Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem

SOUTH DAKOTA

Delegation Invites Veteran Affairs Secretary to Hot Springs VA Facility in South Dakota

2018/11/20

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) have invited Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, who was confirmed in July, to visit the Hot Springs VA facility in South Dakota. The delegation has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and previous secretaries to highlight the good work being done at the facility and encourage them to keep it open and operational.

“As you continue to appreciate the scope of the VA’s mission and footprint, we hope you will consider visiting Hot Springs to see firsthand the quality, five star care provided and hear from those personally impacted by the VA’s realignment plan,” the delegation wrote. “For example, as your predecessors have heard, the Hot Springs VA has a proven track record for serving veterans enrolled in its Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. We know that we are not alone in thinking that the outstanding program at Hot Springs could be expanded or serve as a national model for care, perhaps as a non-coastal division of the National Center for PTSD.” 

Full text of the letter below:

The Honorable Robert Wilkie

Secretary

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC  20420

Dear Secretary Wilkie:

Thank you for your continued attention to the significant challenges facing America’s veterans and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as you work to improve access to quality care, streamline the claims process, and improve VA accountability, among other issues.  As Congress and the VA continue to work together to confront these challenges and carry out the VA’s mission, we would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the challenges faced by South Dakota veterans.

As you know, one issue of particular importance in our state is the VA’s planned restructuring of the VA Black Hills Health Care System (BHHCS).  In December 2011, the VA publically announced its plan to close the VA hospital in Hot Springs, SD, replace it with a Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC), and move the domiciliary from Hot Springs to Rapid City as part of the planned CBOC expansion.  From the beginning, we have raised concerns with the VA about the impact the closure would have on access to care for our region’s rural and tribal veterans.  We sought explanations for the questionable data used to support the proposal, as the VA could not produce a cost-benefit analysis until six months later.  Area veterans also believe that past VA leadership has mismanaged the facility into a state of decline, supporting a predetermined decision to close the medical center. 

You are now the fourth VA Secretary to oversee this matter, which underscores how long South Dakota veterans and the town of Hot Springs, “the Veterans Town,” have endured great uncertainty about the future of their VA and access to care.  Over the past seven years, we have led efforts to secure credible data and foster an honest conversation about the important and life-saving services provided in Hot Springs.  Moreover, we do not believe that the VA should consider any realignment of services in an ad hoc manner, which is why we have supported appropriations language to prohibit the VA from proceeding with any reconfiguration of services in VISN 23 until it completes a national realignment strategy. 

As you continue to appreciate the scope of the VA’s mission and footprint, we hope you will consider visiting Hot Springs to see firsthand the quality, five star care provided and hear from those personally impacted by the VA’s realignment plan.[1]  For example, as your predecessors have heard, the Hot Springs VA has a proven track record for serving veterans enrolled in its Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.  We know that we are not alone in thinking that the outstanding program at Hot Springs could be expanded or serve as a national model for care, perhaps as a non-coastal division of the National Center for PTSD. 

We hope we will soon be able to discuss this and other matters concerning South Dakota veterans.  Thank you for your consideration to meet in Washington, DC, and also visit South Dakota.  We look forward to working with you to continue improving veterans health care in our state and throughout the country. 

Sincerely,

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Noem: Addressing the Opioid Epidemic

2018/11/02

Drug abuse is now the leading cause of death for people under 50. Meth is a tremendous challenge in South Dakota, but opioid addiction is spreading to an ever-increasing number of families each year. Nationwide, more than 46 Americans lose their lives because of an opioid addiction every day. It’s an epidemic, and South Dakota is no exception.

Opioids have stolen the lives of hundreds of South Dakotans in recent years. No family, no community is immune to addiction.

With opioids, addiction can start with a simple prescription for pain medication to deal with a headache. But that same medicine intended for healing can be the drug that leads to a life-altering addiction. More than 40 percent of all opioid overdose deaths involved a prescription opioid. While some measures have been taken to better monitor prescription drugs, opioid prescriptions in South Dakota have reached all-time highs.

To address the epidemic, training efforts have launched at places like Avera and Sanford to make sure doctors understand when and how to prescribe opioids.

On the federal level, I’ve worked with President Trump on a bipartisan bill to combat the opioid epidemic by confronting the trafficking of deadly opiates, prioritizing addiction prevention, better supporting those in treatment, and taking a data-driven approach for targeting resources for millions of Medicare recipients who lack access to mental health resources. There’s still much to be done in our fight against opioid addiction, but this is a good start.

Additionally, I’m continuing to work on the federal level to make sure we’re doing all we can to keep illegal drugs out of South Dakota. I strongly support legislation, for instance, that cracks down on Mexican drug traffickers and those who help facilitate their illicit activities at the border; this includes my continued vote to fully fund President Trump’s border security agenda. I believe doing this is a step toward cut off drugs at their source.

