volga, SD) – President, South Dakota Farm Bureau:  “The current tax code in the United States is terribly inefficient, burdensome and complicated.  South Dakota's farmers and ranchers are busy enough managing their businesses without having to try to figure out our extremely daunting tax system.  When an otherwise intelligent person has to hire a professional and spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars just to figure out how much of their income the government is going to take, we have a big problem.  Making our tax system more simple, fair and equitable should be one of Congress' highest priorities.”

According to the independent Tax Foundation, the House GOP Tax Reform Blueprint debated at today’s hearing would increase the annual income for median households in South Dakota by $4,791.  Additionally, they estimate the proposal would lead to the creation of more than 5,000 new full-time jobs. 

Included in the proposal is language based on Rep. Noem’s Death Tax Repeal Act, which would permanently repeal the Death Tax.  The blueprint also outlines a plan that would lower tax rates for individuals and businesses, simplify the tax code, and reform the IRS. 

Read More

Sisseton girl places second in state contest

2017/05/17

Olivia Heinecke, a junior at Sisseton High School, placed second in the 2017 Congressional Art Competition for South Dakota, co-sponsored by the office of Congresswoman Kristi Noem and the South Dakota Arts Council.

Heinecke’s entry was a painting entitled “Freckles.” The painting will hang in Noem’s office.

Ashley Geraets, a sophomore at Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School, won the contest  with her colored pencil drawing, “Aqua Vitae (Water is Life).” Geraets will have her artwork displayed in the U.S. Capitol complex, along with winning artwork from other congressional districts, for the next year.

The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982, providing members of Congress with an opportunity to recognize talent in their home districts.

Read More

Noem, Schakowsky, Royce, Engel Introduce Legislation to Ensure Women Have Role in Peace Negotiations

2017/05/17

Reps. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) alongside House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) today introduced H.R.2484, the Women, Peace, and Security Act.  This bipartisan legislation would require the U.S. to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase and strengthen women’s participation in peace negotiations and conflict prevention globally.

“Especially when the world is so volatile and security remains a constant concern, it’s critical we take full advantage of proven peace-building tactics, such as involving women in conflict prevention and resolution,” said Rep. Noem.  “We understand from research that peace agreements are much more likely to be sustained if women have a role in the negotiations.  The bipartisan Women, Peace, and Security Act ensures, through meaningful congressional oversight, that women gain this seat at the table.  I thank Rep. Schakowsky, Chairman Royce, and Ranking Member Engel for working to advance this critical national security tool.”

“It’s no surprise to women to hear that peace agreements last longer when women are involved in the negotiations and the implementation,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “The legislation that Rep. Noem and I are introducing today ensures that women have a meaningful role in peace building, conflict resolution, and conflict prevention around the world. The United States can be a world leader in promoting peace and lasting solutions to armed conflicts. I’m excited to propose this legislation along with Representatives Royce and Engel to make sure that we do just that.”

“As we’ve seen in Northern Ireland, Africa, Asia, and beyond, women play critical roles in ending brutal conflicts,” said Chairman Royce. “Unfortunately, their participation in peace negotiations continues to be limited. That is why I am proud to sponsor this bill, which will encourage women’s participation in negotiations to end conflicts and secure peace.”

“The Obama Administration’s 2011 National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security highlighted the benefits of involving women in conflict prevention and resolution.  In the years that followed, our country worked to put women at the center of our foreign policy.  We need to build on those successes,” said Ranking Member Engel. “This bipartisan bill finally cements the Obama Administration’s strategic policy plan and ensures that government personnel are fully trained on the unique strengths women bring to these critical issues. Not only is this policy the smart thing for our national security, but the right thing by including women in all aspects of our foreign policy.”

Research shows that peace agreement is 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years when women are involved.  While some work has been done to include women at the negotiating table, this legislation would require a focused strategy with greater congressional oversight.  Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate.

Read More

Noem Announces 2017 Winners of Congressional Art Competition

2017/05/16

Representative Kristi Noem today announced Ashley Geraets as the 2017 Congressional Art Competition Winner for her colored pencil drawing, “Aqua Vitae (Water is Life).” Geraets, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School in Sioux Falls, will have her artwork displayed in the U.S. Capitol complex, along with winning artwork from other congressional districts, for the next year.

Second place was awarded to Olivia Heinecke, a junior at Sisseton High School, for her painting, “Freckles.”  Her artwork will hang in Noem’s congressional office in Washington.

“Ashley and Olivia have brought art to life in an incredible display of South Dakota talent with each of these pieces,” said Noem.  “To the teachers, families, and friends who have supported these young women, I want to say thank you for encouraging them and taking the time to encourage their pursuit of the arts. I am so proud to have these pieces represent South Dakota’s talent in the U.S. Capitol.”

