Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: Giving Back – Permanently

Giving Back – Permanently
By: Governor Kristi Noem
March 24, 2023

Every time I travel our state, the best part of my day is just meeting people. I run into old friends at Culver’s or HyVee all the time. They usually introduce me to whoever they’re with, whether it’s family or friends. And that often starts another new relationship that I will treasure for years to come.

Our people are incredible, and they’ve proven it with more than just their friendliness and common sense. It just so happens that they’ve also built the strongest economy in the nation with the lowest unemployment rate. Under my leadership, we embraced liberty and personal responsibility. But what that did was give the people the opportunity to succeed. They built it – not me. Freedom generated our record growth; Freedom generated our historic tax revenues.

I have advocated for permanent tax relief for the people of South Dakota because I believe that they know how to spend their own money better than the government does. Yes, state government must invest in agencies and programs that take care of people. But we shouldn’t do so wastefully. We must be efficient and respectful of taxpayer dollars.

It is no secret that I advocated for a full repeal of the grocery tax. It’s a tax that burdens every single person who buys food in South Dakota. Our citizens overwhelmingly support eliminating the grocery tax because they recognize that it will benefit everyone. It doesn’t pick winners and losers.

Unfortunately, the legislature chose to provide a different sort of tax relief. They gave the people a temporary tax holiday by means of a $100 million reduction in the overall sales tax. This holiday goes away in four years, meaning the legislature can raise taxes without ever having to vote for it. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to see the tax burden on our citizens rise. So I will continue to push for permanent tax relief for the people of South Dakota.

I signed the temporary tax holiday because some help for our people is better than none at all. But public sentiment shows that South Dakotans want a permanent tax cut. The legislature has failed in that regard, but I believe that we can work together to achieve it for the people.

I am glad that the legislature changed their mind and did provide some relief to the people of South Dakota, even though it’s temporary. Many in legislative leadership came into the session not wanting to give any kind of tax relief to the people – they just wanted to spend our record revenues. So we have made progress in that regard.

The people still have the opportunity to pass permanent tax relief for themselves by eliminating the grocery tax, and the legislature should be prepared for that to happen.

I will not stop advocating for our people. They are the reason I get out of bed in the morning. I want to give every person in our state the Freedom and opportunity to chase their dreams – to make life better for themselves, their kids, and their grandkids. My honor and good sense require me to continue to fight for the permanent tax cut the people have earned.

And that’s what I will do.


Gov. Noem Signs Pregnancy Expenses Bill into Law

Gov. Noem Signs Pregnancy Expenses Bill into Law

Signs Bills to Take Care of People into Law

 PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Noem signed SB 75 into law. This legislation provides for all pregnancy expenses to be covered by both parents.

“South Dakota will continue to strengthen families and promote life,” said Governor Noem. “The gift of a child too often comes with financial burden. Mothers should never have to take that on alone. It is the responsibility of both the mother and the father to equally pay expenses related to pregnancy.”

Governor Noem also signed the following 11 bills to take care of people into law:

  • SB 67 – Revises provisions related to emergency and involuntary commitment for alcohol and drug abuse;
  • SB 89 – Increases the daily maximum award for the alternative care program administered by the Unified Judicial System;
  • SB 172 – Makes an appropriation for the design costs related to the health services center at Black Hills State University-Rapid City;
  • HB 1022 – Makes an appropriation for increased costs related to the construction of the new state public health laboratory;
  • HB 1053 – Prohibits the issuance of a written certification to a pregnant woman or breastfeeding mother for purposes of medical cannabis use;
  • HB 1078 – Makes an appropriation to the Department of Human Services for the development and expansion of adult day services programs;
  • HB 1079 – Makes an appropriation to the Department of Health to provide grants to support mental health and suicide prevention programs;
  • HB 1135 – Provides for transparency in the pricing of prescription drugs;
  • HB 1154 – Modifies acceptable conduct for practitioners related to medical cannabis;
  • HB 1155 – Adds dental practices as eligible factors to participate in rural health care recruitment assistance program; and,
  • HB 1174 – Provides for appropriate civil commitment of certain persons.

Governor Noem has signed 196 bills into law and vetoed four this legislative session.


Gov. Noem VETOES Classifying Marijuana as Hemp

Gov. Noem VETOES Classifying Marijuana as Hemp

PIERRE, S.D. – Today, Governor Kristi Noem VETOED House Bill 1209, which would increase the amount of THC allowed in industrial hemp to 5%, classifying marijuana as hemp. You can find Governor Noem’s VETO letter here.