We have to end this epidemic. If you or someone you care about is abusing substances or medications, please talk to your doctor or contact a treatment center immediately. If you don’t know where to turn, call the free and confidential National Treatment Referral Routing Service at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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Noem: Grounded in Ag

2018/10/30

South Dakota is grounded in agriculture. Our families are rooted in it; our economy relies on it; and I wouldn't have it any other way. But agriculture has had some tough years. We've been hit by floods, droughts, and trade disputes, pushing many operations to the breaking point. 
I've fought to make sure producers have a safety net during times like this. Pushing the 2014 Farm Bill across the line was a significant victory. But as the trade situation grew more rocky, I pressed the administration on the need for another safety net. As an initial step, they offered producers short-term support, but my message back to the administration was that we need trade, not aid. We need to be building new markets - in foreign countries, but also here in the U.S. 
Ethanol can be a big piece of that. For years, fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol (E-15) could only be sold for 9 months out of the year. After significant pressure from myself and others, President Trump announced this fall that he'd take steps to allow for year-round sales of E-15, potentially bringing about 2 billion bushels of corn into the market. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was a driving force behind the change, and this month, we were fortunate to welcome him to South Dakota, celebrating the victory at one of the world's largest biofuel producers, South Dakota-based POET. 
After touring POET, we traveled to a farm near Lennox for a roundtable discussion with producers across the state. We heard a lot about trade. Many there explained they understood the need to level the playing field for America, but as Secretary Perdue rightly said: "You can't pay the bills with patriotism." 
While there's a lot of work to do on the trade front, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement was a very encouraging step forward. People are coming to the table. They're negotiating with the administration. And American interests are advancing with each deal struck.
Before leaving, Secretary Perdue and I stopped by Brandon Valley Intermediate School for an assembly and to help serve students lunch. As many know, there has been robust discussion around school meals for years now. Under Obama-era regulations, schools' hands were tied. They could hardly serve meat. Cheese and milk was difficult to put on the tray, because of its salt content. And many schools were facing financial straits because of it.
I've been working to ditch the one-size-fits-all model for meal requirements. As one of his first acts as Secretary, Sonny went ahead and loosened the regulations, giving schools much-needed flexibility. I want to make his rules permanent through law and have legislation to do that.
Overall, it was a tremendous visit, where Secretary Perdue was able to get a good glimpse of what grounds us as South Dakotans. That’s important because I've always believed what you see with your eyes, you carry in your heart. I have no doubt Secretary Perdue now carries a bit of South Dakota with him.
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Noem Statement on Passing of Justice Zinter

2018/10/30

Rep. Kristi Noem today issued the following statement after the passing of South Dakota Supreme Court Justice Steven Zinter:

“South Dakota has lost a tremendous public servant in the passing of state Supreme Court Justice Steven Zinter. He thoroughly understood and consistently upheld the rule of law, showing both compassion and justice through the judicial process. Bryon and I mourn the loss of a man who heeded the command 'to act justly and love mercy.' We pray his family finds comfort in these difficult days."

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Noem: Celebrating A Century of Tradition

2018/10/19

A century has passed since South Dakota’s first pheasant opener, but the shots fired that day have resonated throughout the last 100 years of South Dakota history, impacting our culture, traditions, and economy.

Over the years, Opening Day has become an unofficial holiday for many families, including ours. But beyond a family tradition, it was our family business for many years, as we opened and operated a hunting lodge in northeastern South Dakota. There are dozens of small businesses like that across the state, and they come alive this time of year, as people from across the world flock to our state to take advantage of our unmatched hunting opportunities. 

All in all, hunting drives nearly $700 million worth of economic activity in the state, supporting more than 18,000 full- and part-time jobs, so it’s critical we work to maintain a healthy hunting economy.

This year, surveys show a 47 percent increase in pheasant populations, welcome news for our centennial season. But habitat remains a challenge.

That’s why I fought to have my Protect Our Prairies language included in the 2014 Farm Bill. This legislation encourages conservation of native sod and grassland in our area. Because it’s proven successful, I’m now working to expand the program nationwide.

Additionally, I continue to work to strengthen the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Earlier this year, the House passed legislation to increase CRP acreage to 29 million acres, a priority for many South Dakota sportsmen. I’m hopeful we can move that language across the finish line in the weeks to come, once again helping to create long-term sustainability for our bird populations.

I’m proud to live in a state that celebrates our hunting traditions. All the best to you and your family this pheasant season. I hope it is safe and abundant.

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Noem efforts to allow year-round sales of E15 fuel pay off

2018/10/12

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) this week commended an announcement by the president that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will start lifting restrictions on year-round sales of E15 fuel, which the congresswoman says would benefit farmers in South Dakota and elsewhere around the country.

“To stabilize the ag economy, we need to expand market access, and ethanol is a huge market that, because of federal regulations, we’ve been unable to fully tap into,” Rep. Noem said following U.S. President Donald Trump’s directive that the EPA will start a rulemaking process to allow for the year-round use of 15 percent ethanol blends.

“I am grateful that he has followed through on this promise to the American people,” said Rep. Noem.

Known as E15, the fuel is a higher-octane fuel composed of 15 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline. E15 received EPA approval in 2012 for use in model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, medium-sized SUVs, and all flex-fuel vehicles, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, which says E15 is available at retail fueling stations in 28 states.

Rep. Noem has repeatedly pushed to expand that decision and end what she has called unnecessary limitations on E15 to help farmers and the agricultural economy, while reducing consumer spending and the nation’s reliance on foreign oil.

“President Trump and I have had many conversations about the expansion of E15,” said Rep. Noem. “He knows where I stand, and that I wouldn’t give up on this issue until we made it right for farmers in South Dakota and for consumers who are demanding more affordable, homegrown fuels.”

