Simplified: Gov. Kristi Noem kicked off South Dakota's 99th legislative session on Tuesday with a State of the State address focused on the top 10 ways that "freedom works here" – also the tagline for a recent state-funded marketing campaign to recruit workers to South Dakota.
Why it matters
- Noem's address on Tuesday highlighted some of the legislation she'll be pushing for in a variety of areas from supporting farmers to education to rural ambulance services.
- The governor also emphasized the "Freedom Works Here" marketing campaign – crediting the ads with attracting thousands of people to the state. It's also noteworthy that the campaign has faced some scrutiny from lawmakers (more on that from SD Searchlight).
- Overall, the top 10 list didn't mention many specific proposals that would directly impact Sioux Falls residents. Noem largely spoke to her priorities in keeping the state a "pilot project for conservative principles."
"I am not going to slow down now," Noem said. "We can’t afford it. Not when people are flocking here by the thousands to see what we’re all about. Not when we are one of the few beacons of hope left in this country."
Tell me more about the topics that might impact Sioux Falls
Certainly many of the topics had statewide impact (thus the whole "State of the State" vibe), but I'll skip the recap of stuff related to hunting and farming. You can read a transcript of the speech here if you want to get the whole thing.
Here's a look at some of the legislation Noem mentioned that would affect the Sioux Falls area:
- Combatting the 'zombie drug.' Noem said the state health department is working with Attorney General Marty Jackley to schedule so-called "zombie drug" xylazine as a schedule III controlled substance. Xylazine is a veterinary tranquilizer not meant for human use that's increasingly being linked to overdose deaths nationwide, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Second-chance licensing. The governor's administration is also bringing a bill to give people who've been impacted by the criminal justice system a unique set of standards to qualify for licensing. The goal is to focus on rehabilitation – something Noem notes will be easier to accommodate in new prison facilities.
"We need more plumbers, more electricians, more welders, and an unrelated criminal past shouldn’t stop qualified applicants from filling these roles," Noem said.
- Stronger anti-discrimination laws. Noem also voiced support for legislation to define antisemitism as a way to make it easier to prosecute any incidents in which antisemitic behavior occurs.
- Ensuring school money goes to teachers. While the governor didn't cite a specific piece of legislation related to teacher pay, she did say she wants to see school districts live up to the promises of the 2016 Blue Ribbon Task Force in ensuring that when schools get more money, the bulk of that money gets passed on to teachers.
- Tuition for soldiers. Noem also said she wants to see members of the National Guard get free tuition not only at state universities but also at private colleges in South Dakota.
What happens next?
There have already been more than 150 pieces of legislation filed for state lawmakers to consider during session, and if history is any indicator, there will be lots more filed in the coming weeks.
It'll then be up to state senators and representatives to work out what passes on to Noem's desk.