Weekly Column


Yes, I Agree.

I was going through mail the other day when I came across a letter from a high school student in Martin. The letter started out, "Dear Senator Rounds - I am going to be honest with you here, I don't understand government very well nor do I have a burning passion to do so." I think that's relatable to lots of people, not just those in high school. The student continued on to say: "I am going to have my own car soon and I am not quite sure how I am going to afford gas. It makes me apprehensive,… Continue Reading


Guest Column: Helping Veterans is the Right Thing to Do

This guest column is written by Mike Bekaert. Mike is the Director of In-State Military and Veteran Affairs for U.S. Senator Mike Rounds. Mike served 30 years in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard. He graduated from the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy and retired from the South Dakota National Guard as the sixth State Command Sergeant Major. I often tell people I am living the dream and I have one of the best jobs in the world. For 30 years I served in the military and now I spend my days… Continue Reading


Guest Column: Be Kind and Shop Locally

This guest column is written by Tom Rounds. Tom, along with his wife Shelly, own four businesses in the Pierre community. He is also the brother of Senator Mike Rounds. With Christmas just weeks away, it's easy to get caught up in the rush of buying gifts. It's easy to be excited about seeing family and friends. And it's easy to forget to be kind to those who are working in the retail, manufacturing or service industries. As a small business owner, I know firsthand the challenges that come du… Continue Reading


The First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving - it's the time of year where you can turn to the paper and are almost guaranteed to find a few fluffy columns about counting blessings and being thankful. But this year, it would ring hollow coming from me. As many of you know, I lost Jean, my wife of 43 years, to cancer on November 2. She was the love of my life and, without her in it, my world will never be the same. Often when we think about love, we think about all the firsts. The first date. The first kiss. The first time bri… Continue Reading


Guest Column: Adoption Story Handwritten by God

This guest column is written by Adam and Hayley Kaemingk. Adam serves as the West River Director for Senator Mike Rounds and manages his Rapid City office. November is National Adoption month. Our adoption story was handwritten by God and started before we even knew it. As we look back at the timeline of our life together, we clearly see how God was preparing us for one of the most important times of our lives. Married in 2007, we dreamed of building a family with biological and adopted childr… Continue Reading


Jim Soyer: The Heart of a Servant

I lost a good friend last week. Lonnie lost her husband of 37 years and her soulmate. The state of South Dakota lost a legendary public servant. Jim Soyer always listed truck driver, teacher and newspaperman first on his biography. But, he was also an extremely accomplished, humble public servant - having served as chief of staff and press secretary to the likes of former Governor Bill Janklow and former governor of Wisconsin and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. I worked… Continue Reading


Count on your local paper

When I was growing up, there were a lot of things I could count on: more than one Rounds brother to a bedroom, a prayer before meals and a local newspaper in the house. I learned early on the local newspaper was not only a source of information, but also a source of income. One of my first jobs as a kid was delivering the Minneapolis Tribune. When I got my driver's license, I began distributing papers to the other paperboys. That job required me to be up at 4 AM to meet the truck that would dr… Continue Reading


Where’s the Beef?

Do you remember Clara Peller? In 1984 she was the main character in the Wendy's Hamburger Restaurant commercial who famously yelled the phrase… "Where's the beef?" The point of the ad was to highlight the amount of fresh beef used in Wendy's burgers compared to their competitors. Ironically, during the 2020 pandemic, Wendy's rolled out a new version of the ad to highlight the supply chain issues which were impacting the availability of beef in grocery stores. The ad begged another questio… Continue Reading


Thank a Rancher

Calving season is the time of the year our South Dakota ranchers look forward to until: they have headlights out in the pasture at two in the morning; they are trying to tag 1202's calf without finding out if she's bluffing; or they are bringing heifers to the barn and out of the blizzard. There are a lot of variables in this industry. Whether you know a rancher or you are one, one thing is for sure - it's tough work. Most people wouldn't work a job without knowing what their paycheck will be a… Continue Reading


Into the Woods

During the pandemic, everyone has been using the extra time at home to get caught up on Do It Yourself (DIY) projects. If you've been at your local hardware store lately, you've probably noticed that 2x4 boards which are normally $2.50 are now almost $7. But you may not have considered how this price increase is just a sign of a macro issue that has a significant impact on our state's economy and environment. When the pandemic first started, we immediately saw businesses close or offer limited … Continue Reading