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL) also applauded the president for recognizing the importance of ethanol sales for farmers in the Midwest.

“Ethanol sales help drive demand for corn in Illinois and the announcement … will broaden opportunities for our farmers looking to sell more E15,” said Rep. LaHood. “Not only will the expansion of E15 sales benefit our farmers in central and west-central Illinois, but this will provide fuel retailers and consumers with more cost-efficient choices that reduce gas emissions into our environment.”

Several stakeholders also are thrilled about the president’s Tuesday announcement.

“We appreciate the key role Congresswoman Noem played in getting us to this point, particularly as a chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus and as a strong supporter of renewable fuels,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “This announcement is great news for farmers, biofuel workers, retailers and consumers everywhere who want to enjoy cleaner, more affordable options at the fuel pump.”

Scott VanderWal, president of the South Dakota Farm Bureau, also praised Rep. Noem for her leadership in Congress, particularly for her efforts to help “the administration understand the importance of increasing market access for agricultural products,” he said. “The best way out of the current poor ag economy is to find new markets and expand existing ones.”

Also thanking Rep. Noem for being a biofuels champion in Washington, D.C., was Jeff Broin, chief executive officer of POET LLC, a leading producer of biofuels and coproducts based in Sioux Falls, S.D.

“This is a historic directive – not only for our farmers, but for the nation as a whole,” Broin said. “The move to E15 will provide consumers with the choice to fill up with low-cost, high-performance fuel year-round, while improving air quality in our country’s largest cities.”

Lisa Richardson, executive director of South Dakota Corn, called the president’s announcement on Oct. 9 “an exciting day for corn producers.”

“I would like to thank Representative Noem for her continuous advocacy with President Trump on behalf of South Dakota producers,” she said. “We welcome this announcement and the opportunity to supply more of our nation’s fuel supply.”

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Noem: Expanding Ethanol Opportunities

2018/10/12

Agriculture is South Dakota's number one industry – by a significant margin. All in all, it contributes about $25.6 billion to the economy, so when ag booms, South Dakota booms. Of course, when droughts hit or markets slide, everyone feels that too.

In recent years, farm incomes have collapsed, in part because of natural disasters and in part because prices have been suppressed by foreign buyers. This administration set out to rebalance our trade relationships. For example, the European Union announced its willingness to join the U.S. in new trade talks, and Canada and Mexico have come to the negotiating table and helped us produce a better, fairer deal for American agriculture. 

China took a different path, retaliating harshly against our farmers and ranchers. This retaliation greatly concerns me, and I’ve talked with farmers and ranchers across South Dakota about its impact. Recent news reports, however, suggest China’s finances have taken a hit from trade disputes, causing the Chinese government to implement extraordinary measures to shore up its economy.

Nonetheless, their retaliation has hit American producers. In response, the U.S. Agriculture Department offered up a $12 billion aid package. But farmers don't want aid; we want market access. As Scott VanderWal, President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau explained: “The best way out of the current poor ag economy is to find new markets and expand existing ones.”

This October, President Trump took a major step forward in opening up an existing market that's not been fully tapped into. More specifically, his administration took an action that previous administrations were unwilling to take, approving year-round E15, a move that will help consume another 2 billion bushels of corn, while potentially saving consumers up to 10 cents per gallon at the pump.

Under the president's direction, the Environmental Protection Agency will begin the rule-making process, allowing for 15 percent ethanol blends to be used throughout the year, which is currently prohibited unnecessarily. Jeff Broin, the CEO of POET, a Sioux Falls-based ethanol producer, called the move "a historic directive - not only for producers, but for the nation as a whole." I agree.

Over the last year, I've been putting tremendous pressure on the administration to make this move. President Trump and I have had many conversations about year-round E15. He knows where I stand, and that I wouldn't give up on this issue until we made it right for farmers in South Dakota – as well as consumers who are demanding more affordable, homegrown fuels. 

That work is now beginning to pay off. We're getting results and earning "an opportunity to supply more of our nation's fuel supply," as Lisa Richardson, Executive Director of South Dakota Corn explained. Simply put, South Dakota can revolutionize the way we fuel both our vehicles and our economy – we just need the opportunity to do so. Read More

With Relentless Pressure from Noem, Trump Approves Year-Round E15

2018/10/09

After months of relentless pressure from Rep. Kristi Noem, President Donald Trump today took the first step toward lifting restrictions on year-round E15. More specifically, under the president's direction, the EPA will begin the rule-making process that would allow for 15 percent ethanol blends to be used throughout the year.

“To stabilize the ag economy, we need to expand market access, and ethanol is a huge market that, because of federal regulations, we've been unable to fully tap into," said Noem. "President Trump and I have had many conversations about the expansion of E15. He knows where I stand, and that I wouldn't give up on this issue until we made it right for farmers in South Dakota and for consumers who are demanding more affordable, homegrown fuels. I am grateful that he has followed through on this promise to the American people." 

"We are thrilled that the President is moving forward with his promise to deliver year round sales of E15, and we appreciate the key role Congresswoman Noem played in getting us to this point, particularly as a Chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus and as a strong supporter of renewable fuels,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “This announcement is great news for farmers, biofuel workers, retailers and consumers everywhere who want to enjoy cleaner, more affordable options at the fuel pump.”

