Tim details goals at congressional forum

Tim details goals at congressional forum

Tim detailed his goals for South Dakota during a forum in Sioux Falls on Wednesday, Oct. 3.
He described the challenges the state and nation face and what steps he would take to address them. Tim also sounded a note of optimism, saying South Dakota was a place dear to his heart.
“We have one of the greatest places on the face of the earth to raise a family,” he said.
But there is a lot of work to be done to preserve that, Tim said, including providing affordable healthcare for all, fixing the broken criminal justice system to return people to the workforce and restoring government to We the People, not the special interests who dominate it now.
Tim took part in a congressional forum sponsored by Americans for Prosperity-South Dakota, as did Republican Dusty Johnson, Libertarian George Hendrickson and independent Ron Wieczorek. About 100 people attended the event at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, which also was streamed live on the AFP Facebook page.
Augustana University Government and International Affairs/Political Science assistant professor Dr. Emily Wanless moderated the forum. All but the last question were written by her students, she said; she drafted the final one.
Tim said healthcare is the most pressing issue facing the nation.
“It has its tentacles all through government costs,” he said.
The answer is a bipartisan solution that obtains broad consensus to repair the system, he said. It would reduce spending and help balance the national budget while also reducing the burden on law enforcement.
Lack of access to healthcare is the “chief driver” in sending people to prison, Tim said. It helps explain why South Dakota’s prison population has grown at 30 times the rate of the state’s population.
A failed effort to clean up the problem by Gov. Dennis Daugaard, undertaken when Dusty Johnson served as his chief of staff, is an example of how government has failed to address and correct the problem, which only can be done by providing treatment appropriate for the needs of troubled people, Tim said.
Until that happens, law enforcement agencies will be burdened and taxpayers will have to cover the costs of these failed government choices.
Tim, who served on the South Dakota Board of Pardons and Parole, said 90 percent of South Dakota’s prison inmates have substance abuse issues. In addition, two-thirds failed to obtain a high school diploma and 68 percent did not grow up in a home with a father present.
It’s that cycle of unstable family lives, addiction, untreated mental illness and crime that has harmed the state and helped convince Tim to step down from his post as a circuit court judge to run for Congress.


During the 90-minute forum, he discussed how these problems have arisen and how they can be handled.
“Crime’s biggest enemy is a stable home, an education and job skills,” Tim said.
Methamphetamine has been “a scourge on our state,” he said. Meth has fueled a spike in crime and its production, distribution and use must be attacked and reduced.
But South Dakota has failed to address these concerns.
“It’s a fundamentally broken system,” Tim said. “It’s been used as a political football for far too long.”
Asked about the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” Tim said it was a “very imperfect first step” to address a problem that has existed for more than a century.
The primary problem, he said, is the inflated cost of health care, double what other developed nations pay for their care, because corporations, especially Big Pharma and Big Insurance, are making Americans pay far too much.
The cost of healthcare is $1.5 trillion annually. That should be cut in half, he said.
“That would about balance our budget even with the reckless spending we’ve seen this year,” Tim said. “We’re paying dearly for it. We can do it much more efficiently.”
He said it’s crucial the state has a strong advocate for family farmers and ranchers and he wants to serve on the House Committee on Agriculture.
Tim said he had consistently warned of the dangers of the trade war sparked by tariffs.
“I believe in free trade, but only if it’s fair trade,” he said.
Damaging trade relations will have a long-term impact, he said.
“Once they get severed, they’re very, very difficult to reestablish,” Tim said. “We’re going to see repercussions all across the Midwest.”
All this has caused great economic harm to farmers and ranchers, he said, with soybean producers losing $600 million off a crop of 270 million bushels due to the sharp decline in prices. More will face difficulties in the spring when they seek operating loans, Tim said.
As many as one in three may find banks declining to provide them with such capital, he said.
Tim has three more opportunities to face Johnson. They will debate the issues at the City Centre Holiday Inn in Sioux Falls at noon Monday, Oct. 22, in an event sponsored by the Sioux Falls Downtown Rotary.
They will meet again on Thursday, Oct. 18, on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, with the event taking place at the SDPB Black Hills Studio, 415 Main St. in Rapid City. It’s set for 7 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, 8 p.m. Central.
Their final debate will take place the next day, Friday, Oct. 19, at the KELO-TV studio, 501 S. Phillips Ave. in downtown Sioux Falls, at 7 p.m. Central time, 6 p.m. Mountain.

