Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Starting the Conversation

Starting the Conversation
By: Governor Kristi Noem
August 5, 2022

Hope has power – it drives us to achieve incredible things that we never thought possible or endure difficulties that previous seemed insurmountable. Unfortunately, for the same reasons, hopelessness can hold tremendous power over a person’s life, too. Too often, that loss of hope leads to suicide, a suicide that is entirely preventable. Suicide is a growing public health issue in our country and in South Dakota, and it affects each of our lives in some way.

I want everyone who has struggled with hopelessness or thoughts of suicide to have access to the help and resources they need. We can restore hope – we just need to start the conversation. Together, we can restore hope to the hopeless, and that’s exactly what I have tasked state government to help me do.

In South Dakota, when we truly care about an issue or problem, we work together to take action. That’s what we did in the summer of 2019 when I tasked five state agencies to develop a comprehensive statewide plan to prevent suicide. Together, the departments of Health, Social Services, Education, Tribal Relations, and Agriculture & Natural Resources, as well as the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board have committed to spotlighting this issue to reduce suicides in South Dakota. This group is working hard to get people talking more about suicide and how to prevent it.

Last summer, a data-to-action group from these agencies began meeting to identify counties experiencing high rates of suicide. The group has been proactively reaching out to communities with these high rates and offering assistance in areas like healthcare, behavioral health, school counseling, and community supports.

To date, eight high risk counties have been identified through this process, and we’ve taken action to restore hope. Multiple agencies have worked together to provide training and awareness resources to those counties, including social media messaging and print materials to help jumpstart the conversation about suicide prevention.

With this added support and collaboration, we are hoping to see suicide rates in these high-risk counties turn around. But our work isn’t done, and we need your help. Suicide is not an easy topic to discuss, but we cannot be afraid to talk about it.

We will be hosting the “Start the Conversation” statewide suicide prevention conference on August 11-12 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Sometimes people just need the right tools to start the conversation. The conference will be an opportunity for individuals to access training and resources to help prevent suicide in South Dakota. Key speakers and sessions will focus on prevention strategies for veterans, ag producers, youth, tribal communities, and the general population. Training opportunities are also available, and you can attend the conference at no cost.

Suicide prevention is everyone’s concern. Take time to check in with your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors to see how they are doing. Learn the risk factors and watch for the warning signs. Find the words and offer help. You may help save a life.

You are not alone in helping someone. If you need help with thoughts of suicide, please call 988. Help is available 24/7. Or, visit or for numerous resources for those needing help for themselves or others.


Release: Attorney General releases draft explanation for proposed amendment to the South Dakota Constitution


PIERRE, S.D. — South Dakota Attorney General Mark Vargo has released the following Attorney General’s ballot draft explanation for the November 2024 general election.

The draft amendment is entitled: A Constitutional Amendment Concerning the Regulation of Abortion.

State law requires the Attorney General to draft a title and explanation for each initiated measure, initiated constitutional amendment, constitutional amendment proposed by the Legislature, or referred measure that may appear on an election ballot. See SDCL 12-13-9 & 12-13-25.1.

The Attorney General’s explanation is meant to be an “objective, clear, and simple summary” intended to “educate the voters of the purpose and effect of the proposed” measure, as well as identify the “legal consequences” of each measure. SDCL 12-13-9 & 12-13-25.1. Each explanation is limited to 200 words.

The public can comment on draft Attorney General explanations. Once the Attorney General has filed and posted the draft explanation, the public has 10 days to provide written comment. The Attorney General must review all accepted comments and may revise the draft explanation as deemed necessary. The final explanation from the Attorney General must be filed with the Secretary of State no later than 20 days after filing the draft explanation.

For more information regarding ballot measures, please visit the Secretary of State’s website.

Pischke attacks Schoenbeck, Pischke rumored to be seeking majority leader

After his win in this past June primary, Tom Pischke must be feeling secure in his britches as in today’s Rapid City Journal, he’s out attacking the current Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck for not drinking the kool-aid on the Citizens for Liberty Scorecard:

Senator Lee Schoenbeck’s recent op-ed in the Rapid City Journal trying to smear some of the state’s top conservative Republican legislators like Rep. Phil Jensen, Tony Randolph and Taffy Howard using the Elevate Rapid City scorecard as the tool, is like Congresswoman Liz Cheney telling us who’s a good conservative Republican using the Democratic party platform as the measuring stick.


