Bioethanol, gun rights and outrage about Noem and the NRA: Your letters

Gun Rights

Your letters to the editor for April 30, 2023:

Under Noem, SD is free − for guns

Gov. Kristi Noem was among the groveling right-wing politicians to address the National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis last weekend. Noem has done everything in her power to stop teachers from teaching real history, and she would stand between women and their doctors in health care decisions; yet she proclaimed South Dakota the freest state in America—for guns.One of Noem’s proudest moments as governor, she said, was when she signed her first bill—which abolished the requirement for a permit to carry concealed weapons. Now anybody can carry a hidden gun on the street, into places of business, to church if they like.Noem punctuated her half hour on stage by signing an executive order that blocks state agencies from contracting with banks that discriminate against firearm-related industries.Most amazingly, Noem proudly proclaimed that her 2-year-old granddaughter already has multiple guns, “which she will soon need.” Maybe she missed the news that the No. 1 killer of American children is guns. Or maybe she simply doesn’t care.South Dakota might be free, but it’s not good enough for Kristi Noem. Her mission is to travel the country at our expense, convincing the right wing of the Republican Party that she is the most extreme of possible presidential aspirants. Ask her how that’s going. So far she’s polling close to 1%!−Jerry Wilson, Vermillion

More: South Dakota social studies standards pass, despite opposition from educators, tribes

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The sanctity of the ballot is critical

I read with interest, Stu Whitney’s recent article on the bill South Dakota Gov. Noem signed into law that protects the integrity of elections in our great state. It would seem that county auditors and members of left wing interest groups do not agree with our legislature and governor. If that is the case let me suggest that you all throw your hat in the ring and challenge for the responsibility Noem has taken on.It has never been the intent of our right to vote to “make it easy to vote.” Voting is a choice. Not everyone desires to cast a ballot, and those that do have that desire find ways to do it. It is critical that the sanctity of the ballot is preserved.I don’t know if any cheating went on in any election, but I do want to know that when a segment of the voting public does not trust the results, democracy suffers. It doesn’t matter if that segment is Democrat, Republican or Independent. If they don’t trust the results something needs to be done to make certain that only eligible voters vote, that all proper verifications are made and that all legally cast ballots are counted, and only legally cast votes are counted.Elections have gone on in the age of television where all votes were hand counted, and NEVER has it taken more than a few days at the most to count the ballots, until Florida in 2000. Then, of course, comes 2020. A candidate runs that elitists in his own party do not want to win.A pandemic is announced and voting procedures are loosened to make it safe to cast your ballot. Unfortunately, nefarious actors saw this as a way to put their thumb on the scale, so to speak, and things happened, especially in the states of Wisconsin, Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and of course Arizona. We don’t know what or to what extent these decisions by election authorities effected the outcome, but the fact that investigations were slow walked and sometimes even prevented does, not bode well for trust in the outcome.Before computers, EVERYONE hand counted. Elections were settled in a matter of hours, a few days at the longest and the outcome was accepted. The fact that South Dakota moved toward that standard is encouraging to those who consider the integrity of the process and not just the name of the person who was proclaimed the winner of the utmost importance.

Randy Amundson, Sioux Falls

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Bioethanol produced in SD a major player in E-15 fuel

Earth Day is a chance to celebrate a value we all share: taking responsibility for the land, air, and water that together give our world life.While many efforts to improve and protect the environment are taking place across businesses and industries, one sector requires that individuals do their part to help the whole: transportation.Choosing E15 – a fuel blend with 15 percent plant-based bioethanol – allows us all to do that.Let’s talk about the benefits of bioethanol.Bioethanol replaces aromatic toxins that have traditionally been used to increase the octane in fuel. These chemicals have been associated with health issues such as respiratory problems, low birth rates, heart attacks, and cancer.In addition, each gallon of bioethanol reduces carbon emissions by 46 percent over traditional gasoline, according to researchers at Harvard, MIT, and other top institutions.The best part is that choosing higher biofuel blends actually saves consumers money. E15 saved Americans an average of 16 cents per gallon last summer and up to $1 per gallon in some areas.POET is working to make bioethanol and E15 even better. POET has set the goal of reducing the carbon intensity of bioethanol by 70% compared to traditional gasoline by 2030 and making POET’s bioprocessing facilities completely carbon neutrality by 2050. That will make the fuel we use everyday better for the planet and the air we breathe.The challenges facing our world today need readily available solutions. Bioethanol, produced right here in South Dakota, helps us meet those challenges. As more stations offer E15 and more consumers make the switch, we’ll start to see that making one small change at the pump can fuel major change for our planet.− Berit Foss, Sioux Falls, POET Director of Sustainability

More: Historical Society director: SD’s social studies standards gives ‘courage to start anew’

‘She who has the gold makes the rules’

April 19, 2023 was a very sad day for South Dakota. It was the 30th anniversary of the death of Gov. George Mickelson.It also saw our State Board of Education endorse new social studies curriculum.These new “standards” are the result of a group of individuals who are deeply connected with the Hillsdale College regime that has infiltrated our Capitol.The Noem regime did not want practicing educators. Looking over these “standards,” I thought about all the capable, experienced South Dakotans, well over 1,000, who voiced opposition these “standards. “ The opponents outnumbered the proponents 10 to 1.Then the Governor praised the newly adopted “standards.”“She who has the gold makes the rules!”Tragic.

