Coffee and Conversation with Senator Mike Rounds

roundsU.S. Senator Mike Rounds sends us the following.  We thought you might be interested.

On January 7, 2016, I would like to invite you for coffee and conversation in Rapid City. I will be hosting an open coffee at the University Center to take your questions and hear about the issues important to South Dakotans. I hope to see you there!

Coffee and Conversation with Mike
January 7, 2016
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. MT
University Center
4300 Cheyenne Blvd.
Rapid City, SD

S.D.’s 91st Legislative Session FHA Preview Tour

previewtourOn January 12, our “A” team of lobbyists will be presenting a preview of the upcoming legislative session in Pierre.  Dale Bartscher, and Norman Woods will be front and center on a “Preview Tour” that begins in Rapid City for a luncheon on January 12.  The team will proceed from Rapid City to Mitchell for an evening reception and then concluded with a luncheon in Sioux Falls on January 13.  Bartscher and Woods will be presenting an overview of legislation and issues that face FHA Action in the 91st Legislative Session which begins in January.  For details and to register for any of these events, use the links below:

The Omnibus Bill – The American People’s Lump of Coal in their Christmas stocking!

thuneOn Friday, December 18, Congress approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill (2000+ pages) with a pair of overwhelming bipartisan votes, capping a frenzied final few weeks of legislating before lawmakers head home for the holidays and gear up for the 2016 election year.

The House moved first, passing the government-funding bill on a 316-113 vote. The Senate followed suit just a few hours later, clearing the legislation —which also included a $680 billion tax package that the House cleared on Thursday — on a 65-33 tally.

VOTING NO:  South Dakota Senator John Thune

VOTING YES:  South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds and Representative Kristi Noem

The Family Heritage Alliance views the vote on the omnibus bill as a ‘Family Value’ and we applaud Senator John Thune’s principled stand in opposing its passage.  We consider his vote…bold leadership.

Wikipedia defines an omnibus bill as:  “a proposed law that covers a number of diverse or unrelated topics. Omnibus is derived from Latin and means “for everything”. An omnibus bill is a single document that is accepted in a single vote by a legislature but packages together several measures into one or combines diverse subjects.  Because of their large size and scope, omnibus bills limit opportunities for debate and scrutiny.”

Congressman Mark Sanford, (R-NC) wrote the following concerning the passage of this omnibus bill:

“That the debt, deficit, and budgetary constraints continue to be issues in Washington – as elusive as Taliban fighters in the mountains of Pakistan – was evidenced this week by the omnibus bill. It’s a 2,000-page bill with $1.1 trillion in spending that we had but three days to review. Like any of these bills that combine many areas of government spending, there is enough good and bad to give all members of Congress a reason to vote for or against – and that generally means the taxpayer is the one losing in the process.”

Thank you again Senator Thune for your vote!

Click here for the Heritage Foundation’s Press Release on this topic

Click here to send send your appreciation to Senator Thune

Heritage Foundation Press Release on Omnibus Bill

heritagefoundationClick here for the Heritage Foundation

Finally, from the respected HERITAGE FOUNDATION we read the following press release issued moments after the omnibus bill was unveiled:

Omnibus a Missed Opportunity to Rein in Wasteful Spending

WASHINGTON December 16, 2015 – Congress has released a $1.1 trillion spending omnibus that—with about $50 billion in spending authority above the Budget Control Act—Heritage Foundation experts call a “missed opportunity to rein in wasteful and excessive spending.

“While higher spending levels were agreed to back in November, Congress had no obligation to spend up to the cap,” said Paul Winfree, director of Heritage’s Thomas A. Roe Institute for economic policy studies. “This bill also contains a number of budget gimmicks that allow the bill to spend billions more than the November agreement.”

Spending limits present a ceiling, not a goal, Winfree contends. “With annual interest costs on the debt on course to reach nearly $800 billion within 10 years, Congress should have used this as an opportunity to enact meaningful policy reforms and embrace the budget they agreed to earlier this year. This omnibus also shortchanges defense at a time when national security should be a priority by using the war fund to pay for non-security programs.”

When it comes to leveraging the omnibus to govern with policy riders, Heritage experts conclude that Congress mostly disappointed. From continuing funds for abortion-providers like Planned Parenthood to failing to restrict taxpayer dollars for the Obama administration’s illegal and overreaching waters of the United States rule, there isn’t much to laud in this bill.

