Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Hugh Glass and New Beginnings

daugaardheader DaugaardHugh Glass and New Beginnings
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

As we turn the page on 2015 and welcome the New Year, it’s a great time look to the future. Many of us will establish resolutions for 2016. Whether it’s to spend more time with family, get the household budget under control, lose a few pounds or visit a special place, the New Year brings an opportunity for new beginnings.

On Jan. 8, Twentieth Century Fox will release a Leonardo DiCaprio movie entitled The Revenant. If you’re wondering, a revenant is “one who has returned, as if from the dead.” The film is based on the story of Hugh Glass, a trapper and adventurer whose tale of renewal has South Dakota roots.

In August of 1823, Glass and a party of fur trappers were scouting for game near the fork of the Grand River in what is today Perkins County, S.D. When he stumbled upon a grizzly bear and her two cubs, Glass was severely mauled, leaving him unconscious and near death.

Two of Glass’ companions volunteered to stay until he died, to bury him properly. Before he passed away, the two men placed him in a shallow grave and left. After they had abandoned him, Glass regained consciousness. Soon after, he began crawling toward the nearest settlement: Fort Kiowa, nearly 200 miles away at the Big Bend of the Missouri River.

Glass managed to survive the harrowing trip, eventually catching up with the young men and forgiving them. His tremendous ordeal has been retold several times, most notably by the Frederick Manfred novel Lord Grizzly.

Last August, 192 years after Glass’ ordeal, the community of Lemmon hosted the first annual Hugh Glass Rendezvous, a celebration of “mountain man” lifestyle and culture. It took place near the Shadehill Reservoir in northern Perkins County, not far from the location where Glass was mauled.

Event co-host and artist John Lopez, well-known for his unique metal sculptures, unveiled an extraordinary piece depicting Glass defending himself from the grizzly. A historic marker, located nearby, is dedicated to Glass and his epic journey. The final line reads, “Whatever the details, it was a marvelous show of stamina and courage.”

The opportunity to start fresh often comes in an unexpected way. I am excited for the possibilities in 2016 and I hope you have a great year! Whatever may be your New Year’s resolution, I wish you the stamina and courage of Hugh Glass. You can do it!


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Remembering Walt

daugaardheader daugaard2Remembering Walt
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Last Monday, South Dakota lost a statesman and we also lost a friend.

Walter Dale Miller was tall, quiet and unassuming. He was born on his family’s ranch near New Underwood and he spent his life on that ranch. Walt spent years on the local school board, and was elected to the State House in 1966. That was the first of ten times that his friends and neighbors chose him to be their representative in Pierre.

In Pierre, Walt quickly emerged as a leader, and he became one of our state’s legendary legislators. He didn’t give a lot of speeches or sponsor dozens of bills. He chose his words carefully. But when he did speak, people listened, and they followed his lead. Walt was the only person in the history of South Dakota to serve as speaker, speaker pro tempore, majority leader, assistant leader and majority whip. That’s the kind of respect his peers had for him.

In 1986, George S. Mickelson was looking for a partner to join his ticket, and he looked to Walt. George had served in the State House with Walt and knew that Walt was steady, capable and respected. George invited Walt to be the first full-time lieutenant governor. Walt wasn’t flashy and he didn’t seek attention, but during his time in the Mickelson Administration he was an important partner to Gov. Mickelson.

Then came the tragedy of April 19, 1993, when Gov. Mickelson and seven others died in the crash of the state plane. For the first time in South Dakota, a lieutenant governor succeeded a governor who had died in office. And for the first time, we had a full-time lieutenant governor to step in. Many South Dakotans remember being reassured by Gov. Miller’s calm, steady leadership during that tragic time.

In the days that followed, Gov. Miller was challenged again and again. The river flooding of 1993 was among the worst in state history, and he led response efforts. A penitentiary riot ended without bloodshed thanks to Gov. Miller’s restraint and leadership. A court ruling that suspended video lottery required Gov. Miller to impose deep mid-year cuts to keep the state solvent.

When Walt ran for his own term in 1994, his campaign slogan was “Cool in a Crisis.” It was the perfect slogan to describe a man who was perfectly suited to lead South Dakota during a very difficult time.

The State Capitol memorial service on October 5th coincides with Walter Dale Miller’s ninetieth birthday. That day is a time for all South Dakotans to say “thanks,” one last time, to the quiet, west river cowboy who stepped up when South Dakota needed him.


Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Good Times At The South Dakota State Fair

daugaardheader DaugaardGood Times At The South Dakota State Fair

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Classes are beginning again, football season will soon be underway and South Dakota’s favorite end-of-summer event is coming up – the South Dakota State Fair, held Sept. 3 through Sept. 7 in Huron.

The State Fair has a proud history of educating children (and their parents) about how our farmers and ranchers produce food. Whether it’s watching a livestock show, getting “up close and personal” with a calf or lamb, sitting in the seat of a new combine or tractor, asking an exhibitor what their goats eat, or learning Mrs. Olson’s secret for growing massive pumpkins, there are a host of opportunities for inspiring and educating young people about the wonders of agriculture.

Of course, the State Fair is located in Huron, but for a few days each year, the fairgrounds become a community unto itself. Be sure to stop at the FFA Animal Nursery and ask state officers how their year of service is going. Take a walk through the exhibition halls and chat with 4-H’ers about their projects. Visit with the vendors. Dozens of families from South Dakota and around the country come back year after year because they have such a good time. And everyone has a story to share.

This annual celebration wouldn’t be complete without the great fair food, exciting carnival rides and unique activities. Enjoy The Band Perry concert at the grandstand, try your luck in the arm wrestling competition, take your spouse for a twirl in the jitterbug contest, or play a game or two on the midway. No matter your interest, you’re bound to have a good time.

I am proud of our State Fair. It’s a one-of-a-kind celebration of agriculture and community. I hope you will mark the dates on your calendar and make plans to come out for at least one day. It’s worth the trip.


Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: The Value Of Dual Credit Courses

daugaardheader DaugaardThe Value Of Dual Credit Courses
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Like other young South Dakotans, Kelcie Hauf of Dell Rapids is getting ready to head back to school. As a high school senior, Kelcie is trying to decide which field to study when she graduates. Rather than wait until she gets to college to explore career options, Kelcie is participating in the dual credit program. Because she is considering a career in counseling, Kelcie took a dual credit introductory speech course last spring. This fall she will be utilizing the dual credit program to take Psychology 101 to explore that career path further.

Dual credit courses allow students like Kelcie to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. At only $40 per credit hour, these courses provide students and their families significant cost savings. These are the cheapest university or technical school credits a student will ever take, and they can save hundreds of dollars by taking just one course. Last year, South Dakota students saved more than $2.5 million by using this program – averaging more than $1000 per student in savings.

At a time when the cost of college is a great concern, dual credit courses are a great way to save money. They also save time, making it more likely that students will graduate on time. Every dual credit course taken in high school is a course that need not be taken in college.

In its first year, this program has been a tremendous success. Last year, 1,946 public, private, Bureau of Indian Education, tribal and homeschool students participated, with a pass rate of 92.76 percent. Thirty-nine districts had at least one quarter of their juniors and seniors complete courses.

Many students take dual credit courses online, which provides greater flexibility in scheduling.  These courses also make dual credit available to students who are not near a university or technical institute.

Just as Kelcie is doing, students can explore their interests with dual credit.  A student who might want to study robotics or medical lab technology after high school could take an introductory course from one of the state’s technical institutes to try out the program before making a final decision. If the student then decides to pursue that career, he or she has a jump start on a degree. Or perhaps a student wants to take a college algebra course not available at the local district. He or she could take that course from a state university.

With dual credit, students take college-level courses while still having the support of their local high school educators who can help them develop the skills they will need, like stronger time management and study skills. In fact, data shows that students who take dual credit do better when they go on to college or a technical institute – even after adjusting for grade point average, ACT scores and other performance indicators.

Today, more than ever before, it’s important for young people to continue their education beyond high school. The escalating number of people earning degrees and the increasingly competitive global economy require today’s workforce to have greater skill sets and more education. Dual credit can help prepare our students for that next step.

Visit to learn more.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Employing People With Disabilities

daugaardheader DaugaardEmploying People With Disabilities
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

My mom and dad took pride in self-reliance and taught me the value of hard work. They both worked hard on our family farm, and when the farm went upside-down financially, they both took jobs as janitors at Augustana College to make ends meet.

Mom and Dad were also both deaf, but their inability to hear did not prevent them from working to support my sisters and me. They taught us that all work has dignity and that idleness is not an option. Their disability led them to develop higher levels of determination and persistence.

In 2013, about 65 percent of Americans with disabilities were not working or looking for work. In South Dakota, that number is about 51 percent.

Even though our unemployment rate for those with disabilities is much lower than other states’, it’s still too high. There are too many South Dakotans with disabilities who want a job but can’t find one.

My goal is to make South Dakota an “employment first state.” This means making employment the first priority and the preferred outcome for our citizens with disabilities.