“We commend Rep. Noem for her leadership in Congress and helping the Administration understand the importance of increasing market access for agricultural products,” said Scott VanderWal, President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau. “The best way out of the current poor ag economy is to find new markets and expand existing ones.”

“I would like to thank President Trump, on behalf of our 2,000 employees and our 30,000 producers, for fulfilling his promise to the Midwest and our industry. I'd also like to thank Rep. Noem and our other biofuel champions in Washington for their strong support throughout this process,” said Jeff Broin, CEO of POET. “This is a historic directive – not only for our farmers, but for the nation as a whole. The move to E15 will provide consumers with the choice to fill up with low-cost, high-performance fuel year-round, while improving air quality in our country’s largest cities.”

“Today is an exciting day for corn producers. Allowing year-round E15 is a move South Dakota Corn has been pushing for years. I would like to thank Representative Noem for her continuous advocacy with President Trump on behalf of South Dakota producers,” said Lisa Richardson, Executive Director of South Dakota Corn. “We welcome this announcement and the opportunity to supply more of our nation’s fuel supply.”

A co-chair of the Congressional Biofuels Caucus, Noem has been a leading ethanol advocate, putting immense pressure on the Trump administration to lift E15 restrictions and allow year-round usage. She has met on numerous occasions with President Trump and top administration officials on the topic and led more than 20 House members in urging the EPA to approve expanded ethanol opportunities. Furthermore, Noem has consistently pushed to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which the Obama administration repeatedly fell short of meeting and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt failed to make the adjustments needed in the new administration.   Read More

Noem: Celebrating Tribal Heritage

2018/10/05

I have had the honor of receiving a Star Quilt from tribes in South Dakota on a few occasions. Star Quilts are often used in Native American culture as a symbolic way to honor and protect a person on their journey through life. It’s incredibly meaningful and a big encouragement as we work together to tackle some of the challenges in the journey ahead.

Each October, we celebrate Native Americans' Day – an opportunity to honor South Dakota's nine Native American tribes, as well as their heritage, culture, and traditions. If you haven’t been to a tribal celebration, I encourage you to find an opportunity this fall.

That said, there are tremendous challenges in Indian Country today – from economic and workforce development to healthcare. Despite a workforce shortage in good-paying, high-skill jobs on reservations, fewer than one in 10 Native American students will attend college. SDSU is pursuing one program to help change that, however. It’s called the Wokini Initiative and is designed to help more tribal students earn their degree. We’re working now to get more resources into the program, offering hope, enrichment, and upward mobility for many students.

Alongside workforce development, we need economic development. For too long, inconsistencies in tax law have created confusion and discouraged investment in Indian Country. Understanding this, I introduced legislation to better reflect the unique needs of tribal communities. More specifically, the bill puts tribal governments on equal footing with states, ensuring they are fully eligible under the tax code to receive certain tax benefits and enter into public-private partnerships. It also expands economic development tools to make investing more affordable in these high-need areas.

At the same time, we must address the tribal healthcare crisis. Today, many tribal members receive life-threatening “care” from a broken Indian Health Service (IHS). In recent years, watchdog reports have documented appalling cases of negligence 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. An IHS pediatrician was tried for sexually abusing children. No one should have to live in these third-world medical conditions – especially not folks in South Dakota.

I've been working with tribal leaders to improve the IHS for years, and this summer, I introduced the most recent version of my comprehensive IHS reform bill. Through the legislation, we offer more tools to recruit and retain quality medical and administrative personnel. We would also cut red tape and increase transparency. I’m hopeful we’ll be able to continue to drive this legislation forward in the weeks ahead.

It’s critical we recognize and honor the tremendous contributions tribal communities have made throughout our shared history. That’s why I worked to recognize the Tatanka as our country’s national mammal and honor the Lakota Code Talkers with a Congressional Gold Medal. I’m proud of the rich Native American heritage that’s woven into South Dakota and grateful that we, as a state, set aside a day each October to recognize that legacy.

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Delegation Urges FCC to Restore Predictability to Universal Service Fund’s High Cost Program Budget

2018/10/03

U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) today urged Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to immediately act to restore sufficiency and predictability to the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) High Cost program’s budget, ensuring South Dakotans have access to high-quality broadband and voice services that are comparable in quality and price to those available in urban areas.

“The USF High Cost program is critical for millions of rural Americans and foundational for the success of reaching universal service goals in rural America,” the delegation wrote. “Yet the High Cost program budget has remained static at 2011 levels. It is essential that the High Cost program evolve and keep pace with technological advancements. It is also critical that after the High Cost budget is updated, it keep pace with inflation going forward.”

Full text of the letter below:

The Honorable Ajit Pai

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street Southwest

Washington, DC 20554

Dear Chairman Pai:

As the congressional delegation from the State of South Dakota, we write to express our strong support for immediate action by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to restore sufficiency and predictability to the Universal Service Fund’s (USF) High Cost program’s budget. Fully funding this program will help ensure rural South Dakotans have access to high-quality broadband and voice services comparable in quality and price to those available in urban areas.

While the Federal government has made rural broadband a national priority, the long-term insufficiency and uncertainty of the USF High Cost budget needlessly undermines investment in and planning for deployment in rural areas. Therefore, we were happy to hear you commit at the August 16, 2018, FCC oversight hearing to taking action by the end of this year.

