Weekly Column

01.22.21

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


12.17.20

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


12.11.20

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


12.04.20

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


11.25.20

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


11.20.20

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


11.16.20

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


11.09.20

Unforgettable

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


10.30.20

Bringing South Dakota Values to a Broken Washington, D.C.

Let's be real - Washington D.C. is broken. If it were just you and me out there, we could figure this thing out pretty quickly with a little South Dakota common sense. But unfortunately, that's not the case. Washington is filled with un-elected lobbyists and bureaucrats who think they run the show. They don't. We the people do. It's time to take back what they've taken from us. And, only together, do we have a chance to break through the bureaucracy. For the past six years, I've been honor… Continue Reading


10.16.20

Impressive Indeed

"I'm really impressed." Words spoken about Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Words spoken by a surprising voice, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Like many Americans, I watched the confirmation hearings of Judge Barrett this past week. Senator Feinstein put to words what many of us were thinking. Judge Barrett is strong and confident. Her legal prowess was evident as she dissected with ease complicated doctrines like severability and could easily r… Continue Reading


10.09.20

HAU MITAKUYEPI, CANTE WASTE NAPE CIYUZAPELO

HAU MITAKUYEPI, CANTE WASTE NAPE CIYUZAPELO (Hello my relatives, I greet you with warm heart and handshake). This year, South Dakotans are celebrating the 30th anniversary of recognizing the second Monday in October as Native Americans' Day. As a 30 year old who has never known the second Monday in October to be anything different, I'm honored to share my perspective and reflections on this meaningful day. I'm a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a lifelong South Dakotan. I've … Continue Reading


10.06.20

Delivering the News

When I was a kid growing up, I was a paperboy who delivered the Minneapolis Star Tribune to homes around Pierre. Today, news is delivered a little differently than it was back then. While some still receive printed papers in their mailbox or on their front step, many have turned to getting their news online. But some things never change. In South Dakota, our local newspapers remain at the center of our communities. Each issue of one of South Dakota's 120 daily and weekly newspapers is packed… Continue Reading


10.02.20

History Repeats

In the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes says "there's nothing new under the sun." That's been proven true time and time again. In 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to "pack the court." During Roosevelt's first term in office, the Supreme Court struck down many of his New Deal proposals, deeming them as unconstitutional. After winning re-election, Roosevelt vowed to alter the court to try to shove through his agenda. He introduced legislation to increase the number of justices an… Continue Reading


09.18.20

Backing the Blue

Jacob Chestnut. John Gibson. They're not household names instantly recognizable. They were sons, husbands and fathers. They were two regular people, just like the rest of us, except they possessed a little bit more courage. Their stories weren't known until July 24, 1998. On that fateful day, a lone gunman walked into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. He shot and killed the first person he encountered, Officer Chestnut, operating the X-Ray machine at an entrance. Quickly, the gunman then foun… Continue Reading


09.11.20

#CancerSucks

I'm not savvy with social media by today's standards. I'm pretty good with texting and emailing, but for the most part, I'm old fashioned and appreciate a face-to-face conversation or phone call. I'll admit - some of the social media platforms make my head spin. But, I do like Twitter because you're able to follow who you want and skip past most of the nonsense. This isn't a Twitter endorsement, by any means, it's just another place to find news in my opinion. If you're like me, the hashtag … Continue Reading


09.03.20

Feds Continue to Miss the Mark on Livestock Policy

I read a quote from my local sale barn operator Bryan Hanson, the other day: "You used to be able to survive on a 100 head operation; now you have to have a full-time job and run 100 cows." Anyone that knows Bryan or has read his market report knows that he doesn't pull punches. I've known his dad, Dennis, for many years, and I've enjoyed that same no-nonsense style from him as well. But I'd take Bryan's statement one step further - I'd actually contend that without another full time job, yo… Continue Reading


08.28.20

November Election Conversation with South Dakota’s Secretary of State

I chair the Cybersecurity Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee. In that role, we've worked extensively on election security. It's well documented that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election by using a misinformation campaign on social media and they attempted to hack into at least 21 of our state election systems. Fortunately, Russia was not successful in changing the 2016 outcome. The 2018 midterm elections were free from outside interference-that was no accident. The 2018 e… Continue Reading


08.20.20

South Dakotans are Bolstering the American Food Supply Chain

During the month of August, Congress traditionally takes an extended break from Washington to spend time at home to hear firsthand from their constituents, and this year is no different. It's an opportunity for me to travel the state and hear directly from you about the issues you care about. While this year looks a little different - with many events like Dakotafest, county fairs and concerts being canceled, and others being held virtually- I've enjoyed the opportunity to visit with a number of… Continue Reading


08.14.20

Rounds Weekly Column: Letter to Students, Parents and Teachers

Dear Students, Parents and Teachers: The longest summer break you will ever experience is almost over. Life has been different for all of us since COVID-19 hit our communities in March. Kids moved from learning in classrooms to learning online from home. Winter sports abruptly came to an end and spring sports seasons were canceled entirely. Graduation ceremonies looked a little different. But we are all weathering the storm together. In South Dakota, we've used common sense to fight this virus… Continue Reading


08.07.20

When it Comes to the Election, States Should Use South Dakota Common Sense

With fewer than 90 days left until the November election, voters are considering how best to cast their ballot in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We won't be moving the date of our election - it will be November 3 as scheduled - but logistics may be different. Absentee voting has become a popular choice this year since you can avoid crowded polling places. Normally, I vote in person at my polling location, but for this year's primary election I actually voted absentee. South Dakota has a saf… Continue Reading

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