I was talking to a friend the other day about the effectiveness of online advertisements. When you're scrolling through social media, you'll often see ads for products you've previously looked at online or items related to your search history. "It's kind of scary," my friend said. "It almost feels like they know what I want to buy before I do." This past week, I was greeted by a surprise when I returned home to Ft. Pierre. Jean handed me something we had received in the mail while I was working… Continue Reading


Blessed are the Peacemakers

Emotions have been running high across our great country. Both sides, all sides need to take a breath. A member of my staff showed me a Facebook squabble taking place within their family - a perfect microcosm of America. A bunch of expletives that can't be stated here hurled back and forth between family members. I wondered if they would have talked to each other like that face-to-face? Probably not. Social media has impaired our inhibition to the point that the most outrageous thing we… Continue Reading


Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

I heard a story recently about a government bureaucrat from DC visiting real America for the first time. He worked on agriculture policy but grew up in the city so his only experience with food involved his plate. He bought a pair of shiny new boots and headed off to cow-calf country. When his plane touched down, he was greeted by a man with a cowboy hat and a firm handshake. They jumped in the rancher's F-350, a vehicle so big the city slicker couldn't figure out how you'd parallel park it, an… Continue Reading


Merry "Little" Christmas

Each family celebrates holidays differently. This year, I think it's safe to say we all share a similar different. Each of us has had to evaluate what our holiday gatherings will look like as we battle this deadly pandemic. Some have concluded that a Merry "Little" Christmas is what works best for their family. While that might be discouraging, just remember that the first Christmas was pretty simple, too. Christmas is a time of hope and joy. But this year there's an extra element of grief i… Continue Reading


Why I’ll Be Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked our planet and nothing has been the same since it began. We all want the world to go back to normal and with the emergence of successful COVID-19 vaccinations, we are one step closer to that becoming a reality. I'm not suggesting that government needs to mandate this vaccine. Whether you take it or not will be up to you - it comes down to personal responsibility. Here's my decision: I will be getting the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. As many… Continue Reading


Thrill of Hope

It's hard to believe Christmas is here again. This season is usually a time of great celebration. There are large Christmas Eve services, visits with Santa, cities hosting lighted parades; and of course, family gatherings around the tree and dinner table. But 2020 isn't a normal year and we've all had to adjust our holiday traditions in some way. As I reflect on the Christmas season during this unique year, I cannot help but think of the words from the carol O Holy Night: "A thrill of hope, the … Continue Reading


Shop Locally This Holiday Season

This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first Small Business Saturday, the annual event that encourages customers to shop at local businesses during the holiday season. South Dakota's small businesses play a critical role in our communities. In our state, 99 percent of businesses are considered small businesses. In total, that's nearly 90,000 small businesses in the state of South Dakota. Those businesses employ over 200,000 employees which make up about 60 percent of our state's wo… Continue Reading


Chicken on Turkey Day

Should we do this? It's the question on everyone's mind right now. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and we are all attempting to determine how best to celebrate the holidays in the age of a deadly pandemic. Everyone's situation is a little different. Some of us have big families, some of us have small families. But there's one thing we have in common: COVID-19 has impacted all of us in one way or another. At the time I'm writing this, there have been 741 deaths from COVID-19 in South Dak… Continue Reading


Lessons from Thomas Paine

"These are the times that try men's souls." It was winter in 1776. After suffering multiple defeats, the colonists were losing hope. Morale was at a low point for General George Washington's troops. The American experiment was on the verge of collapsing. In Philadelphia, Thomas Paine, the renowned author of the day, finished penning a piece he hoped would turn the tide and restore the enthusiasm of the American Patriots. He called it The American Crisis. Days later, General Washington would … Continue Reading



I don't think I'll ever forget the weekend of September 15, 2006. It's one of those memories in life you'll always remember, no matter how long you live. I was working as governor at the time and that weekend we hosted the dedication ceremony for the state's Vietnam War Memorial in Pierre. We tried to pull out all the stops to honor our heroes. We scheduled flyovers from various war planes like the B-1B Lancer bomber based at Ellsworth, the F-16 Fighting Falcon stationed at Joe Foss Field in… Continue Reading

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