Sen. John Thune
It doesn’t matter if you’re the farmer in the field who harvests the crops, the manufacturer in the factory who makes the goods, or the consumer at home who relies...
August 7-13 is National Health Center Week in America, and it's a great opportunity to recognize and celebrate the health care professionals who make small community health centers across the country a reality. These physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, doctors, dentists, and others play a pivotal role in creating rural access points for South Dakotans who live in areas where the nearest hospital could be an hour or more away. The centers themselves are an important part of the community, and they help create a seamless transition to quality health care for rural patients.
Each week the Senate is in session, I travel back and forth from my home in Sioux Falls to Washington, D.C., for hearings, votes, and other meetings. While I love representing South Dakotans in Washington, it's no secret that I'm happiest when I'm home in South Dakota, hearing directly from you. So, as I head back to spend several weeks traveling the state and connecting with you, I wanted to share some of the big things we've accomplished in the Senate over the last 18 months and look forward to hearing what you think.
By now, most Americans have seen in chilling detail what happened late last month in Istanbul, Turkey. A group of terrorists casually walked into one of Ataturk Airport's public terminals and proceeded to open fire before detonating suicide vests among fleeing travelers. In the wake of this attack, 45 people were left dead, and more than 200 were injured. Although no group has formally claimed responsibility, the Turkish government says all signs point to ISIS.
Last January, I was humbled to be selected by my colleagues to serve as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. What an honor it's been. Over the last year-and-a-half, we've worked hard to make the American people's priorities our priorities. Safer skies, improved railways, and bringing our interstate highway system further into the 21st century have all been on the agenda this Congress, and the Commerce Committee has a long list of accomplishments to show for it.
I've worn numerous hats, held a lot of jobs, and had many titles throughout my life. And while being your U.S. senator is one of the most humbling and fulfilling of those experiences, it pales in comparison to being a dad. It's the most amazing blessing I've ever received, and I thank God each day for the privilege of having had the opportunity to raise two strong and confident daughters.
Particularly to locals, "South Dakota" and "pheasant hunting" are nearly synonymous. And for hunting enthusiasts around the country and the world, spending the third weekend in October in the pheasant capital of the world can be something dreams are made of. As important as pheasant hunting is to South Dakota's traditions, it's just as important — if not more — to the state's economy.
Memorial Day has long marked the unofficial start to summer, and with it, a busy travel season quickly ensues. Whether you and your family are hopping in the car this summer for a trip across the state or boarding a plane for an adventure around the country or overseas, safety is rightfully top-of-mind. Everyone who relies on air travel wants peace of mind that airport officials — both in the United States and abroad — are doing everything they can to protect the traveling public and prevent bad actors from doing bad things.
Late last month, the federal government released preliminary numbers on economic growth in the first quarter of 2016, and let me tell you, the news wasn't good. The U.S. economy grew at a dismal rate of 0.5 percent during the first three months of the year, which essentially means it barely grew at all. While any one report of slow or nonexistent economic growth is bad, under President Obama, weak growth has become the new norm.
Every May, we recognize tourism in the United States and celebrate the many unique opportunities that are available for travelers from coast to coast. While my job sometimes requires me to spend time in Washington, D.C., away from the beauty of South Dakota, it does give me the chance to encourage people who have never been to our state to make their way to the heartland.