Posts Tagged ‘economy

15
Jan
14

Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s State of the State address

In case you missed it — here’s a link allowing you to view South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s coverage of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s State of the State address, presented to the Legislature in Pierre Jan. 14:

Video: State of the State Address – 2014 | Watch Statehouse Online | SDPB Television Video.

10
Jan
14

Jackley to release Benda info to auditor general

PIERRE, S.D – Attorney General Jackley announces that the Attorney General and the Auditor General today filed a joint motion with the Sixth Circuit Court. This joint motion requested a court order authorizing the Attorney General to lawfully release criminal investigative and state grand jury information in the custody of the Attorney General to the Department of Legislative Audit.

“The Legislature and our courts have set limitations on a prosecutor’s ability to release criminal justice information, and I do believe that privacy protections provided by our laws are important and worthy considerations,” stated Attorney General Jackley. “Disclosure of the Benda criminal investigation matters to our State’s Auditor General for a lawful purpose is and should be occurring through proper procedures, not as some suggest by dangerously giving prosecutors unlimited authority to release criminal investigations that may involve innocent witnesses or suspects.”

The release of the documents and information is for the purpose of assisting the Auditor General in completing the Department of Legislative Audit’s financial and compliance audit of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) for the period of FY2010 through FY2013. Under South Dakota law, the Department of Legislative Audit has authority to obtain access to financial records that are in the custody of state agencies in order to perform its auditing activities. The Auditors for the Department of Legislative Audit have determined that the Attorney General may have financial records and information pertinent to the GOED audit in the following areas:

  •   Reimbursements to former Department of Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda regarding trips to China that were paid from state funds and from the Expense Fund maintained by South Dakota Regional Center, Inc. (SDRC), which under the agreement between GOED and SDRC are state funds.
  •   The flow of the $1,000,000 Future Fund Grant monies from the Office of Governor to Northern Beef Packers Limited Partnership (“Northern Beef”); the flow of $550,000 of those monies subsequently transferred by Northern Beef to SDRC; and how the $550,000 was used by SDRC.
  •   Other grants, loans or payments made to Northern Beef by the GOED or any other state agency, directly or through the South Dakota Development Corporation (a nonprofit corporation affiliated with GOED and staffed by GOED employees).
 The Auditor General anticipated that some of the financial documentation and information contained in the investigation file and obtained by agents in the course of their investigation are not available from other state agencies or third parties, and that the release of such documentation would also eliminate duplication.

The Court has issued an Order allowing the Attorney General to release the Division of Criminal Investigation Reports reasonably necessary for completion of the Department of Legislative Audit’s financial and compliance audit of GOED, consistent with the Attorney General and Auditor General’s joint motion. The Court noted “This Order neither increases nor decreases any statutory requirements of confidentiality; all such provisions remain in effect. The Order simply allows these two agencies to share information in the exercise of their respective duties.” The Court further made clear that “except to the extent any information is necessary for inclusion in the Department of Legislative Audit’s public audit document, all documents and information obtained under this Order shall be held confidential and only accessed by the Auditor General and those members of his staff that are part of the GOED audit.”

04
Dec
13

Commentary by Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City)

Can the state authorize a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc?
By Rep. Kathy Tyler (D-Big Stone City)

One of the big questions concerning my request for a forensic audit of South Dakota’s EB-5 Visa program is whether or not the state has the authority to authorize an audit of SDRC, Inc, a privately held company.

The SD Legislature could and should immediately authorize a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc.

The contract outsourcing the administration of the lucrative EB-5 franchise to SDRC, Inc was made effective on December 22, 2009 and was signed by South Dakota Department of Tourism and State Development Secretary Richard Benda and by SDRC, Inc. President Joop Bollen on June 4, 2010.

Under Section 14 of the contract: (Please note that SDRC in this paragraph refers to SDRC, Inc.; DTSD is the Department of Tourism and State Development—now GOED; CIS is Citizen and Immigration Service)

“SDRC shall maintain such books, records, and reports as are currently or in the future required by CIS, 8 CFR 204.6 or other applicable law, or as may otherwise reasonably be required by DTSD. SDRC shall provide true and correct copies of such books, records and reports to DTSD as often as such books, records and reports are required to be provided to CIS, but in no event less than monthly. SDRC shall provide DTSD or its designee reasonable access to SDRC’s original books, records and reports such that DTSD can assure itself of SDRC’s compliance with the record-keeping requirements contained in this paragraph.”

Even though the Administration official claims that South Dakota cannot legally audit SDRC, Inc., the contract language specifically states our right to access the original books, records, and reports. The state can and should authorize an audit of the entire program, starting in 2004 to the present time.

Unless the Administration is going to suggest that the Legislature cannot provide oversight to an Executive Branch Department, there is no reason not to order up a forensic audit of SDRC, Inc. It is our duty and responsibility to the citizens of South Dakota to authorize this audit.  It’s time to do what’s right.