“Federally, marijuana is classified as anything that contains over 0.3% THC,” said Governor Noem. “If this bill were to become law, South Dakota would allow hemp products and crops to contain over sixteen times more THC than is currently allowed at the federal level.”

Last year, the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources worked with members of the hemp industry, as well as legislators, to compromise and allow for 1% THC levels for a production in process. Research shows that 1% THC levels are the trigger for causing psychotropic effects on humans.

“Only two states allow a product in process to contain up to 5% TCH: Colorado and New York, both of which have legalized recreational marijuana,” continued Governor Noem. “South Dakota voters spoke clearly this past November: they do not want recreational marijuana. If I allowed this bill to become law, it would jeopardize the clearly expressed will of the people. Increasing the THC level to 5% would hinder our successful hemp program and undermine enforcement of our drug laws.”

Governor Noem has signed 196 bills and vetoed five this legislative session.


SD Department of Ed letter to the Brookings School District notifying of accreditation deficiencies and probationary status. School District warned nearly 2 weeks ago that state aid to ed, school lunches, and interscholastic activities are at risk.

If you recall my post yesterday, I’m watching the Brookings School Board’s emergency meeting tonight where they are in the process of accepting Superintendent Klint Willert’s resignation.

And the very hot button topic of the District’s accreditation problems has been talked about more than his leaving.

And right about the time they went into executive session, per my request earlier today, the State Department of Education was kind enough to send me the letter that was issued earlier this month notifying the school district of the problems.  Go ahead and read it for yourself:

BSD Letter – accreditation … by Pat Powers

Contrary to some of the claims at the meeting today that this is no big deal…  If it’s no big deal, why does it sound like some of the issues have been dragging on for three months now?

Re: Letter of Warning in Accordance with ARSD 24:43:07:03


You were notified by letter from the Office of Accreditation of deficiencies found during the accreditation review of your district that was conducted on December 6, 2022. Brookings School District was advised in that letter that follow-up be sent to the South Dakota Department of Education by March 6, 2023. An email reminder of the due date was sent on February 27, 2023.

Follow-up has been submitted but it failed to correct FOUR of the NINE deficiencies found in your accreditation review. Deficiencies remain for the following components:

• School Improvement plan. Authorized by ARSD 24:43:01:03
• Teacher Evaluation. Authorized by SDCL 13-42-34.
• Principal Evaluation. Authorized by ARSD 24:58:03:01.
• Certification. Authorized by SDCL 13-42-1.2 and 13-43-5; ARSD 24:43:10:01
*Feedback for deficient components is attached

Therefore, Brookings School District is hereby issued this letter of warning regarding its state accreditation status. Pursuant to ARSD §§ 24:43:07:01 and 24:43:07:03, Brookings School District is now considered “on probation”. This status will be indicated on the South Dakota Department of Education website.

And here’s the important part, that one questionably informed person claimed was fear-mongering on my part when I quoted the state’s website yesterday. Because HERE IT IS AGAIN:

Please be aware that public school districts with accreditation deficiencies may be ineligible for state aid to education. SDCL §§ 13-13-18; ARSD §§ 24:43:02:01. These districts may be subject to withholding of federal grant payments and school lunch program funds. In addition, these deficiencies may result in ineligibility of students to participate in interscholastic activities. SDCL §§ 13-36-4.

Not a big deal? I don’t think so.

Noting that the issues were noted to the district after the visit, AND a follow up reminder was sent on 2/27, this letter which hasn’t seen the light of day until today seems to be more of a serious very formal come-to-jesus letter. More serious than it might have been back in December… or on Feb 27 when they said Hey, where’s your response?

Anyway, go ahead and read the attached public document, and be an informed voter.


Regarding Superintendent Klint Willert’s resignation, the attorney for the school board noted that we will all find out more on Monday, when a letter will be released to the public detailing “what has occurred” with the resignation.

Johnson Re-Introduces Bill to Protect Tribal Members’ Firearm Access

Johnson Re-Introduces Bill to Protect Tribal Members’ Firearm Access

 Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the bipartisan Tribal Firearms Access Act with Rep. Mary Peltola (D-AK) to protect tribal sovereignty and list tribal governments as eligible entities to issue identification documents for the purposes of transferring a firearm. U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

“Classifying tribal IDs as an invalid form of identification for the purchase of firearms limits tribal sovereignty and tribal members’ ability to obtain a firearm,” said Johnson. “A foreign passport is accepted as a valid form of identification—a tribal ID should be no different. My bill corrects this oversight, ensuring Second Amendment rights for tribal members.”

