As I pen this update, it’s Friday afternoon and the first week of session has just wrapped up. The week was filled with information from our leadership, Governor Noem, Chief Justice Jensen, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe Vice President Cyndi Allen-Weddell, as well as the gaggle of legislation that was presented to the legislative body. It’s worth noting how enjoyable it is to greet the returning legislators. They’ve become friends and associates with the same goal of doing the people’s work for the good of South Dakota. I also enjoy the Legislative Research Council (LRC) staff as they are very professional, friendly, and helpful.
In reviewing my notes, I found the Governor’s speech very positive and optimistic. She shared the strengths of our state and how it relates to telling our story so that we can recruit more freedom loving people to South Dakota. We can all agree that one of the most important goals is to improve our work force numbers. So many employers need trusted and dependable associates to help business grow, serve customers at a high level, and expand opportunities for all citizens. Maybe there’s been a bit of dislike for the “Freedom Works Here” campaign. However, I’m glad the Governor is trying and I think we are seeing some success from it.
Chief Justice Jensen did a masterful job with his address to the legislature. His, and the court systems, commitment to ensure due process and fairly apply the law in every case is impressive and sincere. If you have the time to find his speech online, it’s defiantly worth reading. Ms. Allen-Weddell “State of the Tribes” address was positive and realistic. She spoke about the issues that the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe had tackled or were still looking to find a solution to. Personally, it was one of the best state of the tribes address that I’ve heard.
Regarding legislation, there was a plethora of bills introduced as we expected a large amount of legislation to consider this year. By the looks of the first week, it will easily exceed last year’s bill introductions. Election processes, teacher pay, property rights, prohibiting daylight savings time, and medical marijuana changes are just a few topics addressed by legislation to date. I’m of the opinion that the most controversial topic will be the CO2 Pipeline, property rights, setbacks, and eminent domain conversations. To review, fourteen in-state Ethanol plants would like to join a proposal / project to transport liquefied carbon dioxide that is created as a by-product of ethanol production by pipeline to North Dakota to be buried. Affected landowners are concerned about the safety of the pipeline, its merits, and whether the company owning and constructing the pipeline should have the power of eminent domain. It’s a contentious and emotional issue with unclear consequences. Suffice to say, legislators will need to separate the facts from the emotion, weigh the positives with the negatives, and make the best decision for South Dakota. Much more to come.
As always, thank you for reading the updates and the opportunity to serve District 24. It's an honor of a lifetime.