Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem

SOUTH DAKOTA

Bill would offer tribal grant schools access to federal insurance

2018/06/15

Legislation to allow federal insurance access for teachers and staff at tribal grant schools has been put forth by the trio of South Dakota delegates to Washington D.C.

Last week, U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced companion bills in the Senate and House allowing employees of schools funded through the Tribally Controlled Schools Act grants to participate in Federal Employee Health Benefits and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance programs. 

Of the 129 tribal grant schools nationwide, 19 are in South Dakota. Other tribal schools are either operated directly by the Bureau of Indian Education or through the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.

"Under this bill, the schools would be required to pay the government's contribution toward insurance premiums, and the employee would pay the remaining balance," said Rounds.

Noem suggested opening up insurance markets will address the challenge tribal communities have of retaining good teachers.

"By easing the financial burdens on schools, I'm hopeful we can help them retain teachers with enhanced employee benefits while also preserving more resources for the classroom," she said.

Tribal grant schools would pick up the tab for the government's contribution, and employees would be responsible for the remaining balance.  

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Noem: Strengthening Tribes

2018/06/15

Much of South Dakota’s history is rooted in Indian Country, but sadly, many of the systems designed to help tribal members are failing. From healthcare to education to housing, those who live on reservations are struggling.

In recent years, much of the attention has focused on the failing Indian Health Service (IHS). Federal watchdog reports have repeatedly documented shocking cases of mismanagement and poorly delivered care. Babies were born on bathroom floors with no doctor present. Facilities were forced to wash surgical equipment by hand, due to broken sterilization machines. Medical personnel were coming to work with certifications that had lapsed. It is inhumane to provide this kind of “care.”

I recognize recruiting quality medical and administrative staff is an issue at many IHS facilities, which are often located in extremely remote areas, but I’m confident these challenges can be overcome. I have introduced legislation, for instance, to expand the IHS' existing student loan repayment program in order to attract more and better personnel. It would also cut the red tape that impedes professionals from volunteering at IHS hospitals and clinics and allow administrators to more easily hire good employees and fire bad employees. Moreover, the legislation increases transparency by ensuring reports and plans are completed in a timely manner, enhancing congressional oversight, and expanding whistleblower protections.

The bill is one of the most comprehensive IHS reform packages to move through Congress in recent years. It was approved by a key House committee in mid-June, and I’m hopeful we can see it advance through the legislative process in the months to come. 

Health care, however, is just one of the challenges faced by tribes in South Dakota. Housing continues to be an issue for many. Earlier this year, Sen. Thune, Sen. Rounds, and I put pressure on the Department of Agriculture to expand home ownership opportunities in these areas. This May, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue responded by announcing a new pilot program on tribal lands to assist low-income families in their journey toward home ownership. I am hopeful South Dakota families will be able to take advantage of the program soon.

While housing and healthcare provide security, education offers opportunity. Recruiting and retaining good teachers, however, has proven difficult. As such, I’ve introduced legislation in the House to help ease certain financial burdens on tribal schools. I’m optimistic the changes, if enacted, will help communities retain teachers with enhanced employee benefits while also preserving more resources for the classroom.

The Native American people enrich South Dakota’s culture and play an important role in the American story, but many are struggling. Whether it’s health care, education, or housing, I’m committed to fulfilling America’s treaty obligations and expanding opportunities within tribal communities.

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Committee Approves Noem’s IHS Reform Bill

2018/06/13

The House Natural Resources Committee today approved Rep. Kristi Noem’s Indian Health Service (IHS) reforms, a significant step forward for this comprehensive proposal. H.R.5874, the Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act, seeks to offer better tools for recruiting competent medical staff and leadership, improve care standards, and dramatically increase accountability.

“Today, tribal members are receiving life-threatening ‘care’ from a broken IHS. That urgently needs to change,” said Rep. Noem. “Whether it’s recruiting competent medical staff and hospital leadership, improving care standards or instilling genuine accountability measures, our legislation puts patient care first, helping ensure South Dakota Tribes receive the care their families deserve. I am grateful to Chairman Bishop and the House Natural Resources Committee for working with me and South Dakota’s Tribal community to make the changes families so desperately need.”

“This bill was developed in response to the devastating health care crisis facing our Indian tribes and reservations,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop. “I would like to thank Rep. Noem for her efforts to increase transparency and accountability in the Indian Health Service which will better serve the needs of tribal communities.”

“I want to thank Congresswoman Noem for her hard work and continued support of, not only Lower Brule, but all of Indian Country, especially when it comes to the health and wellness of our people,” said Chairman Boyd Gourneau, Lower Brule Tribe. “I fully support her efforts on this bill!”

“The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is grateful for Rep. Noem’s diligent work to improve the Indian Health Service,” said President William Kindle, Rosebud Sioux Tribe. “Her bill, the Restoring Accountability in the Indian Health Service Act, is a great step toward providing much-needed accountability in the IHS and improving the quality of health care for our people and Native people across the country."