 

2017 Congressional Art Competition Winner

Ashley Geraets – Sioux Falls

 

2017 Congressional Art Competition Runner Up

Olivia Heinecke – Sisseton

The Congressional Art Competition is sponsored by Noem’s office in partnership with the South Dakota Arts Council. The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982, providing members of Congress with an opportunity to recognize talent in their home districts.

The South Dakota Arts Council, an office of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, is a state agency serving South Dakotans and their communities through the arts with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the State of South Dakota.  The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of the Office of Tourism and the South Dakota Arts Council. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.

Read More

Noem speaks at 49th annual WDT commencement

2017/05/14

Western Dakota Technical Institute celebrated its graduating students Saturday with the 49th annual Commencement Ceremony.

About 317 students received diplomas, or Associate of Applied Science Degrees in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center's Barnett Arena.

Along with degrees, the distinguished alumni award was presented as well to John Phelps. Phelps graduated in 2012 with a Business Management and Marketing degree. Rapid City Area School Board Member and former Rapid City Mayor, Ed McLaughlin also received the Distinguished Service award.

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem gave the commencement address.   

"I'm honored that they asked me to come and share today,” Noem said. “I don't know if it's important for them, but, for me, it's a blessing. I see this as something that they'll always look back at and reflect on as a special day, and to be a part of that is just real special for me. I'm going to try to keep it short too, because I recognize that they want to go out and spend some time with their families."

More than 86 percent of recent graduates from WDT are currently working, in the military, or continuing their education.

Read More

Rep. Kristi Noem works on new Farm Bill

2017/05/14

South Dakota Representative Kristi Noem has often voiced her support of farmers and ranchers across South Dakota.

In 2014, the representative put her farming roots in to a piece of legislation and is now working to continue that work this term.

Noem sponsored the original Farm Bill in 2014 and is planning on replacing it with what she calls a stronger bill.

The improvements include the country's only livestock disaster program and a quicker route for farmers to work on wetlands.

The 2014 bill is still in place but Noem says she wants to get ahead to make sure only the best legislation is passed for farmers.

Representative Kristi Noem says, "For me, I'm spending a lot of time working on the next farm bill already. We're working on making sure there is going to be a five year piece of legislation that will provide the safety net that we need for agriculture, which is our number one industry."

Representative Noem is also on the Ways and Means committee and has been working primarily on tax reform.

Read More

Western Dakota Tech to graduate more than 300 during spring 2017 commencement

2017/05/13

More than 300 students moved their tassels to the left this Saturday.
Western Dakota Tech held their 49th commencement ceremony Saturday.

Students took to the stage to accept their diplomas at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The soon to be alumni filed in to receive their associate's degrees in applied science.

Distinguished alumni and service awards were presented.

South Dakota state Representative Kristi Noem gave the commencement address and left the students with some words of wisdom.

"We're excited that they're celebrating this accomplishment in their life. It doesn't mean that life will always be perfect,” said Noem. “So many times people think they’re too busy, so they say no to things that come their way. I'm going to encourage them to say yes."

Read More

Weekly Column: Supporting Local Law Enforcement

2017/05/12

By Rep. Kristi Noem

Like many South Dakotans, I’m used to walking around town and seeing our local police officers working hard and keeping us safe. With National Police Week starting on Sunday, I’d like to take this time to say thank you to all of the men and women who serve in our state and across the country.  I also want to help provide them with the necessary tools needed to combat the dangerous issues they face on a daily basis.

 I recently visited the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, where I toured the jail and participated in a ride-along with deputies in order to see the challenges they face firsthand. Sheriff Mike Milstead and I spoke at length about the issues his deputies’ face and the ways I can be of assistance.

 The rate of violent crime in South Dakota has nearly doubled over the last 10 years. According to Sheriff Milstead, Minnehaha County alone has seen a 17% increase in violent crime this year as opposed to the same time last year.   Every week, newspapers across the state report on drug busts, violent crimes, and an influx of gangs. These aren’t just stories.  According to local law enforcement, a high percentage of violent crime cases involve drugs.  In order to better assist our law enforcement at home, I’ve asked the Department of Justice to step up its efforts to combat drug trafficking in our state.

 In South Dakota people are getting addicted to drugs being channeled into our country illegally, such as meth and heroin.  Sheriff Milstead informed me that he believes more than 90% of the meth and heroin comes from south of the border. It is critical for the federal government to support the efforts of our local law enforcement by halting the flow of drugs across our border.