The USF High Cost program is critical for millions of rural Americans and foundational for the success of reaching universal service goals in rural America. Yet the High Cost program budget has remained static at 2011 levels. It is essential that the High Cost program evolve and keep pace with technological advancements. It is also critical that after the High Cost budget is updated, it keep pace with inflation going forward.

The current budget limits are hindering rural broadband deployment and harming consumers. In South Dakota, the limit is estimated to cut support that carriers would otherwise have received for broadband deployment by more than $11 million over a twelve-month period. These reductions in support will require providers to postpone or even cancel broadband investment, reducing the availability of rural broadband. These cuts also threaten to increase the cost of broadband service to consumers in rural areas and put at risk the ability of providers to repay loans for investments already made, undermining the viability and sustainability of broadband in rural areas. More than 75 percent of South Dakota’s land mass is served by rural carriers, and it is crucial that these consumers are not left behind.

The responses to the FCC’s USF High Cost Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking confirm the need to provide – and indicate broad support for –long-term, sufficient, and predictable funding to rural carriers, ensuring that rural consumers have access to affordable broadband.

Consistent with prior letters expressing concerns about High Cost budget shortfalls, we urge the Commission to establish a sufficient and predictable budget that will help eliminate the rural divide while also providing certainty to carriers planning deployment and maintenance of rural broadband.

Thank you for acknowledging the need to eliminate the digital divide by assuring affordable broadband for rural American consumers. We look forward to continuing to work with you in achieving a positive resolution on this important issue for rural America.

Sincerely,

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Following Noem’s Urging, VA Announces Grant Approval for East River Veteran Cemetery

2018/10/01

Following a push from Rep. Kristi Noem, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today approved a grant request to fund construction for an East River Veterans Cemetery. South Dakota could begin seeing these funds as early as next year.

“South Dakota has a proud legacy of military service and patriotism,” said Noem. “This grant from the VA will help expedite the process of establishing a peaceful resting place to remember and honor those who have served.”

In June, Rep. Noem, Sen. Thune, and Sen. Rounds wrote a letter to VA Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Randy C. Reeves expressing support for the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs’ application to establish a new veteran cemetery in Sioux Falls. 

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Noem Statement on US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

2018/10/01

Rep. Kristi Noem today issued the following statement after the United States, Mexico, and Canada announced an agreement has been reached on the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement:

“For the last year, I have been pressing President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to finalize an agreement that works better for South Dakota agriculture – and finalize it quickly. We have met on several occasions to discuss the dire situation producers are in as a result of poorly negotiated trade deals and the changes needed. I am pleased the pressure we put on this administration has resulted in a preliminary deal. I will be reviewing the details of this agreement closely, but I’m optimistic we are headed toward an agreement that treats South Dakota agricultural goods more fairly, expands market access, and sets unprecedented standards for science-based sanitary and phytosanitary measures. I will continue weighing in with the Trump administration as this process advances, but I’m hopeful we’re on the cusp of a better deal for American manufacturing and agriculture.”     

Rep. Noem sits on the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, which has primary jurisdiction over trade issues in the U.S. House.

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Noem: Making an Impact for Students

2018/09/28

I’ve always believed decisions are best made at the local level, particularly when it involves the education our kids are receiving. That was a big driver behind the work we did in the Student Success Act, which was designed to reduce the federal footprint and empower both parents and local school districts.

That work is ongoing, however, as federal policies continue to impede on local decision-making. One issue where we continue to work is the Impact Aid Program, which reimburses local schools for revenue losses that occur when nontaxable federal land is in their districts.

More specifically, schools rely on local property taxes to pay the bills. Tax is not collected, however, on federal lands, such as military installations, Indian Trust land, and national grasslands. As a result, a school bordering Ellsworth Air Force Base must overcome tremendous budgetary challenges as no taxes are paid on the property in much of their district.

That’s where the Impact Aid Program comes in. As Hilary Goldmann, who heads an association dedicated to maintaining Impact Aid, explains: The program “pays for teacher salaries, school counselors, technology, student transportation and other education programming…”

In South Dakota, about 30 school districts are eligible for the program. These school districts are often located in rural areas with few taxpayers and where administrators double as bus drivers, teachers, and coaches.

Simply put, Impact Aid helps ensure we maintain a level playing field for all South Dakota school districts. Going to school near the Air Force Base or one of South Dakota’s nine Indian Reservations shouldn’t limit classroom resources.

Earlier this fall, I was honored to be recognized by more than 50 South Dakota teachers who are part of the country’s leading Impact Aid group for my work to strengthen this critical support system. More specifically, they discussed my work on bipartisan legislation to increase the program’s efficiency and provide greater flexibility to the school districts that receive it. They also discussed the provisions I introduced to improve Impact Aid in the latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Jamie Hermann, who is president of Impact Schools of South Dakota, noted: “Every time Impact Aid school districts needed assistance, Rep. Noem was there to help successfully lead the charge. From the first meeting with her, she recognized the federal government’s financial obligation to school districts that have a decreased tax base due to the federal government ownership of the land.”

Those are humbling words to hear, but I’m grateful for the award and will continue to fight so classrooms have the resources our kids need to succeed.  Read More

Noem-Sponsored Tax Reform 2.0 Passes House

2018/09/28

Rep. Kristi Noem today led the U.S. House of Representatives in passing Tax Reform 2.0. The legislative package makes permanent the tax relief families and small businesses received through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The landmark package also includes provisions to simplify retirement savings, allow parents to start education savings accounts for their unborn children, and promote innovation for small startup businesses.