“Since 2015, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s IHS hospital has seen a decrease in vital services like surgery and OB/GYN, and remains critically understaffed,” said William Bear Shield, Chairman, Unified Health Board of Rapid City. “The IHS continues to excessively rely on expensive contracts and non-IHS medical providers to furnish these services. As Chairman of the Unified Health Board, I have worked with Congresswoman Noem since the first days the CMS issues came to light in the Great Plains. I am grateful to the Congresswoman for taking the federal treaty obligations of health care in Indian County seriously, and for working hard to ensure the federal Indian Health Service gets the improvements, tools, and funding it needs to deliver.”

“As a former member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Health Board, we worked closely with Congresswoman Noem on the legislation she introduced in the House,” said O.J. Semans, former member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal Health Board. “It gives me great pleasure to support her efforts in improving health care for Indian Country.”

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 service units and centralizing the agency’s medical credentialing system.

Improves Patient Care Standards

  • 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.

Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD) and John Hoeven (R-ND).

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Tribal school employees could receive federal benefits under S.D. lawmakers’ measure

2018/06/11

Seeking to improve recruiting and retention efforts in the nation’s government-funded tribal schools, U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem and U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, each Republicans from South Dakota, have introduced bicameral legislation that would provide educators with federal health and life insurance benefits.

“This legislation makes an important investment in tribal youth by enhancing employee retention efforts and allowing tribal schools to prioritize funding for tangible education items to improve students’ overall learning experience,” said Sen. Thune, chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, who introduced the measure in the U.S. Senate with Sen. Rounds signing on as the original cosponsor.

“We continue to work to ensure students in tribal communities have access to quality education, but meeting that goal comes with challenges,” said Sen. Thune.

The companion bills – the Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act, S. 3030 and H.R. 6030 – would allow employees at tribal grant schools to participate in Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) programs, according to a summary provided by the South Dakota members.

Tribal grant schools would be allowed to spend less on health care and more on education-specific items by being required to pay the government’s contribution toward the insurance premiums, according to the summary. The tribal grant schools’ employees would be responsible for the remaining balance.

“Our legislation would allow employees at South Dakota’s 19 tribal grant schools to be eligible for federal health insurance programs,” Sen. Rounds said in a joint statement released by the South Dakota contingent.

Under the bill, schools would be able to save thousands of dollars and make long-term employment more attractive at tribal grant schools, “which is an important factor in student success,” he added.
“A good teacher can open the door to opportunity, hope, and upward mobility for students,” agreed Rep. Noem, who noted that “retaining good teachers is a challenge” in many such schools.

“By easing the financial burden on schools, I’m hopeful we can help them retain teachers with enhanced employee benefits while also preserving more resources for the classroom,” Rep. Noem said.

The nation’s tribal schools are operated in three ways: by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education (BIE); by tribes via federal contracts authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act; or as tribal grant schools under the federal Tribally Controlled Schools Act. Currently, there are 129 tribal grant schools nationwide, while one school is operated by a tribe with a federal contract and BIE oversees 53 tribal schools.

S. 3030 has been referred to the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee for consideration. H.R. 6030 has been referred to three committees in the U.S. House of Representatives: the Natural Resources; Oversight and Government Reform; and Energy and Commerce committees.

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Celebrating a century of service

2018/06/11

Members of the American Legion family, which includes the American Legion, Auxiliary, riders, and Sons of the American Legion, from across the state met in Spearfish over the weekend to celebrate a century of service.

The 100th annual Department of South Dakota American Legion Convention began Thursday and lasted through Sunday, with various business meetings, annual reports, ceremonies, speakers, awards, banquets, elections, time for fellowship, and more at the Holiday Inn Spearfish-Convention Center.

Department Chaplain Larry Klumb provided an invocation Saturday during the American Legion business session Saturday.

“Dear Heavenly Father, as we gather here this morning, on the 100th annual department convention, coming from every corner and every part of this great state of South Dakota … all of us uniquely different in our own way, we are joined together … working together …” he said.

Various elected officials and dignitaries addressed the convention, including U.S. Congresswoman Kristi Noem, who made the trip to Spearfish to speak. She voiced her pride and gratitude for all the American Legion Family does for the country, as well as for their continued advocacy for veterans. Noem also noted the importance of their mission in the long term.

“All the work that you do – I want you to know that I believe that you guys are the future. A lot of times, we look at veterans, and people want to honor them for their past service, and I do want to honor you for your past service, but what you’re doing and your investments today means that you’re preparing the future for our kids and grandkids who want to step up and serve in the military,” she said. “How we treat you and honor you for your previous service will determine their willingness to step up and volunteer, as well. We’re one of the few nations where our patriots still volunteer for service … Thank you for not only serving in the past but for continuing to be active in this very, very important organization that not only makes sure that we fight for our veterans every day but teaches the future generation about the value of serving and the honor of doing so.”

U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), while not in attendance, sent video messages to the convention that were played during the session Saturday.