When it comes to scorecards, SD Citizen’s for Liberty scorecard is one of the best for showing how your legislators are voting in alliance with the Constitution and the South Dakota Republican party platform.

Read it in the Rapid City Journal.

What’s triggering Tom? Aside from sucking up to the cherry-picked scorecard idiots, and trying to continue the battle of the months-past primary election, where Pischke launched an ad campaign attempting to smear Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck (and a postcard or two that went out pointing out Pischke’s voting record), the word I’m hearing is that Senator-Elect Pischke hopes to leapfrog over all incumbent Senators and run for Senate Majority Leader when the group gets together after the election.

Tom Pischke as Senate Majority Leader? Hmm.. I think that most of us can think of nearly 30-some other people who would be more qualified to lead the Senate Republican majority over Tom Pischke.

But, that’s a battle for the end of the year.  Stay tuned.

Liz Cheney uses Dad, former Vice President, to appeal to GOP voters to reject Donald Trump

This is the political ad that’s getting national and international attention today. As Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney enlists her father to appeal to voters to reject Donald Trump:

The former President holds great sway among Republican voters. Will the appeal of the former Vice President catapult his daughter into the Congressional seat?

Probably not, but it shows the divide in the GOP that future candidates have to navigate in running at a national level.

Former SF City Councilor & head of SD Truckers blasts pork plant opponent for attacking legal business.

Christine Erickson, Executive Director of the SD Trucking Association and outgoing Sioux Falls City Councilor is blasting opponents of a proposed Sioux Falls Pork Plant for their NIMBY attitude on how and where the food supply is being produced:

“In South Dakota, we talk about being open for business,” said Christine Erickson, who began leading the South Dakota Trucking Association last year, shortly before the end of her eight-year term as a city councilor.


Wholestone is a company brought here by the city and state’ business-friendly policies, and they’ve followed all the rules and received the necessary approvals, Erickson said.

“That precedent that’s being set is really, really damning,” she said. “If somebody doesn’t like your industry, somebody can just put it on the ballot.”

Read the entire story here in the Argus Leader.

With a processing plant already smack in the center of the community, does it make much sense to try to block more ag processing, especially on the edge of Sioux Falls?

Dem State Treasurer candidate running to promote woke agenda and witch hunt. As opposed to the actual job of State Treasurer.

Well that’s interesting. According to the most impossible to remember website name ever ( Democrat State Treasurer candidate John Cunningham seems to be running to do a lot of things if he’s elected. It’s too bad that none of them are actually in the treasurer’s job description:

I envision a South Dakota State Treasurer that considers the ethical choice in all matters first. Government ethics applies to the processes, behavior, and policy of governments and the public officials who serve in elected or appointed positions.


I envision a South Dakota State Treasury Office that aggressively searches for state financial activities that are improper, unethical or illegal activities such as the EB-5 and Gear Up scandals and exposes them to the public.

So, he’s going to what the what? Read that crazy-talk here.

What does South Dakota law say about Cunningham’s proposed bag of woke goofiness in relation to the treasurer’s office?  Well, here’s the actual duties of the State Treasurer:

1-10-1General duties of treasurer.

The state treasurer shall have charge of and safely keep all public moneys which shall be paid into the state treasury, and pay out the same as directed by law, and perform such other duties as are required of him by law.

Read the duties of the Treasurer here.

So, where the part where they’re supposed to be the ethics czar and monitor what they deem the ethical choices for all processes, behavior, and policy of governments? I don’t see that in that section of law.   What about the part where they aggressively search for state financial activities that are improper, unethical or illegal.  Don’t some of those fall under the Attorney General’s duties or at least those of the State Auditor?

I mean, if he wanted to be Attorney General or State Auditor, he probably should have run for one of those jobs, instead of campaigning to be the manager of South Dakota’s bank accounts.

According to the State Treasurer, you can find a description of what the job actually entails here:

Financial Stewardship

The State Treasurer is the state’s chief banking official serving as the receiver and custodian of all state fund transfers and deposits. The office also manages banking relationships for the state of South Dakota and monitors local bank accounts held by various state agencies. Treasurer, Josh Haeder, additionally plays a role in responsible management of South Dakota’s resources by sitting on the board of the State Investment Council which manages investment of the financial assets of the State of South Dakota. Additionally, the State Treasurer is a member of the State Board of Finance which manages state financial issues including bad debt, moving allowance for state transfers, per diem allowances, etc

Read that here.

