Monthly Archives: December 2017

State board considers more waters for clean-up

One of the items state government’s Board of Water and Natural Resources is scheduled to consider after the New Year break is the set of funding recommendations for the 319 program.

The title refers to the federal government’s identifier for its assistance to reducing sources of non-point water pollution, such as rural run-off.

The state’s 319 task force recently recommended three projects for the latest round of funding. They are:

— The eighth segment of the Belle Fourche River watershed partnership would cost an estimated $2.5 million for reducing E. coli and other pollutants.

The Belle Fourche project sponsors asked for $250,000 of 319 federal funding. The task force recommended $250,000.

— The third segment of the Big Sioux River watershed project would focus on Moody County and cost an estimated $12.2 million to focus on “further reducing loadings from animal feeding operations, overland sediment transport” and other activities.

The Big Sioux project sponsors requested $1.1 million of 319 federal funding. The task force recommended $611,000.

— The South Central watershed partnership plans to spend $13.2 million for assisting “Lewis and Clark Lake, Lake Andes, Geddes, Academy and Platte Lake watersheds, impaired stretches of the Lower James River tributaries, and impaired reaches in the Vermillion River watershed.”

The South Central project sponsors sought $1.3 million in federal and state funding. The task force recommended $1 million from the 319 federal program and $150,000 from a state fund.

The state board’s recommendations would next go the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s regional staff in Denver for approval. The agenda for the Thursday afternoon meeting via the Digital Dakota videoconference network is at

The newspaper association position on fake news

The following email arrived Friday, Dec. 22. Dave Bordewyk, executive director for the South Dakota Newspaper Association, wrote it to the organization’s members after several days of consideration. It was a response to campaign emails that had been sent in previous days from Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem. They sought donations for their respective campaigns for the Republican nominations for U.S. House and governor. Their messages reacted to recent news reports about aspects of their candidacies.

Here’s the SDNA email:

TO: SDNA Board/First Amendment Committee

Many of you saw the campaign email from Shantel Krebs earlier this week headlined: “More Fake News from the Mainstream Media.” Shantel begins her email with: “It’s no surprise, but the mainstream media is once again pushing fake news and inaccurate reporting. Each election year their liberal agenda becomes more apparent.” She ends the email asking supporters to “take a stand against FAKE news” and make a donation to her campaign. Here is an image of the beginning of that email message:

Shantel’s campaign email came on the heels of an email from Rep. Kristi Noem concerning “malicious media attacks” about her history and comments involving the estate tax debate.

It’s apparent that Shantel was referring to a story in the South Dakota press over a period of a few days last week regarding Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach coming to Sioux Falls to endorse her campaign. The story became larger when state Sen. Neil Tapio, who has said he plans to run for Congress, put out a statement asking Shantel to clarify where she stands on a proposed “federal Muslim registry.” Kobach has been outspoken about tightening federal immigration laws and policies. Kobach’s immigration comments and stands have generated controversy.

Dana Ferguson of the Argus Leader wrote a story on Dec. 13 that focused on the Tapio statement. Dana’s story included comments from Krebs, along with others.

Kobach and Krebs held a press conference when he came to South Dakota on Dec. 14. That press conference was covered various Sioux Falls news media and it was on AP wire:

The story about Tapio/Krebs/Kobach also was in the political blogs in the state, including Dakota War College and Dakota Free Press.

It appears to me the reporting on this story by South Dakota journalists was done accurately and was straight forward. My hunch is that Shantel was caught off guard and stung by the Tapio statement and was upset that the news media reported it. Was it fair for the press to pick up on and report about a statement from someone who says he intends to run but has not yet officially declared? I think so. Tapio already is in public office as a state senator from Watertown. He was Trump’s state campaign chairman, and he has been pretty clear about his intentions to run for Congress. Plus, Kobach has been very outspoken about immigration and has attracted controversy for his statements and positions. So it is natural that if Shantel is going to accept his endorsement, people are going to ask her about Kobach’s controversies.

Some of you have expressed to me that you how upset and disappointed you were by Shantel’s fake news campaign email. I am with you. When people say that President Trump’s attack on the press corps in Washington doesn’t have anything to do with us locally, I disagree. And I would point to this campaign email by Shantel as an example.

I hope Shantel and all other statewide candidates for political office do not pursue these Trump-like attacks against South Dakota journalists in the coming months. Absolutely she and other candidates should call out and criticize any reporting that is false or intentionally misleading. But to attack the press for what has been demonstrated as accurate and fair news reporting should not be tolerated.