If SDRC, Inc. wants to obstruct justice, they can seek their own private attorneys.  It will illuminate just where guilt truly lies.

And off the record, I’m not asking for an audit of a federal program as some reports are stating. I am asking for an audit of South Dakota’s EB-5 program.

27
Nov
13

Death certificate: Benda used stick to push trigger

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The death certificate for former state economic development director Richard Benda says he shot himself by pushing the trigger with a stick.

The Argus Leader obtained the document Wednesday (http://argusne.ws/1gjA6yy ).

The certificate says Benda secured the shotgun against a tree and used a stick to press the trigger and shoot himself in the abdomen.

Benda was found Oct. 22 in a grove of trees near Lake Andes, in southeast South Dakota.

Attorney General Marty Jackley announced autopsy results last week indicating it was suicide.

Benda served as secretary of Tourism and State Development from 2006 to 2010 under former Gov. Mike Rounds.

State investigators say that during that time, Benda double-billed the state for three flights, valued at about $5,500.

He also was the loan monitor for Northern Beef Packers.

___

Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

10
Oct
13

Enough misery to go around

Aircraft of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) took to the skies earlier this week to resume their survey over the highways in western South Dakota that were hard hit by last weekend’s snowstorm. CAP aircrews are pinpointing locations where dead livestock are obstructing state highways or are in highway right-of-ways. This information is relayed to the state’s Department of Public Safety so that crews can be sent to remove the carcasses. This mission, which began Tuesday, Oct. 9, continued through Oct. 10 and may be extended depending on the extent of the area the SDWG aircrews can cover and the weather conditions. In addition, South Dakota Wing has received a mission from Pennington County’s Office of Emergency Management to survey the county’s roads and rights-of-way in the northern part of the county for deceased livestock so that crews can be sent to remove those carcasses. This is one of several photos taken during the CAP aerial survey of state highway rights-of-way. (Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Public Safety)

Aircraft of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) took to the skies earlier this week to resume their survey over the highways in western South Dakota that were hard hit by last weekend’s snowstorm.
CAP aircrews are pinpointing locations where dead livestock are obstructing state highways or are in highway right-of-ways. This information is relayed to the state’s Department of Public Safety so that crews can be sent to remove the carcasses. This mission, which began Tuesday, Oct. 9, continued through Oct. 10 and may be extended depending on the extent of the area the SDWG aircrews can cover and the weather conditions.
In addition, South Dakota Wing has received a mission from Pennington County’s Office of Emergency Management to survey the county’s roads and rights-of-way in the northern part of the county for deceased livestock so that crews can be sent to remove those carcasses. This is one of several photos taken during the CAP aerial survey of state highway rights-of-way. (Courtesy of South Dakota Department of Public Safety)

By David Lias

It’s been a tough week in South Dakota.

A freak blizzard that moved into western South Dakota dumped up to four feet of snow in some areas of our state. It was followed by the unusually mild weather our part of the Midwest continues to enjoy this autumn, and the scene that is emerging is not pretty.

Some producers lost up to half of their herds and early estimates listed herd losses in western South Dakota to be five percent of the total cattle supply.

New reports Tuesday list cattle losses at 60,000 head. That was the first of a one-two punch ranchers and other ag producers have received recently thanks to Washington’s inability to pass a new farm bill. The Livestock Indemnity Program in place to limit the losses cattle producers incur from natural disasters expired with the 2008 farm bill on Oct.1, the first day of the government shutdown.

I mention this out of fear that South Dakota cattlemen may be forgotten as the nation focuses most of its attention on what it perceives to be a much greater problem: The Badlands (gasp) are closed.

How will we survive, not only as a state, but also as a nation, as this travesty unfolds?

I urge everyone to keep those cattlemen in mind, for they can provide a vital role during these tough times.

You’ve probably seen the photo of a vacationer hurling a traffic cone in the air at the Badlands in an act of great defiance to Ted Cruz John Boehner the mainstream media Fox News President Obama.

I mean, it must be Obama’s fault, right? After all, he signed the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, during his first term in office after Congress passed it. His signature turned the proposal he introduced and Congress approved for health care reform in the United States from an idea into a law that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld as constitutional.

A major provision of the law kicked in on Oct. 1. In great preparation for this day that will live in infamy, the Republican-run House, in late September, ignored a White House veto threat and used a near party-line 230-189 vote to approve legislation denying money for much of the health care law while keeping the government open through Dec. 15. That measure then moved to the Democratic-led Senate.

That inspired tea party Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other conservatives to speak on the chamber’s floor for more than 21 consecutive hours against Obamacare. It didn’t really stop what everyone was predicting all along – the Senate voted 79-19 to end conservative efforts to derail the bill preventing a shutdown, with all Democrats and most Republicans opposing the conservatives. The Senate used a party-line 54-44 vote to remove the House-approved provision defunding Obamacare, and an identical 54-44 vote to approve the overall bill. The bill, financing agencies through Nov. 15, went back to the House.

