Weekly Column


Weekly Column: Thanking our Veterans

Each year on November 11, we recognize the service made by our country's veterans. The date is meaningful, as November 11, 1918 is the day World War I finally came to an end and November 11 became a holiday called Armistice Day. In 1954, the 11th day of November became a legal holiday, reminding Americans to honor all veterans. This year, we commemorate the day by thanking the generations of South Dakotans who have answered the call to serve. South Dakota has one of the highest rates of militar… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: The (Un)Affordable Care Act

The skyrocketing cost of healthcare has made the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unaffordable for many Americans. The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that in 2017, premiums will rise an average of 25 percent for those covered on plans under the ACA. South Dakotans have it even worse: those of us covered under the ACA will see insurance rates increase by nearly 37 percent, according to Congress' Joint Economic Committee. The ACA was intended to provide all Americans with qua… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: October is Cyber Security Awareness Month

The Internet is a platform on which many of us live our daily lives. Some of us share personal thoughts and photos on social media, we send emails to communicate with our families, colleagues and friends, and we even manage our bank accounts and financial transactions online. Some of us put our credit card information, home addresses, passwords and even social security numbers online. While technology has made our lives easier and more convenient, it also poses a serious threat as hackers increa… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Hunting Pheasants in South Dakota

Across the country, the month of October is a time to carve pumpkins and watch the leaves change color. While I enjoy participating in these activities with my family, for us, the highlight of the month has always been the opening weekend of the pheasant hunting season. I have lived most of my life in central South Dakota, which is home to some of the best pheasant habitat in the country. Huron, where I was born, actually bears the nickname "Ringneck Nation." For our family and for many familie… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: National Newspaper Week

Local newspapers are the beating heart of our communities. Along with the local coffee shop, they're often the best way to learn about the local news or receive an update on the latest sporting events. Today, there are more than 120 newspapers throughout South Dakota, with circulations running from just a few hundred to tens of thousands for the Sunday edition. The 76th Annual National Newspaper Week was celebrated October 2nd through the 8th to recognize the impact of newspapers big and small, … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: A Better Way to Decide How Congress Spends Your Tax Dollars

Determining how the federal government spends your taxpayer dollars is an important responsibility. Congress, in conjunction with the president, is tasked with deciding how to fund federal programs and various agencies through careful debate and consideration. Unfortunately, that is not happening today. Instead of thoughtful debate, too often in recent years Congress has passed spending bills that largely maintain the status quo and fail to bring about any meaningful discussions about whether fe… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Undoing Historical Wrongs to Our Native American Citizens

Imagine a scenario today in which the federal government, with no due process, forcibly removes children of a specific race from their homes and places them into a boarding school more than a thousand miles away from their family and friends. Or imagine the outcry if the federal government were to subject a certain race of citizens into forced labor as a condition of receiving benefits he or she has a treaty obligation to receive. Such patronizing superiority would not be tolerated in today's so… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Defending the United States

When I was working as governor of South Dakota, one of the most difficult parts of my job was sending off our men and women in uniform as they deployed overseas. I promised them I would do everything I could to make sure they came home safe and sound, and to take care of their families while they were gone. Working in the Senate now, the defense of our country and support for our troops are still two of my top priorities. As I've said many times, the most important responsibility of the federal … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Cost of Regulations Impacts South Dakota Landowners

As Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight, my job is to oversee federal agencies that promulgate some of the most egregious and harmful regulations. With more than 1 million regulations on the books today and a president who has issued more regulations than any previous administration, our subcommittee has highlighted the impact these regulations are having on everyday Americans. Recently, I chaired a field hearin… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Enriching Your Education

When our four kids were growing up, the last days of summer were always bittersweet. They marked the end of the boating and camping season, but they also meant that a new school year was about to begin. No matter what age our kids were, they'd always get excited to compare class schedules with their friends or go to that first football game of the season. Making sure all kids get a great education in South Dakota has always been important to me-as a dad, a governor, a senator and now a grandfath… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Protecting South Dakotans From Zika