I worry about the direction the public discourse will take in the coming months in the high-profile, high-stakes races in our state. Specifically, for governor and for Congress. Yet, I am confident that South Dakota journalists will cover these stories accurately, fairly and aggressively. That type of reporting will serve South Dakota well and will counter-balance the campaign craziness to come.

I would encourage you to visit with Shantel and other candidates about this issue when you have the opportunity. They need to hear from us. They need to know we are sensitive to these types of outlandish accusations and that those accusations do not serve the public well. Let us hope that all political candidates and campaigns in South Dakota will understand and appreciate we have a job to do and that South Dakotans expect us to do our job to the best of our abilities.


David Bordewyk / Executive Director
South Dakota Newspaper Association

The statue of Gov. George T. Mickelson at the west side of the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre at sunrise on Christmas Eve. He and his son, George S. Mickelson, are the only first-generation and second-generation duo to have governed South Dakota. The current speaker for the state House of Representatives, G. Mark Mickelson, is the family’s third generation to serve.

Joy sends her message to another governor

JoDean Joy of Miller raised her voice again recently in a letter to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, just as she had to the four previous governors. Joy led a still-unsuccessful war to outlaw video lottery in South Dakota, in part because of her family’s experience. Her argument is video lottery costs South Dakota in many ways.

One of the points she made in the Dec. 20 letter – that South Dakota doesn’t spend enough to counter gambling addiction – seems to be contradicted by practice, however.

Norm Lingle, executive director for the South Dakota Lottery, told members of his state commission last week that South Dakota treatment money doesn’t get fully spent.

Lingle said his office makes up to $214,000 available each year to the state Department of Social Services for gambling addiction treatment.

“That number has been pretty steady over the last few years,” he said. “They haven’t accessed all of it.”

Maybe the gamblers are too addicted to read the 800-number ‘help available’ messages that scroll across the video lottery terminals, or too angry to notice when they leave the terminals after losing again.

The point is, the lottery isn’t set up to lose. Never has and never will.

Payments lagging for some state loans to agriculture projects

Members of South Dakota’s Value Added Finance Authority last week met in Brookings to tour several projects. They also decided to allow more time for payments to resume from borrowers to whom the authority loaned money. Those borrowers included:

CLR LLC., based in Sioux Falls, received an additional six months to start making payments on a $27,565 loan the authority approved in 2015 for preparatory work toward a biodiesel plant. The authority now wants payments starting May 30, 2018;

HydroGreen Inc., based in rural Sioux Falls, received a one-year extension to begin making payments on a $143,345 loan the authority approved in March 2016 for a feasibility study for live green-grass benefit validation as livestock feed and other preparatory work. The authority now wants payments starting Dec. 31, 2018;

Purity Seeds, based near Raymond, received the authority’s approval to continue making monthly $50 payments through 2018. The business has approximately $15,000 outstanding on a 2008 loan of $17,316 the authority made in 2008; and

Tech V LLC from Sioux Falls received another six months moratorium. The company sought one year. It’s been in a moratorium since 2013 on payment of its authority loan. The authority loaned $280,250 in 2008. The balance is about $176,000.

Former commissioner got a mixed reception

“Mister Santa Claus with the beard.”

That was the welcome on Tuesday for Steve Kolbeck from South Dakota Public Utilities Commission chairwoman Kristie Fiegen.

Kolbeck had been a Democratic member of the commission until he resigned in 2011 prior to the end of his term. He left the state regulatory panel for a position with an investor-owned utility.

After another job change, Kolbeck now is Xcel Energy’s principal person for South- Dakota.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard, a Republican, appointed Fiegen, a Republican, as the replacement for him.

Kolbeck was at the commission meeting Tuesday representing Xcel.

During the meeting, the commissioners questioned how Xcel designated projects for what are known as riders – essentially extra fees that need commission approval.

Commissioner Chris Nelson said he didn’t agree with what Xcel was doing but acknowledged it was within the law.

Then commissioner Gary Hanson made the same point and told a story.

Hanson recalled his testimony to legislators from a decade ago favoring a change in regulatory law. He said fellow commissioners at the time – Kolbeck and Republican Dusty Johnson – took the opposite side.

Hanson wondered aloud Tuesday what side Kolbeck now would take regarding the rider Xcel wanted.

In the end, the commission voted 3-0 to grant the rider

As for Johnson, he also resigned from the PUC, even though he won re-election to a second term in 2010.

Johnson accepted the offer to be chief of staff for the incoming Daugaard administration that winter. The governor chose Nelson to replace Johnson on the commission.

Johnson left the governor’s office after the first term to take a private-sector job in Mitchell.