“The historic tax cuts we passed last year have been life-changing for the people of South Dakota. I hear it everywhere I travel in the state,” said Noem. “The tax cuts help our small businesses stay in businesses and put money in families’ pockets. Tax Reform 2.0 goes another step forward. Through this bill, we incentivize innovation and give hardworking Americans more opportunities to save.”

WATCH: Noem Speaks in Support of Tax Reform 2.0 on House Floor

Last year, Noem served as one of the only farmers or ranchers on the final tax cuts negotiating team, making her a critical advocate for South Dakota’s number one industry. The legislation gave producers access to enhanced expensing tools, immediate deductibility, and like-kind exchanges. Additionally, Noem championed the Child Tax Credit, which doubled to $2,000/child under the tax cuts package, and saved the Child Care Credit from repeal.

Highlights of Tax Reform 2.0

  • Makes the following provisions from 2017’s historic tax cut permanent:
    • Lower tax rates
    • Doubling of the Child Tax Credit from $1,000/child to $2,000/child
    • Doubling of exemption levels for the Death Tax
  • Creates a new Universal Savings Account to offer a fully flexible savings tool for families
  • Expands 529 Education Savings Accounts so families can use the money to pay for apprenticeship fees, homeschooling, or student debt
  • Offers New Baby Savings by allowing families to access their own retirement accounts penalty-free for expenses when welcoming a new child through birth or adoption
  • Allows small businesses to join together to create a 401(k) plan more affordably
  • Allows new businesses to write off more of their initial start-up costs
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PHOTO: Noem Receives Impact Aid Award

2018/09/26

Rep. Kristi Noem was honored this week by more than 50 South Dakota school administrators for her "outstanding contributions to the Impact Aid Program." Noem was awarded the Friend of the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools Award for her years-long effort to protect the program, which provides payments from the federal government to local school districts to make up for local taxes lost on account of a federal presence within their school districts, such as military bases and federal land like Indian Reservations or federal grasslands. More than 30 South Dakota school districts are Impact Aid districts.

Pictured from left to right: Chad Blotsky, Hilary Goldmann, Rep. Kristi Noem,  Trista Hedderman, Jocelyn Bissonnett

“Impact Aid helps ensure we maintain a level playing field for all South Dakota school districts," said Noem. "Going to school near Ellsworth Air Force Base or one of South Dakota's nine Indian Reservations shouldn't limit classroom resources. I'm grateful for this generous award and will continue to fight so classrooms have the resources our kids need to succeed."

“Every time Impact Aid school districts needed assistance, Rep. Noem was there to help successfully lead the charge,” said Jamie Hermann, President of Impact Schools of South Dakota. “From the first meeting with her, she recognized the federal government’s financial obligation to school districts that have a decreased tax base due to the federal government ownership of the land.”

Noem chairs the bipartisan House Impact Aid Caucus and is a long-time supporter of the program. In March, Noem successfully led more than 100 Members of Congress in urging the Appropriations Committee to preserve Impact Aid funding for fiscal year 2019. They wrote: “Often, these school districts are located in rural areas with few taxpayers and where administrators double as bus drivers, teachers, and coaches. These dollars provide a foundational education program for all students; many schools would close their doors without the support of Impact Aid.”

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Noem, House colleagues seek EPA approval of year-round sale of E15 fuel

2018/09/21

To help support home-state farmers across America, U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) spearheaded a bipartisan group of 23 U.S. House members in seeking approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for year-round sales of E15 fuel.

E15, a higher octane fuel composed of 5 percent ethanol and 85 percent gasoline, received EPA approval in 2012 for use in model year 2001 and newer cars, light-duty trucks, medium-sized SUVs, and all flex-fuel vehicles, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, which says E15 is available at retail fueling stations in 28 states.

Rep. Noem and her House colleagues sent a Sept. 13 letter to EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler strongly encouraging the Trump administration to reduce federal regulations on ethanol rather than implementing policies that they said only work against American farmers and slow down growth of the biofuels market.

“Our ag economy has really suffered in recent years,” Rep. Noem said on Sept. 18. “By ending unnecessary limitations on E15, we have a big opportunity to help farmers and our ag economy save consumers money, and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.”

Joining the congresswoman in signing the letter were U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Darin LaHood (R-IL), Sam Graves (R-MO), Don Bacon (R-NE), Tom Emmer (R-MN), and Collin Peterson (D-MN). Reps. Noem and Peterson lead the bipartisan Biofuels Caucus.

Specifically, the lawmakers – who referred to themselves as “representatives of our country’s strongest farming communities” – encouraged the EPA to consider “reducing regulations, like those that prohibit the year-round sale of E15.”

“This regulatory change would increase consumption of biofuels while also lowering RIN prices, which eases implementation of the RFS and provide consumers with another choice at the pump,” they wrote, referring to a Renewable Identification Number (RIN), which the U.S. Energy Department says are attached to the physical gallon of renewable fuel as it is transferred to a fuel blender.

After blending, RINs are separated from the blended gallon and are used by blenders, refiners or importers as proof that they have sold renewable fuels to meet their mandated volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), the department says.

