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Legislature
SD Senate votes for a wall along U.S.-Mexico border

PIERRE | Two days after Gov. Kristi Noem said in her State of the State address that the federal government has failed "to adequately secure our southern border,” state senators passed a resolution voicing support for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Lawmakers voted 28-5 Thursday to pass Senate Concurrent Resolution 4, urging Congress and President Donald Trump to fund the border wall.

Sen. Stace Nelson, R-Fulton, said the resolution is “an opportunity to in a timely fashion have an impact on what happens nationally in the United States” and to “tell the president what we want.”

“We have the ability, we have the authority and we have the responsibility as a state Legislature to make an impact on the federal government,” he said in the resolution’s floor debate.

Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Craig Kennedy, D-Yankton, who voted no, cautioned the Senate about the message he said the resolution sends “about how we view people who just like our ancestors just want a chance.”

“What this body is being asked to do is wrong,” Kennedy said. “This is pure politics, and we’ve seen what this kind of political posturing has resulted in in Washington, D.C.”

The vote comes on the heels of Noem’s State of the State address on Tuesday when she called for tougher border security and announced that she had approved the deployment of four South Dakota national guardsmen to the Southwest border via UH-72 helicopter.

“We must do what we can to help secure the southern border,” Noem said.

Trump promised during his 2016 presidential campaign that the wall’s construction would be paid for by Mexico, but he is now refusing to sign any federal budget omnibus passed by Congress that wouldn’t allocate money to build the wall. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stood firm that the Democratic-controlled House will not pass a budget that includes money for the wall.

Because of Washington’s failure to negotiate a budget on time, the federal government has been shut down since Dec. 22, impacting approximately 30 government agencies and thousands of workers.

During Thursday’s debate, Kennedy said, “We have a government that’s shut down and we have people working without pay and for what reason? To make a political point.”

Sen. Mike Rounds in a Thursday media call said the blame for the government shutdown is on Trump and Pelosi for not finding a compromise and that the Senate “stands ready” to approve a budget.

When asked if he would support a bill that does not include an allocation for a border wall, Rounds said, “Yeah, I can move forward.”

Rounds and fellow Republican senators recently reintroduced a bill separate from the budget that would fully fund the wall’s construction at $25 billion through increases in minimum fines for those who overstay their visas or enter the United States without proper documentation.

The bill, titled the WALL Act, would also establish a requirement for a work-authorized Social Security number in order to claim certain refundable tax credits, like the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child Tax Credit. It would also require welfare applicants to verify their citizenship.


Latest
Montana Republican proposes state give $8M for border wall

HELENA, Mont. | A Montana politician is proposing the state give more than $8 million to help build President Donald Trump's proposed wall on the Mexican border as a government shutdown over the $5.7 billion project continues. The proposal seems unlikely to pass in a state with a Democratic governor exploring a run for president.

Montana, which last year faced a massive budget shortfall, appears to be the first state to propose spending its own money on the project.

Scott Sales, a fiscally conservative Republican who leads the state Senate, says his proposal is a "small token" to show border security "is of vital interest to all citizens regardless of what state they live in."

Trump headed to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday to argue his case for the funding.

"Congress is basically dragging their heels over $5 billion, which is really trivial compared to what we spend on an annual basis," Sales said Wednesday.

Sales said he calculated Montana's "share" of the cost of the wall by dividing the state's gross domestic product by the national GDP and multiplying it by $5.7 billion.

Montana's $8 million wouldn't go very far, with Trump's $5.7B request expected to build 234 miles.

House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, a Democrat, said the Legislature should focus on building Montana's infrastructure.

"That's a lot of school roofs and boilers," added Democratic Rep. Laurie Bishop.

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, who appears to be exploring a run for president in 2020, could veto the measure should it pass the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Montana, where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 20 points, shares a 545-mile border with Canada, where there is no wall.


Local
SD man gets 60 days for bestiality

An Ipswich man who admitted he engaged in sexual acts with two calves near Bath received a short prison sentence, but he won't have to turn himself in for at least 30 days.

James M. Schumacher, 58, was sentenced on two charges of felony bestiality on Thursday, and received a two-year prison sentence with all but 60 days suspended on each charge. Both sentences will be served at the same time. Bestiality laws prohibit sexual acts with animals.

Schumacher was also placed on probation for five years and must pay $808 in fines and court costs, and $726 in restitution for veterinary bills and $2,100 to cover the cost of his psychosexual evaluation.

Following sentencing, defense attorney Marshall Lovrien asked if his client could delay reporting to prison until he made a decision about appealing. Judge Scott Myren allowed a 30-day delay.

Charges stem from a July 2017 incident during which the Brown County Sheriff's Office arrested Schumacher after he was found on a farm near Bath with a 4-week-old calf. Schumacher was eventually charged with six counts of bestiality, admitting to two charges — one act between April 26, 2016, and Jan. 1, 2017, the second July 27, 2017. Schumacher admitted he inserted his genitals into the mouth of two different calves.

During the hearing, the owner of the calves, Sarah Schumacher, who is not related to the defendant, said the incidents have made her feel unsafe in her home. She said she is on guard every time her dogs start barking.

"My animals are my sanctuary," she said, noting feelings of anger, fear and disgust.

In court, James Schumacher said he will never return to the farm where the offense occurred. He also said the incident has been tough on him and his family.

Lovrien said Schumacher had difficulty finding a new job, but has recently found new employment.