The American Legion celebrates is 100th anniversary in 2019; the organization was officially chartered and incorporated by the U.S. Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness, and, according to its website, a century later, the American Legion remains committed to mentoring youth, sponsoring programs in communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to U.S. military servicemembers and veterans.

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Noem: Supporting the Hometown Newspaper

2018/06/08

Chances are that if you are reading this, you subscribe to a local newspaper. Publications like this play an instrumental role in keeping communities strong and informed. Sadly, many are disappearing from our rural communities, making it increasingly difficult to stay connected with what’s happening within the local school system, around town, and around the state.

The ever-increasing cost of production is one of the most common concerns South Dakota’s newspapers raise with me. In recent years, new tariffs on Canadian newsprint have increased paper prices by 20 to 30 percent. That’s significant. A paper that services around 20,000 customers, for instance, could see paper costs rise by about a quarter-million dollars annually, threatening the newspaper’s survival.

As David Bordewyk, the Executive Director of the South Dakota Newspaper Association, told me: “I have already heard from South Dakota newspaper publishers who fear that if these tariffs were to carry forward indefinitely, they will very well be forced to close their doors. That creates a ripple effect in the community for businesses that rely on the local newspaper to advertise and promote their goods and services.”

To help ease the burden, I introduced the PRINT Act in early June. This legislation places a temporary hold on the newsprint tariffs, giving time for the Commerce Department to investigate the negative impact the tariffs have on our hometown papers. As Bordewyk explains it: “This legislation will provide some breathing room and an opportunity for a more complete review and analysis.”

The PRINT Act is the latest in a series of efforts to better support our local newspapers. During tax reform, many South Dakota newspapers reached out with concerns about a proposed “Ad Tax,” which would have forced news organizations to pay taxes on advertising dollars. The impact of a tax like that would have been widespread and made it more expensive for local businesses to advertise their goods and services. In the end, we were able to stave off the proposed tax hike.  

Even if you can mitigate costs, however, delivery can be a challenge. In recent years, the U.S. Postal Service has threatened to cut Saturday delivery, a move that would have dealt another devastating blow to the local newspaper industry, which relies heavily on consistent and reliable mail service.  We successfully fought the measure and forced the Postal Service to create organizational efficiencies before cutting services to South Dakota families, newspapers, and businesses.

Today, South Dakota is home to more than 125 local newspapers. That’s a number we need to protect. Their reporting reminds us the world is made of neighborhoods and shared experiences. It keeps us connected and strengthens our sense of community and connection. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

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Noem Tells SD Girls Staters: Continue To Say ‘Yes’

2018/06/08

Rep. Kristi Noem told Girls State delegates Saturday morning that her dad was not the type of person to complain. Instead, if something was wrong, she said, he would work to make it right.

It was that advice that led Noem to seek office, first as a member of the South Dakota Legislature and, for the past eight years, the state’s lone representative in the U.S. House.

“If you’re going to represent and be a part of government and be from a state like South Dakota, you need to be noisy,” she said. “You need to talk a lot, you need to build coalitions, you need to find groups of people who can work with to get big things accomplished for our state.”

South Dakota’s congressional contingent, she said, has helped get much accomplished in the nation’s capital this year, Noem said.

“We’ve made big strides. We’ve enacted tax cuts and I worked closely with President Trump to do that. I was one of the five members of the House that wrote the final legislation to get a Farm Bill done,” Noem said. “That’s incredibly important to get permanent livestock disaster programs and to also take federal land back and transfer back to local communities.”

Noem addressed the 2018 session of the American Legion Auxiliary Girls State shortly before the week-long event on the University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion came to an end.

This month, Noem began her final six months in her last term as a member of Congress. 

“I’ve enjoyed being there (in Washington) but I also said when I ran for Congress that I wasn’t go to stay there, that I believed in term limits and that I was going to come home,” she said.

Noem shared a bit of what her work life in the nation’s capital is like. Her home away from her South Dakota home is literally Capitol Hill.

“I don’t have a home in Washington. I stay in my office,” she told the delegates, “which means I’m a little bit weird, but there are about 30 to 40 different members who live in their offices because it’s so expensive in Washington, D.C.”

The process for getting bills passed in Washington “is much different and broken” compared to the process that takes place when the South Dakota Legislature is in session in Pierre, she said.

“Pierre has a process. Every bill gets a hearing and if it passes committee, three days later, it will be on the floor for a vote,” Noem said. “That’s not how things operate in Washington. You have to figure out ways to get things done that are very important and make sure that you’re building relationships and convincing people that your legislation is an incredibly good thing to have a discussion on to have passed.”

She said she loves to meet with South Dakotans who travel to Washington to see how government works. “I’ll always take time to meet with them and have conversations with them about the issues that they’re facing,” Noem said. “One of things I always tell people is to not underestimate the power of their stories.”

Noem told the delegates that she knows they are planning what they will doing in the near the future after they begin their senior years in high school.