“The right to bear arms is constitutionally vested, and important to the day-to-day lives of Native Americans. The Tribal Firearm Access Act sponsored by Rep. Dusty Johnson removes certain barriers for tribal members to purchase firearms by allowing them to utilize tribally issued identification cards as a valid form of identification. I applaud Rep. Johnson’s continued efforts to protect tribal members’ rights, and appreciate this legislation,” said President Tony Reider, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe.

“Tribal citizens, and all law-abiding Americans, have a fundamental right to keep and bear arms,” said Senator Mullin. “For too long, a lapse in existing law has prohibited Tribal members from using their government-issued Tribal identification to lawfully obtain firearms. Our commonsense legislation corrects this unconstitutional infringement, and I’m proud to be leading this legislation in the Senate to protect Tribal members’ ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

“In Alaska, firearms are an essential tool for subsistence and self-defense alike,” said Rep. Peltola. “Tribal identification cards are already valid for a variety of uses, including boarding planes and accessing federal buildings and banks across the nation. This bill would extend this parity to include the Second Amendment Rights of Tribal members. It is past time that Tribal sovereignty is recognized in this regard, and I look forward to working with Rep. Johnson on this essential legislation.”

“The fundamental right to keep and bear arms is dependent on the ability to lawfully acquire firearms. The Tribal Firearms Access Act would ensure Native Americans can use identification issued by federally-recognized tribal governments to transfer a firearm under federal law. On behalf of our millions of members and supporters across the country, we thank Rep. Dusty Johnson for defending the rights of law-abiding Native American gun owners and offering this important legislation,” said Jason Ouimet, Executive Director, NRA-ILA.

“NSSF supports this no-nonsense measure that will ensure fair and accurate background checks for the purchase of a firearm at the point-of-sale. The Firearm Industry Trade Association consistently advocates for improvements to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to confirm that only those who can be trusted to possess a firearm are able to purchase one from a firearm retailer. Our members rely on that system to be accurate and providing a means for tribal members to use their tribal identification cards will safeguard their ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights while ensuring firearms remain out of the hands of those that cannot be trusted to possess them,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, National Shooting Sports Foundation.

“The National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA) supports the common sense approach to allow Photo Tribal Identification/Membership Cards to be utilized to purchase firearms. Many of Indian Country Tribal Members lack easy access to other forms of government approved identification. NNALEA realizes the importance of properly identifying purchasers of firearms. NNALEA believes the government approved Photo Tribal Identification/Membership Cards of Federally Recognized Tribes would be an important tool to achieve the lawful purchase of firearms. On behalf of our membership we would like to thank your for your commitment to Indian Country issues,” said Gary L. Edwards, CEO, NNALEA.

The Firearms Regulatory Accountability Coalition, Inc. (FRAC) and the Gun Owners of America (GOA) also support the Tribal Firearm Access Act.


The Tribal Firearms Access Act clarifies that tribal governments are eligible entities to issue identification documents for the purposes of transferring a firearm. It amends Section 922(d) of Title 18 to include valid tribal government identification documents.

“Tribal governments” is defined as all federally recognized governing bodies of Indian or Alaska Native tribes, bands, nations, pueblos, villages, communities, component bands, or component reservations, pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994.

The Tribal Firearm Access Act is also supported by U.S. Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), Don Bacon (R-NE), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Mariannette Miller Meeks (R-IA), and Tracey Mann (R-KS).

Read full bill text here.


Gov. Noem Signs “Evil Foreign Governments” Bill into Law

Gov. Noem Signs “Evil Foreign Governments” Bill into Law

 SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Today, Governor Noem signed SB 189 into law. The bill restricts state and local governments from contracting with six “Evil Foreign Governments.” Governor Noem signed the bill at the 114th Fighter Wing at Joe Foss Field in Sioux Falls. You can find photos from the bill signing event here.

“Our taxpayers’ dollars should not be revenue streams for evil foreign governments,” said Governor Noem. “With this legislation, South Dakota will continue to be a beacon of Freedom to the rest of the nation. We will continue to lead by putting the security of our people first and stepping up to preserve Freedom for future generations.”

This bill codifies Governor Noem’s Executive Order 2023-02 by restricting state and local governments from contracting with the following “Evil Foreign Governments:” the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Cuba, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

Governor Noem has signed 184 bills into law and vetoed four this legislative session.


Majority Leaders comment on Bills Enacted to Strengthen Election Laws 

Bills Enacted to Strengthen Election Laws 
Gov. Noem Signs Election Integrity Legislative Package Into Law

PIERRE–Republican legislators celebrated the passage of 10 election integrity bills to strengthen the security of South Dakota elections and increase voter confidence in South Dakota’s election laws.

