Sen. John Thune
It comes as no surprise to those who know me that I have an abiding interest in competitive athletics. With a dad who was a basketball star in the Big Ten, it was sort of expected that we would like sports. My mom, who was less than enthusiastic about this perpetual sports mindset, used to lament that all the Thune boys were born with a ball in their hands. To her credit, she saw to it that we balanced our interests by requiring that we all take piano lessons, which I did for six years.
Ellsworth Air Force Base is well-known to all South Dakotans, especially those who live in West River. It's not only home to two B-1B Lancer combat squadrons and MQ-9 Reaper ground control stations, but it's a staple of the community and is something in which our state takes great pride. The base has a $350 million impact on South Dakota's economy and is the state's second largest employer, and thanks to the recent Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) expansion, Ellsworth is saving taxpayers millions of dollars per year and can now conduct advanced training closer to home.
Second by second, time ticks off the clock as the senior point guard, knowing his team is about to clinch a spot in the pinnacle of all tournaments — NCAA's March Madness — dribbles the ball past half court. As the buzzer rings, his teammates rush the court, and the team's fans leap from their seats to celebrate the victory. A lot of hard work goes into these defining moments— the two-a-day workouts, the early mornings, all of the season's wins, and even the losses. Every minute is worth it, if you ask these athletes.
This won't come as any surprise to most South Dakotans, but flying to and from rural America can be a challenging and oftentimes frustrating experience. Even on the best flying days, travelers often face fewer options at smaller airports. Add the seasonal threats of inclement weather to the mix, and all bets are off, because with many flights from South Dakota connecting through major hubs in other parts of the region, one stray storm can have a ripple effect that leads to missed or canceled flights on future legs of a trip.
Do you remember Gordon Gekko, the character portrayed by Michael Douglas in the iconic 1987 movie "Wall Street"? If you do, you might also remember scenes in which Douglas' character makes phone calls from his state-of-the-art Motorola, which had Americans wondering what it must be like to have one of their own. While a lot has changed since 1987 — including no longer having to be Gordon Gekko rich to own a mobile phone — some things have not.
Landowners have until February 26 to enroll eligible land in the current Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) general sign-up. Between the improvements that were made to CRP in the 2014 farm bill and today's low commodity prices, both point to CRP as a useful option for South Dakota farmers and ranchers in their farming operations.
My goal as an elected member of Congress is to deliver to you the most efficient, effective, and accountable federal government possible. Accountability is a hallmark of our democracy, and without it, the American people would rightfully lose faith in their elected representatives and our system of government. I have an extremely high standard when it comes to accountability, which is why I take seriously my responsibility of holding the executive branch and its agencies and employees accountable for their actions.
Representing the state of South Dakota in the U.S. Senate is one of the greatest honors of my life, but it wouldn't mean anything without you: the dedicated and hardworking people who call South Dakota home.
Before it became law, Republicans in Congress warned of the damage the so-called Affordable Care Act would cause and the burdens the American people would face as a result. Five and a half years later, Obamacare — as it became known — has chipped away at family budgets, squeezed small business growth, and led to fewer choices for patients and their doctors.
If you asked someone to name their favorite time of year, you might hear Christmas, Thanksgiving or the Fourth of July. Don't be surprised, though, if you posed the same question to a South Dakotan and they tell you it's the third weekend in October — the traditional opening of pheasant season.