More than 250 volunteers and Farmers Union staff and members collected the signatures in just 75 days, President Mark Watne said during a press conference at the Capitol. The 60-member NDFU board of governors voted unanimously March 27 to seek a referendum on Senate Bill 2351. The new law is set to take effect Aug. 1, but a referendum would delay it until after the vote.Read that here.
Democratic US Senator Heidi Heitkamp is fulfilling a campaign promise by bringing a bill out of committee (pdf) to protect the futures of American Indian children.
“I promised Alice Spotted Bears' family that the blanket they gave me at the ceremony when we introduced the bill – that we are going to give it to the president when he signs the bill,” Heitkamp said. “That will be a wonderful reminder of his commitment to Native kids.”Read more at Indian Country Today.
Under the 2014 farm bill, farmers lost direct payments, which had totaled more than $200 million a year, statewide. Those payments had accounted for about $15 an acre in the Red River Valley but about $6.50 an acre in the southwest part of the state. Under the new program, farms will wait until the fall of 2015 for revenue-based payments that were generated from 2014. [Dickinson Press]The Bakken oil boom is a "serial killer."
South Dakota Farmers Union members want the state to repeal the Property Tax freeze or opt out. President Doug Sombke says at last week’s convention they approved an amendment to their policy calling for elimination of that because it hinders the ability of local governments to gather funds. Sombke says opt outs are also keeping local governments from being able to meet road and infrastructure needs. He says they’re also costly and don’t provide any certainty. He says it’s also basically an issue of local control. Sombke says he’s talked to some legislators who see it as an interesting idea. He says they’ll take a look at getting some legislation passed next session to address this problem. [WNAX]The Des Moines Register contrasts the views of the GOP rival to the Farmers Union:
The Farm Bureau's positions demonstrate a strong belief in the privatization of profit and the socialization of risk. In its view, agriculture and other industries should be incentivized or otherwise compensated by taxpayers when providing benefits to the public but should not be penalized when imposing costs on the public through pollution. [Mike Delaney, Farm Bureau 'no' on sensible actions]Ann Tornberg, a family farmer, is chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., met in Bismarck with local leaders, business leaders and union officials to gather information on their priorities on federal highway funding. “The big issue for the next couple months is what are we going to do with good transportation funding. If we are going to fund our highways, we have got to find a funding source,” Heitkamp said. The Highway Trust Fund is largely financed by a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel and other related excise taxes. [Bismarck Tribune]South Dakota has completed the Rapid City to Nebraska border portion of the 70 miles per hour highway but the two lane US85 north of Belle Fourche to North Dakota is crumbling due to oil patch traffic.
Nebraska has completed a 47-mile segment of 4-lane on NE71 from Scottsbluff to Kimball where it joins I-80.