 I am proud to cosponsor several pieces of legislation to help address this acute need.  The SMART Act authorizes the deployment of up to 10,000 more National Guard personnel and a number of new technologies to secure the border.

 Another bill I support helps us catch up with drug traffickers’ tactics.  Many times, drug traffickers utilize “spotters” while they cross the U.S.-Mexico border. These people help them avoid law enforcement.   Under current law, spotting is not actually a criminal offense. The bill, called the “Transnational Criminal Organization Illicit Spotter Prevention and Elimination Act,” would change that.

 These bills will help us protect our border and in doing so, will provide assistance to our local law enforcement as they fight against drugs and violent crime in South Dakota.  We must realize that attacking the problem at the source is the best way to solve it.

 Our local law enforcement are an integral part of the fabric of our community. They are our neighbors, our friends, and even our family. We owe them our unwavering support. This week, as we celebrate their service to our communities, state and nation, I hope you’ll thank one of your local men or women in uniform for what they do every day. 

Read More

Fentanyl use could lead to heroin outbreak, rehab supervisor says

2017/05/12

After recent arrests involving synthetic drug distribution, the supervisor of a local treatment center believes Mitchell could be on the verge of a new drug problem.

Janae Oetken, clinical supervisor at Stepping Stones in Mitchell, said fentanyl abuse in the city could pave the way for an increase in heroin use, which she said is already spreading to Chamberlain and Sioux City, Iowa.

“It’s moving across the country, and it will be here. It’s going to be here a lot heavier than it already is,” Oetken said.

Oetken said fentanyl is an opioid, just like heroin, so using one could lead an addict to seek out the other.

In April, Jacob Hubbs was arrested in Mitchell for allegedly possessing 1,000 fentanyl pills and $11,000, and Jordan Muntefering was sentenced to 15 years in prison for crimes related to distributing MDMA, also known as ecstasy or Molly.

And U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem has acknowledged the danger of synthetic drugs by cosponsoring the Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act, which she said is designed to help stop drugs like fentanyl from being shipped into the country.

“I am committed to ensuring our dedicated law enforcement officers have tools at their disposal to combat drug trafficking, address the uptick in rapes and other violent crimes that South Dakota has seen in recent years and ultimately ensure our families and communities are safe,” Noem said in a written statement.

Mitchell Det. Lt. Don Everson said fentanyl poses a risk for law enforcement, too. While the drug has been present in town for years, he said officers are now finding it in powdered form, and with its high potency and small particles, the powder can kill someone when inhaled.

“There are some drugs we definitely have to handle differently than others, and certainly fentanyl is probably the most dangerous or more concerning right now for us,” Everson said.

Everson said marijuana is still the town’s most common drug, with 176 marijuana incidents since 2015, compared to 128 incidents involving meth, three with fentanyl and two with MDMA.

Chrissy Johnson, intelligence analyst for the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), tracks the quantities of drugs confiscated across the state.

In Davison County, officials have confiscated more than 930 grams of marijuana as of the end of April, but they’ve confiscated as many as 4,400 grams in 2015.

As of April 30, there were no MDMA or fentanyl confiscations reported to DCI this year, but 47.36 grams of MDMA were confiscated last year.

DCI has monitored quantities of MDMA since at least 2012, Johnson said, but at the end of 2016, it started tallying quantities of fentanyl and heroin with concerns the drugs could continue to grow in popularity.

For now, Oetken said methamphetamine is still the primary addiction for most of her patients, and counselors have seen a 300 percent increase in methamphetamine use over the last 10 years even though the number of patients has remained steady.

“Ten years ago, I had people coming in with alcohol, marijuana and maybe meth here and there, and now everything is meth,” Oetken said. “I can’t say we have more people seeking help or assistance, but we have more people definitely with meth coming around.

Read More

Noem Announces Support for Legislation to Strengthen Law Enforcement and Combat Drug Trafficking

2017/05/11

Rep. Kristi Noem today announced her support for several new bills that aim to strengthen law enforcement and combat drug trafficking.  The legislative action was announced during a visit to the Minnehaha County Sherriff’s Office this afternoon where Noem toured the jail and participated in a ride-along with deputies.

 “Levels of violent crime in South Dakota have risen steadily over at least the past decade,” said Noem.  “I am committed to ensuring our dedicated law enforcement officers have tools at their disposal to combat drug trafficking, address the uptick in rapes and other violent crimes that South Dakota has seen in recent years, and ultimately ensure our families and communities are safe.”