Additionally, Rep. Noem and her colleagues addressed the EPA’s 2019 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) proposal under the RFS.

The EPA’s July 10 proposed rule states that biodiesel production can reach 2.8 billion gallons in 2019 and the congressmen asked that the final rule incorporate this conclusion, as well.

“The RFS promotes economic development and energy security for American farmers and families,” they wrote Wheeler. “The proposed rule for the 2019 RVO demonstrates a strong commitment to ethanol production and future growth for cellulosic and advanced biofuels.”

And while the increase to 2.43 billion gallons in biomass-based biodiesel for 2020 is a positive step, they wrote, “these commitments and the integrity of the RFS are undermined if the EPA continues to abuse the hardship waiver authority for small refineries.”

The members said the EPA approved 48 retroactive RFS waivers for refineries for 2016 and 2017 obligations that ended up depleting some two billion gallons in the marketplace. They urged the agency “to put an end to these secret waivers” until a newly established process makes public the name of the refinery, the gallons waived, and other information.

“Additionally, accounting for any 2019 waived gallons in the final rule would help ensure biofuel production is not harmed by retroactive refinery exemptions,” according to the letter.

Rep. Noem, a leading ethanol advocate in Congress, supports upholding the RFS, according to her staff, and has “put immense pressure on the Trump administration to lift E15 restrictions and allow its use year-round.”

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SD School Board Member Joins USDA Roundtable Following Noem, Thune Recommendation

2018/09/21

Following a recommendation from Rep. Kristi Noem and Sen. John Thune, Mitchell School Board member Neil Putnam met with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue this week to discuss opportunities for local school boards to collaborate on school meal improvements.

“Representative Noem and Senator Thune understand just how crucial school meals are – for both the physical and academic wellbeing of our kids,” said Putnam. “It was an honor to represent South Dakota before Secretary Perdue this week and advocate for legislation that eliminates unnecessary mandates and regulations and gives local school boards the chance to preserve more resources for the classroom. We all want successful students, and by improving school meals, we’re paving the way for a happier and healthier future for our kids.”  

“I firmly believe those closest to our kids make the best decisions for our kids, so it’s good to see USDA engaging on-the-ground leaders like Neil Putnam,” said Noem. “Neil is a passionate advocate on the issue of school nutrition, and I’m confident his testimony will have an incredible impact on our country’s school nutrition program and, as a result, the academic and extracurricular performance of our kids.”

“Local leaders know their communities better than anyone else, so I’m glad Neil Putnam’s voice was heard and South Dakota had a seat at the table at USDA with Secretary Perdue,” said Thune. “The Mitchell community should be proud of Mr. Putnam’s effort to ensure the school lunch programs are effective for students and their communities.”

Noem and Thune have helped lead congressional efforts to grant greater flexibility on school meal programs. Earlier this Congress, Noem introduced legislation that transforms all of the USDA’s school lunch, breakfast and a la carte requirements into voluntary nutritional guidelines, giving states and local schools much-needed breathing room. Thune, meanwhile, backed a bill to improve child nutrition standards while increasing flexibility for South Dakota schools.

According to USDA estimates, school food requirements cost local school districts and states $1.22 billion in FY2015.  Meanwhile, a 2015 GAO report showed a continued decline in school meal program participation since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act took effect in 2010.  More specifically, National School Lunch Program participation declined by 1.4 million children – or 4.5 percent – between the 2010-11 school year and the 2013-14 school year.  The non-partisan agency also reported that “new federal nutrition requirements contributed to the decrease.” Prior to the 2010-11 school year, participation in the program had been increasing steadily for many years. Read More

Noem: Celebrate Women in Business

2018/09/21

With a little over 80 percent of us in the workforce, South Dakota has the country’s highest rate of working moms. I’m proud to have been part of this group, as a farmer and rancher, the owner of a hunting lodge, and a manager at my mom’s restaurant. I won’t say it’s always been easy, but I never did it alone. My family and I were always surrounded by friends, loved ones, and a community that had our back. It’s one of the wonderful things about South Dakota.

There’s a day every September that’s set aside to celebrate women in business, and in South Dakota, there’s a lot to celebrate. Today, more than 23,000 South Dakota women own and operate small businesses. What’s interesting is that while we top the nation when it comes to working moms, our state has the lowest percentage of women-owned businesses, so we have room to grow.

Like any business, women-owned businesses benefited greatly from the tax cuts package we passed last December. In it, we included a first-ever 20-percent, small-business tax deduction to help lift the financial burden of job creation.

At the same time, we gave working families a break on childcare costs. In South Dakota, at an average of nearly $500 per month, infant care tends to cost nearly 70 percent of what it costs to rent a home. To put it another way, a year of infant care costs just $2,000 less, on average, than a year of college. That puts many working families between a rock and a hard place financially. They can’t afford to live on a single income, but the cost of childcare if both parents work is unaffordable.  As such, I fought to protect the Child and Dependent Care Credit. This allows families to claim up to $6,000 of child care expenses and deduct a portion of that from their federal income tax bill each year.

We’re now working to build on those victories, finding more ways to help businesses get their start and grow. This September, my committee approved another round of tax cuts. Among other provisions, the legislation allows new start-up businesses to write off more of their initial start-up costs. I’m hopeful that will help more people ride the tidal wave of growth we’ve seen in recent months.