As a result of the Employment Works Task Force I established in 2013, the Department of Human Services is now providing technical assistance to employers and connecting them with qualified individuals. I am also challenging the state of South Dakota to become a model employer of people with disabilities.

As a part of this employment first effort, we’re striving to show employers what Walmart, Camille’s Sidewalk Café in Sioux Falls, Larson Manufacturing and SDSU in Brookings, Black Hills Corporation and many other businesses already know. We are a state that faces considerable workforce needs and there is an untapped labor pool comprised of people with disabilities who are ready, willing and completely ABLE to work.

On Tuesday, Aug. 11, the South Dakota Retailers Association is partnering with the Department of Human Services to host a webinar to guide employers through the process of finding and hiring people with disabilities. That same day, the Department of Human Services is launching an awareness campaign called “Ability for Hire.” This campaign aims to educate employers about the benefits of hiring those with disabilities, and to change misperceptions about them.

South Dakota is making definite progress in this arena, but there is always more to be done. I urge all South Dakotans to pitch in on this issue – to hire more qualified workers with disabilities; to support businesses in their efforts to employ people with disabilities; and to prepare youth for an expectation of a lifetime of work rather than public support. You can also help spread the word about when it launches Aug. 11.

The experiences of businesses like Camille’s and Black Hills Corporation demonstrate that change is possible. These businesses are proving that employing people with disabilities is not an act of charity or sympathy; it’s enlightened self-interest at its very best. It enriches and diversifies our workforce. It’s good for business and good for taxpayers. Best of all, it provides a willing worker an opportunity for the self-respect earned through personal achievement.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Hosting The 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

daugaardheader DaugaardHosting The 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

It’s rally time in South Dakota. What started in 1938 as a single motorcycle race in a small town in South Dakota has grown into one of the largest and most well-known motorcycle gatherings in the world. This year is the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and it may be the largest biker gathering of all time. I’ve heard estimates ranging from 800,000 to 1.2 million people.

These motorcycle enthusiasts aren’t just visiting Sturgis. They’re traveling all around the Black Hills – staying in our local hotels and at our campgrounds, eating in our local restaurants, shopping in our local stores and filling up at our gas stations. Each year the rally has a big economic impact on Sturgis and all of the Black Hills, from which South Dakota benefits.

An event this size won’t be without its challenges. That’s why we’ve been preparing for the 75th rally for the last two years. Since 2013, state agencies and local governments have been holding monthly meetings, table top exercises and capabilities briefings.

We’re as ready as we can be for the 75th rally. The state has set up a Rally Operations Center and a Traffic Operations Center. Local law enforcement, the Highway Patrol and ambulance services have additional personnel working. National Guard soldiers specializing in law enforcement and medical response are training in the Black Hills area and are available for call-up in the event of a disaster. Two National Guard Blackhawk helicopters are also on stand-by for medical transport if there is a major emergency.

For the past 74 years, we have not had a major emergency incident at the Sturgis Rally.  Our goal is to get through the 75th rally with that record intact, but we need help.

We’re asking South Dakotans to do their part to help make this a safe journey for our visitors. Drive carefully and be particularly mindful of the motorcycles on the road. It only takes one mistake to alter your life and someone else’s forever. If you live in the Black Hills area, plan to get to your destinations ahead of time and be patient with law enforcement and emergency responders. If something doesn’t look right – maybe how someone is taking photos of government buildings or measuring distances between buildings – let law enforcement know.  If you see something, say something.

For those who are attending the rally, be careful and be prepared. Wear a helmet and proper riding attire. Most importantly, don’t drink and drive.

Riders can visit for real-time information and some helpful tips. On the website there are links to weather updates, fire danger information, Twitter feeds from the departments of Transportation and Public Safety, and a map of hospital, urgent care and police station locations.

One of government’s primary functions is to keep people safe. The state of South Dakota is ready to uphold that responsibility and we welcome the opportunity to host so many visitors in our great state. If South Dakotans and our visitors do their part, it will go a long way in helping make the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally a safe and fun event.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Striving To Achieve A Broad, Stable Tax Base

daugaardheader  daugaard2Striving To Achieve A Broad, Stable Tax Base
  A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

On June 30, South Dakota state government closed the books on the 2015 budget year. For the fourth year in a row, the state general fund budget ended with a surplus, with both higher revenues and lower expenditures than budgeted. I have made it a priority to balance our budget each year with emphasis on conservative revenue projections. Other states often use rosy revenue numbers, debt or budget gimmicks to appear balanced, but South Dakota balances its budget honestly.