 “I certainly appreciate Congresswoman Noem taking the time to sit down with me and some of my key staff in order for her to learn more about the many issues and challenges local law enforcement faces,” said Sheriff Milstead. “We were able to discuss the meth epidemic here and how it is impacting our City and County.  We also talked about a number of key bills she is co-sponsoring in Congress, including bills to provide additional resources to secure our borders from drug traffickers as well as expanding on the COPS program to better recruit and train Veterans into law enforcement careers.”

 According to the most recent data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the rate of violent crimes in South Dakota nearly doubled between 2005 and 2015.

 To address the crime wave, Noem is fighting for reforms as a cosponsor of the following:

  • H.R.1428, American Law Enforcement Heroes Act, which opens additional funding for police departments to hire and train career law enforcement officers.  More specifically, the bill allows Community Oriented Policing Services Program grants to be used for these purposes and encourages the prioritization of hiring and training veterans.
  • H.R.1741, Transnational Criminal Organization Illicit Spotter Prevention and Elimination Act, which makes it illegal to “spot” for drug traffickers at the border. Without this change, helping drug traffickers avoid law enforcement when crossing the U.S.-Mexico border (known as “spotting”) is not an enforceable offense.
  • H.R.22, Support More Assets, Resources, and Technology on the Border Act (SMART Act), which authorizes the deployment of additional personnel and new technologies to secure the border. This includes an authorization for as many as 10,000 additional members of the National Guard to be deployed to the border.
  • H.R.1057, Synthetics Trafficking ad Overdose Prevention Act (STOP Act), which is designed to help stop dangerous synthetic drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil from being shipped through our borders to drug traffickers in the U.S.
Read More

Noem Statement on Confirmation of Heather Wilson as Air Force Secretary

2017/05/08

 

 Washington, D.C. – Rep. Kristi Noem today issued the following statement after the Senate confirmed Heather Wilson as Secretary of the Air Force:

 “Throughout her career, Heather has continually answered the call to serve and exemplified forward-looking vision and bold leadership,” said Rep. Noem. “I look forward to her bringing that vision and leadership to our Air Force and the airmen who serve our nation. She will serve our country well and make South Dakotans proud.”

 A graduate of the Air Force Academy and a Rhodes Scholar, Heather Wilson served in the Air Force until 1989.  Under President George H.W. Bush, Wilson served on the National Security Council.  In 1998, Wilson was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New Mexico, and served there until 2009.  In 2013, she became President of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where, among other things, she has worked to solve B1-B Bombers maintenance issues at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Read More

Loading legislation ... one moment please
Loading votes ... one moment please

Rep. Noem Introduces New IHS Reforms (KELOLAND)

2017-05-26 18:47:20


Noem Applauds DOE for Revoking Deep Borehole Field Test Proposal (KELOLAND)

2017-05-26 18:16:03


Noem Applauds DOE for Revoking Deep Borehole Field Test Proposal (KSFY)

2017-05-26 18:14:36


Ag Secretary Perdue and Rep. Noem Discuss Getting Veterans Involved in Agriculture (KEVN)

2017-05-26 18:12:54


Ag Secretary Perdue and Rep. Noem Discuss Pine Beetle Damage (KOTA)

2017-05-26 18:11:29


Noem Leads Colleagues in Introducing IHS Reform Bill

2017-05-25 18:38:55


Noem Supports Blue Campaign to Fight Human Trafficking

2017-05-23 23:15:25


Noem Visits Minnehaha County Sheriffs Department (KSFY)

2017-05-15 16:13:02


With Noem Support, Obamacare Repeal Passes House

2017-05-04 18:28:49


2017 Ag Day Essay Winner (KOTA)

2017-04-21 14:52:55


Noem Discusses Tax Reform with House Ag Committee

2017-04-05 17:37:46


Keystone XL Approved (KDLT)

2017-03-31 14:51:24


Fighting Human Trafficking in SD (KSFY)

2017-03-23 17:51:04


Noem Supports Prohibition of Taxpayer-Funded Abortions as part of Obamacare Repeal/Replace

2017-03-09 16:24:59


Noem Urges Support for Her Health Insurance Tax Repeal during Obamacare Repeal/Replace Debate

2017-03-09 16:16:58


Noem Applauds Trump's Actions to Begin Rolling Back WOTUS (KSFY)

2017-03-02 21:49:21


Noem Previews President Trump's Address to Congress

2017-02-28 23:38:36


Noem Urges Action to Fight Violent Crime in SD (KSFY)

2017-02-23 15:59:16


Noem Participates in Polar Plunge (NewsCenter1)

2017-02-17 17:43:56


Noem Participates in Polar Plunge (KDLT)

2017-02-17 17:43:42


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.


Serving With

Recent Videos