“You’re planning your life for the future and you’re not thinking about what happens if you fail, if something comes along that will not turn out exactly how you want it to be,” she said. “A lot of times a fear of failure may keep you from trying new opportunities.”

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Delegation Introduces Bills to Allow Tribal Grant Schools to Focus Resources to Improve Education

2018/06/07

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today introduced Senate and House companion bills that would allow tribal grant schools to participate in Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) programs. This change would free up resources to improve recruiting and retention efforts for professional educators in rural communities by allowing schools to spend less on health care and more on education-specific items. The grant schools would be required to pay the government’s contribution toward the insurance premiums, and the employees would be responsible for the remaining balance.

“We continue to work to ensure students in tribal communities have access to quality education, but meeting that goal comes with challenges,” said Thune. “This legislation makes an important investment in tribal youth by enhancing employee retention efforts and allowing tribal schools to prioritize funding for tangible education items to improve students’ overall learning experience.”

“Our legislation would allow employees at South Dakota’s 19 tribal grant schools to be eligible for federal health insurance programs,” said Rounds. “Under this bill, the schools would be required to pay the government’s contribution toward insurance premiums, and the employee would pay the remaining balance. This will save the schools thousands of dollars and improve teacher and administrator retention rates at tribal grant schools, which is an important factor in student success.”

“A good teacher can open the door to opportunity, hope, and upward mobility for students,” said Noem. “In many tribal communities, however, retaining good teachers is a challenge. By easing the financial burden on schools, I’m hopeful we can help them retain teachers with enhanced employee benefits while also preserving more resources for the classroom.”

Currently, tribal schools are operated either directly by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE); by tribes, through Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (P.L. 93-638) contracts; or through Tribally Controlled Schools Act (P.L. 100-297) grants, which are known as tribal grant schools. Currently, 129 schools nationwide operate as tribal grant schools, including 19 in South Dakota, while only one school operates through a 638 contract. BIE operates 53 tribal schools across the nation.

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Noem Applauds SCOTUS Decision on Masterpiece Cakeshop Case

2018/06/04

Rep. Kristi Noem, who signed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in favor of the Christian baker, today applauded the Court’s ruling on the Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. V. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

“We live in a nation founded on religious liberty,” said Rep. Kristi Noem. “I applaud the Supreme Court for resisting the latest attempt to infringe upon this core American value. No one should be discriminated against, but no one should be forced to deny their deeply held religious beliefs either. Today’s Supreme Court decision reaffirms that American principle.”

The Supreme Court case revolved around Jack Phillips, a cake artist and small business owner, was forced to choose between his livelihood—decorating wedding cakes—and his conscience when the State of Colorado mandated that he design cakes for same-sex celebrations. Phillips was willing to serve anyone that walks into his shop. All customers were welcome to purchase any premade item. Phillips, however, would not utilize his creative talents to produce work that conflicts with his faith. He decided that he would not create cakes celebrating Halloween, promoting atheism, racism, indecency, or anti-American ideals. He also declined to design cakes for same-sex ceremonies. Today’s decision sided with the baker and his religious liberties.

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Noem: From Great Faces to Great Places

2018/06/01

Over Memorial Day weekend, I had the opportunity to show President Trump's Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke our state – and not only the stunning landscapes, but the rich history we celebrate. Nowhere were those two ideas more present than at the Black Hills National Cemetery Memorial Day Service.

Tucked in the hills near Sturgis, the Black Hills National Cemetery commemorates the lives of South Dakota veterans and their service to our country. Each Memorial Day, hundreds join together to honor those buried there. It's a pretty special moment.

To continue serving veterans here in the years to come, President Trump signed legislation I worked on to expand the cemetery by 200 acres – a testament to the number of patriotic veterans that call South Dakota home.

The men and women buried here gave of themselves to serve our nation, a value that's rooted deep in South Dakota's heritage, including at the Minuteman Missile Site near Philip, which Secretary Zinke and I also visited.

Throughout the Cold War, the United States relied on this site to keep roughly 1,000 missiles on constant alert. While some remain today, the site has been designated as a National Historic Site, providing a physical reminder of the value found in peace through strength.

Of course, one of South Dakota's most iconic sites is Mount Rushmore, which stands as an icon of liberty around the world. These great faces attract millions of visitors a year and contribute to South Dakota's robust tourism industry.

From hiking to hunting, tourism helps drive South Dakota's economy. In fact, one in 11 South Dakota jobs are directly generated by tourism. The industry also infuses nearly $2 billion into the state's economy annually. It's an important element of our economy that we must fight to maintain.

Over the years, I’ve worked to repeal regulations that make things difficult for South Dakota tourism to thrive. When Secretary Zinke was in the state, he and I were able to announce a new executive order from President Trump that rolls back Obama-era regulations on outfitters and guides. Regulations like the ones Obama implemented are cost prohibitive for businesses and have prevented visitors from fully enjoying all that South Dakota has to offer. I’m grateful President Trump and Secretary Zinke were willing to listen to South Dakota and give folks a break from these unnecessary burdens.

