Repubs and indies up, Dems down… again

Republicans and independents increased their voter registrations, while Democrats fell for the fifth month in a row, according to the latest numbers for South Dakota.

The web site for Secretary of State Shantel Krebs shows that, as of April 10, Republicans remained the dominant party, with 253,845 registered voters. That was a slight — nine total — downturn from March 1. But it was an overall increase from the 252,116 Republicans registered for the November general election, and the 243,523 Republicans registered for the June primary.

Then we have the independents and No Party Affiliation voters. Their combined total as of April 10 was 122,373. That was an increase of 662 since March 1. More significantly, it was an overall increase from the 118,669 independents and NPAs registered for the November general election, and the 110,839 registered for the June primary. Independents and NPAs climbed 14 months in a row.

Now for the Democrats: They have fallen five months in a row. As of April 10, there were 169,688 Democratic voters registered in South Dakota. That was a decrease of 369 since March 1. It also was an overall decrease from the 170,694 Democrats registered for the November general election. It was an increase, however, from the 168,301 Democrats registered for the June primary.

As for the smaller political parties, the Constitution Party stood at 493 on April 10, down from 500 for the November general; it became an officially recognized party again on March 31, 2016. The Libertarian Party had 1,682 registered voters on April 10, an increase from 1,620 for the November general. The Libertarians became an officially recognized party again on June 17, 2016.

Flip the calendar back to July 2009: Democrats stood at a peak of 206,086, while independents and NPAs totaled 86,310. At the rates they have changed since then — Democrats down more than 36,000 while the independents and NPAs up more than 36,000 — the independents and NPAs could overtake Democrats within seven to eight years.

If not sooner.

In column, Noem opposes abortions

U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem came out strongly again today against Planned Parenthood and called for government-wide application of the Hyde Amendment banning Medicaid coverage for abortions.

“I believe every life, including an unborn baby’s life, has dignity and value,” she wrote in her weekly column.

Noem is running for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018, as is state Attorney General Marty Jackley.

She said President Donald Trump signed into federal law an act of Congress that allows states to stop funding Planned Parenthood or other organizations that use the money to provide abortions.

“To say that we must fund Planned Parenthood or deny thousands of women care is a false choice. We can support women’s health – and specifically, health care for low-income women – without supporting abortion providers,” Noem wrote.

The Hyde Amendment has been in place since 1976. Noem said it is “unacceptable” the Affordable Care Act that won approval during President Barack Obama’s first term and continues today has allowed federal tax dollars to reach more than 1,000 abortion-covering health plans.

She called for making the Hyde Amendment permanent and government-wide. “The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, which I cosponsored and the House passed, would accomplish that,” she said.

State issues new WIC standards (w/update)

The state Health Department outlined new income standards for the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program today. They take effect May 1.

The first number is family members. (The minimum is one, such as a woman or teenager who is pregnant.) The second number is 185 percent of federal poverty level, the maximum amount of income a household is allowed to qualify:

1 — $22,311

2 — $30,044

3 — $37,777

4 — $45,510

5 — $53,243

6 — $60,976

7 — $68,709

8 — $76,442

9 — $84,175

10 — $91,908

The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the WIC program as a nutritional supplement.

To be eligible in South Dakota, you must be a South Dakota resident. You need to have an infant or a child younger than age 5, or be a woman or teenager who is pregnant or within six months after pregnancy or breastfeeding up to 12 months after birth.

Households also qualify if they receive benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program (TANF), Medicaid or the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).

UPDATE: WIC checks and vouchers redeemed in fiscal 2016 in South Dakota totaled $13,000,342, according to Health Department spokeswoman Barb Buhler.

Morning Consult: For first 100 days, President Trump gets grade of D or F from more than one-third of voters

The new Morning Consult / Politico poll of 1,992 registered U.S. voters, conducted April 13-15 with a margin of possible error of 2 percent, found 13 percent gave President Donald Trump a D grade and 24 percent gave a grade of F for his overall performance in the first 100 days of his administration.