Ending the ban on oil exports will create more economic opportunities for Americans, increase employment and economic growth, and augment the overall efficiency of global oil markets. Unfortunately, the bill also gives the oil industry a special handout by providing small domestic refiners with a tax credit for the costs they incur from transporting oil.

The bill also continues a provision to prohibit CMS Program Management funds from being used to make payments under Obamacare’s Risk Corridor program. This will prohibit the administration from using undedicated funds to bailout unprofitable qualified health insurance plans in the individual and small group markets.

On the tax extenders bill that was also released, research fellow Curtis Dubay says Congress once again dropped the ball by not going through each policy in the package—making those that reflect sound policy permanent, and eliminating those that are not sound policy permanently in a revenue neutral way.

“Further complicating matters is that Congress included a delay of certain Obamacare taxes without reducing Obamacare spending, including the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost health insurance plans,” Dubay notes. “This is the wrong approach to that tax, which should instead be restructured into a more useful cap on the tax-free amount of employer-provided health insurance.”

Solemn Assembly January 8

Amy Wagner, State Coordinator for the National Day of Prayer writes the following:

Click above for the PowerPoint slide for this event.

Click above for the PowerPoint slide for this event.

The Black Hills NDP Team has scheduled another Solemn Assembly to begin the New Year and the Legislative Session. I am reminded of Daniel chapter 9 as we approach 2016. The time for Repentance is NOW. We must get on our knees and dig deep into our own hearts as we examine the consequences of sin against God. Yes, as Believers we live a “forgiven life”, but sin is serious business, and while we are forgiven, I believe,  we are also held accountable for sin as well as complacency. As we ride along on the coat tails of the Savior, do we just live? OR, do we repent, not only for the mistakes our society has made, but also the sin of our own hearts? Please join us with the idea that you too can repent and lay your heart open to the King of Kings.  could you please use the slide to announce in your church? Thank You!

January 8, 2016 at 7:00P.M.

 First Assembly of God
 South Highway 16

Amy Wagner, State Coordinator for the National Day of Prayer.

SD Lawmakers Gather For Governor’s Budget Speech

red_DSC_0926On Tuesday, December 8, FHA Executive Director Dale Bartscher, Youth Coordinator Norman Woods, and Public Policy Analyst Ed Randazzo, joined South Dakota lawmakers as they gathered at the state Capitol in Pierre to hear Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proposed budget for next year. Lawmakers paid particular attention to our Governor’s proposals and thoughts on Medicaid expansion here in South Dakota. Those in attendance were also looking for the Governor’s thoughts on the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s education recommendations but he ended up delivering little substance on that subject and will wait to do so until he delivers the State of the State Address in January. Fiscal responsibility and educational opportunities are core family values and thus capture the eye of FHA Action. Stay tuned!

Click here to see all the pictures from this event on our Facebook post.

FHA Action Legislative Briefings Bookend The State

red_DSC_0976FHA Action executed two almost perfect legislative briefings this month, as we officially start the ramp-up to South Dakota’s 2016 legislative session.  This year, we were joined by Americans For Prosperity as partners in the event, and their State Director and Lobbyist, Ben Lee, joined our Executive Director, Dale Bartscher in heading up this project.

In Rapid City, the legislative briefing was held on Saturday, December 12 at Dove Christian Center.  As always, the hospitality of the ministry team and the folks at Dove was amazing.  Also, we are so grateful for the help of our volunteers and several FHA Action folks who prepared all the breakfast goodies for this early morning “working breakfast”.  We had 52 in attendance including Rapid City’s Mayor, Steve Allender, representatives from the offices of all three members of our U.S. Congressional delegation, representatives from numerous advocacy groups, FHA and FHA Action board members and staff, 13 legislators, and several lobbyists.

Then on the Eastern side of the state, the FHA Action / AFP team held a second legislative briefing at the Central Baptist Church in Sioux Falls.  Central Baptist Church is Senator John and Kimberly Thune’s home church.  Central Baptist did a superb job hosting the event.  We had 51 in attendance at the Sioux Falls briefing, including representatives of all three of our U.S. Congressional Member’s offices in Sioux Falls, FHA Board Members, representatives from a host of ministries and advocacy groups, and 19 legislators.  As is universally the case, our Sioux Falls representative, LaVonne Fosness was so instrumental in pulling together all the moving parts and making the event a success.

Click here for our Facebook post on the Rapid City event

Click here for our Facebook post on the Sioux Falls event

In God We Trust

ingodwetrustAs a lad, I was fond of Simon and Garfunkel. Yep, I know…deal with it. One of my favorite songs was “The Boxer”. I probably wouldn’t necessarily recommend the song now, but I do still get a little teary-eyed when I hear the last verse of that song. “In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade and he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down and cut him till he cried out in his anger and his shame, ‘I am leaving, I am leaving.’ but the fighter still remains.”