He now is a candidate for the Republican nomination to South Dakota’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and faces Secretary of State Shantel Krebs in the June primary.

Former commissioner Steve Kolbeck spoke with current state Public Utilities Commission member Chris Nelson before the PUC meeting Tuesday at the Capitol

‘Malicious Media Attacks’

That was the subject line for the email sent Monday morning from the gubernatorial campaign of U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-South Dakota.

The topic was news reports and several opinion pieces about her argument that the inheritance tax affected her family after the death of her father, a farmer, and that is should be repealed or reduced as part of the tax changes occurring in Congress.

Here is the email’s content:


The media has launched an intentionally malicious and false attack against my family in recent weeks. Documents disproving their claims have been in the public record for more than 20 years, but even after knowing where those documents were, the media failed to review them before writing their attack pieces. But you know I’ve never been one to back down from a fight…

Tax-loving liberals might not want to read it, but here’s the straight up reality: I’ve spent the last 23 years without my dad. He didn’t get to meet my kids or see how we were able to grow the family farm. But he did get us started. My home sits on land he owned – land he warned me never to sell because “God isn’t making any more of it.” He built that farm so one day his kids could come home and farm together. And the government jeopardized that dream when they hit us with the Death Tax.

Some in the media have started a debate over whether our family did estate planning effectively. To them, I ask: What does it matter? If a tax is only levied because someone didn’t pay lawyers enough before they died, then there’s a problem with that tax.

They have also pointed out that Death Tax exemption levels have changed since my dad’s death. But if you think that simply moving the exemption levels makes this tax “fair,” you’re misdirected. My principles don’t change because the dollar amount does.

While our family history has been laid out in the public record for two decades, I spelled it all out once again in a recent article in the Argus Leader. Take a look.

So, the media can write what they will. And while they’re doing that, I’m going to keep pushing forward. I’m going to spend the rest of my life, if I have to, fighting to repeal the Death Tax. Are you with me?


Beneath was a red “Donate” button. The phrase ‘Take a look.’ linked to here — her response to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader.

Here’s minority report that GOAC members rejected

Rep. Susan Wismer, D-Britton, emailed colleagues on the Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee on Sunday night about the minority report she had submitted to them.

The committee voted 6-4 against amending the agenda today because, according to Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, the committee’s main report for 2017 had been previously sent to the Legislature’s Executive Board. Peters is presiding as the committee’s chairwoman.

Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said this morning on Twitter that the underlying issue was the main report was sent without the committee approving it.

Here is the Wismer email from last night and a link to the minority report she wanted to submit to the Executive Board:

Greetings, all:

In preparation for tomorrow’s meeting, I am forwarding again the report of a minority of the committee members. This was available to the E-Board at their last meeting, but it was not presented to or considered by them, with Chairs Mickelson and Peters saying it had to be considered by GOAC first. This was not my understanding, as I thought that we had been told it would need to be presented to the E-Board at the same time as the majority report. I can’t find proposed minutes of our October 30 meeting where we adopted the final report to refresh my memory.

I wish to acknowledged that as a member of the Executive Board, Rep. Tieszen reviewed the minority report and expressed his opposition to its adoption, saying it still included remarks to which he objected. I tried to remove the sentence that he referred to regarding “catastrophic human and financial cost of the failure to earlier discover…”. but if I did, it would gut the report about a fact the minority feels very strongly about: that early warning signs, as evidenced by the emails we were able to see from former employees of DOE, dated years before the final tragedy, were not taken seriously by the DOE, indeed, testimony we all heard from Secretary Schopp in regard to those warnings, before we knew written proof of them existed: “We don’t take action based on hearsay…”

The minority will be asking again for recognition of their report tomorrow.

Representative Susan Wismer
District 1
South Dakota Legislature

Link: Minority Report of the GOAC Committee (Susan Wismer).docx-1.

If you can, make time to visit Custer State Park

As Custer State Park partially re-opens to the public today, think about taking a day or two to tour the park during the weeks ahead.

I don’t know how extensive the fire burned within the park and the adjoining private lands, but the map showing the range appeared large.

Seeing the park in its current condition, and talking with business people from the area, promises to be enlightening.

Rapid City man sentenced for sex crime

Federal Judge Jeffrey Viken sentenced a Rapid City man to twenty years in prison, followed by fifteen years of supervised release, for attempted enticement of a minor.

Shane Davison, age 37, attempted to convince multiple minor Filipino females to engage in criminal sexual acts using the Internet for payment, according to the U.S. Attorney Office for South Dakota.

The sentencing occurred June 2, 2017. The announcement came Dec. 11, 2017.