Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, speaks to reporters outside of the Senate Chambers during a vote in the U.S. Capitol on March 14, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the latest installment in a series of periodic updates on the activities of South Dakota’s congressional delegation.
Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, joined with fellow Senate Banking Committee member Tina Smith, D-Minnesota, to introduce legislation this week that would “improve rural housing programs, cut red tape and increase the accessibility of affordable housing,” according to a news release from Rounds’ office.
The news release said the legislation would be “one of the most significant reforms of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service in years.”
“As we face an affordable housing crisis across the nation, I look forward to working with my colleagues to get these important, bipartisan updates signed into law,” Rounds said.
For the past year, Rounds and Smith have held hearings, met with stakeholders and visited with constituents in their states about hurdles within the Rural Housing Service, which offers programs to build or improve housing and essential community facilities in rural areas. The legislation proposes improvements and updates to the Rural Housing Service to create and preserve affordable housing opportunities.
Specifically, according to Rounds, the bill would:
- Fix a longstanding problem for properties that were financed by the USDA decades ago and now have maturing mortgages, by making it easier for nonprofits to acquire those properties.
- Expand an existing USDA pilot program, in partnership with Native Community Development Financial Institutions, to provide home loan assistance to Native American borrowers.
- Bring the USDA’s method of determining incomes in line with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s practices.
- Modernize the USDA’s foreclosure process to cut red tape, better protect homeowners and make certain USDA-owned properties stay affordable.
- Update the rules for a home repair loan program to make it less burdensome to get smaller loans.
- Make investments in technology so the USDA can process loans more quickly and with less staff time spent on paperwork or manual data entry.
On Friday, Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, joined a bipartisan group of House colleagues to introduce a resolution that would designate a National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The resolution aims to raise awareness about the disproportionate violence Native American women experience and the lack of updated statistics on the national level, as well as insufficient resources committed to the issue.
Four in five American Indian and Alaska Native women experience violence in their lifetime, and American Indian women living on reservations face murder rates more than 10 times the national average. A news release from Johnson cited the South Dakota Attorney General’s 2021 Crime Report, showing 31.6% of murder victims and 37.1% of kidnapping/abduction victims in the state were American Indian or Alaska Natives, despite those groups making up less than 10% of the state’s population.
“These statistics are unacceptable,” Johnson said. “I’m proud to shine a light on these tragedies and will continue to advocate for vulnerable Native populations.”
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Athlete pay and taxes
Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, introduced legislation this week that would prohibit individuals and organizations from receiving a charitable tax deduction for contributions that compensate college or incoming college athletes for the use of their name, image and likeness (often referred to as “NIL”).
“College athletes have the ability to benefit from opportunities related to their own name, image and likeness, but outside organizations and collectives should not be able to write contributions off their taxes that are being used to compensate athletes,” Thune said. “This bipartisan legislation would prohibit these entities from inappropriately using NIL agreements to reduce their own tax obligations.”
Educational institutions would be exempt from the legislation.
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