Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tester blasts GOP giveaway to Trump donors

Dear Larry,

Washington is broken. There is no doubt about it.

Last week, I was handed a 479-page tax bill just hours before it was scheduled for a final vote.

A small group of senators wrote this disastrous scheme behind closed doors with no input from the public, and they gave nobody time to read it. The bill included last-minute additions scribbled in the margins that nobody could read.

As we began voting on amendments, folks were finding secret pet projects and sweetheart deals that were snuck into the bill at the very last minute.

That was Washington at its worst. Our nation’s founders must have been turning in their graves.

My job is to hold Washington accountable to Montana. That’s why on the Senate Banking Committee, I am working closely with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents to rise above the dysfunction.

After months of negotiations with folks from both parties, we struck a deal on a major bill that delivers much-needed relief to Montana from Washington’s one-size-fits-all regulations.

Our bipartisan legislation will cut red tape for small community banks and credit unions and it increase access to capital for local businesses, farmers and ranchers, and families. It also strengthens consumer protections against Wall Street.

Our bill is bringing folks from all walks of life and political parties together, and it is forging a new path of bipartisanship in the Senate.

On Tuesday, we held a committee meeting to discuss and make changes to the bill, which lasted over 6 hours. That is how it is supposed to work in Washington: open, fair debate in the light of day—on a bill everyone is allowed to discuss.

Our process drafting this bill has been transparent and our bill is posted online HERE for all to see. None of that was true about the unpopular tax “reform” bill that will add another $1.5 trillion to the national debt.

Last week, we saw how partisan Washington can be. But when folks put politics aside and work towards a common goal, we can break through the dysfunction and do what’s best for the country.

Heitkamp: How to Sign up for Health Coverage during Open Enrollment

I’ve long said the health reform law isn’t perfect, and I’ve been pushing to make it work better for North Dakota families and small businesses. But there are many pieces in it that are helpful and I want to make sure you take advantage during open enrollment. Every individual and family should be able to get access to affordable, quality health care, and no one should have to go bankrupt to pay for health care for a child with disabilities, a sick family member, or just an emergency that you never thought could happen. Please make sure you sign up for health coverage.

Timeline: Open enrollment is a month and a half shorter this year than in previous years. You must take action by December 15, 2017 or you’ll risk not having coverage for 2018 and have to pay a penalty. If you miss this deadline, the only way to get coverage in 2018 is to have a qualifying life event

If you already have a plan: Even if you have health insurance through already, it’s worth checking out plans again, as plans and prices can change each year, and there may be a more affordable plan available that meets your needs. – known as the health insurance marketplace -- makes it easy to shop and compare the plans available in your area. You can compare plan benefits and coverage prices and find out if you qualify for financial assistance.

Most people qualify for financial assistance to afford plans: Most North Dakotans who sign up for coverage through qualify for federal assistance to help you afford coverage. As a result, 8 out 10 people qualify for financial help lowering monthly premiums to between $50 and $100.

Changes to in-person help: The administration cut federal funding for in-person assistance to help you sign up for coverage. Unfortunately, as a result, this year Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board doesn’t have enough funds to operate and won’t be able to help North Dakotans sign up for coverage as it has done in previous years. Minot State University will still continue to help North Dakotans sign up for coverage, even though its federal funds were cut by 96%, and Family HealthCare in Fargo will still operate.

Read more here.

Ellison Statement on Sen. Al Franken's Resignation

"I commend the brave women who have come forward in recent weeks to share their experience of sexual harassment and assault. Their courage is immense, and has sparked a long overdue national reckoning with persistent inequities and injustices in our society.

"I am grateful for Al Franken’s progressive record of accomplishment over the years—from his forceful advocacy for a free and open internet, to his important work helping to shape the Affordable Care Act, to his support for policies that improve the lives of women, including championing the Violence Against Women Act. Still, as elected officials, we must stand for safe communities and work environments for everyone. Sen. Franken's decision to resign shows a strength of character that other elected officials haven’t. Al’s decision is the right one, and will bring us one step closer towards a society of true justice and equality for all."


Statements from Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith on the Resignation of Senator Al Franken

The following is a statement from Governor Mark Dayton:

“I extend my deepest regrets to the women, who have had to endure their unwanted experiences with Senator Franken. As a personal friend, my heart also goes out to Al and his family during this difficult time.