“We took a secure and user-friendly election system and made it even better,” said House Majority Leader Will Mortenson (R-District 24). “We worked as a big team to keep South Dakota the model for election integrity and voter access.”

“Voters asked for the Legislature to strengthen South Dakota’s election laws,” said Senate Majority Leader Casey Crabtree (R-District 8). “With the Stronger and Safer for 2024 bills, South Dakota is the gold standard in the United States. We have dedicated election officials and strong laws to administer fair elections with accurate results.”

The success of the package is thanks to the collaborative effort of legislators, Gov. Kristi Noem, Attorney General Marty Jackley, Secretary of State Monae Johnson, the South Dakota Association of County Officials, county auditors, and other election experts.

In January, Rep. Mortenson and Sen. Crabtree announced the Stronger and Safer for 2024 legislative package. In total, Gov. Noem has now signed 10 election-related bills into law that passed with the overwhelming support of Republican lawmakers.

  1. HB 1124 – modify provisions pertaining to the testing of automatic tabulating equipment

Prime Sponsors: Rep. Tyler Tordsen (R-District 14) and Sen. Sydney Davis (R-District 17)
This bill adopts best practices for testing electronic tabulation equipment for election day paper ballots. The measure also requires equipment to be locked, sealed, and unused between testing certification and election night. It passed the Legislature unanimously.

  1. SB 160 – establish post-election audits

Prime Sponsors: Sen. David Wheeler (R-District 22) and Rep. Drew Peterson (R-District 19)

SB 160 establishes a post-election audit process to examine a sampling of each county’s primary and general election results to verify a manual count and machine count are consistent with the official election canvas. The bill passed the Legislature unanimously.

  1. SB 140 – revise certain provisions relating to voter registration

Prime Sponsors: Sen. Steve Kolbeck (R-District 2) and Rep. Tina Mulally (R-District 35)

SB 140 updates voter registration laws to improve the accuracy and security of the state’s voter registration list. It also codifies transparency expectations of the Secretary of State regarding voter registration data. The bill passed the Legislature unanimously.

  1. HB 1165 – modify certain provisions pertaining to absentee voting

Prime Sponsors: Rep. Kirk Chaffee (R-District 29) and Sen. Jim Stalzer (R-District 11)

HB 1165 is a comprehensive clean-up bill to absentee voting laws. It corrects out-of-date citations to federal election requirements, updates style, corrects oversights, bans unmonitored ballot drop boxes, expands election officials’ authority to reject absentee ballots of disqualified voters, expands poll watching access, and bans ballot harvesting activities. It passed the House (57-11) and Senate (30-4) on a mostly party-line vote.

  1. SB 55 – prohibit ranked-choice voting

Prime Sponsors: Sen. John Wiik (R-District 4) and Rep. Kirk Chaffee (R-District 29)

Ranked-choice voting confuses voters and reduces voter confidence in the process and outcomes of our elections. SB 55 bans the use of ranked-choice voting in South Dakota. It passed the Senate on a party-line 31-4 vote and passed the House 63-5.

  1. SB 139 – revise residency requirements for the purposes of voter registration

Prime Sponsors: Sen. Randy Deibert (R-District 31) and Rep. Kevin Jensen (R-District 16)

SB 139 requires a voter in state elections to be a resident of South Dakota for at least 30 days. It passed the Senate 29-4 and the House 68-2.

  1. HB 1140 – require the secretary of state to determine if a legislatively proposed constitutional amendment complies with the single subject requirement and is not a constitutional revision

Prime Sponsors: Rep. Will Mortenson (R-District 24) and Sen. David Wheeler (R-District 22)

In 2021, in the aftermath of the SD Supreme Court’s rejection of Amendment A legalizing recreational marijuana, the Legislature established a judicial challenge process for initiated constitutional amendments. Now, single-subject challenges occur prior to signature gathering. HB 1140 expands the challenge process to Legislature referred constitutional amendments. It passed the House 67-1 and passed the Senate unanimously.

  1. SB 102 – require the continued maintenance of the official list of candidates prior to an election

Prime Sponsors: Sen. Jack Kolbeck (R-District 13) and Rep. Joe Donnell (R-District 1)

This commonsense legislation mandates the Secretary of State to maintain and publish one official list of candidates. In the 2022 election, there were two lists on the Secretary of State’s website with conflicting information. SB 102 passed both chambers on consent.