Just seeing that you manage the state’s bank accounts, and keep an eye on it’s assets. It’s a lot of money, so there are several full-time jobs involved, even without trying to claim you’re going to do everyone else’s.

What was that the @SDGOP twitter account was saying a few weeks back?  Not seeing anything here about being Captain Wokey-pants, policing the ethical choice and searching for illegal activities.

Summit Carbon Solutions fact sheet distributed to legislators and others about the $795 million investment of the pipeline project

Yesterday, representatives of the Summit Carbon Solutions pipeline (which advertises on the right) distributed a fact sheet about the Summit Carbon pipeline and the economic impact it will have in the state, which gives me the opportunity to share it with you all here:

Summit Carbon Solutions – Economic Impact South Dakota by Pat Powers on Scribd

Big takeaways are that in the construction phase, the total South Dakota investment of the pipeline is $795 million, with total labor income in of South Dakota $440 million, and State and Local Taxes Paid by SCS (South Dakota) of $74 million with annual South Dakota expenditures thereafter of $37 million.


2022-08-03 MEMO to Legislators – Project Update v2[79] by Pat Powers on Scribd

Read up, and find out more about the positive economic impact it will have for residents of the state, as well as the benefits it will provide to ethanol production in South Dakota.  And find out more by clicking here.

Gov. Noem & Colleagues Oppose Democrats’ Spending Bill

Gov. Noem & Colleagues Oppose Democrats’ Spending Bill

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem and 21 of her fellow Republican Governors issued the following joint statement opposing the Democrats’ Spending Bill:

“The Democrats’ solution to 40-year high inflation is passing another reckless tax and spending spree to the tune of $740 billion, affecting Americans in every tax bracket. While denying recession, Democrats want to raise taxes on businesses and manufacturers, which will force higher costs onto consumers, worsen inflation, and aggravate shortages. With sky high prices at the pump, the last thing Americans need is for Democrats to punish energy producers, which will ultimately hurt working families struggling to pay for gas, goods, food, and utilities. Our citizens cannot afford Joe Biden’s broken promises on taxes and Democrats’ inflationary spending that will only exacerbate the economic crisis they created.”

The statement was co-signed by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Idaho Governor Brad Little, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Utah Governor Spencer Cox, Virginia Governor Glenn Younkin, and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.


Flags at Half-Staff in Honor of U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski

Flags at Half-Staff in Honor of U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem ordered that flags be flown at half-staff statewide effective immediately until midnight tonight (Thursday) in honor of U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana who died Wednesday in a vehicle crash.

“Jackie Walorski spent her whole life investing in people. She was a remarkable gift to me as a friend,” said Governor Noem. “I could always count on her for truth and common sense. Shattered that her work on earth is done, but grateful she is with her Lord. Bryon and I send our condolences and prayers to Jackie’s family, as well as the family of the two staff members who passed away.”

This order is in response to a directive by President Joseph R. Biden.


Investigators charge former Stanley County Treasurer with trying to trade county job for running against political enemy

If you thought politics at the state level could be rough, here’s a tale where one county elected official was trying to promise employment in exchange for taking out another.

There is a story in the Pierre Capital Journal today where the former Stanley County Treasurer is being charged with a crime after promising a job in her office in exchange for her running against someone. Peggy Dougherty is finding that quid pro quo with a county is a big no no:

Fort Pierre resident Peggy Lee Dougherty, 67, was charged last week with receiving pay to allow for unlawful assumption of office. The treasurer is an elected position.

According to the criminal complaint, the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation on March 15 received a report that Dougherty had misused her position by promising a job in the county treasurer office to Tanya Baldwin Kayser in exchange for Kayser taking out a petition to run for Stanley County auditor.


She said she didn’t know why Dougherty wanted her to run for auditor.

“She just had something against Phil,” Baldwin Kayser said, referring to the current county auditor, Philena “Phil” Burtch.

Go to the website, and read the entire story here.

Dougherty was the only Democrat running for County office in Stanley County in 2020.  Philena Burtch, who Dougherty was trying to trade a job for challenge against in the 2022 cycle is running as a Republican.