Many of us spend extra time outdoors during the summer months - working in the field, making improvements to our homes or enjoying the many recreational activities our state has to offer. While we enjoy this extra time outside, we also take extra precautions to protect ourselves and our families from mosquitos, whose bites can come with unwanted harm. The most recent mosquito-borne threat to our health is the Zika virus. The Zika virus is spread when an individual is bitten by an infected speci… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Celebrating 100 Years of National Parks

In South Dakota, we celebrate the great outdoors. Often called the land of "Great Faces and Great Places," South Dakota's differing landscapes and abundance of outdoor activities mean there is something for everyone to enjoy-any time of year. Spending time outside with our family and friends when the weather cooperates is one of our favorite pastimes. We go camping and fishing at Lake Oahe and take the grandkids tubing on the Missouri. We love visiting the Black Hills and exploring all that West… Continue Reading


Aviation Connects South Dakotans to the World

National Aviation Day is observed annually on August 19th to celebrate the history and promote the development of aviation. It coincides with the birthday of Orville Wright who, along with his brother Wilbur, pioneered powered flight more than 100 years ago. I took an early interest in aviation, receiving my pilot's license at the age of 17. Today, aviation allows us to travel more frequently and with relative ease to all corners of the world. As a large, rural state with a sparse population, m… Continue Reading


An Update on the USS South Dakota

In August 2018, just two years from now, the new USS South Dakota is expected to make its debut in the Navy's fleet. Not only will the next generation, Virginia-Class nuclear submarine play an important role in the mission of our sailors, it will also serve as a new symbolic link forged between our state and the Navy. I had the honor of representing South Dakota at the keel laying ceremony of the USS South Dakota in Rhode Island earlier this year. Joined by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs o… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Drought Affecting South Dakota Farm and Ranch Operations

Agriculture in South Dakota accounts for more than half of our economic output each year, and is our state's number one industry. We are one of the nation's leading producers of sunflowers, corn, wheat and soybeans, and our farmers and ranchers work tirelessly to help feed and fuel a growing global population. Unfortunately, our ag producers have been hit hard this summer with abnormally dry conditions. Farmers across the state are struggling to keep their crops healthy. According to the Nati… Continue Reading


Achieving Regulatory Reform and Improving Chemical Safety Laws

In South Dakota, we understand that overregulation and too much bureaucracy hinder economic growth and productivity. We work best when government gets out of the way, and we have low unemployment and a strong economy to show for it. Unfortunately, this tried-and-true principle has seemingly been lost at the federal level: we have more than 1 million federal regulations on the books today and are writing new ones at the rate of 3,500 per year. I have spent a good part of my time in the Senate see… Continue Reading


Helping South Dakota Families Access Capital

When the recession hit in 2008, it was initiated by the collapse of the housing market. Ironically, many argue the housing collapse was, at least in part, caused by the federal government pushing financial institutions to lend money to those who couldn't afford it. The stagnant economy that followed and the resulting loss of wealth and capital led to sharp cutbacks in consumer spending. In places like South Dakota, consumer spending drives our economy - and we definitely felt the recession. The… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: An Audit of IHS is Necessary to Improve Health Care of Tribal Members

Over the past year, my office has been looking into the financial, structural and administrative problems at Indian Health Service (IHS) so that we can better understand how to reform the agency and provide better health care for tribal members. As our tribal members know all too well, the IHS has been failing to live up to its trust responsibility to provide health care to Native Americans. Its shortcomings have been documented in a number of Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports, yet … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: This Fourth of July is a Time to Reflect on What’s Important

Jean and I are blessed to have all eight of our grandkids nearby. They all live within a few minutes of our home in Ft. Pierre and we are fortunate to spend time with them most weekends. Among many other blessings they bring, they are also a constant reminder that the policy decisions being made today determine the kind of future we will leave for them. With election season underway and near-constant media coverage of presidential politics, it can often be frustrating when the focus seems to be… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Orlando Attacks a Reminder that Defeating ISIS is a Matter of National Security

In the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack, I remain focused on national security and the best approach to protect Americans from those who wish to do us harm. We know the Orlando terrorist held extremist views and pledged allegiance to ISIS. ISIS leaders applauded the attack and almost immediately took credit for it. This underscores my belief that in order to prevent terrorists from attacking our citizens, we must defeat and destroy Islamic extremism that supports and perpetuates terrorism. … Continue Reading

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