There's something for everyone to enjoy in South Dakota. From our great faces to great places like the Badlands, the Corn Palace, and the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I hope you take the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of our state this summer.

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USDA Announces New Relending Pilot Program on Tribal Lands in South Dakota

2018/05/31

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today welcomed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue’s announcement that USDA, at the request of the delegation, will implement a new Section 502 relending pilot program on tribal lands in South Dakota. The USDA Rural Development (USDA-RD) Section 502 Direct Loan Program helps low-income families pursue home ownership. According to USDA, South Dakota and North Dakota are the only states that have been authorized for this pilot program.  

“Home ownership has always been part of the American Dream, and as a result of today’s announcement, more families throughout South Dakota will hopefully get the opportunity to see their own dreams realized, too,” said Thune. “I can’t think of a better place than South Dakota for this pilot program to be implemented and look forward to seeing the positive effect this will have on families living in tribal communities throughout the state. I want to thank Secretary Perdue for seeing the potential in this pilot program and taking quick action to see that it moves forward.”   

“Access to credit is critical for families who are trying to purchase a home,” said Rounds. “The USDA’s new Section 502 relending pilot program will help those living on tribal lands secure a home loan. We thank Secretary Sonny Perdue for his leadership on this initiative.”

“Strengthening families is a direct investment into strengthening the future, and expanding home ownership opportunities is a key part of that,” said Noem. “I am thankful Secretary Perdue and USDA recognized the potential of South Dakota tribal communities for this pilot program. I am hopeful it will help ease the path to home ownership for tribal families in the years ahead.”

“To thrive, rural America needs a creative and forward-thinking partner in USDA,” said Assistant to the USDA Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett. “Under Secretary Perdue’s leadership, USDA is harnessing innovation so we can be a better, more effective partner to Tribal communities in building their futures.”

In March 2018, the delegation requested this pilot program, which is supported by the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association and the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition, be implemented in South Dakota because while the current Section 502 program is highly utilized, only 23 of the 7,187 loans that were issued in fiscal year 2017 went to Native American families on tribal land. Under its current structure, USDA-RD lacks the adequate staff resources that are required to build relationships and deliver loans in tribal communities.   

Recognizing the lack of Section 502 direct loans in tribal communities, officials from USDA-RD, both in Washington, D.C., and South Dakota, collaborated with two Native American community development financial institutions (CDFIs) in South Dakota to develop this pilot program.

Both CDFIs, Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial in Pine Ridge and Four Bands Community Fund in Eagle Butte, are institutions in good standing with USDA-RD and, as a result of today’s announcement, are now eligible lenders under Section 502. Each will receive $800,000 in Section 502 direct loan funding from USDA-RD and be responsible for contributing $200,000 in additional funds to the pilot project. These funds would be used to relend to Native American families in tribal communities in South Dakota and North Dakota that meet the program’s requirements.

Families that are interested in learning more about this pilot program should contact the eligible CDFIs or one of the congressional delegation’s offices in Washington or South Dakota.  

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Noem, Rounds praise signing of bicameral bill expanding home-state national cemetery

2018/05/31

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) and U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) commended the president’s signing into law on May 25 of their Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act.

“After years of work, I am truly grateful to secure a permanent expansion of the Black Hills National Cemetery,” said Rep. Noem on May 26. “I thank President Trump for working with me and the South Dakota delegation to ensure veterans for generations to come will receive the distinguished and peaceful resting place they deserve.”

The new law will facilitate a permanent land transfer of approximately 200 acres of federal land to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery located near Sturgis, S.D., among other provisions.

Rep. Noem attended the Black Hills National Cemetery Memorial Day Service on May 28 and prior to the event said, “This is a weekend that we’re thinking a lot about our veterans, and particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

In his weekly column, posted online May 19, Sen. Rounds noted that the enacted legislation will double the size of the Black Hills National Cemetery.

“This land in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota will be the final resting place for thousands of veterans,” the senator wrote. “Passing this bill is a small way for us to show our gratitude to them and their families.”

Sen. Rounds also pointed out that the Black Hills National Cemetery, which was dedicated by the U.S. Army in 1948, was projected to run out of burial space by 2031. “But this permanent land transfer will make sure generations of South Dakota veterans will have a place to rest peacefully,” he wrote.

The Federal Land Policy and Management Act currently limits such land transfers to a lifespan of 20 years, although in this case, the additional acreage transferred to the Black Hills National Cemetery will be permanent, according to a statement from Rep. Noem’s office.

The U.S. Senate approved its measure, S. 35, on Dec. 21, 2017 by voice vote. The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the Senate’s version of the bill, 407-0, on May 16. Rep. Noem initially had introduced legislation to expand the cemetery in 2015.

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Noem proposes repeal of Obamacare’s health insurance tax

2018/05/30

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) on May 24 introduced the bipartisan Health Insurance Premium Reduction Act, H.R. 5963, to delay the required annual fee health insurance providers would have to start paying this year until after 2020.

