HURON – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., to help families stay together when a parent is in substance addiction treatment passed the House and is on the way to the Senate, she said Friday.
In a conference call with reporters, she said that evidence from cases around the country has shown that when drug treatment programs keep families together – and children are not in foster care – there are better outcomes.
The Supporting Families in Substance Abuse Treatment Act would strengthen a state or tribe’s ability to keep families intact by giving them the authority to grant federal foster care support payments to children when placed with a parent in a residential, family-based treatment facility.
A companion bill sponsored by Noem that is also on the way to the Senate after House passage this week would strengthen the Regional Partnership Grant program, which provides funding to state and regional grantees seeking to provide evidence-based services to prevent child abuse and neglect related to substance abuse.
Noem said a third bill she sponsored would require the United States to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase and strengthen women’s participation in peace negotiations and conflict prevention.
Studies have shown that peace agreements are 35 percent more likely to last at least 15 years when women are involved in the process, she said.
“I hope this tool puts women at the table when negotiating peace agreements,” she said.
Women are often impacted by conflict differently than men, Noem said. Terrorist groups like ISIL traffic women to generate revenue, and in other cases women are primarily the ones who manage a war-torn country’s economy as their brothers and husbands fight.
Meanwhile, Noem was asked about the GOP health care bill drafted by the Senate and possibly now on its way to a vote next week.
While she sees similarities between the House and Senate versions, she said the proposal put forth by the Senate is a discussion draft plan. The legislative process has to proceed toward a reconciliation of the two versions, she said.
“I’m glad to see some progress being made,” she said.
Noem said she expects Congress to soon take up tax reform legislation that she hopes will mean lower tax rates for everyone, Internal Revenue Service accountability, the elimination of loopholes and exemptions and a simpler process when filing tax returns.
“If our blueprint was signed into law, everyone could do their taxes on a postcard,” she said.
Meaningful tax reform is needed to spur economic growth and job creation, Noem said.
“That is the driving force behind getting tax reform done,” Noem said.
She said she also continues to support repeal of the estate tax, also known as the death tax.
The White House has made full repeal of the tax a part of its recommendations for tax reform plans, she said. However, some in Washington, D.C., remain advocates of the death tax, she said.
“When you do the analysis on it, it’s a double tax,” Noem said, adding that to tax a family at a time of tragedy is unfair.
Noem, who announced her candidacy for South Dakota governor months ago, said she welcomes state Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, to the race.
“As a Republican, I believe competition makes you better,” she said.
While she doesn’t know him well, she said she and Sutton will have many opportunities to share their visions of moving the state forward as the 2018 campaign unfolds.