Our largest revenue source is our sales and use tax. Unfortunately, some sales made to South Dakota residents are able escape the sales tax. This creates inequity, and is unfair to retailers in our state who must compete at a disadvantage.

Currently, only businesses with a “substantial nexus” or physical presence in South Dakota must collect sales tax on goods purchased online. Out-of-state retailers, who are not physically located in South Dakota, have no such obligation. The current system doesn’t make sense, and it even discriminates among online purchases. If you buy a new iPod at your local retailer, you pay the sales tax. If you buy it online at or, you pay the sales tax, because those businesses have retail operations in South Dakota. But if you buy your iPod from, you don’t pay sales tax – simply because Amazon has no warehouse or other physical location in South Dakota.

If South Dakota retailers have to pay sales taxes, their competitors online should as well. This is not imposing a new tax. It is asking online retailers to pay the tax that is already legally due on these sales. Several pieces of legislation awaiting action or planned for introduction in Congress attempt to address this disparity. Consumers already owe sales and use tax on the goods they purchase. The legislation simply provides states the authority to enforce existing state and local sales and use tax laws and eliminates the competitive advantage enjoyed by remote retailers at the expense of local businesses.

I am thankful for the South Dakota congressional delegation’s attention to this issue. Senator Thune, Senator Rounds and Congresswoman Noem understand that a good tax system does not give an unfair advantage to some. Whether by adding online retailers to the tax rolls, encouraging business growth or getting the unemployed back to work, we should strive to achieve a broad, stable tax base.

Online shopping has given every South Dakotan access to more goods and services than ever before, if they are willing to pay for shipping. There is nothing wrong with this. We should not, however, disadvantage our local retailers or our state budget by allowing out-of-state online businesses to avoid paying sales tax. Streamlined legislation is crucial, if we want to allow South Dakota’s main street businesses to remain viable and competitive.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Opening Of The Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center

daugaardheader Opening Of The Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

DaugaardThis week I had the opportunity to attend the dedication of the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center in Lead. The visitor center will be something for South Dakotans and travelers from all over the world to see. Here people will learn about the history of Homestake and the Sanford Lab projects.

The Sanford Underground Research Facility is in the process of partnering with the Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, to prepare for the Long Baseline Neutrino Facility and the associated Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (LBNF/DUNE). This future experiment is a result of groundbreaking research that occurred in the lab while it was still the Homestake Mine.

This research, conducted by Ray Davis from the mid-1960s through the 1990s, sought small, neutral particles called neutrinos which generally pass right through the earth undetected and unimpeded. Because of their lack of interaction, their existence was only theoretical. Ray Davis, through an unprecedented combination of chemistry and physics, developed a way to use the low background radiation environment in the mine to prove the existence of neutrinos.

Initially, other scientists wrote off Davis’ project as a failure because he was detecting just one-third of the neutrinos he had expected to find. Eventually he was proven right when other scientists at SnoLab in Canada discovered that neutrinos spontaneously change, or oscillate as they travel, changing between three types. Davis’ research changed physics forever, and in 2002 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his neutrino experiment.

Now a new generation of physicists is building on Davis’ research to make their own discoveries deep underground at Sanford Lab. Scientists will use a high-intensity neutrino beam to send neutrinos from Batavia, Illinois, to Lead, South Dakota. Continuing the work Ray Davis started years ago, this experiment will attempt to explain properties of neutrinos, why they change and the nature of their changing states. While for most of us particle physics has many blind spots, the light this experiment can shed on at least one of them could be key to understanding the universe.

Sometimes in South Dakota, because we are small in population, and because we are largely rural, we have a bit of an inferiority complex. We sometimes fall into thinking that we can’t be the best or lead the way.

But that’s not true. And the things happening at the Sanford Underground Research Facility prove that we are a state that explores uncharted territory.

Since 1967, a panel of prominent scientists and academics, the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel, has advised the federal government about experimental and theoretical high energy physics. Recently this panel identified three physics projects around the world as high priority: one in Japan, one in Switzerland and the Long Baseline Neutrino experiment right here in Lead, South Dakota. In its P5 report, the panel called that experiment the physics project in America. It’s not hard to imagine that through this project another physicist working here in Lead, South Dakota, could win a Nobel Prize.

This Visitor Center will not only keep the Homestake story alive, but make it so the physics project in America doesn’t just stay below the surface. Updates about the Long Baseline Neutrino, Majorana and the LUX dark matter experiments will be available right here at this visitor center, so that people of all ages can learn about the cutting-edge research being conducted below. This new visitor center will play a role in passing a love of science on to future generations. It has the potential to spark in our young people a hunger for knowledge and a passion for possibilities.


Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Those Who Have Carried The Flag


Those Who Have Carried The Flag
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

DaugaardAt the beginning of the Revolutionary War the individual states were not united by a national government and they lacked a symbol that could unite them. Instead, there were many flags. An attempt to unite the states fighting for independence under a flag that held resemblance to Great Britain’s was not successful. Instead, the Second Continental Congress determined it was time to part with Great Britain’s emblem entirely and establish a new national symbol for a new nation.

One year after the Declaration of Independence was adopted the Second Continental Congress established a national flag. The resolution pronounced that “the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white” and that “the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

Decades later, a conflict over slavery and state sovereignty erupted. The North and the South could no longer resolve their differences. Those in the South rejected the flag that had united the country since its origin. Southerners replaced the American flag with their own flags: three successive confederate flags that would set their people apart from the United States.

Although the Civil War nearly tore our nation apart, we eventually emerged as a better and stronger nation. The tenets of the Declaration of Independence – that ALL men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights – could finally be realized with the elimination of slavery. And because of the Civil War, Americans began to fly the American flag. It wasn’t until Northerners began displaying flags as a symbol of their allegiance and patriotism that it became commonplace for individuals to fly flags at their own homes.

By the time of World War II, the United States was among the most prosperous and prominent nations of the world. The country had grown and the flag then contained 48 stars. As a world superpower, the United States joined the fight against the Axis Powers and led the Allies to victory.

With the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the union, our flag became what it is today –a flag with 50 stars. Today our flag represents the American way of life. It is a sign of relief, an emblem of hope and a symbol of freedom. The flag stands for the fight for independence, the triumph over slavery, the crushing of Nazism and the containment of communism.

This Independence Day, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to thank the men and women who have worn the uniform of our United States, united under the flag of our nation. Because of them, and those who went before them, we won our independence, and are free.


Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Update On The Tribal Pilot Parole Program


Update On The Tribal Pilot Parole Program
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Daugaard This week I had the honor of speaking about South Dakota’s criminal justice system at a policy briefing on Capitol Hill. I talked with policymakers about the process we undertook to study our growing prison population and the criminal justice reforms we adopted in 2013. I encouraged those who attended to look to South Dakota as they consider making similar reforms at the federal level.

It was an easy pitch because the reforms we’ve adopted in South Dakota are already bringing positive results. Our prison population is lower than what was projected; we haven’t had to construct a new state prison; and the tribal pilot parole program we put in place last year has been effective.

Nearly 30 percent of the inmates in the state prison system are Native American. More than half of parolees who abscond from the state parole supervision are Native Americans. In many of these cases, the absconders are returning to one of the reservations, where they often have homes and families. Unfortunately, because the state lacks jurisdiction on the reservations, state parole agents can no longer supervise parolees who return to a reservation.

The tribal pilot parole program was enacted one year ago as an agreement between the state of South Dakota and the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate. Under the program, the tribe supervises enrolled tribal members who want to return to the Lake Traverse Reservation while on parole.

The state provides the training and funding for a tribal parole agent to supervise parolees on the reservation under the same parole system that state agents use. This system applies swift, certain and proportionate sanctions for misbehavior, along with incentives for compliance. These evidence-based practices have been shown to reduce the risk that a parolee will return to the penitentiary.

As a part of the pilot program, a tribal wellness team meets regularly to provide support for the parolees in the program. The team includes individuals who work in a number of different areas including mental health, tribal law enforcement, drug and alcohol treatment, housing, and veteran’s affairs. If a participant violates parole, the wellness team reviews the individual’s case and determines the most appropriate sanctions. They take the risks and needs of each violator into consideration, and apply the penalties which are most likely to change behavior.

So far the results of the pilot program have been very promising. In the first year, 95 percent of the offenders in the tribal parole pilot did not abscond or have a parole violation report submitted. Nearly 70 percent went without a sanction due to a rule violation. No offenders were returned to prison because of a new conviction and only one offender was returned to prison due to a technical violation.

In its first year, the parole program with Sisseton Wahpeton has been a success. The pilot has led to smoother transitions for Native American parolees and restoration for tribal families. If the tribal pilot parole program continues to be successful, we’ll have the opportunity to expand it to other reservations.

Of all things undertaken in my four and a half years as Governor, the Public Safety Improvement Act is one of the efforts of which I am most proud. Through the tribal pilot parole program and other programs under the law, we are not only improving public safety and reducing spending, but holding offenders more accountable and improving lives.