H.R. 5963 would delay by two years the annual fee, or health insurance tax (HIT), imposed under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Joining Rep. Noem in introducing H.R. 5963 were cosponsors U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Ami Bera (D-CA).

“When it comes to health insurance under Obamacare, small businesses, which employ around 60 percent of South Dakotans, are taxed if they do and taxed if they don’t. For this reason and more, Obamacare is a failed system that must be repealed,” said Rep. Noem, who has voted more than 50 times during her congressional tenure to revoke Obamacare, in part or in whole.

“Until a comprehensive repeal bill can be put on President Trump’s desk, however, I will fight to minimize the financial strain on South Dakota job creators,” she said. “This legislation lifts a significant burden, saving consumers hundreds of dollars annually.”

The HIT is a direct tax on health insurance providers for the services they provide; the tax gets passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Rep. Noem successfully delayed the HIT in 2019 through legislative language she wrote that President Donald Trump signed last year, according to her staff.

Additionally, Rep. Noem’s staff said, the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation has found that between 152,000 and 286,000 jobs will be gone by 2023 due to the HIT, with 57 percent being slashed from small businesses across the country.

H.R. 5963 has been referred to both the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.

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Korean War veteran takes Honor Flight

2018/05/30

Dick Sinclair joined 81 fellow veterans on the Midwest Honor Flight to Washington D.C. to visit some of the war monuments in our nation’s capital.

Sinclair and his fellow vets were recognized at a banquet in Sioux Falls before flying out to D.C. at 6 a.m. May 15. 

“They had a turn out of folks that was just tremendous,” Sinclair said. “Kristi Noem happened to be there shaking hands with all of us.”

Each of the veterans on the trip was accompanied by a trip guardian, a family member or a good friend who travels with them to provide moral support. The veterans and their guardians were chauffeured around D.C. in busses with a police escort to five monuments including the Korean War monument. They even attended the changing of the guard at Arlington Cemetery.

“The highlight for me happened to be the changing of the guard,” Sinclair said. “The other highlight was the Korean monument; 19 different, larger than life size infantry (statues) out in the field with all their equipment. It was really quite touching, the way it was displayed.”

Sinclair joined the Navy in 1951 and after completing bootcamp, spent three and a half years as a sonarman on in a World War II fleete diesel submarine. While Sinclair said there were no active battles involving submarines during the Korean War, he and his crew worked along side civilian technicians to test new electronic technology, which would be used in many encounters since.

Sinclair recalled his first time seeing a submarine was in 1940 while his father was working as a civil engineer. His family was living on Waller Air Force base in Trinidad, when he spotted a German submarine that had washed up on the shoals of the beach they were on.

“It was a German submarine that had been sunk right out there,” he said. 

Sinclair said that after Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941 he, his mother, and his younger brother were relocated to Florida while his father finished construction on the air strip. Once construction was complete the family moved back to Arizona. It was the movie “Crash Dive” that first inspired Sinclair to join the Navy when he was a junior in high school. After getting out of the Navy in 1955 he graduated from Arizona State University in 1959 with a bachelor’s degree. He worked a string of jobs including teaching, running a men’s club, and selling cars. He retired from the McGraw-Hill Book Company after selling educational books to schools for over 20 years. He and his wife Connie moved to Spearfish in 2005 where they live with their puppy, Penny III.

Sinclair is an active member of the Polaris Submarine Base out of Rapid City, which sponsor a float in various Veteran’s Day celebrations and special occasions.

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Veterans honored at Black Hills National Cemetery on Memorial Day

2018/05/28

On a windy Memorial Day morning at the Black Hills National Cemetery just east of Sturgis, families, veterans and public officials gathered to honor the nation's war dead.

Political leaders from Washington, D.C., including U.S. Secretary of the Interior Department Ryan Zinke, U.S. Sen. John Thune and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, sat alongside officials from the cemetery and local veteran organizations on stage Monday as wreathes were laid and Taps was played. 

Zinke, a former Navy Seal, talked about Memorial Day growing up in Whitefish, Mont.  

"The veterans walked by, ushered by grandchildren holding flags." He joked that the then-young Vietnam veterans didn't "march as well" as the older World War I or World War II veterans. But he said now, increasingly Vietnam Vets are seen as the elder statesmen in veterans organizations.

"We don't sacrifice the older men, but the youth," he said.

Monday's event, presented by the South Dakota VFW, had somber moments, too. Rick Williamson, State VFW Commander of South Dakota, asked Gold Star families — those families who've lost a family member in combat — to raise their hands. He also noted, his voice breaking, that "22 veterans every day take their own life."

"And that's too many."

Following the 11 a.m. ceremony, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe also held a similar ceremony for Native American veterans, at which Zinke, Thune and Noem spoke.

On Monday, Craig Weber, a Vietnam Veteran and former member of the Air Force at Ellsworth Air Force Base, visited the gravestone of his wife, Geraldine, who died in 1990. 