The survey is somewhat premature: The 100-day mark is reached next week on April 29. In the meantime, President Trump’s performance in the poll is nearly equally split. He received an A grade from 16 percent and a grade of B from 23 percent. The remainder of 17 percent gave a C.

Voters who cast ballots for Trump, the Republican nominee, tended to favor his performance: 32 percent gave a grade of A and 42 percent gave a B. Among voters who chose Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, the grades ran heavily in the opposite direction: 23 percent D and 52 percent F.

You can read the report here.

GOED plans 100 community visits in 2017

The Governor’s Office of Economic Development intends to hold 100 community visits this year, according to Joe Fiala, the office’s director of research and community development.

Scott Amundson joined the GOED staff in March as community development representative.

Fiala said Amundson “has uncovered some opportunities to help communities more forward with their efforts, like revitalizing a defunct economic development board or training new economic development staff.

“Ongoing issues like housing and workforce development are concerns statewide, as they are in most of the United States,” Fiala said.

Curd explains Novstrup, Wiik recusals

For those wondering, Senate Republican leader Blake Curd of Sioux Falls said two of his political party’s senators from northeastern South Dakota had their reasons for declining to serve on the non-meandered waters committee.

Curd explained during the Legislature’s Executive Board meeting discussion Tuesday that Al Novstrup of Aberdeen told Curd that he was too busy.

Curd further explained that John Wiik of Big Stone City was occupied by appropriations matters. Wiik is Senate appropriations vice chairman.

The board appointed 15 legislators — nine House members and six senators — in response to the South Dakota Supreme Court ruling March 15 that closed public access to non-meandered waters over private property until the Legislature determines its recreational use.

Two law enforcement officers honored today

A fighter against Internet sexual traffic and a long-time leader against crime on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation receive recognition today.

Brent Gromer, state Division of Criminal Investigation supervisory special agent in charge of the Internet crimes against children unit, and John Long, who recently stepped down as assistant special agent in charge of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, get distinguished service awards.

Randy Seiler, the U.S. attorney for South Dakota, will present the honors during the spring conference of the South Dakota police chiefs and sheriffs association in Deadwood.

“Gromer’s investigative abilities and techniques have resulted in the prosecution of numerous child predators,” the U.S. attorney office’s news release said. “Gromer has been the architect of the proactive Sturgis Bike Rally operations, targeting online predators since 2013.”

Long served virtually his entire career in South Dakota.

“Agent Long singlehandedly revitalized the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services upon his arrival in Pine Ridge in 2004,” the release said. “As a result of his extraordinary determination and commitment to the safety of the citizens of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, hundreds of important violent crimes were prosecuted in federal court over many years.”

One acquitted, two sentenced in federal courts

One suspect was acquitted while two others were sentenced in federal courts in South Dakota recently.

Ryan Bissonette, 35, of Pine Ridge was acquitted of aggravated sexual abuse by force and sexual abuse by a federal jury April 13.

He was indicted June 17, 2014, for an incident that allegedly occurred Aug. 8, 2013, near Pine Ridge. He allegedly engaged in a sexual act with a female incapable of consenting.

Sentenced April 11 was Mythyas Godiava, 42, of Mill Creek, WA, to 42 months in federal custody for an unauthorized access device. The South Dakota Highway Patrol stopped Godiava in Lawrence County in 2016.

“A search was conducted on the vehicle and a meth pipe, over 1,000 gift cards, multiple debit/credit cards, a stolen passport, and multiple forms of identification were found,” according to the news release issued Tuesday by the U.S. attorney office for South Dakota.

The release said an investigation revealed that for the last several years Godiava has been defrauding various businesses by employing different fraud techniques, such as price tag switching or leaving the store without paying for cartloads of items.

“Godiava would then hire homeless men and women to return the items for store credit placed on gift cards,” the U.S. attorney office said.

Sentenced April 11 in a separate case was Joseph Cordier, 39, of Winner to 60 months in federal custody for abusive sexual contact with a child.

The incident occurred between June 19, 2007, and June 19, 2009, in Winner Tribal Housing in Tripp County. The child was age five to six years.