Tim sets tone at opening congressional forum

Tim sets tone at opening congressional forum

MITCHELL-Tim Bjorkman displayed his knowledge of agricultural issues during the opening match-up of the four candidates for South Dakota’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I stand with the farmer,” Tim said during the Dakotafest Congressional Forum in Mitchell on Wednesday, Aug. 22.
A packed house of around 200 people listened intently as Tim led the discussion during the 90-minute forum, sponsored by the South Dakota Farm Bureau and moderated by Zippy Duvall, a Georgia farmer who is the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Republican Dusty Johnson, a Mitchell resident, Libertarian George Hendrickson of Sioux Falls and independent Ron Wieczorek of Mount Vernon also took part in the opening forum of the campaign.
Tim stressed his years of working for farmers, ranchers and rural residents.
“I was one of those who fought to save the family farm in the 1980s Farm Crisis,” he said.”Farmers, ranchers, small business owners … these are the people I stood and fought for.”
He said during his career as a small-town lawyer, he won a wetlands case, stood up to big corporations that tried to bully South Dakotans, battled insurance companies to ensure his clients got a fair deal and dealt with rental agreements to make sure the law was followed.
Tim also decried the trade war launched by tariffs imposed this spring. He sounded an alarm on them in April during a speech in Mitchell, calling on South Dakota’s congressional delegation to work to reverse the tariffs, an idea so bad that President Trump’s chief economic adviser resigned when they were imposed.
Sen. John Thune and Mike Rounds and Rep. Kristi Noem did not act, and farmers saw commodity prices, already low for the past several years, further reduced. Congress must take back the power it has ceded to the president to handle international trade, Tim said.
The best way to fight a war, including a trade war, is with a broad international coalition the doesn’t allow trade violators like China to target one segment of one nations economy like our agriculture economy.
The idea of offering farmers and ranchers $12 billion to ease their losses is merely “hush money,” he said. It won’t serve to reopen trade agreements and routes that took 25 years to establish.
When farmers sit across from their bankers in the spring, they will face the harsh reality of the damage done by these tariffs, he said.
Tim also spoke of the two Farm Bills that have been debated in Congress. The House bill is a deeply partisan document that provides enormous loopholes for the wealthy. It barely passed, while the Senate version is more reasonable and was approved by an 86-11 vote.
Serious reform is needed, Tim said.
Tim said the House bill, if it becomes law, will hasten the decline of rural America and main streets while setting back conservation efforts.
He said this bill — and Johnson’s support of it - is a symptom of much that is wrong with Congress, showing the kind of laws that are passed when Congress is controlled as it now is by Wall Street and other special interests.
The wealthy already receive 73 percent of money from farm programs and 83 percent of the money provided by crop insurance. But they want still more, he said.
“It’s morally wrong, it’s reckless financially,” Tim said.
He also called for a reduction in regulation that over-reached and did not provide intelligent, reasonable solutions. It’s all too human to create more rules than are needed, Tim said.
But he said not all regulations are bad. One way to encourage farmers is to offer incentives, not by penalizing them.
He also expressed support for broadband, saying it has been great for rural areas, allowing people to live in the small towns and rural areas they love and work remotely. It also allows telemedicine to serve people in areas without adequate medical services.
We need to boost the family farmer and aid young farmers who want to get started. Conservation programs also deserve support, and Tim said he favored increasing the conservation reserve program (CRP) from 24 million acres to 31 million as well as promoting the use of buffer strips to reduce runoff.
We have been placed on this earth to be caretakers of it and to pass it on to the next generation in at least as good shape as we got it, he said.
Tim said it was sadly obvious the H-2A temporary farm worker program is a failure. Temporary visas are not the answer, he said, differing from Johnson’s response.
Tim said one answer to the workforce shortage is to lift up the 10 million to 12 million Americans not working or even seeking employment. He said people such as these came before him in the more than decade he served as a circuit court judge.
Tim said America must focus on treating people suffering from mental illness and addiction.
“We can’t push the problem down the road again,” he said, noting it was not what people had ever heard at a political event before.
Tim repeated what he has been saying since he launched his campaign in July 2017: Fundamental reform and change is needed in Congress and across all levels of government.
“Washington is broken. Both parties are failing us,” he said. “I think it’s time for change in Washington.”
He reiterated his opposition to the congressional dues system, and pointed out he favored term limits for both senators and representatives, while Johnson has only called for term limits in the House.
Tim said the goal was to “light a fire” under members of Congress to get them to do the work of the people and then go home. Prohibiting them from raising money while in session is another needed reform. He repeated his call for new congressional leadership in both parties.
Tim said South Dakota’s next congressman must help lead an effort to return the people to power and get rid of the special interests who control Congress with contributions to candidates and elected officials.
“You can’t serve two masters,” he said several times in the forum, drawing applause from the audience.
Tim said Johnson was not his target. Despite some spirited exchanges, they get along fine, he said.
“My opponent is the special interests and big party bosses in Washington,” he said.
Tim said he wants to represent South Dakota in Congress, not the special interests who wrap their tentacles around elected officials and control them from the wings.
“I ask you to give me that opportunity to be your voice there,” he said.

Click here to read the Mitchell Daily Republic story,

The Mitchell paper profiled Tim earlier in the week. To read that story, click here.