"We can really appreciate it in a new way," said Marci. 

Zinke has toured the Dakotas since last week, including the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site outside Philip, the Badlands and Mount Rushmore.

"I've reassessed the beauty of western South Dakota," he said after the service. "I always knew there were good people here, but now I'm impressed by the places, too."

Noem, who authored legislation to transfer 200 acres from the Bureau of Land Management to the cemetery, said the expansion was needed to honor the "astounding number of South Dakota patriots" who have served in the military. 

"It was truly an honor to put legislation on President Trump's desk," she said.

Thune said Memorial Day is often associated with lilacs blooming, the crack of a bat at Legion ballparks across the state and paying respects to the armed services. He said doubling the cemetery will ensure "future generations can be laid to rest in the spectacular setting." 

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Noem Joins Secretary Zinke in Announcing Trump’s Relief for Outfitters, Guides

2018/05/26

Rep. Kristi Noem today joined Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in announcing President Trump’s exemption of outfitters and guides who operate on federal lands from certain Obama-era regulations.  President Obama dramatically increased pay requirements for outfitters, guides and other federal employees, which was cost prohibitive for many in South Dakota’s outdoors and tourism industries.

“From the time President Obama’s rule came down, tourists, anglers, and others have been prevented from fully experiencing what South Dakota has to offer,” said Noem. “This executive order is going to help businesses and tourism in South Dakota, but more importantly, it’s going to help expand the kinds of experiences people can have in South Dakota. The fact that President Trump and Secretary Zinke were willing to listen to South Dakota and give folks relief is critical. This will be a huge deal for the people of South Dakota.”

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Trump Signs Noem-Backed Black Hills National Cemetery Act

2018/05/26

President Donald J. Trump today signed the Noem-backed Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act, which would facilitate a permanent land transfer of approximately 200 acres of Bureau of Land Management land to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery outside Sturgis. Noem will attend the Black Hills National Cemetery Memorial Day Service on Monday, May 28.

“This is a weekend that we’re thinking a lot about our veterans, and particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Noem. “After years of work, I am truly grateful to secure a permanent expansion of the Black Hills National Cemetery. I thank President Trump for working with me and the South Dakota delegation to ensure veterans for generations to come will receive the distinguished and peaceful resting place they deserve.”

Under current law, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act limits transfers like this one to a lifespan of 20 years. The Black Hills National Cemetery Boundary Expansion Act would make this particular transfer permanent.

Noem introduced legislation to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery in 2015 and again in 2017. The House passed both bills, but the legislation was not considered in the U.S. Senate. With approval from the Senate earlier this year, the House once again considered the bill and unanimously passed it. Senator Thune carried the legislation in the U.S. Senate.

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Noem Introduces Bill Aimed at Decreasing Health Insurance Costs for Employers

2018/05/25

Rep. Kristi Noem this week introduced the Health Insurance Premium Reduction Act, which would delay Obamacare’s pricey Health Insurance Tax (HIT) by two years. The provision, if enacted, could save families and small businesses hundreds of dollars per year in healthcare premium costs.

“When it comes to health insurance under Obamacare, small businesses, which employ around 60 percent of South Dakotans, are taxed if they do and taxed if they don’t,” said Noem. “For this reason and more, Obamacare is a failed system that must be repealed. Until a comprehensive repeal bill can be put on President Trump’s desk, however, I will fight to minimize the financial strain on South Dakota job creators. This legislation lifts a significant burden, saving consumers hundreds of dollars annually.”

The HIT is a direct tax on health insurance providers for the services they provide to individuals, families, and other beneficiaries. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this tax is passed on to consumers in the form of higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Additionally, the National Federation of Independent Business Research Foundation found the HIT will cost between 152,000 and 286,000 jobs by 2023, with 57 percent of those lost jobs represented in small businesses. Noem successfully delayed the HIT in 2019 through legislative language she wrote and President Trump signed. She has also voted more than 50 times in support of repealing Obamacare, in part or in whole.

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Noem: No Matter How Small

2018/05/25

Abortion is not health care. Abortion is not family planning. Abortion is the intentional ending of an unborn baby’s life, and I’m thrilled we finally have a president who recognizes that and has made protecting the unborn a priority.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration proposed ending Title X family planning funding for abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, and redirecting those resources into health centers that do not promote or perform abortions. I am very proud to stand with him as he brings back this Reagan-era rule.

The defunding of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers is an issue I’ve been working on for some time. Most recently, I reached out in a letter to President Trump urging him to make the Title X change and explaining that taxpayers should not be subsidizing the abortion industry. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, Planned Parenthood receives roughly $60 million annually in family planning funding. This is wrong. Taxpayers should not have to bear the abortion industry’s financial burden – directly or indirectly.

Despite false claims, President Trump’s announcement will not take a penny from women’s health. Instead, it extends those same dollars to clinics and centers that offer full, life-affirming care to women from the moment of conception on. In many areas, these centers far outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics. In South Dakota, there are six federal qualified health centers operating in 45 service sites, but only one Planned Parenthood center. To say that we must fund Planned Parenthood or deny thousands of women care is a false narrative. We can support women’s health without supporting abortion providers.