I’m also working on a repeal of regressive taxes, like Obamacare’s 10 percent tanning bed tax. Today, 70 percent of tanning salons are women-owned, and many are suffering as a result of the Obamacare tax. Studies show roughly 10,000 tanning salons have closed nationwide as a result of the 10 percent levy, resulting in 80,000 people losing their job. The tax needs to be repealed.

All of that said, women-owned businesses are on the rise. According to one recent study, women are starting 1,821 new U.S. businesses every day – a big increase from an average of 952 for the five years prior. That’s good news for all of us.

But let me close with a little advice my grandma gave me that’s served me well – not only in business, but as a mom and as a member of the House. She told me to just say yes when opportunities arise. I would advise the same. Say yes and try a new hobby. Say yes and learn a new skill. Say yes and start a new business venture. You don’t have to commit to it for the rest of your life, but give it a try. You’ll never know where that opportunity will lead.

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Noem Congratulates 2018 Angels in Adoption

2018/09/20

Rep. Kristi Noem today announced that Danny and Amanda Oaks of Rapid City, South Dakota, have been honored as 2018 Angels in Adoption.

After having two children biologically, Danny and Amanda Oaks locally adopted a baby girl. A few years later, their adopted daughter’s birth mother asked them to adopt her newborn baby girl. They agreed and became a family of six.

“It’s very special to recognize such an incredible family through Angels in Adoption,” said Noem. “From the first time I heard the Oaks’ story, it was clear their journey would help inspire others wanting to make a difference through local adoption. It is an honor to nominate them. Congratulations, Danny and Amanda, on this well-deserved recognition.”

“We feel honored to receive this nomination,” said Danny and Amanda Oaks. “It is God who orchestrates families and places us all where He would have us. It’s been our joy to see the Lord use adoption to turn us into a family of 6. May anyone who sees our name or picture recognize the loving choice made by the girls' birth mom, the hours of work put in by social workers and counselors to ensure peace in the choice, as well as the financial support poured out by those around us. It is our joy to cherish all of our children and point them to Jesus, the Maker of families, the Redeemer of heartaches and loss.”

A strong supporter of adoption, Noem successfully advocated to preserve the Adoption Tax Credit during tax reform discussions and has cosponsored the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act, which would make the current tax credit fully refundable to help more families afford to adopt. Additionally, Noem is a cosponsor of the Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act, which bans government discrimination of faith-based adoption agencies.

The Oaks family, along with more than 100 other recipients from across the country, have been recognized by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s (CCAI) as Angels in Adoption.  Over the last 18 years, CCAI has honored more than 1,800 ‘Angels’ from across the country who have made a lasting impact on the lives of children.

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Noem, Peterson Lead Bipartisan Push for Year-Round E15

2018/09/18

Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) today led more than 20 House members in urging the EPA to approve year-round E15. The bipartisan letter to Environmental Protection Agency Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler strongly encourages the Administration to reduce federal regulations on ethanol instead of implementing policies that only work against farmers and slow the biofuels market down.

“Our ag economy has really suffered in recent years,” said Noem. “By ending unnecessary limitations on E15, we have a big opportunity to help farmers and our ag economy, save consumers money, and reduce our reliance on foreign oil.”

Noem has been a leading ethanol advocate in Congress, consistently pushing to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Obama administration repeatedly fell short of meeting the law’s targets, and former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt failed to make the adjustments needed in the new administration. While her work on that continues, Noem has put immense pressure on the Trump administration to lift E15 restrictions and allow its use year-round. She has met on numerous occasions with President Trump and top administration officials to advocate in support of year-round E15.

Reps. Noem and Peterson lead the bipartisan Biofuels Caucus.

 

LETTER TEXT:

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler,

As representatives of our country’s strongest farming communities, we are writing to share our comments regarding the 2019 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVO) proposal under the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS).

The RFS promotes economic development and energy security for American farmers and families.  The proposed rule for the 2019 RVO demonstrates a strong commitment to ethanol production and future growth for cellulosic and advanced biofuels. Although the increase to 2.43 billion gallons in biomass-based biodiesel for 2020 is a positive step, the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged in its proposed rule (83 Fed. Reg. § 132 July 10, 2018) that biodiesel production can reach 2.8 billion gallons in 2019 and we ask that the final rule incorporate this conclusion. But these commitments and the integrity of the RFS are undermined if the EPA continues to abuse the hardship waiver authority for small refineries.

The EPA approved 48 retroactive RFS waivers for refineries for 2016 and 2017 obligations, effectively eliminating 2.25 billion gallons in the marketplace. The 2019 RVO targets and the success of the RFS will continue to be undermined if the EPA does not account for further waivers. We urge the EPA to put an end to these secret waivers until a process is established to make the name of the refinery, the gallons waived, and other relevant information publicly available. Additionally, accounting for any 2019 waived gallons in the final rule would help ensure biofuel production is not harmed by retroactive refinery exemptions.

Instead of advancing policies that would hurt farmers and prevent market growth of ethanol, we encourage you to also consider reducing regulations, like those that prohibit the year-round sale of E15.  This regulatory change would increase consumption of biofuels while also lowering RIN prices, which eases implementation of the RFS and provide consumers with another choice at the pump.

We look forward to working with you to help protect the RFS and urge you to address these issues so this important program continues to drive economic growth and investment in our rural communities.

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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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