“In other respects, Al Franken has been an outstanding Senator. He has been, as Senator Paul Wellstone used to say, ‘A Senator from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.’ He is very smart, very hard-working, and very committed to Minnesota. I wish him well in his future endeavors.

“Events have unfolded quickly; thus, I have not yet decided on my appointment to fill this upcoming vacancy. I expect to make and announce my decision in the next couple of days.

“I will have no further comments on this subject until that time.”

The following is a statement from Lt. Governor Tina Smith:

“Senator Franken has been a servant to the people of Minnesota, and a champion for working people during his time in the Senate. I thank him for his service. On this difficult day, I am holding Senator Franken, his family, and those who have worked beside him over the last decade to make this country a better place, in my thoughts.

“I also am thinking today about the many women around the country who have come forward in recent months to share their stories about sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can never be tolerated in our politics, our businesses, or anywhere else.

“Now, it is on all of us to come together and make the progress necessary to live up to the values we believe in. Governor Dayton and I remain committed to ensuring that Minnesota is a place where everyone has the opportunity to realize their full potential.”


December brings red flag warning to West River

Just a hundred and fifty years ago bison would have cleared most of the grasses fueling today's red flag warning in western South Dakota. Whatever grasses remained were set ablaze by the indigenous cultures.
National Weather Service Rapid City SD
252 AM MST Sun Dec 10 2017
.Unseasonably warm temperatures and very dry air are expected
today, with relative humidity values dropping to around 15
percent. West to northwest winds are expected to increase to 15
to 20 mph with frequent gusts of 25 to 30 mph. This will result in
critical fire weather conditions.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Poor ranching practices exacerbating drought

Sutton continues 'listening tour'

State workers blame Daugaard, SDGOP for budget shortfall

After South Dakota's governor signed a bill into law that discriminates against some couples who want to adopt a California-led boycott is queering Denny Daugaard's pitch.

South Dakota State Employees Organization Executive Director Eric Olilla says they will lobby legislators for wage concessions and that no increases for the second year in a row sends a bad message.
Lieutenant Governor Matt Michels says they know some upward adjustments are needed. Most state workers didn’t get a raise last year, and with increasing health insurance costs, may have gone backward. Michels says they are taking other steps that will help employees now, and in the future. Michels says finding more money for state workers is a priority.
Get the story at WNAX.

A South Dakota earth hater with political aspirations wants to end the rights of state employees.
Republican Rep. Mark Mickelson said Monday that he doesn’t think collective bargaining “serves the mission of educating our kids.” Faculty at the state’s six public universities and at schools for the blind and deaf have union contracts.
Get the story at KWAT Radio.

Many employees in the state's law enforcement industry are union members.

Out of the other side of his mouth Mickelson wants to lower the boom on school districts not raising teacher salaries.

Mickelson is a glaring example of white privilege in the red moocher state.
The bottom line for South Dakota is this: If we don’t have enough money and don’t want to raise taxes, we need to develop new sources of revenue. We have to broaden our perspective. Otherwise, the headlines will never change, and our budgetary belt will eventually strangle our prospects altogether.
Read that here.

Your thoughts?

Democratic lawmaker will draft bill to fund disaster cleanups

Democratic South Dakota State Senator Jason Frerichs of Wilmot was part of a group getting an update on a pipeline that gushed diluted bitumen into a Marshall County ecosystem.

South Dakota has no contingency money for cleaning up such disasters and because it is an international project ecoterrorist Trans Canada doesn’t pay into a reclamation fund.

Frerichs said he still has questions about the breach, how to prevent future ones and pledged to introduce bills in the 2018 legislative session dealing with spill clean ups and assessing future repair costs.

A former TransCanada engineer says the pipeline is destined to break again.

The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Nations were affirmed after a federal judge ordered greater oversight of the Dakota Excess Pipeline.

Photo: Frerichs and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Billie Sutton rehearse for a skit during the 2014 Democratic State Convention in Yankton.

Sioux Falls, Rapid City turn out to save net neutrality

During a speech to donors in Sioux Falls US Senator John Thune (earth hater-SD) said access to telecommunications is just too hard for some rural areas.