President Trump’s announcement builds on much of the pro-life work we’ve done in recent years. In early 2017, for instance, he signed legislation I cosponsored that empowered states to withhold Title X funding from abortion providers. His most recent announcement allows us to go a step further.

I also worked to help introduce the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which prohibits taxpayer-funded abortions as well as taxpayer-funded subsidies for healthcare plans covering elective abortions. A 2016 Government Accountability Office study showed abortions were paid for with federal dollars through Obamacare exchanges, which we had previously been told would not be the case. According to the Susan B. Anthony List, “Under Obamacare, as many as 111,500 additional abortions per year could be heavily subsidized by taxpayers.” That is unacceptable, and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would fix it. While the House has passed it, the Senate has not taken it up at this point.

Additionally, I helped lead the House in passing the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. A strong and growing body of medical research provides evidence that unborn children can feel pain at 20 weeks. Still, our federal laws allow for babies to endure the pain of a life-ending abortion. I’ve also cosponsored the Heartbeat Protection Act, which protects a baby from abortion as soon as a heartbeat is detected, and the Life at Conception Act.

There is nothing more fundamental to our society than our kids, and I often think of my own while fighting for pro-life values. One of my favorite books to read them when they were little was Dr. Seuss’s “Horton Hears a Who.” It reads: “A person is a person no matter how small.” I don’t know that there’s a better way to sum up the reason behind pro-life policy.

All life is precious – no matter how small.

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Noem Highlights SD Impact of Historic Tax Cuts

2018/05/24

This week, Rep. Kristi Noem spoke in a Ways and Means hearing about the positive impact of tax reform in South Dakota.

“Everywhere I travel in the state, people are telling me stories about the benefit of tax reform,” said Noem. “This is exactly why the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is so important. It helps our small businesses stay in business. It puts us on the road to growth and reinvestment in our people and in our small businesses. That’s what I hear overwhelmingly across my state of South Dakota, and that’s why it’s so vital that we keep it up.”

WATCH: Noem Speaks to Ways and Means Committee about Tax Reform in South Dakota

When Congress negotiated tax reform legislation late last year, Noem served as one of only five House Republicans on the final negotiating team. Partnering with Ivanka Trump, Noem successfully worked to double the Child Tax Credit and maintain the Child Care Credit. Because of the doubled standard deduction and strengthened provisions for farmers, ranchers, and job creators, the average family of four in South Dakota is projected to receive a $2,400 tax reduction next year.

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Contact Information

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

Committee Assignments

Ways and Means

U.S. Representative Kristi Noem is a wife, mother, experienced rancher, farmer, and former small business owner. Kristi was born and raised in rural Hamlin County in northeastern South Dakota and still lives there today with her husband, Bryon, and their three children, Kassidy, Kennedy, and Booker.

Kristi learned the value of hard work early in life from her father. He put Kristi, her sister and two brothers to work on the family farm at a young age caring for the cattle and horses and helping with planting and harvest. After graduating from high school, Kristi began attending college at Northern State University in Aberdeen. When her father died unexpectedly in a farming accident, Kristi returned to the family farm and ranch full-time. Her father’s death left a huge absence, so Kristi stepped up and helped stabilize the operation and provided leadership when it was needed most.

Kristi’s work on the farm and ranch didn’t go unnoticed. In 1997 she received the South Dakota Outstanding Young Farmer award and in 2003 she was honored with the South Dakota Young Leader award.

Kristi’s experience as a small business owner shaped her understanding of government and its purpose. Too often, government is inefficient and ineffective, simply getting in the way of small businesses and entrepreneurs who wish to create jobs and grow our economy. Realizing this, Kristi decided to get involved to try and make a difference.

Her service includes the South Dakota State Farm Agency State Committee, the Commission for Agriculture in the 21st Century, the South Dakota Soybean Association, and numerous other boards and committees. In the fall of 2006, Kristi was elected as the 6th District Representative to the South Dakota House of Representatives.

Kristi quickly realized she could serve her district, and the State of South Dakota, more effectively in a leadership position. So in her second term she ran for, and won, the position of Assistant Majority Leader in the State House, where she served until 2010.

Kristi was first elected to serve as South Dakota’s lone Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on November 2, 2010.

While keeping up with her Congressional duties in Washington, D.C. and work with constituents in South Dakota, Kristi continued to take undergraduate courses from South Dakota State University. In December 2011, Kristi graduated from SDSU with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.

On November 6, 2012, Kristi was re-elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where she continues to serve on the Agriculture Committee and House Armed Services Committee.

Kristi enjoys helping her daughters compete in rodeo and 4-H. She has been a 4-H leader for 14 years. Kristi is also an avid hunter. She particularly enjoys pheasant hunting on the homestead and archery elk with her brothers.


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