  1. HB 1112 – modify provisions for a statewide runoff election

Prime Sponsors: Rep. Tony Venhuizen (R-District 13) and Sen. Jim Bolin (R-District 16)

If no candidate in a primary election for statewide office receives 35 percent or more of the total votes, the nomination moves to a runoff election. Current statute sets the date as 10 weeks from the primary election. This update moves it to 8 weeks after the primary election.

  1. HB 1114 – revise the qualifications to be a member of a county recount board

Prime Sponsors: Rep. Amber Arlint (R-District 12) and Sen. Erin Tobin (R-District 21)

HB 1114 updates oath requirements, conflict of interest parameters, and board makeup in partisan races for recount boards. It passed the House 62-6 and passed the Senate on consent.

Republican lawmakers demonstrated their commitment to common sense solutions and strengthened South Dakota election laws with the Stronger and Safer for 2024 legislative package.


Gov. Noem Signs Election Bills into Law

Gov. Noem Signs Election Bills into Law

 PIERRE, S.D. – Yesterday, Governor Noem signed 12 election bills into law. Governor Noem signed some of the election bills alongside Secretary of State Monae Johnson. You can find photos of that signing here.

“South Dakota’s election laws are built with integrity. We have one of the best election systems in the nation,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “With these laws, we will further strengthen our fantastic system and provide accountability for the future.”

The election bills include:

  • SB 55 – Prohibits ranked-choice voting;
  • SB 113 – Establishes and modifies provisions related to initiated petitions;
  • SB 139 – Revises residency requirements for the purposes of voter registration;
  • SB 140 – Revises certain provisions relating to voter registration;
  • SB 160 – Establishes post-election audits;
  • SB 161 – Makes an appropriation to the Office of the Secretary of State for voter roll maintenance, ballot machines, and election security;
  • SB 207 – Provides a penalty for the expenditure of public funds to influence the outcome of an election;
  • HB 1123 – Authorizes school boards to modify the length of terms for members to allow for holding joint elections;
  • HB 1124 – Modifies provisions pertaining to the testing of automatic tabulating equipment;
  • HB 1140 – Requires the secretary of state to determine if a legislatively proposed constitutional amendment complies with the single subject requirement and is not a constitutional revision;
  • HB 1148 – Clarifies registration and residence requirements for voting at a township meeting; and,
  • HB 1165 – Modifies certain provisions pertaining to absentee voting.

Governor Noem has signed 183 bills into law and vetoed four this legislative session.


State of South Dakota says Brookings School District “On Probation” for accreditation, at risk to lose state aid to education.

A bit of hullabaloo in the local school district here in Brookings.

Unexpectedly, according to an agenda that was posted publicly a couple of hours ago, Brookings School Superintendent Dr. Klint Willert has submitted his resignation to the Brookings School Board:

What might have brought this sudden resignation on?

One indicator might be the fact that according to the South Dakota Department of Education, the Brookings School District is one of three districts in the entire state who are at risk to lose their state aid to education:

As you can read on the State’s Department of Education’s website:

South Dakota schools seeking state accreditation are typically reviewed on a five-year cycle. The 1st chart below shows all state-accredited schools, along with the year of their next scheduled review. Information regarding the requirements for accreditation is available on our K-12 State Accreditation webpage. Educational entities seeking state approval have an annual application process. Those entities are shown in the 2nd chart below.

An accreditation status of “On Probation” indicates that a school district is currently in violation of one or more administrative rules required to maintain accreditation. A district may remain “on probation” while working to correct the violation(s). A similar process exists for approved programs.

An accreditation status of “Suspended” indicates that a school district has failed to address or correct one or more violations of an administrative rule required to maintain accreditation within a time period determined appropriate by the South Dakota Department of Education. A district shall retain a nonapproved status for the remainder of the school fiscal year or until the secretary determines it has satisfactorily corrected the violation. A public school district that has not regained its state-accredited status will become ineligible to receive state aid to education at the beginning of the next school fiscal year on July 1. A similar process exists for approved programs.

Brookings 05001 On Probation

Read the accreditation status of our State’s school districts here.

Brookings, along with Flandreau (Flandreau Indian School, as pointed out by reader -PP) and Wall are the only districts in the entire state who have not met compliance with the State of South Dakota after review, and have the possibility of losing their state aid to education if they don’t get their act together.

For a community that is as focused on education as the home of SDSU is, it’s a major debacle to be in such dire straits.

I can’t even imagine how much taxes would have to skyrocket to make up the loss of state aid to education in funding the school system.  Hopefully they can get things back on track. Sooner, as opposed to later.

What a mess.