Despite the winter weather protestors in Sioux Falls and Rapid City turned out to add their voices to those who want to save net neutrality from the earth haters.
Even the freezing cold can’t stop 16-year-old Will Howes from fighting for what he believes in. “It’s like open internet as we have it now will cease to exist,” said Howes.Protesters are heading to Verizon stores because Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai once worked at Verizon.
Read it here.
I’ve come to the conclusion that removing net neutrality rules would be bad for the consumer and the small business owner — innovation would be stifled and creativity would be hampered. Recently, I’ve had to help clients with dropped calls, one-way conversations, network latency and packet loss. It’s frustrating to say the least, and I fear that if Internet Service Providers are given more freedom, we will suffer more.
Read that here.
The end of the regulation will mean that Internet Service Providers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will have few worries about being penalized for engaging in paid prioritization, slowing service or curbing access to certain websites. In other words, broadband providers will have practically free reign to monetize the internet, which they certainly are anxious to do. In return, the gatekeepers of the internet that have spent freely to lobby lawmakers like Sen. John Thune — whose PAC and campaign have received $366,000 in telecom contributions since 2013 — promise consumers transparency when they roll out new plans that offer various levels of service at different price points.
Read the editorial at the Rapid City Journal.

John Thune advances telecom for whites but thumbs his nose at tribes.

Telecom improvements have roots in the New Deal and was strengthened in South Dakota by Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.

SD congressional delegation support wage slavery

Earth hater President Scott VanderWal of the South Dakota Farm Bureau says tax deform will benefit the farmers and ranchers in his group.

Now, he wants South Dakota's white congressional delegation to import brown wage slaves from other countries.
"We need a stable, legal workforce that can be used for agriculture," VanderWal said. "Farm Bureau is very concerned about the number of workers in our country and South Dakota as well." South Dakota's all-Republican congressional delegation, Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem, has expressed support for changing the visa program to ensure workers can participate in other agricultural sectors. The New American Economy campaign on Thursday kicked off a 50-state effort to highlight the importance of immigrant labor on the U.S. economy.
Read it here.

So, instead of raising wages for Americans earth haters want to pay brown people less to do more.

The crony capitalism that keeps South Dakota the 8th worst state for the working class is destroying lands promised to native peoples by treaty and my home town of Elkton is struggling to find enough housing for migrant workers often living in squalor.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

South Dakota cannabis activist posts letter to AG Jackley

Noem, Rounds tap ag subsidies

Small government US Representative Kristi Noem (earth hater-SD) has taken nearly $3.5 million in federal agricultural subsidies since 1995 according to the Environmental Working Group.

South Dakota's junior US Senator took more than $30,000.
Thirty-three members of Congress and their immediate family members collected at least $15.3 million in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2016 according to data from EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database. Most of these lawmakers grow crops that are also eligible for crop insurance subsidies. But because these subsidies are not disclosed to the public, it’s not possible to determine whether some legislators are “double dipping."
Get the story here.

Seventy four percent of South Dakota's ag and livestock aristocracies receive assistance from the federal government. Yackley Ranches of Onida topped the list. Sully County is in the top ten of America's richest counties.

Read the shocking news here.

South Dakota holds 40% of US bank assets. Kinda makes you want to puke, init?

Noem wants to kill plan to curb zebra mussels

Diving ducks like the Canvasback, Redhead, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup and the Common Goldeneye feed on invasive zebra mussels.

Under President Obama the US Environmental Protection Agency had been taking steps to reverse the effects of nitrogen pollution in the Prairie Pothole Region; but, South Dakota's Republican At-large US Representative Kristi Noem says to hell with that.

South Dakota revenue sources causing problem gamblers

South Dakota raises revenue off those least able to pay.
In partnership with the National Council on Problem Gambling, the South Dakota Lottery is reminding citizens that scratch tickets are not suitable gifts for minors, it was announced in a news release. Research shows that problem gambling can be established at a young age and lottery play is sometimes an introduction to these activities. Gift givers are reminded to ensure that any recipient of a lottery product is 18 or older.
Read it here.

Due to video lootery communities throughout South Dakota are being drained dry and becoming increasingly violent.

Despite lies from SDGOP video lootery, payday loan sharks, domestic violence and homelessness are inextricably linked putting children at risk to more catastrophic consequences far more often than has happened in states that have legalized or lessened penalties for casual use of cannabis.