Senators stroll the grounds at the State Fair

PHOTO BY BENJAMIN CHASE/PLAINSMAN U.S. Senator Mike Rounds visits with constituents Friday at the South Dakota State Fair.

HURON — On a busy Friday at the South Dakota State Fair, attempting to get dedicated time with either Senator Mike Rounds or Senator John Thune of South Dakota was a challenge, to say the least.

“Last year, people were more hesitant and spaced out,” Thune observed, in between shaking hands and visiting with constituents. “This year feels more like a typical South Dakota State Fair.”

Rounds echoed his Senate colleague’s observations.

“For me, the State Fair is always like a family reunion,” Rounds noted, stopping to shake the hand of a cousin more than once during the interview. “It’s good to get out and see so many South Dakotans enjoying our fair.”

Speaking with staff for both Senators, they frequently were stopped by state residents who had concerns over an issue and wanted to express that concern. This didn’t stop as they discussed current issues in Washington, D.C.

Rounds spoke to the need for encouraging trades as part of the current shortage in many industries, both in housing shortages and labor shortages.

“As the boomer generation has retired from trade industries, the next generation simply hasn’t been entering those fields,” Rounds commented. “That leaves a big gap in available employees, and even if they could get the supplies, they don’t have the workers to put housing together.”

Rounds did praise the steps that the South Dakota legislature and South Dakota businesses have taken to promote technical schools in the state through available scholarships to make trade school education affordable.

“Many businesses in trades right now are in such need that they’re willing to sponsor the education as well, paying off a student’s school debt once he or she is employed” Rounds added.

Both Rounds and Thune discussed the movement on beef labeling and packing legislation that is in Congress at the moment. The Senators both feel the momentum has built to a point that actions are beginning to bear fruit, including investigations into unfair and/or monopolistic business practices in the packing industry by the Justice Department.

Sen. Thune discussed the ramifications of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the effect that it will have on Capital Hill.

“Whether you were in favor of the withdrawal or you were not - and I was not a fan of a full withdrawal, as a policy decision, how it was done was a complete mess,” Thune commented. “We do have a significant spending bill that will require full Democrat support to pass, and right now after (Afghanistan), I’m not sure it has that support.”

Finally, Rounds thanked those who have expressed concern and are praying for his wife. He reports that she is hoping to get a new hip and then continue chemotherapy treatments. He reiterated that they maintain an optimistic outlook on her treatment. “It’s worked before,” he explained.

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