Just when you think that God’s folks are down for the count, you get something like our lead story this week where the boxer shakes off the fog and stands, rubbing the sweat from his eyes and says, “is that all you got”. In the midst of so much “freedom from God” rhetoric in this country, a movement is growing. As a nation, we have a motto. It simply states: “In God we Trust“. This movement about which I am writing is one in which cities, municipalities, police departments, and the like have just decided enough is enough. We are going to display our nation’s motto on our squad cars and in our council chambers. I know saying that we trust God doesn’t make it so. However, pushing back against those who would banish God from every layer of our culture says something. It actually says a lot. For one thing, it says God’s people may have been down, but they aint out (pardon my Texan).

Over 500 cities and counties across America have followed the example of Congress and adopted this amazing statement of faith as their own motto. And, it gives us great pleasure to announce that the Mitchell S.D. city council voted 6 to 1 on Monday December 7, to become the 530th municipality to do so! That decision was prompted by the Family Heritage Alliance and Mitchell area pastors, who gave testimony in favor of this outcome. Go Mitchell!

Perhaps other cities in our great state might just follow the lead of the brave-hearts in Mitchell.

To quote Disney’s Lion King: Simba says: “What’s a motto”? Timon replies: “Nothing, what’s a-motto with you?” Well I can answer Simba’s question. It’s a phrase that defines a movement, a city, or a nation. Sometimes it’s a rallying cry. It gives the rest of us courage when someone takes a stand. Thanks Mitchell! At least in a little S.D. city East of the Missouri, the fighter still remains!

Click here to read more on the movement.

FHA Action 3.0

Welcome to the new improved FHA Action website.  It is our passion at FHA Action to make the process of communicating with you an effective, well-oiled machine.  As South Dakota’s 2016 legislative session draws closer, we wanted to roll out something that truly would make it easier for us to communicate to you.  But a one-sided conversation isn’t a conversation.  So we also wanted to make the process of you communicating with us easier as well.  So here is what version 3.0 of FHAAction.org delivers.  (By the way, we are still ramping this new site up, so for a few days yet, let’s call this version 3.0 beta).

  1. First and foremost, it was imperative that fhaaction.org be mobile friendly (or “responsive” as the geeks call it).  As the mobile traffic on our site continues to increase, we wanted to make it ever so easy for the mobile user to get to and consume the information on our site.  But, we wanted to retain the robust user experience you have come to expect from the our site on a desktop computer.  So, we met and exceeded these goals.  The new site looks smashing on a mobile device (see pictures upper right), but also works nicely on a full-size monitor.
  2. You will notice a much flatter, more crisp, business look.  We think it does a great job of saying “FHA Action means business” when it comes to promoting and protecting the values you cherish.
  3. Going forward, all our news, blogs, article, and alert posts will allow our users to comment.  Comments will be mildly mediated to assure a civil discourse.
  4. Just when you thought our advocacy tools couldn’t get any better, well guess what — they did.  We have a new and improved Legislative Radar (which currently is only showing demo data since the legislative session hasn’t begun) and the same great Action Center tools for contacting your elected officials and letting them know what you are thinking.
  5. Version 3.0 delivers a site that is “searchable” from stem to stern.  So if you are looking for a particular bill or person, the search bar will be waiting for you at the top of the right sidebar on any page beyond the home page.
  6. Also, on subsequent pages beyond the home page, you will find a list of “tags” and “categories” in the right sidebar.  Consider those to be a quick search index of information on the site.
  7. Our new site employs new technology to make it easier for search engines to find us and the content on our site quickly and efficiently.  This will make it much easier for folks who aren’t yet acquainted with FHA Action to find us as they are searching for a particular bill or political issue.
  8. For the power users, we now have a site that can easily be syndicated or subscribed to.  Subscribers will get all our updates in the email in-box or in other “feed-readers” you may have installed.  Use the little “RSS” feed icon located in the top right of every page or located at other locations around the site.
  9. Yes, there is a lot more yet to come, but this isn’t a bad start for our 2016 web presence!  I so wanted to say something silly like “yes there does seem to be a disturbance in the force”, but I decided against it.  One of the really cool tools we are playing with is a new iPhone and Android app that will allow the users to stay up to date on the important alerts as they happen.  More on that in a future post I hope!