Ed Olson, Mitchell

SD should be outraged by Noem’s involvement in social studies

A week ago the Board of Education Content Standards, appointed by Gov. Noem, approved (by a 5-2 vote) a set of Social Studies standards created by William Morrissey, an alumnus of Hillsdale College in Michigan and who is not a teacher, which will involve all students in public schools in the entire state. The entire process runs counter to the usual process of review of the content standards that has always been done in this state; and was done this time until Gov. Noem decided to intervene.There is no precedent for such a monolithic method of deciding what it is that students in South Dakota should learn. This has been done and should be done by a committee of educational professionals who are familiar with students and familiar with the classroom. The reality is that the governor selected William Morrissey and Hillsdale College; the governor selected the committee of 15 who were handed the already created standards and the governor selected the board of 7 who voted 5 to 2 to accept these Hillsdale content standards. Public comments ranged at least 9 to 1 against these new standards with over 1000 people commenting. Every citizen should be outraged by this.

Karen Haynes, Chamberlain

More: ‘Vanished in Vermillion’ highlights SD law enforcement embarrassment: Your letters

Republicans and big government are linked more than you think

Whatever happened to the party of limited government, low taxes and an aversion to a government takeover of health care -aka known as the Republican Party?

Others have said it before, but as it turns out, Republicans don’t hate big government as much as they let on.

For sure, when it comes to the demands of business and the interests of the right kind of Americans, Republicans seem to believe absolutely in a government that stays out of the way. But when it comes to Americans deemed deviant or moochers off the system for their poverty or their desire for freedom in the most private and intimate of spaces – that between persons and their health care providers (think reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights) – Republicans believe, just as fervently, that the only answer is the heaviest hand of the state.

In the interests of the perceived left-wing culture war, Republican fixation of late has been on abortion and transgender issues. Another case in point comes from our neighbors in Iowa. As I have heard it reported, Republicans in Iowa want to kick as many people as possible off the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) citing fraud and misuse. In 2022, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals reported that the state disqualified 195 SNAP recipients out of a total enrollment of 287,000 people – that’s a fraud rate of 0.07%.

Nonetheless, Iowa will spend nearly $18 million in administrative costs over the next three years to snoop into the finances of every SNAP recipient in the state, all to make sure that a working parent doesn’t receive $1 more than they are entitled to. Remember the push back to the federal Inflation Reduction Act passed in 2022 that provided additional funding to the IRS to target those who under report their income? The heavy hand of government at work!

Evidently SNAP recipients aren’t the right kind of Americans. There are other examples that are all particularly relevant during these polarizing times and discussions related to raising the federal debt limit. Defense spending? Medicare? Medicaid? Social Security? Toss in discretionary spending and whether any of it is considered big government or essential investment in our American way of life seems to depend on whether the beneficiaries are the right kind of Americans.

Bruce Kubat, Sioux Falls

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Let’s pray for elected officials to make nation safer

I don’t recall Gov. Noem publicly acknowledging deaths due to gun violence, or exhibiting any remorse for victims, or respect for family and friends of victims.  However, Gov. Noem recently spoke at an NRA convention and made a public address to further the agenda of that organization.  Although once again, showing no compassion for the thousands of people affected by gun violence.

In her speech, Gov. Noem suggests that “families bow their heads and pray for wisdom and discernment on how to heal hearts and minds” but, these families are evidently not supposed to mention who is responsible for their dreadful circumstances.

Gov. Noem, we can wonder how many people bow their heads every day and pray for common sense gun regulations.  We can wonder how many parents bow their heads and pray that their children will come home safely from school, or some other place and not be gunned down by someone with an assault rifle or some other fire-arm because many of those in position to act fail to do so because their allegiance is to some organization that places power over lives.  Let us pray that our elected officials will acquire some fortitude and compassion to make our nation safer.

It’s sad that our nation has developed such an obsession for deadly instruments and it seems that some are obsessed to the point of idolization.  Vanity, vanity.  Perhaps our assault weapons should be forged into plow shares or railroad rails so our nation would be benefited.  

Very recently, several young people have been gunned down by irresponsible gun-owners, which there are too many of, who have had absolutely no reason to fire their guns.  So far I have heard no public comment from Gov. Noem.  Pathetic.

Victor Sanderson, Flandreau

How to submit a letter to the editor:

Letters need to be roughly 300 to 500 words, and will need to include first and last name, address, city and title. Addresses won’t be publicized, of course, but it’s a way for us to make sure those who submit a letter are who they say they are.

Letters will run on Sundays in print and online as we receive them. There may be moments, however, when we don’t have any as we work to solicit interest and actively rebuild this part of our coverage for readers.

You can submit those to News Director Shelly Conlon by emailing or submit them through our online form here, which also is sent directly to the news director.

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