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Noem Weighs In On Energy, Gun Control, Health Care

Kealey Bultena
Congresswoman Kristi Noem present at a Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

The United States House is on recess, and Congresswoman Kristi Noem is back in South Dakota. Tuesday the state’s lone Representative spoke in Sioux Falls at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. She then met with some young professionals for a discussion about issues they see.

Men with careers in finance, politics, law and technology have questions for Congresswoman Kristi Noem.  Yannick Laroche is a production manager in wind energy.

"We’re about 230 employees," Laroche says. "Wind in South Dakota is about 1000 jobs, and wind price has gone down a lot in recent years, so for me it was like what’s your view on energy and the future of energy?"

It’s time, Noem says, for wind to be self-sufficient.

"I believe we need to come up with a plan on how to phase out the production tax credit in a seven year to 10 year window that allows the industry to plan," Noem says. "It’s here for this period of time to get us up and running and well-established, knowing that it may diminish over time, but that’s enough time to give us enough time to know what we’re dealing with and to plan better for the future."

Noem says Congress should prioritize all American energy over fuels from overseas.

Patrick Erickson works for a bank. He says he’s a gun-owner, and he wants to know about controlling handguns.

Credit Kealey Bultena / SDPB
Noem meets with area young professionals.

"And I just wanted to know if you had any thoughts if that would be something that Republicans and the NRA could maybe instead of being ‘Everybody gets a gun, and if everyone had a gun everyone would be safer,’ which I think is ludicrous if that’s the real thought process – but is there anything that everyone can kind of sign on to?" Erickson asks.

Noem says going after guns is the wrong strategy. She says most incidents of gun violence stem from criminal behavior or people with mental health conditions who aren’t receiving proper treatment.

"I’m a gun-owner, too, and I love to hunt, so I’m a firm defender of our Second Amendment rights, but I do think that we have to look at how we take care of people in this country and look at mental health issues and how that relates to these gun violence situations that we’ve seen across the country firm defender," Noem says.

Insurance costs are another topic of discussion. Anthony Botticella is a finance professional. He’s a father of three who buys health insurance on the market.

BOTTICELLA: And I’m paying $1200 a month, and they say next year it could go up 40 percent. So that’s always a big kick in the pocketbook, and as a former Canadian who’s seen how that system works –
NOEM: What do you think of that health care system?
BOTTICELLA: I was never in favor of it. I think originally when the Canadians did it it was always to help kids, and that’s what I appreciated about it. Things I love about Obamacare are the removal of the pre-existing conditions and removal of the lifetime [cap]. But to nail me every month when I barely use is it just…but you’ve got to have it. So it’s affordable if you can’t afford it, but essentially I feel like the vast majority of those of us who are paying for it are paying for stuff we don’t use.

Noem says relief from the cost of health coverage happens when competition exists, and she says the Affordable Care Act diminishes that. The Congresswoman says lawmakers have several reform bills that could help. She says the first of those is a measure that changes hospital reimbursement protocol. Noem says Congress is considering the reform this fall.
Noem also highlights issues including banking legislation, tax reform and environmental regulation. 

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).
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