Just after midnight on Sunday morning Sept. 29, the House used a rare and lengthy weekend session to shift its demands for restricting Obamacare. By a near party-line 231-192 vote, the House voted to delay implementation of the health care law by a year. It also voted 248-174 to repeal a tax on many medical devices that helps pay for the health care overhaul. The votes sent the revamped shutdown bill back to the Senate.

On the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 30, the Senate removed the House provisions postponing Obamacare and erasing the medical device tax. The shutdown bill moved back to the House. That night, the House approves a new shutdown bill with different demands on Obamacare. It would delay for a year the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance, and require members of Congress and their staff to pay the full cost of health insurance, without the government paying part of the costs. The measure bounced to the Senate.

Later Monday night, the Senate voted 54-46 to strip the House provisions on individual health insurance and federal health coverage subsidies for lawmakers and staff. The bill returned to the House.

On Tuesday, Oct. 1, the federal government’s new fiscal year began. With no spending legislation enacted, a partial federal shutdown begins to take effect. Early Tuesday morning, the House voted to stand by its earlier decision, and requests formal negotiations with the Senate. Even later that morning, the Senate rejected the House effort for formal bargaining.

And that’s why the national parks are closed.

To review, the House tried to defund Obamacare. When that measure went to the Senate, it was rejected, and replaced with a bill that would fund all government agencies through Nov. 15. That prompted the House to try to delay Obamacare for a year. Which caused the Senate to remove those provisions. The House reacted by approving a new shutdown bill with different demands on Obamacare, those demands were rejected by the Senate, so no new legislation that authorizes spending for this fiscal year is approved by Congress.

I guess that’s why the traffic cones put in place to block access to the Badlands are all Obama’s fault.

I hope the vacationer who smugly threw the traffic cone continued his journey in West River to visit ranch country, and help a livestock producer count his dead cattle and calves as their bodies emerge from the melting snow. I’m certain the rancher, in his friendly South Dakota manner, would commiserate as he hears the vacationer’s tale of woe of being denied access to a park.

Oh, and The Hill, a newspaper that reports on the happenings in Washington, is reporting that a private gym used exclusively by members of the U.S. House is still open, but because of the shutdown, members of Congress have to pick up their own towels. In fact, members not only have to pick up their towels – they have to reuse them for their showers, because there is no more laundering service.

Such hardship. I’m sure West River South Dakotans will provide wide shoulders for House members to cry on.

27
Jun
13

Thune disappointed with immigration reform bill

Sen. John Thune

Sen. John Thune

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, made the following statement today after the Senate passed the immigration reform bill (S. 744):

“Our immigration system is broken and must be fixed, but the legislation passed by the Senate today fails to make the necessary improvements to secure our borders and comes with an enormous price tag to the American taxpayers. I offered a number amendments to the bill that would not only have strengthened border security, but also would have offered accountability to the process by requiring implementation of the border security provisions before granting legal status to over 11 million undocumented residents.

“We need to have an immigration system that not only secures the border and increases national security, but that also reduces the wait-time and simplifies the process for those entering the country legally. Unfortunately, instead of proving to the American public that Congress is serious about border security and enforcing the laws already on the books, the final Senate bill gives weak promises on border security, leaving many aspects of implementation to the discretion of the Secretary. Simply put, the Senate immigration bill is legalization first and empty promises of border security second.

“While we are a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. I am disappointed that the Senate missed this important opportunity to secure the border and fix our broken immigration system.”

27
Jun
13

Immigration measure praised by some South Dakotans

Sioux Falls, SD— As the Senate completed debate this week on the bipartisan immigration reform bill, commonly referred to as the “Gang of 8” legislation, passing it by a 68 to 32 margin, South Dakota business leaders applauded the Senate for their work on modernizing our immigration system.

“The Senate vote today marks a first big step in bringing our immigration system into this century. The strong level of support for the bill as it leaves the Senate demonstrates the importance of the issue,” said Kent Alberty of Employment Edge. “We hope the House of Representatives moves quickly to take up the matter, Alberty concluded.

“South Dakota agriculture needs immigration reform to pass,” said Walt Bones, farmer and former South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture. “The current visa system does not work for agriculture. Thankfully, the “Gang of 8″ immigration bill passed out of the Senate addresses this issue by modernizing the system so that the previously impractical and underutilized visa can be used in a meaningful way. It is now time for the House to take up the bill in a timely manner.” Bones concluded.

Recent polling conducted in South Dakota shows that 68 percent of South Dakotans strongly or somewhat support the bipartisan immigration reform legislation being debated in Washington with 74 percent of those polled said the strongly or somewhat support a bill that includes a tough but fair path to citizenship. Eighty three percent of those polled said it was very or somewhat important that the U.S. fix its immigration system this year.

“If South Dakota wants to remain economically competitive, we must have comprehensive immigration reform now in order to ensure that we have a strong and skilled workforce in the future,” said Kent Alberty of Employment Edge. The time is right for immigration reform,” Alberty concluded.




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